11 Reasons Wrestling Is The Best Martial Art

Wrestling is a popular martial art and one of the oldest combat sports still practiced today. One of the likely reasons this sport has survived into modern times is the many core holistic benefits it provides to its athletes. Wrestling has also picked up extra relevance in modern times with the popularization of MMA.

Now let’s get into some details on why wrestling is such a solid choice of martial art and discuss its benefits in more depth.

Why Is Wrestling the Best Martial Art?

Wrestling is one of the best martial arts because it builds discipline and character. It also provides a strong base of combat ability for self-defense and is an excellent foundation to build around to make a well-rounded athlete or fighter.

1) Wrestling Develops Discipline and Character

Wrestling is a sport that builds discipline in its athletes. Wrestling requires long sessions of hard work in both physical and mental terms. Persisting when losing and continuing to work despite exhaustion can make dedicated wrestlers uniquely disciplined and well-developed people.

This results in athletes that are more resilient and capable of extended focus and control both on and off the mats. That discipline carries over into many other aspects of life. It helps to be more organized, set goals, and achieve them.

2) Wrestling Is Effective for Self-Defense

Wrestling is an excellent martial art for self-defense. The principles of distance management, takedowns, and escapes under high-stress situations like hard training and wrestling tournaments result in skills that will show up if they need to be applied in a real-world setting.

That stress inoculation is invaluable, and the specific combat skillsets that are built in wrestling are core to being a well-rounded fighter with strong self-defense capabilities.

3) Wrestling Develops a Well-Rounded Athlete

Wrestling builds general physical preparedness (GPP) in its athletes in a way that is unparalleled due to the requirement of being strong, fast, agile, and in great cardiovascular shape. Wrestling programs do a lot of calisthenics as well as strength training.

All these physical qualities that are built through wrestling also get paired with a strong mental game and the ability to persist in stressful difficult situations. These traits are incredibly impactful and benefit all other sports that the athlete participates in.

What Makes Wrestling Unique?

Wrestling is unique due to its physicality and grittiness. It is a tough sport in terms of fitness requirements but makes some of the most capable athletes in the world. It also provides an excellent foundation for MMA and self-defense.

4) Wrestling is Gritty and Physical

Wrestling is one of the toughest sports out there in terms of physicality. The practices are hard and require many repetitions of dynamic movements at high power outputs. Being in top physical condition and being lean is basically a requirement to be successful.

The practices can be grueling and matches can be intense. It’s a very real test of physical capabilities.

Ensure you have enough rest and recovery after practice sessions or matches. Prioritizing recovery can greatly increase your performance and allow you to make better gains in strength and fitness. Staying hydrated, eating clean, and getting enough sleep can make a big difference.

5) Wrestling Translates Well to MMA

Wrestling abilities translate very well into MMA. Controlling distance and being able to attack takedowns as well as defend them are crucial skills and good wrestlers have those skills well-developed through thousands of repetitions under stress.

With only minor adjustments, experienced wrestlers can tap into those repetitions since MMA takedowns and wrestling takedowns are not that dissimilar. As a result, wrestlers in an MMA context will score more takedowns and get to top control more often.

Physical Benefits of Training Wrestling

Training in wrestling gives athletes an opportunity to improve physical strength, speed, mobility, and flexibility. There are few sports out there that can compete with wrestling in terms of total physical athletic development.

6) Wrestling Improves Physical Strength

Wrestlers need to be physically strong. Sometimes the outcome of the match will come down to whichever wrestler has more physical strength. Coaches know this and ensure that their athletes do not neglect this attribute.

That means they make sure that their wrestlers build a solid core alongside building total strength in both upper and lower body exercises. This is usually done through a combination of intense wrestling training alongside calisthenics and weight training.

The way this training goes can vary based on the coach and the level and age of the athletes, but to put things into perspective, check out this video of wrestlers in a strength and conditioning class:

7) Wrestling Improves Your Speed, Mobility, and Flexibility

Wrestling as a sport places a significant emphasis on dynamic movements and mobility. As a result, wrestlers will do specific exercises that increase both mobility and passive flexibility. Throughout practice, these drills and exercises are done with increasing speed and power.

As a result of these drills and exercises, wrestlers get better at executing dynamic movements and direction changes needed to hit takedowns and throws in both training and matches. Taken together, speed, mobility, and flexibility are built up concurrently and result in noticeable increases in all of these attributes. This results in a well-rounded overall athlete.

8) Wrestling Builds Endurance

Another benefit of wrestling is that it helps improve endurance. As mentioned previously, both wrestling training and matches are grueling intense affairs, and wrestlers often push their bodies hard. This hard work results in impressive endurance and fitness in practically everybody who does wrestling regularly.

This endurance translates to all types of athletics. If you can handle the physical demands of a wrestling match.

Mental Benefits of Training Wrestling

It is easy to see that wrestlers are physically developed and resilient, but something that is not quite as visible is the mental toughness that is developed in most wrestlers that do it seriously for any significant amount of time.

Training wrestling provides a host of mental benefits including mental toughness, the ability to overcome adversity, and the ability to work hard to set and achieve long-term difficult goals. All of these mental benefits carry over into other aspects of life.

9) Wrestling Teaches Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is built through persistence in stressful situations toward a goal. Wrestling forces its athletes to build mental toughness through tough training and intense competitions. Training wrestling is the perfect environment to build mental fortitude.

To be a successful high-level wrestler, you need to be able to push through pain and exhaustion and execute on a high level even when you don’t want to. This results in wrestlers being some of the most mentally resilient athletes around.

10) Wrestling Helps You Overcome Adversity

In wrestling, you will face a lot of adversity. You’ll lose matches, get injured, and deal with disappointment.

Wrestlers learn to deal with this adversity, recover their discipline, and keep moving forward in spite of setbacks. These are extremely valuable skills to achieve other goals in other aspects of life.

11) Wrestling Teaches You to Set and Achieve Goals

Wrestling is also a great way to learn how to set and achieve goals. During the season wrestlers have many tournaments to compete in as well as some opportunities to compete near the end of the season like state and national tournaments.

These opportunities allow athletes to set goals within their training, set goals for all the tournaments and duels that happen within the season, and set big goals to compete in local, state, and national tournaments.

This gives wrestlers a unique opportunity to set many goals throughout the season. Having opportunities to turn failures into successes at the next event at regular intervals allows athletes to flex goal-setting mental muscles. This results in development in an area that is crucial to achieving other goals in other areas of life.

Why Is Wrestling So Dominant in MMA?

Wrestling is dominant in MMA since wrestlers get significant competition-level mat time. Wrestlers have more mental resilience and are typically more well-rounded athletes that can determine if the fight hits the ground in the cage through high competence in takedowns and takedown defense.

Fighters with a mastery of wrestling gain more agency during a fight. They get to choose whether or not the fight goes to the ground and are usually able to control space, leverage strength, and be more efficient when it comes to takedowns and takedown defense.

Wrestling Teaches Distance Control for Takedowns

In wrestling, the wrestlers must vie for position and control the circumstances through distance management and hand-fighting. That requires an intimate knowledge of how your body moves and how much distance you can cover with power and precision. This carries over into MMA.

With a few adjustments, wrestlers quickly adapt their sense of distance management and are better able to use their wrestling arsenal within the context of MMA.

Is Wrestling Effective in a Real Fight?

Wrestling is effective in a real fight. Understanding distance management as well as having technical takedown and takedown defense skills can result in strong self-defense capabilities. Wrestling also teaches pins and ground control which can keep them safe in a one-on-one confrontation.

When you master wrestling, you gain the advantage of being able to take down an opponent quickly and hold them down. Even without striking experience, wrestlers can judge space better and escalate decisively if struck.

While wrestling is an effective martial art in a fight or self-defense situation, deescalation is always a better option. If you find yourself in a self-defense situation and you are outnumbered going to the ground is a bad idea.

Final Thoughts

There are a host of benefits to training in wrestling and it is arguably one of the sports that have the biggest impact in terms of both the mental and physical development of athletes. Wrestlers can grind and have the discipline to achieve goals and is an excellent choice of martial art for anybody who has access to a good wrestling program.

If you missed your window to train in scholastic wrestling but still want to learn the sport as an adult check out the article I wrote on How To Learn Wrestling as an Adult


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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