How To Learn Wrestling as an Adult

If you’re looking to learn wrestling as an adult, it might seem like a difficult task at first glance. After all, wrestling is most common in middle school, high school, and college. However, it’s actually possible for adults to learn and enjoy the sport.

To learn wrestling as an adult, you need to find proper coaching and training partners in your local area. Typically, you can find coaching resources and training partners within both MMA and BJJ schools. Focusing on basic movements and hand fighting will give you the best foundation.

Read on to see the best ways to build a strong wrestling foundation as an adult that missed learning wrestling within the typical school-aged windows.

Can I Do Wrestling as an Adult?

You can do wrestling as an adult, but it’s a demanding sport and not usually popular to pick up in isolation for most people. Typically adults learning wrestling want to map it onto another combat sport like MMA or BJJ, so looking for help within the appropriate school for the goal is optimal.

If you are looking to build a pure wrestling background, it is possible but much more difficult to achieve later in life. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to find a wrestling club or school when possible or to contact an MMA fighter or BJJ athlete and set up recurring private or semi-private lessons to go over wrestling techniques and do some live wrestling.

If you are looking to start wrestling in one of these options and want to know what to wear check out What Should I Wear to Wrestling Practice?

There are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you need to make sure that you are physically and mentally healthy enough to participate in the sport. Wrestling is a physically demanding activity and can be dangerous if you are not in good shape.

Most martial arts disciplines can be learned at any age, but wrestling is a difficult sport to learn later in life due to the grind involved that can be incompatible with adults that have other responsibilities.

If you want to learn wrestling within a different discipline you can attend MMA grappling classes or no-gi BJJ grappling classes that are takedown-oriented. Often, older adults are just looking to map wrestling into BJJ, so finding a school that uses a lot of wrestling will usually fit the bill for them.

Is It Hard To Learn To Wrestle as an Adult?

Wrestling requires a lot of conditioning and grinding boring drills to reach mastery of the fundamentals and be able to apply them in live rounds. This is difficult for most adults but achievable with effort. Finding a good wrestling partner and coach is crucial to reaching mastery.

The best wrestlers are very conditioned and also have many hours of drilling under their belts to be able to execute at a high level. Wrestling can be very intense and new wrestlers need guidance in order to make sure that they are training the right skills instead of just getting caught in the grind.

It is easiest to learn to wrestle as an adult if you are willing to supplement your learning with private lessons with a good coach that has a wrestling background and to put in the work in whatever combat sport of choice you are trying to learn wrestling for.

If you feel that your fitness might be lagging and are concerned about it in regards to starting wrestling check out Do You Need to Be Fit to Start Wrestling?

If private lessons aren’t realistic due to financial constraints or availability, you can do things like volunteer to help with a local school wrestling team in exchange for being able to train there or even ask for some wrestling rounds with BJJ or MMA training partners if you find a good school to train grappling more holistically.

Can You Learn Wrestling by Yourself?

Learning wrestling by yourself is not possible since it requires a training partner. You can do wrestling drills and shadow wrestling, but these are only helpful to work on basic mechanics that you already understand. If you have no background, you really need to find a teacher to work on wrestling.

There is much more to know about wrestling than simply learning a few moves. A person cannot grasp the sport on their own since it is so dynamic and involves another resisting opponent.

It is important to have a teacher who knows the proper techniques, counters, and common reactions that can help coach and guide you through all aspects of wrestling. On a similar note, you need a training partner to really get repetitions for wrestling techniques and situations.

Since most people are learning wrestling to go alongside BJJ, I’d recommend taking a look at this post by Stephen Kesting to see what kind of movements you might want to drill, train, and potentially seek coaching to perfect.

Does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Help With Wrestling?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu helps with wrestling, but not as much as you would think. Although some of the techniques used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu translate well to wrestling, many of its skills aren’t that helpful. The focus of BJJ grappling doesn’t necessarily translate well into wrestling.

There is no doubt that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be useful in some wrestling circumstances. Since Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an adjacent art and has some similar situations, you can learn basic movements and take advantage of leverage and off-balancing that helps you in wrestling situations. BJJ athletes that play a lot of top-game often have a better translation of skills into a wrestling environment.

Since wrestling is focused on movements that do not involve submissions and the match ends when an opponent is pinned to the mat on their back, it is not the same situation and ruleset used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at all. BJJ emphasizes submissions and many people choose to compete off their back, which creates a pretty substantially different default set of movements.

How To Learn Wrestling as an Adult

The most effective method is hands-on instruction by a qualified coach with a training partner. This allows the student to get real repetitions in a realistic environment for all the wrestling techniques and situations that they want to learn.

For most adult beginners, drilling movements and footwork can also be done to supplement their wrestling learning. This is much more helpful after getting instruction from a solid coach or training partner with good wrestling experience. Finding a like-minded training partner with MMA or BJJ to do some fundamental drilling is also extremely beneficial to building your foundational wrestling skills.

For additional advice on this topic, I encourage you to check out our YouTube video below where we detail what you should focus on and how you might get in-person guidance.

Final Thoughts

Learning wrestling as an adult certainly comes with some challenges since most of the infrastructure for learning wrestling, at least in the United States and many western countries, tends to happen more at the scholastic level.

However, the prevalence of MMA and BJJ that is growing in the world overall due to the popularization of the UFC and Bellator does offer some opportunities to learn wrestling as a part of other combat sports when you are an adult. It won’t be the same level of narrowed focus on wrestling or necessarily be as tough and gritty, but you can definitely pick up the skills with some intention and determination.

For more check out Should I Learn Judo or Wrestling Takedowns for BJJ?


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.

Recent Posts