Catch Wrestling vs BJJ : Origin and Development

Catch Wrestling or BJJ : Which One is Better?

Hopefully after you finished reading this post you will be able to make your own conclusion based on my personal perspective as a BJJ Blue Belt

What Is Catch Wrestling?

uk catch wrestling

Catch Wrestling is actually originated from the combination within two styles of early wrestling. They are the classical hybrid of grappling and also wrestling style itself. This style of wrestling  was firstly developed by J.G Chambers at the Britain circa 1870. This style then got some improvements and it was refined by some travelling funfairs wrestlers. They used this style not to popularize it but rather to use against the opponents. It is also used for increasing the amount of submission holds or the hooks of the wrestlers in the game. In fact, this style is quite different from any other wrestling style. It combines various wrestling such as the Britain style Westmorland and Cumberland style, Devon and Cornwall style, and also the combination of Irish style collar and elbow wrestling with Lancashire wrestling style. Some may mistake it as submission wrestling but there is a noticeable difference between it and catch wrestling

The original principle of wrestling is ‘catch as catch can. This principle means that the wrestlers must be struggling when they cannot escape from the opponents. This is also the advanced type of the loose hold system. This style was really popular in the early of 20th century in United States. The carnivals wrestlers often showed this style and that is why it became greater and more famous in the wrestling game. Not only in United States, this kind of style is also very popular in Europe and it has been used in many competition among the world.

The Rules of Catch Wrestling

This wrestling is the match between two people, especially the wrestlers. They should make an agreement of some terms before starting the match. The wrestlers or the coaches must agree each other like about the weight, the duration, the submission and also the place of the match. It will not be easy since this agreement should be dealt with two groups of wrestling club. Usually, it takes weeks to get the right decision agreed by both participants. The most important rule in this Catch Wrestling is the weight category because it will affect to the amount and also the ability of the wrestlers.

  1. Weight Categories

This category must be defined by many considerations and also the safety recommendations. The category should be as close as the historical heritage of wrestling.

 Weight Category UK USA Metric
Fly weight 8st 9lb 121lb 55kg
Bantam weight 9st 4lb 130lb 59kg
Feather weight 10st 140lb 63kg
Light weight 10st 10lb 150lb 68kg
Welter weight 11st 9lb 163lb 74kg
Middle weight 12st 12lb 180lb 82kg
Light heavy weight 14st 2lb 198lb 90kg
Heavy weight 15st 10lb 220lb 100kg
Super heavy weight 15st 10lb + 220lb + 100kg +


Since the matches with such category has been approved and agreed, any matches that does not fall into any specific weight categories will be arrange based on the agreement between the wrestlers.


  1. Age Category

In this category, there will be some rules and agreement that should be followed by the wrestlers. In order to run the match well, this category should not be denied. To form the age category, the coach and the wrestlers must be agreed that the wrestlers have to be 2 years age in span.


There are four category of age and each category has 2 year gaps of age. The first category is the minis age category, which is for the wrestlers in the age of 7 years to 9 years. The second category is the pre junior age, between 10 years old up to 12 years old. The third category is Juniors age with the minimum age is 13 years old and maximum age is 15 years old. The last category is pre senior and this match belongs to the teenagers with age between 16 years old to 17 years old only. The rule is that the wrestlers cannot have a gap of weight more than 3 kg. If there is a difference weight and if it is possible, the weight advantage should be given for the younger one.


  1. Time Scale

Actually, in the past decade of wrestling competition, there was no time guidance. The competition of wrestling would go as long as the wrestlers could survive. It would also be defined by the wrestlers won the pin or submission from the opponent. But for the current and modern wrestling competition, it already has a time scale. The purpose of this time scale is to manage the match in accordance with practical reasons. For one match, every wrestler must be on the ground and fighting for 20 minutes. This scale time doesn’t include the break time. It means that the wrestlers cannot leave the match within 20 minutes whether for fluid or food supplement. The wrestlers will also be given an injury time to get a medical representative. Both wrestlers must be agreed on this rule.


  1. The Position of Referee

The referee has the right to stop the game when there is a wrestler leaves the match. The referee will bring them both back to the match to restart the match. The match after the stopping from referee will begin with the loser one. The position of the restarted match will also be defined by the last position when the referee stop it. It can be either kneeling or flat stomach position. The loser one must be covered by the dominant until the referee starts the bout. However, if the wrestlers in a clear position when the referee stopped the bout, both wrestlers will be brought to the center. The game will be started on standing position.


  1. The Wrestlers’ Costume

In the early of wrestling match, the wrestlers would wear a swimming trunk and a leg cut. But, in this modern match of wrestling, the wrestlers can wear either close fitting short or full leg with a tight fitting bottoms. They should not use underwear only or even a baggy short pant. If the wrestlers choose to use an upper body clothing, they must choose the tight fitting cloth. Another rule is that each cloth of the wrestlers cannot be grabbed.


  1. The Bout Rules

There are some rule that must be obeyed by both wrestlers in order to get point and be the winner. In a match, a wrestler cannot be punching or even slapping the opponent. They are also forbidden to kick and bite the other one. Grabbing the hair or even the garment of the opponent is not allowed. The wrestlers cannot be choking, strangling, or even to make a direct contact with the opponent’s neck.


The movements and attack that are allowed in the wrestling game is the foundation moves and also the indirect choke of opponent’s neck. The wrestlers will also be allowed to make any kind of locks in order to attack the opponents. In the catch wrestling, it is also be allowed to make submission for above 18 years old only.


Catch Wrestling vs BJJ

See an example of how catch wrestling techniques triumph over BJJ techniques as demonstrated by Neil Melanson

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