Wrestling is about pinning the body of your opponent into an inferior position where they are left immobile.

BJJ is about surviving positions, setting up other positions, with the final goal of submitting.

Okay, great.

But Sambo and Catch-Wrestling incorporate both these things. So why would anyone pick those two arts over Sambo or catch-wrestling, if the goal is to be a complete martial artist?

The number one reason why people practise martial arts is self-defence, and no matter who you are, going up against a Sambo guy or a catch-wrestler in the street is going to be twice as hard as taking on a BJJ guy or a wrestler.

  • 5
    This post crosses the line of the code of conduct. Find an objective way to ask your question that does not involve name calling.
    – mattm
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 15:30
  • Please modify this so that it is asking an answerable question and not just sparking debate.
    – LemmyX
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 15:40
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    This is wrong on so many levels...if one follows this logic, vale tudo (anything goes) would be the only legitimate "martial art". But this is no art, it's simply brawling. Arts have their deficiencies due to the respective philosophy and rule set, but have their strength because they train and develop a particular aspect of fighting. And no, martial arts are not primarily for self-defense. Even Sambo and catch-wrestling suck as self-defense when compared to systems that legitimately focus on that. Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 17:29
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    BJJ is a concise system, there's nothing in it that doesn't work. The same cannot be said for Sambo. Quality over quantity, OP.
    – TheBatman
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 20:20

3 Answers 3


The question asks why some martial arts exist when others are more complete.

The answer is: The rule set. It always goes back to the rules. Why something looks the way it does depends on the rule set. Change the rules even a little, and the way a martial art looks can change quite a lot.

Do the rules require a gi? Big difference between that style and one that doesn't. Are chokes allowed? Are strikes allowed? What about throws and sweeps? What about small circle joint manipulation? Etc.

Even in martial arts which have no competitive rules and never spar, there are rules. These rules just reinforce their conceptual framework. For example, in many forms of kung-fu, wrestling on the ground is considered either wrong or a form of fighting that's lower class and therefore not worth training. In classical Japanese Jujitsu, you won't see a lot of high kicks or snapping punches. The reason is because it was made for use on the battlefield where people were expected to wear armor which made those techniques impractical or impossible to do without risk.

Yes, maybe in the larger sense, two different martial arts may have the same goal, which in this case might be to pin someone to the ground for X amount of seconds or to submit them. But the rules dictate how you can get to those outcomes.

You don't see a lot of different looking MMA fighters, for example. Oh, they all have their unique style, but the variation in the way they actually move and look is very small when compared against people from a traditional martial art such as Aikido or Wing Chun. It's because the rules of MMA dictate everything. If an MMA stylist tried to suddenly switch to a traditional martial art style while in an MMA style fight, they'd lose. So they'd learn really quickly not to do that. That's why they all look very similar. They are moving in a way that's optimal for the rules of MMA.

Now, the next question you'll want to ask is whether the rules should or shouldn't be the way they are. You might ask why one martial art allows chokes and the other doesn't, for example. That sort of question, highly focused on one aspect of a particular martial art's rule set, can lead you to a much greater understanding of that style.

Judo, for example, never allowed striking, even though it's in some of their kata (yes, they have kata!). If you investigate this, you'll find that it goes all the way back to its founder, Jiguro Kano, who when asked about this said that he did not know how to incorporate striking into randori in a safe manner. And one of the main concepts of Judo is that it exists primarily as a way of physical and moral improvement. Its purpose was not to make a well-rounded fighter.

And so the higher answer to the main question is not about the rules. It's about the core philosophy behind the art. The rules are merely the manifestation of that philosophy. Asking why the rules are the way they are will lead you to understanding why that martial art exists.

Hope that helps.

  • FWIW, "MMA fighters" covers a pretty broad range, again influenced by the rules, so they will look different in a set of rules that, say, prohibits punching to the head, or allows striking a downed opponent from a standing position. :) But you know that, and it just reinforces your point that the rules govern how people practice their art. Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 19:48

The premise of the question is either incomprehensible or flat wrong.

BJJ purple+ belts can pin and immobilize just about any untrained person. In the other direction, it's been shown time and again that you can show any accomplished wrestler a guillotine and rear naked choke and a month later they're submission machines.

Grappling arts are not so distinct as is assumed by the question. The phrasing of the question also suggests a belief that grappling works like D&D, with stats and XP:

no matter who you are, going up against a Sambo guy or a catch-wrestler in the street is going to be twice as hard as taking on a BJJ guy or a wrestler.

Martial arts are not a video game. A catch wrestler is not just a regular wrestler "plus" the submission power-up. Sambo is not BJJ but if you press A B A B [UP] [DOWN] [SELECT] [START] you do a special move. There are no power-ups or character classes. Stop thinking of them this way. That's not how any of this works.


No one sets out to create an "art". Some of the arts that you're talking about weren't even invented/created (at least by no single individual) and have evolved over centuries.

And I'd argue that "art" isn't even the atomic unit for martial arts. Rather, the technique is. Arts, where they exist, are nothing more than the accumulation of practiced techniques that either seem to go well together, or that someone a long time ago found interesting and put together.

And with no one and nothing to force arts to be "complete" many just never became complete (or maybe they will be someday, but currently aren't). This could certainly change, we're seeing quite a few shake-ups of orthodoxy in the last 20 years or so.

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    I disagree that no one ever sets out to create an "art", but they do generally study something else, or just learn by experience, before one day saying, "You know what, other people should learn this way". We had one started here in Pittsburgh, Wei Song Do, with an increased focus on self defense techniques, which in my mind was an interesting way to go. Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 19:44

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