This excerpt from Daniele Bolelli’s book ‘On the Warrior’s Path’ describes the different styles of grappling martial arts.
Grappling systems are those Combat Sports that focus on throws and takedowns, and/or on ground-fighting (which depending on the system includes pins and/or chokes and/or leverages.) Examples of these arts are Kodokan Judo, Sumo, Brazilian Jujitsu, Chinese Shuai Chiao, Russsian Sambo, and the Western systems of Greco- Roman and Freestyle Wrestling. In addition to these systems, there are many forms of ethnic wrestling (from Mongolia to Africa, just about every country in the world has some form of wrestling) and eclectic systems based on some of the most popular grappling arts outlined above.
The differences between these arts have to do with the rules they abide by. The most important difference is whether a system is exclusively dedicated to takedowns and throws but does not include ground-fighting (like Sumo, Shuai Chiao, and Mongolian Wrestling), or it employs both (like Judo, Brazilian Jujitsu, Sambo, and Western Wrestling.) In the first group, the winner is the athlete who can execute a perfect throw while maintaining his/her own balance. In the second group, depending on the system, one may win because of a perfect throw, because of pinning the oppo- nent to the floor, or because of a submission (choke or leverage) on the ground.
Another important difference has to do with the amount of clothing worn by the athletes in competition (since clothing can be grabbed to make throws easier, the kind of throws employed change depending on the uniform worn.) Here is a breakdown of the main characteristics of the major grappling styles:
Judo players wear a heavy jacket called a gi which is grabbed to execute the throws and facilitate submissions on the ground. Most of the throws are hip throws, hand throws, sweeps, and sacrifice throws (those throws in which one willingly goes to the ground in order to take down the opponent). Judo discourages grabbing the opponent’s legs (a common technique in Freestyle Wrestling) to execute a throw. On the ground, Judo players aim at pinning the opponent with his back on the floor, or choking him in a variety of ways, or apply- ing a leverage (the only leverages allowed are against the elbow joint). (Kano 1986, Takagaki 1957)