How does Judo compare to BJJ?

How does Judo compare to BJJ?

Fight fans and athletes have always had a hard time distinguishing between Judo and BJJ. For a newbie, they may seem quite indistinguishable from each other. Due to similarities between the two. This involves similar kimonos, mats, and grappling.

However, when one starts to explore each sport, they will find a lot of differences between the two. They both are grappling arts but BJJ is a more technique-oriented sport and Judo is more focused on takedowns and throws.

Apart from their styles, there are numerous other differences that we will explore in this article. Which sport is more practical? Which one is more famous? What sport should you choose? BJJ? Judo? Or Both?

History of Judo

The origin of Judo is from traditional Japan. Both BJJ and Judo are derived from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. Their roots can be traced back as far as 720 AD when Japan was famous for producing a warrior creed known as the Samurai.

Jiu-Jitsu was known as the gentle art, where Samurais tried to fight without any weapons. The reason grappling was used by them was because throwing, locking, gouging, and takedowns were far more beneficial against armored opponents.

When the feudal system ended in 1870, the Samurai were made extinct by the Meiji Restoration. The display of weapons in public was banned, fighting with swords was outlawed and martial art schools started to wither away with time.

This is where Jigoro Kano jumped in so that he could save Jiu-Jitsu from extinction. He was obsessed with Jiu-Jitsu and realized its potential to change lives. But before he could spread Jiu-Jitsu, he tweaked it accordingly so that it could reach the masses.

Kano opened a school called “Kodokan Judo” so that he could distinguish Jiu-Jitsu from traditional Japanese sports. This approach mixed with Kano’s unique ability to achieve maximum efficiency gave birth to the sport of Judo.

This nascent martial art started to pick up momentum in the early 20th century. With years of hard work, he was able to spread Judo in different armed forces like the navy, army, and police. Slowly but surely, Judo was able to get the recognition it deserved and in 1964 it became an Olympic sport at the Tokyo games.

History of BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu came into being when Kano’s disciple Mitsuyo Maeda traveled to Brazil. In 1905, he traveled all over North and South America, and finally, in 1914 he ended up in Brazil.

Maeda started an academy there and accumulated a bunch of students who would train with him. Among those students were Carlos, Jorge, Helio, and Oswaldo.

As time passed the Gracie brothers started to gain more efficiency. After a short while, the Gracie’s picked up on the ground fighting element of BJJ and started to compete in Vale Tudo fights. These were no holds barred matches that were quite similar to MMA.

The Gracie family carried the legacy of BJJ after Kano and are credited as the inventors of BJJ. The Gracie’s helped in keeping the sport intact in times of adversity and morphed it into a sport that could be applied in real life. The practical application of BJJ is because of the innovations of the Gracie family.

Now, Mixed Martial Artists, armed forces of several countries, police forces, and athletes are using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to help them advance in their careers for sports, health, and self-defense.

The Difference between Judo and BJJ

A lot of similarities are present between Judo and BJJ, due to their common ancestry. To understand the differences between them, we will have a look at the following factors.


BJJ and Judo have a lot of similarities in their techniques. This includes joint locks, chokeholds, and throws. However, the difference comes in the execution of these techniques and how they impact the body.

Judo is more concerned with throws and takedowns while BJJ is more focused on submission and groundwork.

Judo’s strategy is to perform successful throws to achieve a win. Oftentimes the victor will attain a firm grip on the opponent, then floor them with a trip or put them off balance. This will ensure their success in a Judo match.

The player who shows a better grip and better control will end up scoring more points and ultimately winning. But ground fighting is not a priority in Judo. If the players move to the ground, they get 30 seconds maximum to either submit or pin each other, after 30 seconds the referee will make them stand back up.

This is a huge difference between Judo and BJJ. The main focus of BJJ is on the ground, submission, and technique. Matches that start on the feet usually end up on the ground and finish there.

In fact, the majority of BJJ instructors tell their students to start their matches on the ground instead of standing up. However, in tournaments, you need to start your matches standing up. The end goal is to dominate, pin, submit or finish your opponent in a BJJ match.


There is a stark difference between the two sports in terms of rules. Judo’s rules are focused on the right foot while BJJ’s rules are mostly related to the ground.


In Judo, one can win fights by the following rules

  1.     ‘Ippon’, an act of throwing your opponent with such a force that they land on their back.
  2.   ‘Yuko’, a throw that places your opponent on their side.
  3.     Forcing the opponent to give up by making them tap out.
  4.     Holding your rival down for twenty seconds.

Judokas can win points through a system called “Waza-ari”. This system involves

  1.     Holding an opponent down for 10-19 seconds.
  2.     Throwing an opponent on their back, but not enough to keep them on their back.

Rules and regulations evolve over time, but a constant rule is that two Waza-ari can win you a match. The place of gripping is also crucial to scoring points, for example, in Judo you cannot grab the legs of your opponent while standing.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

With Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the method to win is to use submission techniques. Points are given for the following moves

  1.     2 points are given for a takedown
  2.     2 points are given for a successful sweep
  3.     2 points are given when a knee mount position is established
  4.     3 points are given to pass an opponent’s guard
  5.     4 points are given for back control
  6.     4 points are given for full mount control

If one fighter is unable to win by the end of the match, then the one with the most points will be awarded the win.

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu there are more submission techniques than Judo. This includes leg locks, chokes, armbars, kneebars, joint locks, and much more. As long as the fighters are moving on the ground, the match continues.

Belt/Grading System


When we talk about the belt system, Judo has different progression levels depending on the area. In the majority of countries, there are six belts before the black belt. These are

  1.     White
  2.     Yellow
  3.     Orange
  4.     Green
  5.     Blue
  6.     Brown

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

For Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the rate of progression is quite similar, but it has fewer belts. In BJJ the belts go from

  1.     White
  2.     Blue
  3.     Purple
  4.     Brown
  5.     Black

There is a minimum age for each belt. For example, there is no age for a white belt, for a blue or purple, the minimum age is 16, for a brown belt the age is 18, and for a black belt the age is 19.

Apart from age, one has to serve at least 1 year in their respective belt before moving on to the next belt. Both sports need advanced training to reach a black belt, in Judo you need 5-10 years while in BJJ, a black belt will need 8-12 years.


The kimonos of both arts are quite similar. However, there are minor differences between them. The kimono/uniform for judo is heavier and more durable than a taekwondo/karate uniform. That is because it is made to withstand throwing and gripping.

Now if we focus on the BJJ gear, it is also made to withstand heavy punishment. The material is supposed to sustain gripping and throwing. The fabric is strengthened with rip-stop stitching.

While BJJ allows multiple colors like blue, black, and white, Judo only allows white-colored kimonos.

Unlike Judo, BJJ has No-Gi competitions which are closer to MMA and Wrestling but with submissions only. The No-Gi uniform is replaced via a rashguard and shorts.

Which Sport is Better?

Which Sport is better for Self-Defense?

Both sports have their own merits and demerits. When a student repeatedly goes through stressful situations, they prepare themselves for a threat in real life. Proper training will allow you to submit, control, and take down an attacker in real life.

Our personal recommendation for self-defense would be BJJ. Why? Because of the fact that BJJ allows you to finish an opponent using techniques that are applicable not only on your feet but on the ground as well. BJJ also empowers you to defend yourself against takedowns and launch your own throws and takedowns.

Judo is exclusively trained in a Kimono which has less applicability in a street fight. Whereas a BJJ athlete has the edge over an opponent because they train in No-Gi. Furthermore, once you are on the ground the BJJ practitioner would be able to launch more offensive and defensive techniques from the top and bottom positions.

The major benefit of Judo and BJJ over other sports is the ability to spar at full pace. Which enables reenacting real-life situations more often.

Which sport is harder to learn?

Both sports have their own difficulties. If we focus on the basics, judo can be more time-consuming. Developing the essential timing and footwork takes focus and determination. For depth, BJJ has a more diverse area that can be discovered, because it usually takes more than a decade to achieve a black belt in this sport.

Which sport is harder physically?

In terms of physical punishment, Judo is harder. This is due to the volume of throws and takedowns that one has to practice which takes a toll on your body. That being said, BJJ is not as easy a game either. It takes a toll on your joints, knees, ankles and can cause stubborn injuries if not taken carefully.

Which sport is better for children?

This is a decision that parents would have to make themselves. Both sports have their own benefits that should be weighed in before enrolling your children in a gym. Judo is more of a traditional martial art that can incorporate traditional values in your child while BJJ can be a great tool that will aid your children in other sports such as wrestling or MMA.

While their benefits are somewhat similar, the biggest benefit that the children can achieve is physical fitness and discipline.

Can you learn Judo and BJJ at the Same Time?

Since both sports are derived from the same martial art, it is possible to train both at the same time. The throws in Judo can translate well into the BJJ realm, while the techniques, grips, and takedowns in BJJ can translate perfectly well in Judo.

However, training both sports simultaneously and excelling at them is going to be a monumental task, which will require the discipline of the highest level. If your goal is to compete in Mixed Martial Arts then BJJ should be your choice, if you plan on becoming an Olympic athlete then Judo should be your preference.


Both combative practices are based on a similar philosophy. You’ll often hear Brazilian Jiu Jitsu be referred to as arte suave, or the “gentle art.” While Judo itself, translates to “gentle way.” 

In the end, both sports are beneficial to the one who competes and trains in them. Their common ancestry allows them to be quite similar, yet miles apart in application. One can train at only one sport and excel at it or try out both to become the best at both. Whatever you choose is going to be your decision.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this article. Share your experiences with us. If you have any suggestions for us. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Until the next one,

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