BJJ vs Judo — two awesome martial arts that many people love. You wanna know which one is the better pick to train?

You’re not alone. Choosing between these two martial arts can be a big decision. Each has its own style, techniques, and flair. 

Whether you’re looking to start training for fun, self-defense, or even to go pro, knowing the ups and downs will help you decide.

I focus on BJJ. I’ve visited some Judo classes but found that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a more comprehensive Self-Defense tool.

While Judo focuses mainly on takedowns, BJJ also incorporates ground control in its teachings.

In the following, I’ll explain to you why the BJJ vs Judo debate is worth having and why I chose to focus on BJJ.

BJJ vs Judo - 2 men learning Judo and BJJ
CriteriaBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)Judo
InclusivityOpen to anyone willing to try Generally open to all
Main FocusGround fighting and submissionsTakedowns and throws
SubmissionsHighly emphasizedLess emphasized
Striking TechniquesNoneLimited
Ground TechniquesAdvancedBasic
Stand-Up TechniquesBasicAdvanced
Use of GiYes, but also no-gi variantsTraditionally yes
Self-Defense AspectLimited stand-up and striking, dependent on the ground gameStrong in stand-up scenarios
Formalities & CultureLess formalMore formal
ProsEffective ground game, inclusive, focus on submissions, no-gi optionWell-rounded, strong in takedowns, some ground techniques
ConsLimited stand-up and striking, dependent on ground gameLimited ground game, less focus on submissions, gi-dependence for some techniques
Ideal ForThose interested in ground fighting and submissionsThose interested in takedowns
BJJ vs Judo: Comparison

BJJ vs Judo: Origins and Philosophy

BJJ’s Origin and Philosophy

BJJ has roots in Brazil, but it didn’t start there. The martial art is based on older forms of Japanese fighting.

The famous Gracie family took what they knew from Judo and other traditional martial arts and created BJJ. It first became big in Brazil, and now it’s popular worldwide.

That also means that BJJ and Judo are close in their approach. BJJ evolved from Judo.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a combat sport that’s mostly casual and relaxed. Sure, BJJ has its roots in traditional martial arts, but it’s more laid-back. Especially in BJJ schools where you also train MMA, you might notice that bowing or shouting “Oss” isn’t a big deal.

Judo’s Origin and Philosophy

Judo was born in Japan. The man who started it all is Jigoro Kano.

He founded the first “Kodokan Judo” school in Tokyo in 1882. Kano took what was good from older Japanese martial arts and added his own ideas. That’s how Judo as we know it came to be.

The name Judo means “the Gentle Way,” and this philosophy extends into how practitioners approach the sport. Judo isn’t about overpowering your opponent; it’s about redirecting their energy.

Customs are big in Judo. Bowing, the correct way to wear your gi, and lining up by belt rank are standard practices that most Judo schools strictly follow.

Shared Origins and Philosophies Between Judo and BJJ

While BJJ has inherited many customs and practices from Judo, how these traditions manifest differs a lot between the two arts.

The Gi, the bowing, the philosophy—all are elements you might find in both, but they will feel different, depending on whether you’re stepping onto a Judo mat or into a BJJ academy.

If you prefer a martial art that’s more informal, BJJ is for you. But if you’re drawn to the ritual and philosophical aspects of martial arts, Judo is a better fit.

Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may look different to the untrained eye, but they’re closely related, like siblings in the martial arts family.

They both focus on grappling but in different ways. The Gi is common to both. Even the techniques share similarities; many throws and locks in BJJ have their origins in Judo.

What Are The Differences In Techniques?

Techniques in BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is about the ground game. In a BJJ match, you’ll focus on takedowns, controlling your opponent on the mat, and going for submissions. Here’s what you’ll learn in BJJ classes:

Ground fighting
  • Takedowns: Think double-leg or single-leg takedowns, where you aim to bring your opponent to the ground.
  • Controlling Opponent: Once you’re down there, BJJ teaches you how to control the fight using positions like guard, side control, or full mount.
  • Submissions: Think armlocks, chokes, and leglocks. These are the moves that make your opponent tap out.

In my experience, BJJ focuses less on takedowns and more on ground control and submissions. Nowadays, many even start fighting while sitting on the ground.

Women does a Judo throw on a guy

Techniques In Judo

Judo tends to be a bit different. While it also has some groundwork called “ne-waza,” it’s mostly about throws. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Throws: Techniques like the “Seoi Nage” or “Osoto Gari” are classic Judo throws that focus on using your opponent’s balance and momentum against them.
  • Grip and Position: It’s key to get the right grip on your opponent’s Gi. From there, it’s about using your footwork and balance to execute the throw.
  • Pin and Submit: After a successful throw, Judo teaches you how to pin your opponent in positions like “Kesa-Gatame,” and even some submissions like armlocks.

In Judo, the focus is more on how to take someone down. And let me tell you, Judo guys are scary when it comes to throws. You don’t want to be on the other side of it.

On the other hand, I haven’t seen much emphasis on submission in Judo. While there are some, it’s not the main focus.

Techniques Both BJJ and Judo Share

But even though there are differences between BJJ and Judo, they aren’t two completely different worlds. They share some common ground:

  • Grips: Both sports emphasize the importance of a solid grip on your opponent’s Gi.
  • Basic Throws and Takedowns: Techniques like the “Hip Throw” exist in both martial arts, though they might go by different names.
  • Ground Control: Both arts teach you how to control an opponent on the ground, although BJJ goes more in-depth in this area.

So, whether you’re more into ground fighting or you want to learn how to throw somebody, there’s something in either BJJ or Judo that will teach you that. 

Is BJJ Or Judo Better For Street Fights?

How BJJ and Judo are Used in Street Fights

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Judo are often cited as practical for real-world scenarios, like street fights or self-defense situations.

Judo’s emphasis on throws and quick takedowns allows you to neutralize an opponent, ending a confrontation before it escalates. The takedowns in Judo are so powerful that they can end the fight right there just by throwing the opponent to the ground.

On the flip side, BJJ’s focus on ground control and submissions offers a perfect way to handle an opponent once both of you hit the ground.

In both martial arts, the main goal is to take the opponent to the ground.

Which One is Better for a Street Fight?

This is the part where things get interesting. All fights start standing, right? That’s where the judo techniques shine. It gives you the tools to take someone down fast, gaining an immediate advantage.

When it comes to throws, Judo is the best martial arts to train. I have sparred against Judo guys, and I had no chance of standing with them.

On the other hand, once you’re on the ground, that’s BJJ territory. Jiu-Jitsu teaches you how to control an opponent, keep them there, and apply a submission to end the fight if necessary.

So once the Judo guy took me down, he wanted to submit me on the ground. But since I was more experienced than him in Jiu-Jitsu, I knew how to reverse the position and eventually submit him.

Therefore, if I had to choose between the two, I’d choose Jiu Jitsu. While not as emphasized, BJJ will teach you the necessary takedowns you need. Many Judo throws you’ll also learn in Jiu Jitsu. They’ll be sufficient against any untrained person.

BJJ also gives you the tools to end the fight on the ground by breaking limbs or choking somebody unconscious. Judo’s techniques here are limited. So, BJJ will give you a more comprehensive approach and is, therefore, better for self-defense.

The Ideal Combination: Judo and BJJ


Each martial art has its strengths, and these strengths complement each other well.

If you’re trained in Judo, you’ll have the upper hand when standing. But if that fight goes to the ground, BJJ techniques will help you control the situation and end the confrontation.

The best-case scenario is to learn both. If you’re well-versed in both Judo and BJJ, you’ll be unbeatable by an untrained person. You’ll have the skills to control a fight from start to finish, making you much more prepared for any real-world confrontations you might face.

So, in the battle of Judo vs. BJJ for street fights, it’s not an either-or situation. The two martial arts are more powerful together, providing a full toolkit for self-defense.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Judo And BJJ?

Pros and Cons of BJJ

  • Inclusive Philosophy: The Gracies famously said, “Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone,” and that holds true. Anyone willing to give it a try can learn BJJ.
  • Ground Game Mastery: When it comes to ground fighting, BJJ is king. It teaches you to control, dominate, and submit your opponent on the ground.
  • Submission Focus: BJJ puts a lot of emphasis on submissions, teaching you how to incapacitate an opponent effectively.
  • Lack of Stand-Up Techniques: BJJ doesn’t focus much on what happens before you get to the ground. This can be a disadvantage in situations where takedowns are crucial.
  • No Striking: If you’re looking for a martial art that incorporates punches and kicks like Muay Thai, BJJ is not for that.
  • Dependence on Ground Game: An advanced BJJ player’s skills largely depend on their ability to take the fight to the ground.

Pros and Cons of Judo

  • Well-Rounded: Judo training provides a balanced skill set, combining takedowns, some ground techniques, and even a bit of striking.
  • Stand-Up Prowess: If you’re looking for a martial art that will teach you to toss an opponent around, use Judo to learn.
  • Combination of Techniques: Unlike BJJ, Judo doesn’t only focus on ground fighting; it incorporates both standing and ground game elements.
  • Limited Ground Game: While Judo does cover some ground techniques, it doesn’t go as in-depth as BJJ. You might find Judo lacking if submissions and ground control are your focus.
  • Gi-Dependence: The traditional use of the gi in Judo can make some techniques less applicable in real-world self-defense scenarios where your opponent isn’t wearing a gi.

Should You Learn Judo or BJJ?

So, which one should you choose? It depends on what you’re looking to get out of it. If you’re interested in mastering the art of the throw and enjoy the structure of traditional martial art, give Judo a try.

But if you want to learn the ground game and want something less formal, then BJJ is the way to go.

That said, learning one can also complement the other. Knowing Judo throws can give them an edge in BJJ roles, and Judo players can benefit from the ground control techniques of BJJ.

So whether you start with Judo or BJJ, just know that each has its own unique flair but offers valuable skills that cross over into the other. Choose based on what feels right for you; there’s no wrong answer here.

For me, it was BJJ. I enjoy BJJ training much more. It’s less formal, you get to sparr more, and you learn fight-ending techniques. I find it to be the most unique martial art out there.

What Gear Do You Wear In BJJ and Judo?

Man  wearing a traditional Gi

What is a Gi?

The Gi is your go-to outfit for both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. It’s got a jacket, pants, and a belt. You can think of it like a uniform for fighting and training.

What Are The Differences between a Judo Gi and BJJ Gi?

 Let’s break down how the Gi changes between Judo and BJJ.

Judo Gi

  • Material: A Judo Gi is made of a tougher, thicker fabric. 
  • Fit: The fit is a bit loose. That’s so you can move around a lot, and it makes it easier for your opponent to grab you, which is pretty important in Judo.
  • Color: Most are white, but you’ll see blue ones, too, especially when people are facing off so you can tell who’s who.


  • Material: The fabric here is lighter and stretchier. That’s because Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has a lot of ground fighting
  • Fit: These Gis are cut closer to the body
  • Color: While you’ll see a lot of white and blue, some wear black or other colors, especially during training.

In case you want to get your own Gi, make sure to check out our Guide on how to choose a BJJ Gi.

Why Both BJJ and Judo Use a Gi

So, why do both BJJ and Judo use a Gi? Well, the Gi helps you learn the art better. It’s easier to grab onto, which is key for both styles. Also, the belt is more than just a fashion statement. It shows your rank and how much you learned.

So here you can also see that BJJ evolved from Judo. They wore the same attire but started to focus on different techniques.

If you are still looking for a Gi, you can check out our Guide on the best Gis on the market.

Other BJJ Gear

Let’s not forget people in both sports often use mouthguards for safety. You’ll also see mats and grappling dummies, great for practicing throws and submissions. And if you’re into no-gi BJJ, you’ll probably wear a rash guard.

How Does The Belt System Work?

The BJJ Belt System

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the belt system is a big deal. You start off as a white belt; from there, it’s a climb. After white, you move on to blue, purple, brown, and black. Some schools also offer belts for kids, like yellow, orange, and green.

Once you reach black, it’s not the end. You can get up to six degrees on your BJJ black belt, and there are even “coral” belts for higher degrees, like red-and-black and red-and-white.

The Judo Belt System

Judo’s got its own belt ranking, but it’s similar to BJJ. You start at the white belt. From there, it’s yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, and then black. Once you reach the black belt level, you can achieve 10 “dan” levels.

How Long Does It Take to Reach a Black Belt In BJJ And Judo?

  • BJJ: It’s a long time. On average, it can take about 10-12 years of consistent training to get a black belt. Some people get there faster if they’re training like beasts, but it’s more than a decade-long commitment for most.
  • Judo: It’s quicker in Judo. If you’re consistent and work hard, you can expect to spend about 4 to 6 years reaching a black belt.

In both sports, getting a black belt isn’t just about time. You have to prove your skills through a series of tests and real-world applications. So, yeah, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Final Words

When considering BJJ vs Judo, it becomes clear that each art form’s limitations are effectively balanced by the strengths of the other.

Judo shines where BJJ has gaps, particularly in stand-up techniques and takedowns. BJJ excels in areas where Judo may lack depth, like ground fighting and submissions.

In essence, these martial arts complement each other perfectly. They both have their unique offerings and can fill in the gaps left by the other. 

So, if you’re looking for a comprehensive skill set, it’s worth to explore both disciplines. This way, you won’t just be a specialist in one area; you’ll be a well-rounded martial artist ready for various scenarios.

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