Today, we’re focusing on a debate many argue about: Jiu-Jitsu vs Muay Thai. Which one is better?

We already compared Jiu-Jitsu with other grappling sports like wrestling and Judo. Now, we’re looking at how it compares to Muay Thai, a striking martial art.

I’m a big fan of both. I train in both striking and grappling martial arts. I’m a big believer in grappling martial arts. But in my experience, all of them have their strengths and weaknesses.

So today, I want to answer the question for you: Which martial art is better? Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai?

Jiu Jitsu vs Muay Thai : 2 people sparring

Jiu Jitsu vs Muay Thai – A Comparison

Each martial art has its unique strengths and weaknesses.

Muay Thai excels in striking, teaching you a range of kicks, elbows, and punches that can be devastating in a stand-up fight.

On the other hand, BJJ is the king of ground combat, focusing on submissions, locks, and chokes that can quickly defeat an opponent.

When it comes to street fighting, both arts have their strengths. Muay Thai fighters are perfect when standing, delivering powerful strikes that can end a fight quickly. But I find it’s easy to take a Muay Thai fighter down and to control them on the ground.

For BJJ practitioners, the situation flips. Their skills are unmatched on the ground but more vulnerable in stand-up combat. Most of the Jiu-Jitsu guys I know never did any striking.

The thing I always say, though, is:

Why engage in striking at all? If we are honest, most street fights could be avoided. If you are at a striking distance, just run away. Leave your ego out of this.

You only need to engage when somebody grabs you. And in that case, Jiu-Jitsu teaches you exactly what to do. So, in my opinion, BJJ is the better martial art for self-defense.

CriteriaMuay ThaiBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
Primary FocusStriking (Kicks, punches, elbows, knees)Grappling (Submissions, ground control, takedowns)
StrengthsPowerful strikes, good for stand-up combatExceptional ground game, effective submissions
WeaknessesLimited ground game, susceptible to takedownsLimited striking, vulnerable in stand-up combat
In MMAOften used for striking, less frequent pure expertsFrequently seen for ground control, many specialized fighters
Self-DefenseEffective in stand-up scenarios, multiple opponentsEffective one-on-one, especially in close positions
Typical TrainingRoadwork, padwork, bagwork, clinching, shadowboxing, sparringWarm-ups, solo drills, partner drills, positional sparring, rolling
Gear NeededGloves, shorts, mouthguard, ankle wraps, hand wraps, shin guardsGi or rash guard, mouthguard, BJJ shorts, optionally grappling dummies
Jiu Jitsu vs Muay Thai: Comparison Table

Is Muay Thai Or BJJ Better For MMA?

In mixed martial arts (MMA), especially the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), both Muay Thai and BJJ make their presence felt—but in different ways.

Starting with Muay Thai, it’s true that we see a lot of its techniques in the UFC. Elbows, knees, kicks, and punches are all common. That’s because MMA fights start standing up, so striking is the first line of offense.

However, the traditional Muay Thai boxing stance is not seen in the UFC. It’s too vulnerable for takedowns, which brings us to BJJ.

BJJ fighters shine in the UFC when the fight hits the ground. We often witness chokes, armbars, triangles, and intense ground control there. Fighters skilled in BJJ can dominate in these situations, turning the direction of a fight.

While both martial arts are key components of MMA, there are no pure Muay Thai experts in the UFC. Fighters like Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira may excel in kickboxing, but they aren’t Muay Thai specialists.

On the flip side, Brazilian fighters like Charles Oliveira and Gilbert Burns represent BJJ at its finest in MMA, showcasing how this grappling martial art can be a decisive factor in high-level competition.

To sum it up, Muay Thai and BJJ each have their unique strengths and a place in the world of MMA. A well-rounded martial artist would do well to integrate techniques from both fighting styles.

Is Muay Thai Or BJJ Better For Self-Defense?

Self-defense is a hot topic in martial arts, and it’s often where the debate of Jiu Jitsu vs. Muay Thai heats up. Let’s break it down by scenario to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Striking Distance

If you’re skilled in Muay Thai, you are dangerous in a one-on-one street fight.

Elbow and knee strikes are no joke; they can quickly end the fight. The key for a Muay Thai fighter is to keep the fight standing, where they excel.

I tell you right now – you don’t want to keep standing with a Muay Thai fighter. They have crazy speed and power. And their strikes are devastating.

So, when it comes to stand-up, they are elite.

Close Distance

BJJ is your friend when the fight goes to the ground.

The martial art teaches you how to control an opponent using locks, chokes, and ground fighting.

If you’re a BJJ expert and take someone to the ground, you’ll win. It’s nearly impossible for an untrained person to compete with a BJJ athlete on the ground. 

Size Matters: Leverage and Technique

What if you’re smaller or less physically strong than your opponent?

Muay Thai might not be enough. If your opponent lands a lucky punch due to sheer size and strength, it could be over.

In contrast, BJJ athletes often submit opponents much larger than themselves, using skill and technique to leverage their position.

I have seen people who are double the size of my coach getting choked out by him. BJJ is incredible – It gives the smaller guy a chance to survive on the street.

The Grabbing Scenario: Can’t Run, Can’t Hide

The best self-defense is to avoid the fight altogether.

Always run away if you can. But what if you can’t run because someone grabs you? That’s where BJJ shines. It teaches you exactly what to do when grabbed, allowing you to escape or even turn the tables.

So as long nobody grabs you, just leave the situation. By the time somebody grabs you, use your Jiu-Jitsu.

Multiple Opponents: Keep It Standing

However, BJJ isn’t perfect for every scenario. If you’re facing more than one person, taking the fight to the ground with BJJ wouldn’t be a good idea.

You can’t control one person on the ground while another can attack you. In such situations, the stand-up techniques of Muay Thai offer better self-defense.

Muay Thai guys would have a better chance of defeating multiple opponents than BJJ guys.

In summary, both Muay Thai and BJJ have their pros and cons for self-defense. A well-rounded approach would be to train in both. This way, you’re prepared for whatever comes your way, be it on your feet or on the ground.

A screenshot of a poll I did on threads: Muay Thai vs BJJ - Who Wins?
That’s what my Threads audience thinks…:D

Which One Is Better For A Beginner?

So which martial should you start training first? Here are some things to consider when making your choice:

showing a person standing in front of two gyms, one a Muay Thai school and the other a Jiu Jitsu school, with a question mark above to symbolize their indecision
  • BJJ is harder to learn, and it has many techniques. So, the earlier you start, the better.
  • Muay Thai is quicker to learn. If you want to learn fast, this is for you.
  • Do you like ground fighting or striking? BJJ is for the ground. Muay Thai is for standing up and hitting.
  • BJJ feels less scary for me. No one is punching you here.
  • BJJ and Muay Thai work great together. They fill in each other’s gaps.

So, for a beginner, I’d recommend starting with BJJ. But in the end, you have to decide for yourself. Of course, the best would be to learn both.

The perfect place for that is to go to Thailand. More and more Gyms now offer a combination between BJJ and Muay Thai.

There you can try both.

Technique Breakdown

Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) couldn’t be more different in fighting techniques. This section will give you a comprehensive breakdown.

Muay Thai Techniques

Muay Thai is a striking, effective martial art that offers a range of techniques for different distances and scenarios.

Two men boxers fighting muay thai boxing white background.
  • Muay Thai Moves in Distance Fight:
    • Front Kicks: These are great for keeping your opponent at a distance.
    • High Kicks: Perfect for landing a game-changing blow to the head
  • Muay Thai Techniques in the Half-Distance:
    • Boxing Techniques: Thai Kickboxing also incorporates some elements of Western boxing.
    • Low Kicks: These can wear down an opponent over time.
  • Muay Thai Techniques in Infight:
    • Elbow Strikes: These can cause significant damage up close.
    • Knee Attacks: Ideal for when you’re really close to your opponent.
    • Clinch: This is Muay Thai’s way of controlling the opponent when both are standing.

So you see, Muay Thai has many fun techniques. For me, Muay Thai fights are one of the most exciting things to watch because of their high pace, crazy techniques, and devastating consequences.

I believe it’s the best striking martial art. I often wonder why it’s not more popular outside Thailand.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques

2 men practicing takedowns

In contrast to the standing game of Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a Brazilian martial art that focuses on what happens when you hit the mat.

BJJ has many, many techniques, but here are some of the basics:

  • Takedowns: The initial move to get your opponent to the ground.
  • Ground Control: Once you’re on the mat, this is how you maintain an advantageous position.
  • Submissions: These are your chokes and joint locks that force an opponent to tap out.
  • Sweeps: Techniques to reverse an unfavorable position on the ground.

A pure BJJ or jiu-jitsu practitioner will invest a lot of time learning how to use these techniques effectively. Compared to BJJ, Muay Thai skills may seem more straightforward, but each is complex in its own way.

I fell in love with BJJ. In the beginning, it’s hard with all the techniques you need to learn. But if you stay consistent with it, you will see the beauty and science behind it.

I also compete in BJJ, and its techniques are more safe against injuries. Unlike Muay Thai.

What to Expect In BJJ And Muay Thai Training

Getting into martial arts can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

Whether it’s Muay Thai or BJJ, each offers a unique training experience designed to learn specific skills. Here’s a breakdown to give you a clearer idea:

What’s a Typical Muay Thai Class Like?

  1. Road Work: Expect some running for your cardio.
  2. Padwork: Practicing your strikes on pads held by a partner or trainer.
  3. Bagwork: Further refine your strikes, kicks, and elbows by hitting heavy bags.
  4. Clinching: Learn how to control an opponent in close positions.
  5. Shadowboxing: Practice moves and combinations in the air to improve technique.
  6. Sparring: Light or full-contact practice fights to test your skills in a controlled environment.
  7. Strength & Conditioning: Expect some weightlifting, plyometrics, or bodyweight exercises to improve overall athleticism.

So, a Muay Thai class is challenging. You will develop great cardio, it’s great for your fitness, and you’ll develop a well-rounded stand-up game.

I also feel like Thai sparring is lighter than other martial arts. Although the participants touch each other while sparring, they don’t want to knock each other out.

Gear Needed

  • Gloves
  • Muay Thai Shorts
  • Mouthguard
  • Ankle Wraps
  • Hand Wraps
  • Shin Guards

What’s a Typical BJJ Class Like?

  1. Warm-Up: Solo drills to get the blood flowing.
  2. Drilling: Learning and practicing new techniques with a partner.
  3. Positional Sparring: Controlled sparring focusing on specific positions or techniques.
  4. Rolling: Free-form sparring where you can try out what you’ve learned.

Warm-ups are usually cut short (which I’m not a fan of). Drilling takes a huge chunk of practice and is probably the most important part – especially for a beginner.

Rolling is then the most fun. Here, you get to test your skills against your teammates. I feel so good after BJJ practice.

Gear Needed

Final Words

Both Muay Thai and BJJ offer unique skills that can be highly effective in different situations. The best way to know which aligns with your goals is to give both a try. 

Training in both martial arts will give you a balanced set of skills that make you more versatile, whether in the ring, cage or even in a self-defense situation on the street.

But if you want to choose between one, I’d go for Jiu-Jitsu. I believe that if a BJJ Player and a Muay Thai fighter would fight, the Jiu-Jitsu guy would win 9 out of 10 times.

Similar Posts