judo vs bjj

Judo vs BJJ: Similarities and Differences

At first glance, the average person may have a tough time noting the differences between judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). There's no shame in that; they both find their roots in traditional jiu-jitsu. However, giving the two martial arts a longer study and their differences become as obvious as their similarities. The judo vs BJJ is a longstanding debate considering both arts have been around for decades. Let's dive a little deeper into both arts to get a better understanding of them and see if there's any reason to put them against each other so often.

Judo & BJJ – Comparison

Before we tackle the similarities, we'll briefly breakdown each of the arts individually.


The martial art originates in Japan, having been founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its development stems from jiu-jitsu, but many of the methods have been modified to be less dangerous in their delivery so that students can practice without causing serious harm to one another. There's a reason it's translated as "the gentle way".

Judo is an art style that focuses on defense. Mainly, it emphasizes using an opponent's strength against them. It focuses on grappling, throwing, and occasionally striking; however, as judo evolved more into a combat sport, more importance was given to throws and submissions.

judo vs bjj

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

BJJ is a martial art that would more than likely not exist if not for judo. In the early 1900s, Mitsuyo Maeda was one of the judoka that judo founder Jigoro Kano sent overseas to help spread knowledge about the art. Maeda arrived in Brazil and eventually taught Carlos Gracie, who in turn passed on the teachings to his own siblings.

One of his siblings, Hélio Gracie, found himself unable to perform some of the moves from judo. As such, he switched up some of the moves to favor leverage more rather than force and took the fight to the ground. That is where BJJ differs from most martial arts; it actively teaches individuals to both defend and attack while on their backs.

judo vs bjj

Common Techniques

There are some main techniques that both judo and BJJ utilize:

  • Submissions
  • Throws/Sweeps
  • Grappling

Submissions are one of the primary techniques the two arts utilize well. In judo and BJJ, you are likely to find choking techniques and joint lock techniques. Before you can successfully implement these techniques, however, practitioners from both arts rely on throws, sweeps, and grappling moves to get into the right position.

Throws and sweeps take the battle right to the ground, which can either end or just begin a match. Whereas grappling helps you gain an upper hand on your opponent and can lead to you controlling and winning the match.

Both judo and BJJ practitioners use similar moves within these techniques like various renditions of the famous arm bar, leg locks, triangle choke, sleeve choke, etc. There are also numerous of throws and grappling moves used between the two arts like the Tomoe Nage (circle/sacrifice throw), foot sweep, shoulder holds, scarf hold, and more.

judo vs bjj

Judo & BJJ – Distinctions

Even though there are a few similar traits you can find between the two martial arts, their differences help them truly stand out from one another.


First off, there are some differences between a judo gi and a BJJ gi. Yes, some companies manufacture uniforms with intent that they can be used across various martial arts. However, if you pay attention, you'll notice how the variations can be helpful.

Judo gis come with a general larger cut (e.g. longer skirt, wide wrist), while BJJ gis are made smaller with the arms with a narrower wrist opening. These boil down to the difference in rules and techniques between the two. BJJ relies on grappling, so the gis aren't as easy to grip as to not make it easy on practitioners. Judo gis are designed to get around gripping as that isn't the primary concern with the art.

In the end though, you are more likely allowed to where a judo gi during a BJJ competition than the other way around. BJJ competitions are not as strict so judo gis are deemed appropriate still. However, judo comes with stricter rules concerning attire, so it can be harder to get away with sporting a BJJ gi.

Judo – Ends on the Ground

In judo, there are a handful of ways you can win the match. You can throw your opponent, with a great amount of force, onto the mat. If you both end up on the mat, you can use submissions to win from there. Either way, the main goal is throwing your opponent down so that they're no longer in the match.

On many occasions, a judo fight that lasts too long on the ground without either opponent gaining leverage is stopped to allow both opponents to go back to their feet.

BJJ – Starts on the Ground

Unlike with judo, if you throw or sweep your opponent to the ground in BJJ, you are awarded with points and the match goes on. BJJ is an art that relies on ground fighting, so once both opponents are on the mat, that's when a fight can truly begin.

Another big difference with BJJ and judo is that in BJJ, fighters are allowed to stay on the ground rather than forced onto their feet again after some time. A BJJ match typically ends in a triumphant submission technique.

Judo vs BJJ – What's the Verdict?

The whole judo being pinned against BJJ is an unnecessary feud that should end. Both arts have similar roots, thus use similar techniques; more so since BJJ is more of a love child from judo rather than traditional jiu-jitsu.

These two martial arts are equally successful in what they do with BJJ just having a larger focus on ground game while judo dominates being on the feet and forcing an opponent down to stop a match. Judo vs BJJ comes down to a personal preference in the end and deciding if you feel you can perform better on your feet or on the ground. Either way, both martial arts will help you develop the fighting skills you thrive for.


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