Judo Vs. BJJ: Which Is More Effective?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo are two of the most popular grappling-based martial arts on the planet, and both are effective at what they specialize in. Both styles are derivatives of traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, which dates as far back as 720 AD. 


The History Of Judo 

The word “Jiu-Jitsu” means gentle art, and that philosophy remains evident in Judo and BJJ. It’s a fighting system developed to train Samurai, a feared caste of warriors that dominated Japan’s feudal era. 

Samurai wore armor, and so did many of the adversaries they often found themselves going up against. As a result, Jiu-Jitsu focuses on throws, armlocks, chokes, and gouges, techniques that remain effective even against armored opponents. 

The Samurai’s reign eventually came to an end in the 1870s when the feudal system was ended. New laws were passed that banned people from wearing swords, and the Samurai and the martial arts schools they trained at started going extinct. 

A young Jiu-Jitsu fighter named Jigoro Kano wanted to spread the combat style and modified traditional Jiu-Jitsu to make it more acceptable to the masses. He opened the first “Kodokan Judo” school in 1882. He hoped the name change would distinguish his new style from the more brutal Jiu-Jitsu practiced by the Samurai. Kano’s Judo quickly became popular as law enforcement and military organizations in Japan added his techniques to their training. Kano was so effective at spreading Judo he was invited to the Olympic Committee in 1909. By 1964, Judo was added to the Tokyo Olympic Games. 


And Then Came Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

While Kano made Judo a global sport, it was one of his disciples Mitsuyo Maeda who took the grappling art to Brazil. He arrived there in 1914 and started the first Judo school. A group of brothers, Carlos, Helio, Oswaldo, and Jorge Gracie, started training with him, and they eventually started focusing on the ground aspect of Judo: “newaza.” Carlos and Helio Gracie in particular are credited with modifying Judo ground techniques to the point it eventually became its unique fighting style called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They used their ground fighting skills to dominate Vale Tudo – no holds barred – fights in Brazil.  

The Gracie family eventually brought their ground fighting system to the U.S. and founded the first no-hold fighting league, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. No one had any answer for their fighting system during the early days of mixed martial arts. 


Differences Between BJJ And Judo

BJJ and Judo share many similarities since they are both derived from traditional Jiu-Jitsu. Techniques like throws, joint locks, and choke holds are used in both styles. The key difference between these sports is what they specialize in: Judo players specialize in throws, trips, and foot sweeps executed from standing and clinch positions, while BJJ fighters focus on submissions and ground fighting. 

Judo fighters look to execute perfect throws that instantly win matches, while BJJ prioritizes controlling and submitting opponents on the ground. 


Rule Differences

There are many differences between sport Judo and BJJ. While both sports start with participants standing up, Judo fighters can win matches by executing perfect throws on their opponents, while BJJ players only score points for the takedown. 

In Judo, anything classified as an “ippon” can win you a match. Some ways to score an ippon in Judo include:

  • Throwing your opponent, so they land on their back
  • Using a joint lock or submission to get an opponent to tap out
  • Keeping your opponent pinned on the mat for 20 seconds

Judo players can also win matches by accumulating two “Waza-aris.” Some of the ways to score a Waza-ari include:

  • Holding an opponent down for 10-19 seconds
  • Throwing your opponent to the ground but not getting them to land on their back

While most takedowns are allowed in BJJ, Judo doesn’t allow the use of any techniques that involve grabbing hold of your opponent’s legs. 


BJJ Rules


The goal of a BJJ match is to force your opponent to submit. You also earn points for specific tasks you perform. Here’s how most BJJ tournaments are scored:

If neither fighter gets submitted in a BJJ match, the fighter with the most points wins the contest. 


Which Is The More Effective Martial Art?

bjj vs judo

BJJ and Judo are both effective martial arts for self-defense, despite having their strengths and limitations. Both share some limitations, like strikes not being part of the training program, which can leave students in over their heads when punches and kicks are involved. 

However, both styles create very competent grapplers thanks to their sparring-intense approach. Students of each style spend lots of time practicing their techniques against resisting opponents. This makes their techniques highly effective in real fights since students are already used to executing moves on resisting opponents. 

Some would argue that BJJ specializing in ground fighting makes it the more effective system, and there’s some truth to it. BJJ players dominated the early days of mixed martial arts, and the style is still one of the best bases. Judo fighters haven’t been as successful in MMA, but some have reached the highest levels, like Ronda Rousey

Neither style is superior to the other, so it comes down to which style you enjoy more. BJJ and Judo are siblings of the same martial art, and that makes them the perfect complement. If you train one, you might as well train the other. Many of the techniques you’ll learn in one carry over to the other. 

You get to perfect your stand-up grappling skills during your judo training while improving your submissions and ground fighting during BJJ classes. Your Judo skills will give you an edge in BJJ tournaments since all matches start standing up. Your newaza skills will come in handy in Judo, where you have limited time to look for submissions on the ground. 


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