Is BJJ the Best Martial Art? (An In-Depth Look)

You may have the fastest, hardest strikes in your neighborhood, but nothing puts the fear into the heart of your opponent like finding themselves in your grasp and subject to your will.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is wildly popular all over the world and recognized as one of the top ten martial arts to train.

If you’re trying to decide on which martial art is right for you, came across BJJ at some point and wondered: Is BJJ the best martial art? Here are some arguments for putting your efforts into a proven fighting method.    

is bjj the best martial art

What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but the word and style of Jiu-Jitsu are of Japanese origin. The word Jiu-Jitsu, the westernized form of jujutsu, means “gentle art.” This ancient form of fighting can be traced back through feudal Japan to Buddhist monks in India.

Early in the 20th Century, Mitsuyo Maeda migrated from Japan to Brazil and brought with him the Japanese Jiu-Jitsu art.

Maeda’s style included striking and throwing along with grappling. He taught this martial art to members of the Brazilian Gracie family, who decided to focus more on the ground fighting elements of traditional Jiu-Jitsu. You can learn more about the differences between these two arts here.

Both Jiu Jitsu styles assert that differences in size between combatants does not determine a fight. Smaller competitors can overcome much larger opponents by using the proper techniques. However, BJJ focuses almost exclusively on submission techniques and ground grappling rather than strikes.    

The Gracie family popularized their brand of Jiu-Jitsu through open challenges. They defeated opponents of all sizes, proving that their method was effective as a martial art. These no-holds barred exhibition matches popularized BJJ in Brazil and set the stage for a global explosion.

One of the members of the Gracie family, Royce, showed the world what BJJ could do when he defeated Gerard Gordeau in 1993 to win the first UFC tournament.

While modern MMA used in UFC matches includes various strikes, it has also incorporated many of the grappling techniques from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and simply would not be the same today without it.

What does BJJ teach you?

Now that the history lesson is out of the way, let’s talk about what BJJ teaches you.

I’ve already discussed how this martial art focuses on grappling, so obviously ground grappling techniques that lead to submission will be the primary focus of your learning. Some of the moves you’ll learn can be broadly classified as:

  • Positions
  • Transitions
  • Escapes

Let’s start with positions in BJJ

When you find yourself on the ground in a fight, the orientation of your body to your opponent determines who has the advantage, or positional dominance.

Some examples of the basic BJJ positions you’ll learn are the mount, the guard, and the side mount, but there are many more.

Transitions in BJJ are moves to attain positional dominance

Because you start the match on your feet, you could think of transitions as the first moves to make. Again, there are several different transitional moves in this category, such as moving from a side mount to a mount.

During a BJJ match, if your opponent gains positional dominance over you (or is about to), you’ll want to utilize an escape.

BJJ escape techniques like shrimping and sprawling

Shrimping is basically hip mobility and footwork when you’re on the ground. The correct movement of hips is utter important not only for escaping bad positions, but also for sweeping your opponent, passing guard and applying submissions etc.

Sprawling is an escape technique that came from wrestling, it’s one of the most effective movement in takedown defense. It became one of the most techniques in BJJ in recent years, because of how important it is. Especially when you are tied or down points in a match, it’s highly likely that you’ll end up wrestling in the end.

These may be the most important skills you’ll learn, especially when facing an experienced BJJ opponent.

The goal of a BJJ fight is the submission of your opponent. You’ll learn how to put your adversary in a leveraged position from which there is no escape. There are many different submissions types, most of which involve locking the neck, arms, and legs.

What makes BJJ stand out

There are so many choices for martial arts, and you want to know what makes BJJ the right choice for you. Is it just good for competitions or can you use it in a real fight? Read on to see how effective BJJ can be regardless of the situation.

It’s been said that 90% of all fights end up on the ground.

While that claim may or may not be true, what’s important is that a fight could go to the ground. BJJ teaches you how to win that fight should you find yourself in a ground struggle.

Another advantage to BJJ is that size differences are taken out of the equation.

Strength is no match for leverage, and so BJJ gives smaller fighters the ability to gain submission from larger opponents. Other martial arts rely on throws and strikes, putting smaller combatants at a disadvantage.

So, if you end up on the ground, particularly with a larger enemy, you want to have the best chance of winning. No other martial art focuses so much on overcoming your opponent in a non-lethal way (through submissions).

And if you need more, consider who else thinks BJJ is an important art to learn.

The Marine Corps Martial Arts program, U.S. law enforcement, and MMA fighters have all recognized the importance of learning BJJ.

Strikes, taught by other martial arts, will only get you so far and rely on a certain amount of strength to knock your opponent out of the fight. Locking someone in a submission hold allows for the fight to be resolved quickly without causing too much damage.  


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is far and away a great martial art. But by no means does it have to be the only technique you learn. Rather, it’s the best way to get started. Having great grappling techniques in your back pocket means that if another martial art method doesn’t work out, there’s still a chance for you to win.

Check out another helpful article we wrote on 5 best BJJ tips for beginners for to get you started. Also be sure to read our honest review of the best BJJ Gi for beginners to help you find the best BJJ Gi, if you want to keep going with your BJJ training,