Judo vs BJJ: Which is Better? (An In-Depth Look)

So, you have decided you wish to take the leap into self- mastery, discipline and a respectful martial art. Which one do you choose?

Judo and BJJ are both great choices.

But which is better?

In this article we will explore the benefits of each and why one may be best for you.

Let’s settle this!

judo vs bjj

Judo Roots: Why it May Be Favored

Judo is a form of martial art developed from the ancient Japanese art of jujutsu. Initially intended as a sport from creator Dr. Kano, many of the more ‘dangerous’ and intense jujutsu moves were removed from the practice.

One of the results of this adaptation was “randori”, also known as “free sparring”. Randori if you are not aware is where the judokas attack and throw their training partners in full power, which simulates actual contest.

By training with full power against fully resisting opponents, judokas quickly learn how to effectively destabilize their opponents, how to time throws and how to defend and counter against opponents grappling.

In fact, the breaking of balance, hip throws in Judo are superior to all other forms of martial arts.

BJJ Roots: Why it May Be Your Choice

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was invented by a family called ‘Gracie’ in Brazil, you can read more about the origins of BJJ here. What makes it so unique however is the personal story involved, and how BJJ developed into what it is today from Judo.

Helio Gracie was the smallest of the family. As the moves of Judo favored larger and stronger fighters, Helio developed the Judo that him and his family had been taught, into one which allowed the smaller person to thrive.

He did this by focusing more on the ground fighting aspect of Judo, using leverage, technique to submit his opponents.

Helio and members of the Gracie family would later prove the effectiveness of BJJ by defeating much larger opponents through various challenges and tournaments.

You may feel BJJ is the one for you based on its focus on leverage, skills and technique over physical size or brute strength.

Judo VS BJJ: Advantages and Strengths

Both Judo and BJJ have many positive benefits, which are shared with many great martial art forms. In addition to the few differences already expressed, however, both arts have their unique characteristics.

Judo is great for promoting teamwork, values of community, and cooperation. There is a strong sense of higher social goals through the respect and interaction involved. It can therefore prevents issues such as excessive aggression, violence, bullying or harassment and ill- treatment towards others.

The same can be said for BJJ. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu also involves a strong emphasis on cooperation, teamwork and harmony, respect for your opponent and grappling partner is taught and a general feeling of brotherhood or community encouraged.

So how do you choose the right one to go for, when both of these fine martial arts share so many similarities?

The key may be in your own personal preference, intentions, and goals.

Why BJJ May Be Better

BJJ may be better for anyone smaller or physically weaker. There are young girls who practice and learn BJJ with great success. Here’s a video of a girl submitting a boy much bigger than her.

I believe people of all shapes, sizes and ages can become immersed in the art, with high hopes of being successful and achieving their personal goals.

If you are smaller person, BJJ may be the better art to learn.

But What about Judo?

Judo literally translates as “the gentle way,” although it still involves significant amounts of self- defense: throws, chokes, locks and submissions.

As Judo evolved from jujutsu and BJJ evolved from Judo, it can be argued that Judo is in a primary cycle and BJJ in a secondary.

The fact that Judo is an Olympic sport as well as being an effective martial art, may swing it for some people.

Difference Between Judo and BJJ

BJJ mainly focuses on ground fighting, with goal of submitting opponents with chokes locks and joint manipulations. Whereas Judo is more focused on throws, combined with some locks, chokes and pins.

Neither is better or worse than the other in truth. The best way to decide which one may be for you is based on your personal preference.

If you want to gain more physical strength, learn to break your opponents’ balance, using their force against them, subduing them by throws, then Judo may be for you.

If you wish to learn the art of using leverage, technique and skill against even much larger opponents, by submitting them with one of your many chokes and locks, then BJJ may be for you.

Judo vs BJJ for Self Defense

This one is a tough call. While both are good for self-defense, there’re some factors to consider.

Judo focuses more on stand up grappling and throws, is seen as more balanced between the two. Most Judo clubs also teach you newaza (ground techniques), which is plenty to control and submit most assailants if you do end up on the ground.

BJJ focuses on actual ground fighting and self- defensive movements and techniques using leverage. You can safely assume a blue belt in BJJ would more than likely beat a brown belt in Judo on the ground. BJJ is the best to defend yourself if you do end up on the ground.

Here’s UFC fighter Demian Mia talking about using BJJ in self defense

In most self-defense situations, you want to avoid going to the ground. This may suggest Judo is the better choice for self-defense.

However, Judo also has a steep learning curve. It may take years before you can easily throw someone, believe it or not, it’s actually quite hard to throw people, especially when they are fully resisting.

Another thing to consider is if you are smaller than average male or average female, BJJ may be the better choice for couple of reasons.

As mentioned above, it’s really hard to effectively throw another person to the ground, especially someone much larger and heavier, even with years of training. BJJ on the other hand was created for smaller people to learn to use leverage and beat much larger opponents.

If you are a smaller person, you are likely to end up on the ground inevitably, BJJ may be a better choice here.

Judo vs BJJ for MMA?

MMA (mixed martial arts) has become increasingly popular. It is surely a change from the ancient styles we see in Wing Chun and traditional Japanese jiu jitsu.

But, Judo is evolved from jiu jitsu and BJJ from Judo. So which one is better for MMA?

It may appear that Judo has the edge as it is more balanced with more variety in its arsenal including throws, chokes and joint locks.

However as BJJ specializes more in ground fighting, it has a clear advantage when it comes to helping you either try to submit your opponent and finish the fight, or escape from ground and get back on your feet.

Overall, BJJ is the better martial art for MMA, as proven by the many successful fighters in the UFC who uses BJJ as their base of ground fighting.

It is clear that BJJ has become increasingly more popular today. The ‘ground- fighting’ element seems to appeal to many. It may also be more practical in the modern world and current society.

Furthermore, BJJ is suited to almost everyone regardless of size, age or gender. The techniques involved allow the smallest or the weakest person to learn and master the skills and techniques, with practice.

BJJ’s fighting strategy allows anyone with dedication, determination and strength of character to overcome a larger or stronger opponent.


The truth is…

Both Judo and BJJ are two of the greatest martial arts ever created that share the same roots in the ancient Japanese Samurai art of Jujutsu.

Both are great choices based on your preference, goals and what you are trying to accomplish.

Choosing the right club may be a better way to determine which is best.

Some Judo clubs may do hardly any round fighting, suggesting that a strong and established BJJ club that involves some takedowns and throws may be the one to go for.

Similarly, there are different types of BJJ clubs. Many are self- defense based with a primary focus on technique, ground fighting and self- defensive skills. Others are more competition based taking focus away from training for self- development and skill. 

You may have come here looking for a clear winner, but in this case, for me at least, there’ no clear winner.

Bottom line:

Both are excellent martial arts in their own right, and complement each other immensely.