BJJ Vs Taekwondo: 7 Comparisons For Self-Defense & MMA

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BJJ and Taekwondo are very different martial arts, but both have a long history with teachers across the USA and worldwide and share similarities with their competitive nature.

Perhaps you are considering which style you want to take up for yourself, and this article will help you decide.

In short, which martial art is better between BJJ Vs Taekwondo?

While Taekwondo teaches clinical head strikes with kicks, it is most useful in Taekwondo competitions. BJJ is often the better all-around martial art for defending yourself and learning a skill, no matter your gender, age, height, or weight.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between these martial arts and which you should pick out for yourself!

BJJ Vs Taekwondo In Competition

Two BJJ competitors in a match

The most significant similarity between BJJ and Taekwondo is that they are both martial arts that you can compete in as a sport.

In BJJ, the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship (often called Mundials) began in 1996 and is held every year by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). Plus, there are hundreds of other competitions held internationally and locally, with just about every BJJ giving its students plenty of opportunities to get into competition.

BJJ competitions are usually divided by weight (Roosterweight up to Ultra Heavyweight) and by belt to balance each matchup.

In Taekwondo, competition has long been an element of this martial art since the 1940s in Korea, where it originated.

The two leading organizations to run competitions in this sport are World Taekwondo (WT) and International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF).

Taekwondo has been an accepted sport as part of the worldwide Olympics since 2000 and Paralympics since 2020.

BJJ Vs Taekwondo Uniform: Gi And The Dobok

BJJ Gi and Taekwondo Dobok side by side

Both BJJ and Taekwondo have a traditional uniform as part of their training and in most competitions (except for No-Gi), which have similarities.

The BJJ Gi is the uniform of modern Japanese martial arts, meaning “dress” or “clothes.” The Gi includes the jacket, trousers with drawstring, and belt, which displays rank. It is usually made of heavy cotton, making it very hard-wearing for study or competition.

The Taekwondo Dobok is the uniform of Korean martial arts, where Do means “way” and Bok means “clothing.” The Dobok includes a jacket, trousers, and belt, displaying rank. They are usually white with black striped detail on the hems, and they are uniquely different from the BJJ Gi because they are longer in the sleeves and pants.

You’ll notice this difference quickly when watching either martial art in competition, as BJJ pant legs often ride up their calf, whereas, in Taekwondo, the end of their pants is baggy, laying over their feet.

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Ground Game Vs Striking Game

BJJ grapplers on the ground vs Taekwondo striking side by side

The most obvious difference is that BJJ is primarily a martial art performed on the ground. In comparison, Taekwondo is almost entirely about striking your opponent, mostly with your feet.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a derivative martial art combining Judo, Japanese Jiujutsu, and some Wrestling elements.

These styles together form BJJ, which is all about grabbing a limb or part of your opponent to hold on to them, taking them down to the ground with different throws, leg trips, or pressure, and controlling them on the ground to submit them.

Taekwondo is a martial art developed from studies of Karate, Kung Fu (and other Chinese martial arts), alongside Korean martial arts like Taekkyon, Subak, and Gwonbeop.

These styles are heavily expressive on striking with punches and kicks, most on kicks to the head, jumping and spinning kicks, and counter kicks from unusual angles.

If you’re trying to choose between BJJ Vs Taekwondo as to which to train in, you might want to ask yourself if you’d prefer to learn how to grapple or kick people. Though, there are much more things to consider, such as how useful they are in real-world situations.

Using For Mixed Martial Arts

Two MMA fighters sparring

An additional consideration between these two martial arts is that only one of them is used widely in mixed martial arts training and competitions like the UFC.

BJJ is used in MMA competitions far more than Taekwondo.

In mixed martial arts training and competition, grappling is a constant part of fighting an opponent and defeating them. It could be holding on to your opponent while on your feet for striking openings (something you’d learn with Muay Thai), defending a takedown against you, or when trying to take down your opponent to the ground.

All of these parts of MMA involve grappling, grabbing your opponent, holding on to them using strength and technique, and tripping them or throwing them onto the floor to control them there.

If you desire to pursue martial arts towards a mixed martial arts training or competitive level, you would be better off focusing your time on a grappling art like BJJ because it will pay off.

Taekwondo Vs Jiu-Jitsu For Self-Defense

Woman practicing self defense techniques against a man

Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is primarily considered the better martial art to learn for self-defense when compared to Taekwondo. BJJ is better for defending yourself because it teaches students how to take down an opponent, control them on the ground, and work even against bigger opponents.

Taekwondo teaches mainly flexibility and variations of head kicks. There are punches included, but they are often just quick strikes from the center of the body that are unlikely to discourage an attacker. If anything, it might just cause more problems.

The head kicks in Taekwondo could be effective if they connect with great accuracy. This accuracy is practiced and taught in this martial art. Still, in messy street scenarios, it could be irrational to think you can get the perfect strike connection with the right timing to disengage an attacker.

When you have to defend yourself, relying on one head kick is more likely to cause more problems when you inevitably miss or get tripped up.

Whereas with BJJ, the entire martial art is practiced around sparring in close contact with another person and very messy situations. While you might not do any actual learning in a street setting, as you mostly train on safety mats, it would be much more reasonable to apply the same techniques learned in a No-Gi class to an opponent.

I’ve written another article to better explain the benefits of BJJ on the streets, in Does BJJ Work In A Street Fight? Check that out if you want to learn more!

Is Taekwondo Harder Than BJJ To Learn?

Taekwondo could be harder than BJJ to learn due to the physical demands on flexibility and agility, particularly in the legs. Whereas BJJ is usually much more approachable for any size or aged person to start, and your flexibility, endurance, and strength will improve as you learn.

Taekwondo is a martial art that is often taught from a young age because of its schooling systems which encourage parents to bring in their kids from a young age. The schools are designed to teach children to display manners while challenging them to grow.

Taekwondo is suitable for a younger audience because of its dependency on flexibility and agility. When young, a student’s ability to increase flexibility required for high and spinning kicks is far easier than it would be as an adult. It makes it somewhat less accessible for a wider audience.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is suitable for just about anyone. It can be practiced from a very young age and even in older age groups. As it is a martial art that focuses primarily on technical skills, it also makes it possible for the more petite guy or woman to participate and even beat bigger or stronger opponents by improving their skill.

Is Taekwondo And BJJ A Good Combination?

Taekwondo and BJJ would make a good combination because you are learning both a striking and a grappling martial art for defense. Though Taekwondo is usually best understood as a sport, other striking martial arts are better for self-defense, such as Muay Thai.

BJJ is an excellent martial art for self-defense and general improvement of grappling ability. Learning a striking art on top of a grappling one would give you the best combination of skills.

So that’s my breakdown of BJJ Vs Taekwondo, and now you should have a great idea of the differences, similarities and which is better to learn if you are looking to defend yourself. I’d go for BJJ over essentially most other martial arts for that purpose, but learning some striking and footwork as well is always a bright idea.

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