Judo Vs BJJ: 6 Key Differences To Know

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Judo and BJJ are two of the most influential martial arts in the world but there are some subtle differences.

The main differences between Judo and BJJ are the bigger choice pool of joint locks and choke holds in BJJ, tournament point systems, and the ground game. There are also minor differences regarding the Gi style of Judo and BJJ and the belt progression. 

Are you confused about the differences between the two? I’ve made you an in-depth comparison regarding Judo and BJJ below. 

Differences between Judo and BJJ

BJJ has a more versatile move set regarding the submission and the ground game. Judo mainly focuses on executing throws despite the availability of choke holds or locks. The rank progression and the Gi that practitioners wear are also different. 

There are more differences, such as their origins, point systems, and more. I’ve outlined these below, so keep reading.

Origins between Judo and BJJ

Judo originated in Japan. It is believed that the martial art is rooted in Sumo Wrestling which also involves arm grabbing and throwing.

Judo was invented in 1882 by Kano Jigoro Shihan. The martial art had its Olympic debut in 1964 and has been a part of the event since then. 

BJJ is rooted in Jiu-Jitsu which originated from Japan as well. The reason why it’s called ‘Brazilian’ Jiu-Jitsu is because of a Japanese diplomat named Mitsyuo Maeda. 

Maeda introduced Jiu-Jitsu to South America until it got famous. Helio Gracie, a renowned Brazilian martial artist, made an effort to make his version of Jiu-Jitsu, that’s called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ.

Throws and takedowns

Jiu Jitsu students practicing on the mats

Judo uses more throws to take their enemy to the ground. At the same time, BJJ does single-leg and double-leg takedowns to transition to the ground game.

There are a total of 68 Judo throws you can learn. Some well-known Judo throws used in MMA are the Judo hip throw, Gokyo, and Dai-Sankyo.

BJJ also has throws but not so many takedowns. Takedowns begin at a reasonable distance and use speed and power that aims to destroy an opponent’s balance. 

A single-leg takedown is when a practitioner grabs one of their opponent’s leg and lift it to mess with the body’s equilibrium. A double-leg takedown takes them entirely off their feet.

Submissions, chokes, and locks

Both Judo and BJJ have submissions, chokes, and locks. In fact, BJJ submissions are technically derived from Judo. What BJJ does is to improve it to make a brand new lock. 

With those little tweaks, BJJ has more submissions than Judo, making the martial art more diverse and reliable on the ground. 

Judo submissions such as Rare Naked Choke, Kimura, and Armbar are allowed. Judokas tend to focus on throws rather than setting up for a lock because it’s more straightforward to earn points in the competition. 

BJJ has an Anaconda Choke, D’Arce Choke, Twister, Americana, Arm & Head Triangle, and much more. The main goal of a BJJ match is to submit your opponent rather than take them down.

Belt grading system

Judo and BJJ don’t have the same belt grading system. In Judo, the lowest rank is the white belt, and the highest is the red belt

In BJJ, practitioners will start at the white belt and work their way up to the red belt, which is also the highest rank. Some call the red belt the 9th degree of the BJJ black belt.

BJJ belt progression is a lot longer than Judo because of the stripes. Stripes are the levels you need to surpass a specific belt color to rank to the next color. 

In Judo, stripes or degrees are only present in the black belt, the third highest rank a Judoka can achieve. 


Folded Judo Gi with black belt

BJJ Gi is lighter compared to Judo Gi. BJJ is also more flexible, helping you move better while wearing it. With this, we can say that BJJ Gi is comfier.

The BJJ Gi jacket is shorter than the Judo ones. The bottom will reach the top of the hips. Judo Gi extends further below the waist and hips.

When it comes to the sleeve area, it’s pretty much the same, but the BJJ sleeves have a better fit on the cuff, whereas Judo is looser.

The BJJ Gi is made out of heavy cotton. It has drawstring trousers and a cotton belt that signifies the practitioner’s rank. 

Judo gi is made with tightly woven Heavy cloth. It has a thicker layer of cotton, making the Judo Gi heavier compared to what BJJ uses.

Competition and tournaments

Judo and BJJ matches are done on a flat mat with no boundaries. If the athletes go beyond the mats, the referee will reset the fight and force the fighters to stand up in the middle. 

The Judo point system is mainly based on throws. Joint locks and throws can also finish the fight, but it’s hard to pull off in a Judo match.

Submission wins are rare in a Judo match because the referee will often reset the fighter after a successful throw, especially if there’s a 5 to 10-second inactivity between the Judokas. 

In BJJ, the point system is based on how dominant you are on the ground. If you have more top control time, then you have more points.

Extra points will be awarded if you convert a single-leg or a double-leg. But, if you got taken down and played well on the full guard, you’ll also gain points.

If a BJJ match doesn’t end via submission, it will go to the scorecards on who’s the more dominant fighter. But if a submission is converted, it’s all over. 

Despite the influence of both martial arts, Judo is the only one present in the Olympics. And unfortunately for BJJ, it has never been considered a part of the event. 

Judo’s key advantages over BJJ

Judo specializes more in fighting for a throw at a close distance. Meaning to say, Judokas has the advantage in close-quarter combat; if they close the distance, it’s their game. 

Judo has 68 total throws you can choose to use when you get a good hold of your opponent. And compared to a BJJ takedown, a Judo throw can inflict more damage to someone. 

The most dangerous Judo throw is the Kani Basami. It is banned in all Judo tournaments worldwide because of how much lower body damage it can cause to a person. 

Body grabs are notoriously effective in destroying one’s balance and momentum. Judokas are better at doing arm grabs and head pulls. They use these moves to set up a throw or close the distance. 

Judo’s key advantages over Jiu-Jitsu:

  • Better close-quarter combat fighting style
  • More throwing techniques
  • Better arm grabs

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s advantages over Judo

BJJ practitioner taking the back of his opponent and looking for a choke

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has a more versatile move set when compared to Judo. BJJ has more choke and joint lock choices making the martial art more dangerous than Judo. 

BJJ also has No-Gi BJJ, whereas Judo is typically always using a Gi.

In No-Gi BJJ, practitioners use rash guards and shorts to roll. This style is more practical, especially during street brawls, because you won’t mainly rely on your moves on collar and garment grabs. 

Unlike Judo, BJJ has double-leg and single-leg takedowns. This makes them more unpredictable about how they will approach their enemy. 

BJJ has one of the best ground game techniques in martial arts. You will learn to transition to different positions and adapt to certain situations. 

These positions will give you a considerable advantage which you can use to set up locks, chokes, or a body pin. 

Jiu-Jitsu’s key advantages over Judo:

  • More submissions can be executed
  • Availability of No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu
  • More takedowns
  • Better ground game

Is Judo or BJJ better for self-defense?

BJJ is better to use in self-defense than Judo. This is because you can do more with BJJ moves. You can do more takedowns and submissions, and most significantly, you can control your opponent better on the ground. 

BJJ has a more versatile and diverse set of moves you can choose from to immobilize or even choke out your attacker.

What makes BJJ better is the greater availability of choke holds and joint lock techniques. Judo has some submissions, but there are more options in BJJ.

BJJ also has takedowns that will help you immediately bring the fight to the ground. A good takedown is done with an immense speed that catches your opponent off-guard for you to end up in the “top” position.

More ground fighting will happen in BJJ after a takedown or a throw. BJJ practitioners can transition into north and south side mounts to control their enemy. 

Along with the ground game advantage of BJJ is the amount of submissions they can do. BJJ practitioners can grab any body part in any position and lock it. 

And because it’s a street fight, they might not stop even if you tap.

In Judo, you’ll have to close the distance and try grabbing the arm or shirt, which is a bit riskier and more visible.

Usually, in Judo, the referee will reset the fight after a throw which you can’t expect to happen in a real-life street fight.

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