Difference Between Judo And Jiu Jitsu : A Comparative Analysis

Judo and Jiu-Jitsu are some of the most talked about martial arts. Sportsboom explores the differences between the two.

Two mma fighters in a grappling position
Luke Dalton

Written by: Luke Dalton

(Content Writer)

Fact checked by: Naim Rosinski

(Content Manager)

Last updated: 2024-04-15

6 minutes read

In the world of martial arts, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) stand out as two of the most popular grappling-based disciplines.

Both arts share a common heritage, tracing their roots back to traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, yet they have evolved in distinct directions. This comparative analysis delves into the nuances that set Judo and BJJ apart, offering insights into their techniques, philosophies, and applications in self-defence and competitive arenas.

Origins and Philosophies

Judo, developed in Japan by Jigoro Kano in 1882, emphasizes the principle of “maximum efficiency, minimum effort.”

Kano's goal was to create a martial art that could be practised safely while fostering physical education, competition, and moral development. Celebrated for its spectacular throwing techniques and its emphasis on safety and respect, Judo became an Olympic sport in 1964, highlighting its global appeal and sports-oriented approach.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, meanwhile, evolved from Judo techniques introduced to Brazil by Mitsuyo Maeda in the early 20th century.

The Gracie family, particularly Carlos and Helio Gracie, adapted these techniques to focus on ground fighting and submissions, to control opponents through leverage and technique. This gave birth to BJJ, a highly effective way for smaller or weaker individuals to defend themselves against bigger opponents, through leverage and technique.

Image Credits: Gracie Miranda BJJ

Image Credits: Gracie Miranda BJJ

Understanding Jiu-Jitsu vs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Before delving deeper into Judo and BJJ, it's crucial to clarify the distinction between traditional Jiu-Jitsu (often spelled "Jujutsu" or "Jujitsu") and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Traditional Jiu-Jitsu is a Japanese martial art dating back to the samurai era. It encompasses a wide range of techniques, including strikes, throws, joint locks, and weapon defence. Traditional Jiu-Jitsu served as a comprehensive combat system for the samurai, focusing on both unarmed and armed combat. The art emphasises versatility and adaptability, preparing practitioners for various scenarios on the battlefield.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, while deriving from traditional Jiu-Jitsu through Judo, narrows its focus primarily to ground fighting and submission grappling.

The adaptation by the Gracie family and others in Brazil transformed it into a sport and self-defence system that prioritises technique and leverage over strength and size. BJJ has become renowned for its effectiveness in one-on-one combat, particularly in the context of mixed martial arts (MMA) and self-defence.

Quick comparison

Trait/Focus Area



Primary Focus

Throwing and pinning opponents on the ground

Ground fighting and submissions


"The Gentle Way" - using an opponent's force against them

"The Gentle Art" - emphasising leverage and technique over brute strength


Throws, pins, joint locks (limited to arms), and chokes

Extensive use of joint locks (including legs) and chokes, with a vast array of ground-based techniques

Scoring and Victory

Points awarded for throws, pins, and submissions. Victory can be achieved instantly with a perfect throw (Ippon).

Points awarded for positions and control on the ground, with victory often achieved through submission.

Training Emphasis

Standing techniques and transition to ground

Ground techniques, with some standing techniques for takedowns

Self-Defense Application

Effective in situations requiring quick neutralisation of an opponent

Highly effective in prolonged close-quarters engagements

MMA Application

Throws and takedowns from Judo are valuable in MMA for controlling the fight location

Ground control and submission techniques from BJJ are crucial in MMA ground fighting

Techniques and Focus

The primary distinction between Judo and BJJ lies in their technical focus. Judo is renowned for its throwing techniques (Nage-Waza), aiming to subdue an opponent by projecting them onto their back.

Training in Judo also includes groundwork (Ne-Waza) but to a lesser extent. The art emphasises control, balance disruption, and efficient movement to execute throws.

BJJ, on the other hand, focuses on ground fighting and submission holds, including joint locks and chokeholds. While takedowns are part of the curriculum, the essence of BJJ is controlling an opponent on the ground and forcing them to submit. This focus on ground techniques reflects the strategy of neutralising the physical advantages of stronger foes.

Image Credits: Evolve MMA

Image Credits: Evolve MMA

Scoring and Competition Rules

In competitive settings, Judo and BJJ employ different scoring systems and rules that reflect their distinct emphases.

Judo matches can be won by:
●    Achieving an "Ippon" through a perfect throw
●    A pin lasting 20 seconds
●    Or a submission

The sport's rules encourage dynamic and explosive techniques, with recent rule changes aiming to preserve the traditional essence of Judo.

BJJ competitions, however, score points based on:
●    Position control
●    Takedowns
●    Guard passes
●    Submissions

Fighters can win matches by accumulating points over time or by achieving a submission at any moment. This scoring system underlines BJJ's strategic depth and the importance of positional dominance.

Self-defence and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Both Judo and BJJ are effective for self-defence, each offering unique advantages.

Judo's throwing techniques are powerful tools for neutralising threats in standing confrontations, allowing practitioners to use an attacker's momentum against them.

BJJ's emphasis on ground control and submissions is equally valuable, particularly in situations where a conflict goes to the ground.

In the realm of MMA, BJJ has gained prominence due to its comprehensive ground fighting toolkit, which complements striking disciplines. Judo practitioners also find success in MMA, leveraging their throwing and pinning techniques, though the sport's rules limit the direct application of some Judo principles.


Choosing between Judo and BJJ depends on personal preferences, goals, and the aspects of martial arts that resonate most with a person.

Whether seeking a sport-oriented discipline with a rich Olympic heritage or a martial art focused on ground-based self-defence techniques, both Judo and BJJ offer rewarding paths for physical and personal development. Ultimately, the journey in martial arts is a personal one, and exploring both Judo and BJJ can provide a well-rounded understanding and appreciation of the art of grappling.

Some may prefer the dynamic throws and stand-up aspects of Judo, while others may find the strategic ground game and submission focus of BJJ more to their liking. Many martial artists choose to train in both disciplines to become more well-rounded fighters and to appreciate the depth and breadth of grappling arts.


Can judo be used for self-defence?

Like most martial arts, yes, judo can be highly effective for self-defence, and has many real-life applications thanks to its emphasis on throws and groundwork that leverage the opponent's force.

Is judo the most difficult sport?

Judo is not considered the most difficult sport to master, though it is challenging due to its physical and strategic demands.

Can judo be used in MMA?

Absolutely, Judo techniques are incredibly valuable in MMA for control and takedowns.

Do you get hit in judo?

Judo primarily focuses on throws and grappling without striking, making it less likely that you will be hit than in other striking-based martial arts.

What is the injury rate for judo?

Judo’s injury incidence rate is 4.2 per 1000 hours.

What do you call someone who does jiu-jitsu?

Jiu-jitsu practitioners are commonly referred to as "jiujiteiro."

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Luke Dalton

Luke Dalton

Luke has been a professional writer since 2016, beginning as a technical author for a POS company. He journeyed from there deeper into the world of content creation for software companies, while writing his debut fiction novel, which he self-published in early 2019.

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