Judo vs BJJ. Who wins?

Well, this debate has raged on for a while now hasn’t it? The two martial arts/fighting styles have existed for many years and both find their roots in traditional jiu-jitsu.

The differences are obvious for anyone who has given both sports more than 10 minutes of genuine attention. The scoring system favours ground over stand up or vice versa, Judoka get limited time on the ground, BJJ players can pull guard and ‘force’ the fight to the ground etc.


Some ridiculous thing I’ve heard said by BJJ players include:

  • Once it hits the ground I’ve got you
  • How are you going to throw someone on the street without a gi
  • You can’t stop a double leg
  • Does Judo have ground fighting?
  • You tapped me out. You’re not a white belt, how long you been doing BJJ?


Likewise some rubbish I’ve heard from Judoka includes:

  • I’ll just throw you and walk away
  • If you pulled guard on the street I’d knock you out
  • Your gi looks like a billboard
  • BJJ stands for Basically Just Judo (Ok, maybe I’ve used this one too)
  • BJJ is for people who couldn’t hack Judo


The statements like ‘Judoka get smashed at BJJ comps’ and ‘how is a BJJer going to tap me if he can’t take me down?’ are not relevant to the discussion at all. A gymnast would get belted in a Judo comp, so would a power lifter, does that mean the skills they possess are irrelevant to Judo?


Some things that illustrate the differences between the two arts are:

  • Judo is generally taught in two streams: Olympic Judo (competition oriented) and Kodokan Judo (knowledge based, customs, terminology, techniques etc).
  • BJJ is generally taught in three streams: Competition BJJ, Self Defence and BJJ in MMA.
  • Judo players are graded on the ability to perform a technique in a static environment.
  • BJJ players are graded on their ability to impose their skills on partners in a competitive environment.
  • Judo has a focus on power generation, force production and therefore higher impact on bodies.
  • BJJ has a focus on flowing, technical and suave movement.

Note. I understand that I am making huge generalisations here and that all academies teach differently but I’ve tried to cover as many bases as possible.


The reason I have decided to add my two cents in is that I regularly train with very high level Judoka and BJJ players. Neither of which buy in to this debate. This debate has stemmed from watered down, offshoots of their arts.


I have had the opportunity to train with some of the best Japanese Judoka and discuss BJJ with them. Likewise some top Brasilian BJJ technicians have spoken highly of Judo and its benefits after making me tap like a tap dancer.


To summarise, neither one would win because there is no level playing field and no equivalent athlete’s in each sport to contest it. The plain truth is that cross training will help you regardless of your background. In the end you will favour the sport/art that you like more. It may not even be the one you are best at.


If I can give some advice to my Judoka community, go and find a BJJ instructor who understands Judo and what you are looking to improve at. Pick their brain for info. I have found that my Newaza has improved tenfold since I found some experts who make me feel like a fool on the ground and then give me some tips to go off and work on.




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Comments: 25
  • #1

    john omalley (Sunday, 24 July 2011 18:34)

    well spoken ! either one complements the other ! cross training make's a better athlete all around ! take the most of what each has to offer and apply it to your needs ! live & learn !

  • #2

    Annmaria (Sunday, 24 July 2011 23:12)

    I completely agree it's a silly dispute. I wrote semi-seriously about ts long ago.

    The fact is some people from bjj could be some people from judo under certain circumstances and vice versa

  • #3

    Chad T (Tuesday, 26 July 2011 07:56)

    All I hear is blah blah blah. :) but seriously. You make good points. At the end if the day you can do both and you should if ur serious about either art. I have and it makes u better at both and gives u better understanding of the arts.

  • #4

    Rodney Cox (Tuesday, 26 July 2011 23:42)

    Well said Ivo. By far the most sensible comments I have heard on the matter. Good luck for the Olympics

  • #5

    g (Wednesday, 27 July 2011 11:06)

    your judo newaza is weak simply because your dojo hasnt emphasized on it because everything bjj has its in judo kosen judo is bjj .. if you watch the video thats in youtube of tsunatane oda the father of the triangle you will see where bjj copied his style kimura beat gracie on the ground mifune was a great ground specialist dont fall into that gracie mentality because judo newaza is very strong and direct to the point by saying to cross train you are defeating yourself practice harder on your judo newaza and you defeat any bjjer my question to bjj is always what do you have that judo doenst what have technique you invented judo doesnt have and the answer is always the same quiet bjj has been taking out the judo syllabus for the longest and claimed its own the triangle has been in judo for the longest and in the 70s rickson pulled it out of the syllabus and called it its own and theres more accounts like the eziekiel choke which was invented by a judoka Sode guruma jime

  • #6

    Shireman (Sunday, 25 September 2011 20:02)

    Southern Cross BJJ/Judo @ Taren Pt...where both arts live in harmony the way they should!

  • #7

    Robbin (Wednesday, 12 October 2011 02:22)

    Well said. I admit that I agree with this comment "Your gi looks like a billboard". In tradition Japanese arts such as Judo and Karate, wearing a non white gi is insulting. You can't even wear a blue gi in the Kodokan. Now-adays I accept the BJJ gi. The guys are alternative and non-comforming. There is a charm to the judo gi. I still think it's a billboard but there's a nice charm to it. I'd like to do BJJ one day when it's cheaper. For now, karate + judo will do me fine!

  • #8

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  • #9

    Allan alexandre (Friday, 13 April 2012 23:13)

    I see where you come from,but judo and bjj don't have the same root.Bjj came from judo!!

  • #10

    tim florio (Sunday, 05 August 2012 19:09)

    Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't judo an off shoot of Japanese jiujitsu.

  • #11

    Ahab (Monday, 27 August 2012 03:48)

    I have tried both BJJ/Judo and dont like the tradition associated in Judo. BJJ cut´s through the bull an goes for whats important, meaning selfdefence. There should be anew type of Judo for selfdefence out there. One learns more in 3 months of training BJJ than 1 year of Judo. Judo becomes very boring for that reason.

  • #12

    jiu jitsu gis (Saturday, 01 September 2012 10:22)

    Keep in mind that it is important for you to practice the sport without gis as well, since it provides you with a balance.


  • #13

    judoka (Saturday, 02 February 2013 04:48)

    I'm gonna say judo
    Judoka train and fight with higher intensity and speed to dominate or submit our opponent, our throws either end it there or put you in a great position to finish, as opposed to the 'Bjj waiting game' and the pointless pulling of guard which in my opinion is extremely risky and dangerous in real life or comp.
    There is nothing in Bjj that isn't in judo.
    Bjj cover there gi in logos! Wtf! The white gi represents purity in a warrior and in 99% of judo dojos it is not allowed and seen as disrespect.
    Bjj is a profit organization with costly fees, as opposed to judo where anyone can train for usually pocket change, judo doesn't need money!
    Bjj creators were judo students! Nuff said!
    Put the best Bjj Guy's in the world against the best freestyle judoka on a hard floored arena and I know who I'm gonna put my money on!
    Judoka for life

  • #14

    Gus (Wednesday, 27 February 2013 21:45)

    Judo is generally taught in two streams: Olympic Judo (competition oriented) and Kodokan Judo (knowledge based, customs, terminology, techniques etc).

    Wrong. Many kodokan Judoka are Olympic gold medalists.

    Judo players are graded on the ability to perform a technique in a static environment.

    Wrong . Most Judo associations around the world require you to compete for your belt. The BJA is a recent exception.

    Judo has a focus on power generation, force production and therefore higher impact on bodies.

    Wrongish - Judo like Jujitsu seeks to use the opponents force against them. ie "Ju"

    BJJ has a focus on flowing, technical and suave movement.

    So does Judo - good Judo - bad Judo relys strength in lieu of technique.

  • #15

    apbt (Sunday, 19 May 2013 11:35)

    do they have de la riva guard in judo... since everything in bjj is in judo

  • #16

    Sparty (Monday, 03 June 2013 21:22)

    I think what's good about judo is that on the ground since judoka get limited time, they need to do something QUICK, in bjj you can take your time in the ground. However a judo guy in bjj will be conditioned to go in fast. Provided he Trains in his newaza well. He could hold his own pretty well against

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  • #18

    markymark (Thursday, 03 October 2013 10:12)

    Having both trined in judo and bjj now for many years I can see how both have evolved quite rapidly ....synthesizing each disciplines practical techniques to create a kinda judo jiu jitsu singular fighting style...while bjj develops counter moves to judo throws so do judoka develop their newaza to counter bjj advanced ground fighting techniques. Quite honestly I think bjj has the edge due to the fact that they dont have the traditional restraints that some judo teachers impose on their students.

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  • #21

    D P (Friday, 20 November 2015 13:46)

    I am a 5 Dan Judo and a 1 Dan Karate and trained in martial arts for 35 years, just a comment on your above statement on Judo grading format Judo grading for Dan grades are in two parts one theory and one practical the practical part is where you go to a pre determined venue and complete against Judoka you probably haven't met before, this can consist of numerous bouts if you don't win you don't grade, the only static part is the theory this can be preform in the club by a suitable qualified instructor

  • #22

    BJJudo (Saturday, 06 February 2016 15:12)

    Good write. What I'have been thinking about lately is not the effectiveness comparison of Judo and BJJ, but comparing them as sports and sports careers. Which one is the sport of the future? Which one is going to be more enjoyable and satisfying for an athlete who is competing with ambition to see how far he gets? Which one is the better managed sport for the athlete now and in the future? Which one is more likely to be a long path that keeps giving as the focus and goals possibly change?

    I'm a middle aged hobbyist who's done some judo but enjoying bjj a lot more these days. The brain puzzle of bjj fits me better than the raw athletics of judo. My son is an aspiring 15 year old judo competitor, who's training 7-8 times a week and medalling regularly home and abroad, but he also enjoys practising bjj and competes whenever possible. I hope he can do both as long as possible, that's what he wants to do, but I also wonder which one will make him a happier athlete when he's at adults ranks. Right now the main focus is in judo, because in Europe the competition is much stiffer there. In the future, who knows, he'll make the choices anyway.

    You've got experience, what's your vision?

  • #23

    Alnajdi (Friday, 29 April 2016 20:59)

    If some one says, judo VS Bjj
    The question is
    On which rule they would play?
    Judoka can face bjj and they might win, maybe lose if he is with an expert bjj, but the big question is
    Can bjj player have a shot with a judoka, in JUDO rule ?

  • #24

    OpenMind Judoka (Thursday, 01 September 2016 23:06)

    Honestly, this debate is very pointless. If you talk to any Kodokan Judoka, or any good Judo Sensei, they will tell you newaza is just as important as throwing.

    Just correction to most misconception, Judo DID evolved from Jujitsu. Kanō Jigorō did learn Jujitsu first, but some moves in traditional Jujitsu is far too dangerous to practice, especially ankle and knee locks, neck crank. or even shoulder lock. So those moves were taken out. Judo throws were evolved from taking in both Wrestling, Sumo, Jujitsu, and most importantly science. So technically Judo was an evolution of Jujitsu.

    On the other hand, BJJ started because the Brazilian popularized it. the fact is
    In 1917 Carlos Gracie, the eldest son of Gastão Gracie, watched a demonstration by Maeda a judoka at the Da Paz Theatre and decided to learn judo. Maeda accepted Carlos as a student and Carlos learned for a few years, eventually passing his knowledge on to his brothers. Sibling Hélio Gracie gradually further developed Gracie Jiu Jitsu as a softer, pragmatic adaptation from judo that focused on ground fighting, as he was unable to perform many judo moves that require direct opposition to an opponent's strength.

    So that's WHY there is NO throws in BJJ.

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