Is Jiu-Jitsu Better Than Kickboxing? (With Examples)

is jiu-jitsu better than kickboxing

You might criticize us for comparing striking and grappling martial arts. But we are not mixing apples and oranges. Every martial art offers good and bad sides.

A good kickboxer changes levels and pieces his opponent up on the feet. You can’t last for long against a top-notch striker. On the other side, BJJ works amazingly on the ground. You can trap your foe’s limbs or neck and force him to tap out, even off your back. 

But which martial art offers a more significant number of options? We’ve been asked, “is jiu-jitsu better than kickboxing” so many times.

This article will show you both martial arts’ positive and negative sides. So please keep reading to get to know the positive and negative sides of these martial arts. 

Is There A Difference Between Jiu-Jitsu And Kickboxing?

Oh, yeah, the difference is enormous. Kickboxing is a striking martial art with a strict ruleset. For example, you can punch your opponent and kick above his knee level. But, oblique kicks, groin shots, and strikes from behind are not allowed. Therefore, if you break those rules, the ref might deduct a point. 

Some kickboxing organizations, like Glory, allow clinch knees. Before the Alistair Overeem era, the rules permitted “Muay Thai plum” – trapping the opponent with both hands and unloading a barrage of horizontal or straight knees to the head.

But the Dutch legend destroyed so many opponents, so the federation changed the rules later.

Nowadays, regulations vary from federation to federation. Still, you can’t elbow your foe, grab his legs, or hold in the clinch. 

Source: mehdibelgium

On the other hand, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is based on the ground game. Therefore, the first contact between fighters will lead to a takedown and fighting for submission or victory via points on the ground.

Indeed, Brazilian jiu-jitsu doesn’t allow strikes; the referee might deduct a point or disqualify you if you hit your foe. Instead, it’s based on submission attempts and switches, sweeps, and transitions. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Vs Kickboxing, Which Is More Effective?

Well, it’s hard to say. After a quick barrage of bullets, a good kickboxer will destroy you via KO or TKO. However, he feels comfortable as long as the bout remains standing.

Striking works amazingly in the stand-up. But there are two significant problems – takedown defense and ground game. Kickboxers don’t know to fight on the mat. They’ll try to punch you out. 

Luck plays a critical role here – for example, Patrick Smith was so lucky against Scott Morris at UFC 2 because a Ninjutsu master had no cage control skills. 

Source: Luc Wilking

However, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is more effective, as you can quickly force a more extensive and stronger opponent to surrender. Yes, it is hard to drag your opponent to the ground, but you can pull the guard and work off the bottom. 

There are no strikes, but submissions target your enemy’s limbs, so there’s a good chance of forcing him to surrender.

The PRIDE FC fight between 180 lbs BJJ expert Royce Gracie and 400 lbs Sumo wrestler is the true example. Gracie taught the bigger guy a lesson with a fabulous Omoplata off the bottom. 

Source: MMAA RIV

Which Is Better for Self-Defense, Kickboxing or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the most critical choices for a one-on-one fight. A 300 lbs muscular guy will enter the contest full of self-confidence.

Still, as soon as a BJJ fighter “lets him get in the dominant position, ” things will get ugly for a big guy. He’ll have to scream and beg for his arm or leg. 

BJJ works against all kinds of attackers, but here’s a downside – it’s a terrible choice to deal with multiple attackers. As soon as you end on the canvas, the bully’s friend might kick or punch you to the face from behind. 

On the other hand, a kickboxer will try to keep the fight standing by any means necessary. A kickboxing specialist counters and changes levels very quickly.

Striking might not work against bigger bullies, but it’s one of the top-notch choices when dealing with multiple attackers. It is harder to sucker-punch kickboxing expert from behind because he will try to keep all the enemies in front of himself. 

Which Is More Effective in MMA, Kickboxing or Jiu-Jitsu?

Royce Gracie showed the superiority of jiu-jitsu in the early stages of MMA when there was style vs. style match-ups. Fighters with poor ground skills and terrible lateral moves were an easy target for grapplers.

However, in the first 10-20 UFC events, BJJ was undoubtedly one of the best choices, so kickboxers didn’t have many chances. 

The first-ever great MMA kickboxer was Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. He was a real enigma for masters of all martial arts thanks to excellent takedown defense, strong left high and middle kick, and very crisp punches. 

Yet, he paid the price because of poor lateral moves in the fight against BJJ phenom Antonio Nogueira. The Brazilian fighter dragged the fight to the ground and finished the legendary Croatian via armbar in the second round. 

Let’s compare pure kickboxing vs BJJ fight in an MMA cage. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu should have greater chances for victory. 

Nowadays, the sport has changed (it evolves every day). For example, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu works well off the back and on the ground, but taking top-level dudes down is an absolute nightmare. So everybody trains takedown stuffing and lateral moves nowadays.

Kickboxing lacks lateral movements, but it’s still hazardous thanks to the power of great level changes and low and high kicks. Examples of good MMA kickboxers are Alistair Overeem, Holly Holm, Brad “The Quake” Riddell, Patt “HD” Barry, Israel Adesanya…

Kickboxing is more effective on the feet; BJJ works better on the ground. But the most significant problem of kickboxers is the lack of lateral moves – it’s perilous in the small cage at UFC Fight Night events.

A good BJJ fighter might efficiently finish a kickboxer on the ground, but it depends on the fighter. Nowadays, everybody trains everything. For example, Israel Adesanya is a mixture of kickboxing and Taekwondo, which explains his explosiveness and top-notch moves to the side. 

Do BJJ and Kickboxing Have Similar Belts Ranking Systems?

We have already described the BJJ grading system in the previous article (here). But in the case you’ve missed it, here ya go: 


To learn more about the Brazilian jiu-jitsu colored belts, click here.


Kickboxing belts usually follow this order, but it might vary between dojos: 

  • White belt;
  • Red belt;
  • Yellow belt;
  • Orange belt;
  • Green belt; 
  • Blue belt; 
  • Purple belt;
  • Brown belt;
  • Brown/black belt;
  • Black belt. 

Furthermore, you can get the 2nd or 3rd dan black belt. But you can advance even more. For example, to earn a 5th-degree kickboxing black belt, you need at least 20 years of fully dedicated work in the gym. 

There’s one similarity – the color of your belt depends on the level of knowledge, time spent in the gym, and sparring skills.

Something else is similar – your career kicks off with a white belt. But as well as you see, the progression to the next level is followed by pretty much different colors of belts. 

Which Is More Effective for Weight-Loss, Kickboxing or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Kickboxing training sessions are primarily high-intensive workouts. Most dojos stick to the golden rule – three minutes of work, one-minute rest. As well as you know, the round in kickboxing lasts for 3 minutes. So you’ll work eight to twelve rounds, and it will drain a lot of calories. 

BJJ sessions last longer, but you constantly roll with your compatriots (unless you work on the technique). It is a contact martial art. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu will activate more muscle fibers than kickboxing, which means it should waste more calories (links below in the references section). 

But both martial arts contain vigorous HIIT training sessions. Of course, your coach could push the pace, so it depends on the type of training too.

But the Brazilian martial art should burn a more significant number of calories in one hour. You’ll waste more calories with a gi, too – it creates more resistance and makes your workout even harder. 

Is Kickboxing Better Than Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Beginners Practitioners?

Jiu-jitsu is a very technical discipline, and you’ll need time to master it. You can’t learn Omoplata or Gogoplata in the first training session, and you must learn rolls and shrimps first. You’ll need at least two-three months to get into the spirit of things. Many beginners have never done a front roll before. 

The first training session usually contains stance corrections and 1-2 (jab-straight) in kickboxing.

A good kickboxing coach will insist on keeping the hand that doesn’t land a shot in the level of your chin to prevent the potential counter-strike. Then, after two or three weeks, you can learn direct punches and low kicks. Later you can transition to more complex combinations and spars. 

Kickboxing is easier to learn, especially if you have never trained a martial before. BJJ demands more training, but it puts more muscles on fire. If you choose Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you’ll probably look more robust and more ripped as time goes by.  

Final Thoughts

Both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kickboxing are prevalent sports. This is because there are so many competitions and tournaments the ruleset is explicit. So you can compete, win medals and earn cash. But which one is better, jiu-jitsu or kickboxing? Well, here’s what we learned so far:

  • Kickboxing works better when you’re dealing with multiple attackers, while BJJ suits perfectly for a one-on-one battle (weight class doesn’t matter, but the level of skill does);
  • Kickboxers are better strikers, while BJJ fighters are masters of submissions, sweeps, and transitions; 
  • There is some similarity in the ranking system – you’ll start with a white belt, but your next belt depends on technical knowledge and time spent in the dojo; 
  • BJJ works better on the ground, kickboxing rocks on the feet; 
  • Both martial arts can work for self-defense; 
  • There are submissions off the clinch, so if a BJJ fighter gets a hold of a kickboxer, this could be an easy takedown or a flying submission victory. Close-range fight advantage goes in favor of Brazilian jiu-jitsu warriors. 
  • These martial arts are different, so training both of them would be super-beneficial if you plan to transition to MMA. 

We hope this article helps you understand the differences between Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kickboxing. BJJ fighter wins on the ground; kickboxer dominates on the feet. Jiu-jitsu gives you more options, so we believe it’s better in style versus match-up. 

Which one is better for you, kickboxing or Brazilian jiu-jitsu? Please write your opinion in the comments below and share this article on social media to help us grow! 


Which Is Better Boxing or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? To learn more, click here.


Should I Learn BJJ or Muay Thai? To learn more, click here.


Should I Train MMA or BJJ? To learn more, click here.


References