Jiu Jitsu Vs Judo: What Is the Difference? (A Closer Look)

Judo and Jiu-Jitsu are two outstanding grappling martial arts that many non-specialists may consider similar. Maybe even indistinguishable, but significant subtle differences exist. So, what’s the difference between Judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

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Judo focuses more on takedowns, whereas jiu-jitsu spotlights more ground fighting. Indeed, competition rules are also different. For instance, in jiu-jitsu tournaments, you can win the fight using submissions, points, or referee decisions when there is a draw. However, in Judo contests, you can win the match by obtaining ippon, getting two scores of waza-ari, or accumulating more points than your opponent.

In the rest of the article, we will examine the differences between the two martial arts in terms of their fighting styles, competition rules, status at the Olympics, presence within MMA, suitability for self-defense, and respective popularities. Stay tuned!

Differences in Fighting Styles Between Jiu-Jitsu and Judo

Source: Martial Arts Journey

The first step in comparing jiu-jitsu vs Judo is to look at the fighting styles. This could look like a losing battle to the untrained eye since the two martial arts might initially present as reasonably similar.

So, what are the distinctions between jiu-jitsu and judo combat styles?

  1. For starters, neither involve striking in their mainstream forms.
  2. Both jiu-jitsu and Judo start from a standing position and take your opponent to the ground.
  3. Judo is always practiced by wearing a gi (kimono). However, Brazilian jiu-jitsu can be performed with and without a gi.
  4. Judo focuses mainly on throws and takedowns; the match may end after taking your opponent to the mat. However, in jiu-jitsu, the fight begins officially after taking an opponent to the ground.
  5. The use of ground techniques by Judo practitioners is limited and rarely used. However, jiu-jitsu practitioners primarily focus on-ground techniques, including guards (closed guard, Dela Riva guard, etc.), submissions (triangle chokes, kimuras, armbars, etc.), and sweep techniques. 

Related: Uncover the road to earning a black belt in judo and the components that affect the time it takes to get this esteemed rank. Click here to find out more!

Jiu-Jitsu Vs Judo: The Are Competition Rules Differences?

Assessing jiu jitsu vs judo competitions is much easier as the rules are more explicitly different. However, the two types of martial arts have similarities, including striking is not allowed, competition matches start from a standing position, and the goal is generally to get the opponent to the ground.

Jiu-jitsu does make use of a scoring system, where points are assigned based on achieving specific objectives such as passing the guard (3 points), successful takedown (2 pts), knee on belly (2 pts), reaching the mount position (4pts), etc. 

Still, most BJJ matches are won when you submit your opponent using appropriate submission techniques (strict control that forces him to tap out). Unfortunately, these submissions force opponents to tap out, such as painful hyperextension (armbars, etc.), shoulder and joint locks (kimuras, etc.), chokes, etc.

Judo competitions allow for multiple ways for a contestant to win. These include submissions, which in Judo take the form of armlocks and chokes. They also must take their opponent down on their back with sufficient force, holding or pinning the other contestant continuously and by a referee’s decision.

Our Jiu-Jitsu and Judo Olympic Sports?

Judo has been a sport at the Summer Olympics since 1964, missing only the 1968 games since its inclusion.

At the last 2020 Olympics, the sport comprised 15 events, with an equal number for men and women and a single mixed-gender event. Japan won 9 of these 15 events, holding onto their record as the overall winner in Olympic Judo.

On the other hand, jiu-jitsu has never been an Olympic sport. At the moment, that’s a point to Judo in the jiu jitsu vs judo debate, but that might not always be the case.

The Olympic Committee is constantly expanding the scope of sports in the games. The list for 2024 has been finalized, but we may still see jiu-jitsu at the Olympics.

Presences of Jiu-Jitsu and Judo in MMA

Best Grappling Martial Arts for MMA

Jiu-jitsu occupies an essential niche within MMA. The central focus within Brazilian jiu-jitsu is on grappling and ground fighting, which is missing from the other disciplines that often go into a mixed martial arts training regimen.

This combines with the striking techniques usually incorporated from boxing or kickboxing. Still, the jiu jitsu vs judo debate isn’t quite settled there.

Judo’s presence within MMA is more challenging to assess, but it is not absent. The takedowns from Judo are more suitable for MMA than those from jiu-jitsu.

A lot of MMA fighters have been judokas, including Ronda Rousey. She won a bronze medal in a judo event at the 2008 Summer Olympics two years before moving to mixed martial arts.

Recommended: Refrain from allowing the choice between MMA and BJJ to keep you from reaching your full potential. This comprehensive article compares and contrasts MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to help you choose the best option. Click here to learn more!

Jiu-Jitsu and Judo in Street Fights and Self-Defense

Looking at jiu jitsu vs Judo in the context of street fighting and self-defense, an argument could be made for jiu-jitsu being slightly better in practical, non-sporting situations. However, judo techniques are not bad for these scenarios. 

Still, many of the limitations of the sport can manifest as limitations in a street fight. For example, Judo is meant to be practiced in uniform, not preparing practitioners for contests in street clothing.

Judo is also bound by many rules suitable for formal attacks. Still, it is unlikely to be honored by an aggressor in a street fight or robbery. On the other hand, Brazilian jiu-jitsu prepares its trainees to work with a lot more leeway, making improvisation for self-defense scenarios more natural.

Another advantage of jiu-jitsu is developing what is known as combat jiu-jitsu. Created by Eddie Bravo, this Brazilian jiu-jitsu deviates from its parent form by incorporating strikes, not an original feature.

First showcased in 2013, the aim of developing this variation was explicitly to be more practical and realistic, making it ideal for self-defense and street fights.

Related: Martial arts may be an excellent tool for self-defense in any scenario. Click here to discover the most efficient martial arts techniques and training methods for keeping yourself safe and secure.

Popularities of Jiu-Jitsu and Judo

Jiu-jitsu has a relatively short history. Although Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the form of martial art popular in the West, is only about four decades younger than Judo, initially developed in the 1920s, its popularity in most countries outside Brazil is significantly more recent than that.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu only gained prominence in the United States starting in 1993, the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. The UFC was founded by Rorion Gracie, son of one of the developers of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, who selected his younger brother Royce to compete using the family’s style. 

As a result, Royce Gracie won this event thanks primarily to jiu-jitsu, which started the explosive worldwide popularity of martial arts.

Judo was created in Japan in the 1880s and has been practiced in the United States since the end of the Second World War. 

The following decades showed a gradual growth, punctuated by the 1964 inclusion of Judo as an Olympic sport. In addition, martial arts started spreading more heavily outside of ethnic Japanese communities in the same decade.

Considering all this, it is perhaps unusual that Judo isn’t viewed as popular in America as Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Judo’s popularity is better represented globally and widely practiced in Europe and Asia. Judo is especially popular in France, where there was more registered judoka than in Japan.

Related Article: Discover the difference between Jiu-Jitsu and Taekwondo! Learn about the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu and Taekwondo for MMA, self-defense, etc. Click here to discover which martial art best suits you and your objectives!


Despite their similarities, we’ve learned how to identify the differences between jiu-jitsu and Judo. These differences aren’t as stark compared with many other martial arts. 

So while it’s challenging to settle the argument of which is better objectively, you’re now better equipped to choose the one that’s more suitable for you. 

In summary, both Judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) are fantastic martial arts to study since they provide several advantages, including:

  • Teach you several standing and ground techniques and tactics to protect yourself.
  • Increase your fitness abilities and body resistance.
  • Help you achieve self-confidence and a great problem-solving mindset.
  • Provide you with the possibility to compete and establish a fantastic profession, among other incredible benefits.

Your opinion matter: What is your favorite martial art, Jiu-Jitsu or Judo? and why?

Recommended: Brazilian jiu-jitsu can change your life. This martial art has much to offer, from self-defense to enhanced confidence. Click here to learn about the various advantages of BJJ and how it can help you in many parts of your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Jiu Jitsu the Same as Judo?

Jiu Jitsu and Judo are both Japanese martial art disciplines with certain similarities. They are not, however, the same martial art.

Judo originated in the late 1800s as a contemporary combat art based on traditional Japanese jujutsu. It focuses on throws and takedowns, intending to take an opponent to the ground.

On the other hand, Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art emphasizing ground grappling techniques. Joint locks, throws, and chokes are examples of Jiu-Jitsu techniques. Although, it also contains standing techniques like takedowns, etc.

Besides technical differences, Judo and Jiu Jitsu have separate regulations and competition forms.

Otherwise, Judo is an Olympic sport with a well-established competitive circuit that includes defined principles and weight divisions. On the other hand, Jiu Jitsu has several distinct rule sets, weight classes, and forms, and contests may be organized under various regulatory organizations.

Which Is Easier to Learn, Judo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

The easiness of learning Judo or BJJ depends on a person’s physical abilities and consistency, among other factors. Each martial arts have distinct techniques and training methods, and what works for one person may not.

Judo may be simpler to learn since it has a more organized curriculum and concentrates on fewer techniques than BJJ. It also emphasizes proper throwing and falling skills, which might be more straightforward for novices to understand.

On the other hand, Brazilian jiu-jitsu offers a more detailed and diversified curriculum that incorporates various techniques, such as takedowns, shoulder locks, chokes, guard positions, etc. Indeed, it also requires more attention to flexibility and body control, which may be difficult for newcomers.

Yet, it is crucial to remember that both martial arts take a significant amount of time and devotion to master, and what is simpler to learn initially may not be easier to master in the long term.

Therefore, the most accessible approach to assess which martial art is easiest to learn is to try both and discover which you feel more comfortable with and like learning.