Muay Thai vs BJJ: The Ultimate Combat Sport Showdown

If you are considering taking up combat sports, you might be wondering whether Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) would be a better fit for you.

Muay Thai and BJJ are two distinct martial arts, with Muay Thai focusing on striking and stand-up combat, while BJJ emphasizes ground fighting and submission grappling.

This article discusses the critical differences between the two sports and their key benefits and drawbacks. Based on your goals, build, or strengths, you’ll find information on the best sport(s) for you.

Should I learn BJJ or Muay Thai?

Deciding which martial art is better for you depends on which fighting style you prefer or where you think your strengths will lie.

However, to make things more transparent, here are some details on each sport. If you’re still unsure after reading this, try going to a few trial classes of each and seeing which one you prefer.

However, to make things more transparent, here are some details on each sport. If you’re still unsure after reading this, try going to a few trial classes of each and seeing which one you prefer.

  • BJJ is intellectual combat where a smaller person can overcome a bigger person, sometimes called a game of human chess. 
  • Muay Thai is candid, aiming to inflict as much pain on the opponent as possible.
  • BJJ is fundamentally ground fighting and grappling combat with multiple submission and takedowns techniques.
  • Muay Thai is fundamentally stand-up striking, using a range of technical hand and leg movements.

What Is the Difference Between BJJ and Muay Thai?

Source: Krufessor Rad

Muay Thai Fighting Style

Muay Thai, known as Thai kickboxing, was developed from the Thai martial arts called Muay Boran. The sport was altered into Muay Thai in the early 20th century by incorporating elements of Western boxing.

Due to this, Muay Thai has many similarities to boxing. Like boxing, there are set rounds in competitive Muay Thai. In addition, there are rules for padded gloves, and both sports take place within the confinement of a ring.

The main difference between Muay Thai and other pugilistic sports is elbows, push kicks, and knees. Every part of the body is utilized except for the head. Muay Thai fighters are well-known for training with intense body conditioning, making them among the best fighters in the world. 

As the sport has developed, it’s evolved from a fighting sport simply for practitioners to compete into more recreational use. Nowadays, the sport is used as a way of fitness, encompassed by people from various social strata.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Fighting Style

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, commonly called BJJ, was also developed by recreating an existing martial art. In this case, it was Japanese Judo.

The development happened in 1882, but the sport didn’t become prominent until the 90s when Royce Gracie brought to light the effectiveness of the art during the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Relatives of Royce Gracie had a big part in inventing and demonstrating the techniques used in BJJ, starting with his dad Helio and Uncle Carlos.

The brothers began creating their martial art using skills they had learned from Judo. However, they primarily focused on ways to finish off opponents, such as joint locks and submission holds. 

BJJ was made for smaller, weaker fighters to overcome their bigger or stronger competition. Using leverage as a defense rather than strength and power evened out the playout field. 

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!

BJJ vs Muay Thai for MMA

Source: ONE Championship

Anyone interested in MMA fighting will be familiar with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu moves such as leg locks, armlock, and chokes.

However, since BJJ doesn’t use the movement of striking, it’s easy to be caught off guard when your opponent strikes, leaving you with no means of defense.

On the other hand, Muay Thai lacks when someone takes you to the ground, as even the best roundhouse kick won’t help you. 

For this reason, many MMA fighters practice both sports. With ground fighting, accurately keeping your opponent at a distance, and stand-up, striking with all 8 of your limbs, the combination of both sports makes a fighter dangerously effective.

Related: Learn which martial arts allow you to earn a black belt in under three years. Click here to read more!

Muay Thai vs BJJ for Weight Loss

Both sports are equally effective forms of fitness, but to break it down into calorie-burning, an hour of Muay Thai will burn, on average, 500 to 600 calories. On the other hand, BJJ burns more, with an average of 1000 calories per hour.

Suppose weight loss is your primary motivation for taking up a pugilistic sport. In that case, these figures are probably a significant deciding factor.

However, it’s worth noting that Muay Thai training is very cardio-based, which generally makes practitioners slimmer and incredibly toned. On the other hand, BJJ fighters tend to be slightly more muscle while also being toned. 

All aspects of fitness play significant roles in each sport. Still, BJJ focuses more on endurance and strength, whereas Muay Thai is power and cardiovascular-based. 

Related: Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Krav Maga, Kickboxing, Taekwondo, and Karate are practical martial arts for weight loss and fat burning. Click here to learn more!

BJJ or Muay Thai for Self-Defense

Source: Gabriel Varga

Although Muay Thai and BJJ are excellent forms of self-defense, both have limitations. 

Muay Thai will prove more useful in a street fight situation due to the striking, pain-inflicting movements. It was created on the battlefield when Thailand was constantly at war, so it’s designed to keep you standing while your opponent falls to the floor.

BJJ is better if you are the smaller or weaker party in the fight. Plus, if you’ve been taken to the ground, BJJ is one of the only martial arts that protects you even while you’re on your back. 

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.

Is Muay Thai Harder Than BJJ?

There is no straight answer on which sport is more straightforward. There is arguably more to learn in BJJ than in Muay Thai, and since you’re in close contact with your opponent, the learning process can be slower.

On the other hand, some practitioners who train in both arts will find that Muay Thai is more manageable to decipher due to fewer techniques but multiple applications. 

Related: Jiu-Jitsu is a challenging martial art that demands physical endurance, strategic thinking, and mastery of complex techniques. Click here to read more!

Can You Train Muay Thai and BJJ Together?

Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are great sports to learn simultaneously as they don’t interfere. Since BJJ teaches you submission and ground techniques, and Muay Thai teaches you striking stand-up fighting, the methods in both are not easily confused. 

This isn’t the same case with every martial art. For example, learning Muay Thai and Taekwondo can hurt your ability in either one. They both use striking art but have very different movements that could accidentally be used in the wrong sport.

Can You Switch from BJJ to Muay Thai?

It is possible to switch from BJJ to Muay Thai, although, as stated above, it is also effortless to learn both or go back and forth between each.

If you have never done Muay Thai and only practiced BJJ, then it’s worth noting that Muay Thai does involve more cardio than BJJ.

For this reason, working on your cardio fitness before or during training can provide significant benefits.

Some types of cardio fitness that could help with your Muay Thai include running, cross-training, spinning, swimming, or hiking. Overall, making the switch shouldn’t be too difficult as you’ll likely already have a good fitness level from practicing BJJ

Final Thoughts

Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai gained popularity among millions of fans and followers. They are powerful combat disciplines that many people practice, and you should also know.

In this post, we’ve learned a lot about Muay Thai and BJJ to help you select which discipline to practice; here’s a brief overview of everything we’ve studied:

  • Muay Thai is a severe striking technique that employs every body part, including the elbows and knees. On the other hand, BJJ is a grappling martial art that emphasizes ground combat and submissions while restricting striking techniques.
  • A combination of Muay Thai and BJJ for mixed martial arts is beneficial to any MMA competitor. BJJ will help you improve your ground fighting and grappling, while Muay Thai will help you build a ferocious stand-up striking game.
  • Muay Thai fighters are well-known for their severe physical conditioning training, which has helped them become some of the world’s greatest warriors. However, jiu-jitsu practitioners are renowned for their incredible endurance and strength.
  • BJJ and Muay Thai are equally excellent types of fitness to burn more calories.

I hope this post helped you learn more about Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. As a result, you will choose the appropriate discipline that matches your physical ability and aspirations.

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