Should I Learn BJJ or Muay Thai? (Solved & Explained)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai are widely regarded as the most effective MMA martial arts. Muay Thai is a dominant stand-up striking discipline, while BJJ is a leading ground grappling discipline. With the practice’s growing popularity, each has received much attention.

For beginners interested in learning but don’t have much knowledge about both martial arts, it can be challenging to know which one to choose. 

This article highlights some critical differences between each sport and discusses the key benefits and disadvantages. Then, depending on your goals, build, or strengths, you’ll be able to find information on which (or both) sports are best 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.

  • BJJ is intellectual combat where a smaller person can overcome a bigger person, sometimes referred to as a game of human chess. 
  • Muay Thai is candid, with the primary aim 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?

  • Muay Thai Fighting Style

Muay Thai, otherwise 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, essentially making them amongst 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 referred to as 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 previously 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. 

BJJ or Muay Thai for MMA

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.

BJJ or Muay Thai 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 bearing in mind that Muay Thai training is very cardio-based, which generally makes practitioners slimmer builds and incredibly toned. On the other hand, BJJ fighters tend to be slightly more muscley 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. 

BJJ or Muay Thai for Self-Defense

Although Muay Thai and BJJ are both 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. 

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. 

Can You Train Muay Thai and BJJ Together?

Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are great sports to learn at the same time 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 arts. 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 either 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 gain popularity among millions of fans and followers. They are powerful combat disciplines that many people practice, and you should know as well.

In this post, we’ve learned a lot about Muay Thai and BJJ to help you select which discipline to practice in; 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. This is because 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.
  • Both 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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