What Is the Difference Between Jiu Jitsu and Judo?

difference between jiu jitsu and judo

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?

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

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 wearing a gi (kimono). However, Brazilian jiu-jitsu can be performed with and without a gi.
  4. The focus in Judo is 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. 

Differences in Competition Rules Between Jiu-Jitsu and Judo

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 oh 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 do include submissions, which in Judo take the form of armlocks and chokes. They also have to take your opponent down on their back with sufficient force, holding or pinning the other contestant for a continuous period, 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 was made up of 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 in the future.

Presences of Jiu-Jitsu and Judo in 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 to MMA than those from jiu-jitsu. A lot of MMA fighters have been judoka, 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.

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 within 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.

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 of 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 in martial arts.

Judo was created in Japan in the 1880s and was being practiced in the United States from at least the end of the Second World War. 

The decades that followed 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 of 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, widely practiced in Europe and Asia. Judo is especially popular in France, where at one point, there were more registered judoka than in Japan.


We’ve learned how to identify the differences between jiu-jitsu and Judo despite their similarities. 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?

To discover more fantastic things that Brazilian jiu-jitsu can teach you; Click here.