What Is the Difference Between Jiu Jitsu and Karate?

The differences between Karate and Jiu-Jitsu are varied, ranging from fighting styles to the rules of the competitions to the respective popularities of the two martial arts.

The most noticeable difference is that Karate is a contact sport where strikes are essential. In contrast, Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is more about grappling, but many more differences are more subtle.

In the rest of the article, we’re going to look at the differences between Jiu-Jitsu and Karate from the perspectives of their fighting styles, competition rules, presence in the Olympics and Mixed Martial Arts, and their respective popularities.

What Are the Differences in Fighting Styles Between Jiu-Jitsu and Karate?

The first point to determine a winner in the jiu-jitsu vs karate contest is the fighting styles, which are very different. 

BJJ does not use strikes except in the cases of some schools of martial art. For example, the combat jiu-jitsu that Eddie Bravo developed uses open-palm strikes.

On the other hand, Karate is all about strikes, the primary difference between martial arts. These strikes can be performed with the hands or with the feet.

In Kumite, for example, the grading of the bouts is done entirely based on the number and location of successful strikes a fighter delivers on their opponent.

What Is the Difference Between Karate and BJJ Gis?

jiu jitsu moves and techniques for white belts

The Gi (kimono) is a martial art uniform of three parts: a jacket, pants, and belt. A BJJ or Karate practitioner will wear a Gi uniform during training and competition. However, jiu-jitsu Gi and Karate are entirely different!

Karate Gis are significantly lighter in weight than Jiu-Jitsu gis. This is because Brazilian jiu-jitsu allows gripping the collar or sleeve to perform various techniques.

As a result, the BJJ Gi is constructed with additional stitching and substantial weaves to ensure long-term durability.

Recommended: This article looks at the best jiu-jitsu gis for beginners. It will help you select the most appealing Gi for your training, whether you’re just starting or have some expertise.

What Are the Differences in Competition Rules Between BJJ and Karate?

In a jiu-jitsu competition, the opponents do not strike one another. Indeed, they’re not allowed to hit one another. BJJ is more similar to wrestling, with different rules as martial arts go.

A jiu-jitsu competitor starts from standing and applies submission techniques while bringing the opponent down to the ground.

Indeed, Jiu-Jitsu fights are typically won through submissions or by points. A BJJ submission can create a painful hyperextension to an ankle or elbow joint, such as the armbar.

In addition, choke submissions disturb an opponent’s blood flow, forcing him to either give up or fall asleep, granting a win to the other fighter.

In Karate, it is perfectly legal to throw strikes at your opponent. Karate competitions tend to be scored by many contacts during strikes.

Indeed, in some competitions, such as the Olympics, practice Karate as a semi-contact sport. The purpose of the bouts is to make contact, but not at full force.

Recommended: Grasp the IBJJF rules and regulations to avoid disqualification and gain a competitive advantage by becoming familiar with legal and illegal IBJJF submission techniques. Learn more by clicking here!

Our Jiu-Jitsu and Karate Olympic Sports?

Despite the announcement from the Jiu-Jitsu Times that the sport would be included for the first time in the 2024 Summer Olympics, we will not see jiu-jitsu at the next Olympics. But the original announcement was an April Fool’s Day prank.

Otherwise, the International Olympic Committee will introduce three new sports in the next event. The new sports for 2024 have been finalized, but Jiu-Jitsu is still possible for 2028.

Karate was an Olympic event during the 2020 Summer Olympics held in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Although efforts to include it began in the 70s, it was only in 2016 that the International Olympic Committee decided it would be included in the 2020 games.

Unfortunately, Karate will not be included in the 2024 games in Paris, having been replaced by breakdancing. But, if Karate returns to the Olympics, it will likely follow the format in the 2020 games.

Eight gold medals were at play; six were for Kumite and two for Kata competitions. The matches were split evenly by gender, with four men’s and four women’s competitions.

So, for now, in the jiu-jitsu vs karate fight for the Olympics, Karate wins.

Related: Olympic Combat Sports (The Full List)

What Are the Presences of Jiu-Jitsu and Karate in MMA?

jiu jitsu vs karate

Karate is far less likely to be taught in MMA gyms than BJJ. Indeed, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the core skills of the discipline, alongside kickboxing, boxing, judo, and wrestling. This is one point to jiu-jitsu in the debate jiu-jitsu vs Karate.

The techniques taught in boxing and kickboxing are more suited to the brutality of a typical MMA competition. In contrast, Karate’s methods are insufficient to defeat a savage opponent. 

Furthermore, Brazilian jiu-jitsu focuses on ground fighting and grappling, boosting the MMA combatant ground fighting skills. Therefore, it’s a good fit for MMA training as the other disciplines don’t cover those features well enough.

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!

Which Is More Popular, BJJ or Karate?

Karate has a centuries-long history in Japan and a long history in the West than jiu-jitsu. Moreover, American servicemen first picked Karate up in the Second World War. 

As a result, the first karate studio on the mainland was opened in Phoenix, Arizona, by Navy veteran Robert Trias, one of the first American black belts in Karate, in 1946.

Since then, the popularity of Karate in America has been skyrocketing. In 1964, the International Karate Association, based in Tokyo, moved to California. A lot of the growth in the popularity of Karate occurred in the same decade. In 1984, Karate became a cultural phenomenon with the Karate Kid film.

On the other hand, Jiu-Jitsu only started to gain popularity in America much more recently. The most popular variant in the West is Brazilian jiu-jitsu, developed in the 1920s. 

Furthermore, BJJ had only begun spreading in America in 1993, when Royce Gracie, son of one of the original creators of the sport, won the first Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Related: Discover the self-defense power of Karate! Learn how effectively you can use the discipline and expertise of this ancient martial art to defend yourself and your loved ones. Click here to learn more!

Is Karate or Jiu-Jitsu Better for Self-Defense?

jiu jitsu for self defense

Karate and Jiu-jitsu are both legitimate self-defense systems. Learning and practicing these martial arts disciplines will almost certainly save your life if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation. 

However, Jiu-Jitsu has gained popularity as the best self-defense martial art. This is because it teaches several concepts applicable to self-defense, such as distance management, body control, etc.

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.


The debate of Jiu-Jitsu vs Karate (BJJ vs Karate) is longstanding, but ultimately, it’s difficult to determine a clear winner. So instead, we’ve examined the differences between the two martial arts, including that Karate is a contact sport. In contrast, strikes are not usually practiced in jiu-jitsu.

Indeed, we discovered the differences in competition rules between BJJ and Karate, examined the two arts’ presences in the Olympics and MMA, and looked at how their popularity has developed.

Please share your thoughts with us: Which one is better, Karate or Jiu-Jitsu?

Related Article: Explore how Jiu-Jitsu and Judo differ! Uncover the efficiency of these martial arts in MMA, self-defense, and more. Click here to find out which one will best help you reach your goals!