What is Better – Judo or BJJ?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: MMA
4 Nov 2008


I found an article on BestJudo.com that piqued my interest. You see I have just taken my first grappling class and my mind has been trying to wrap itself around the concept of why Jui Jitsu is seemingly the main ground fighting martial art of choice. The article make several good points (from my limited understanding of each martial art) and frames the argument with these opening statements.


 A comment recently made was “…that judo’s biggest weakness in newaza is the lack of attention paid to positional grappling.”  I think that virtually everyone who trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can agree with this statement.  Unfortunately, it’s wrong.

An equivalent statement by Judoka might be “BJJ’s biggest weakness is their ‘standup’ game…”  And although most Judoka would probably subscribe to it, that statement is just as wrong.


Read the article in the above link but paraphrasing, he makes the point that the two martial arts have different strategies and tactics in part because of the rules. Judo is heavily involved with getting an oppoenent to the ground where BJJ assumes most fights will end up on the ground. This article is interesting. Here is a couple videos of Judo vs BJJ.




As you can see with this very limited view of the maritalarts, they each seemed to find advantages in situations. I mentioned I took a grappling class over the weekend and will talk about that experience but will not have an answer as to what is better. I don’t think one martial art is better than another because you can always find workable techniques in any martial art. It is more a matter of preference I believe.



It was kind of humbling that I, a 5th degree black belt in Kenpo Karate would wear a white belt but that is what I did. I truly did not know much about ground fighting as all I have is my junior high-school wrestling background. I know enough to keep my legs away if someone is shooting at me.


The seminar was run by Dr. “Muscle” Mick Leone, 9th degree kenpo and 2nd degree BJJ black belt. It was mostly basics and I was having a tough time remembering all of the methods. After what seemed like an afternoon of basics, we got the chance to roll with Mick and D. Davis from Primal Training Center. Here is a video of one of D. Davis tournament matches.



D. Davis was very relaxed, rolling with one after another but I felt like a fish out of water. He took it easy on my and I only had to tap out twice in the first minute. :)


In an earlier post entitled, “Do karate and grappling mix” I made the point that even stand up fighter/strikers should learn grappling in-case they endup on the ground. After taking this beginning grappling class I share the comment made by Matt Klein – that (paraphrasing) that I would lose the advantage to even lighter bjjfighters on the ground. 


So it does not really matter what people think is better, cernainly not between Judo and BJJ becuase they approach fighting differently – with different strategies and tactics. Boxing, Karate, Judo, BJJ, and Akiado all have different rules that may favor one over the other but each has its advantages that we can all learn and become better fighters!




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12 Responses to “What is Better – Judo or BJJ?”

  1. denilson Says:

    Se você está procurando Escola de Judô visite http://www.escolanacionaldejudo.com.br

  2. Tommy Says:

    You are right Judo and BJJ have their positives and negatives, but there is proof in the mixed martial arts world that BJJ is better than Judo and its the truth and only truth. In Judo rules Judo has the advantages, but you have to understand that Judo is more of a sport than a combat art. BJJ is a combat art, there are two types of BJJ, BJJ and Combat BJJ. The combat BJJ is the one the Gracies teach which includes strikes using elbow, knees, etcet. That is why in the mixed martial arts world fighters with background in Judo are rarely found.

  3. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi Tommy, I tend to agree with you that the BJJ ground game is second to none. One of our association black belts also holds a Gracie BJJ 2nd degree black belt and he is one that I would never like to meet in a ground game.

    I think Judo was developed as a sport by Dr. Kano as you say. I do think Judo has wonderful transitions from the standing to the mat.

    What do you think of Sambo?



  4. Tommy Says:

    Sambo is great, but it doesn’t have an identity because sambo is a mix of martial arts.

  5. Tommy Says:

    The greatest judoka of all time died at age 75 and Helio Gracie which can be considered the best Bjj player of all time is almost 95 and can still practice and choke the life out of people.

  6. John W. Zimmer Says:

    I think I saw him on one of the youtube videos? Yeah I just checked… his was actually one of the video’s I was reviewing for this post.
    One can aspire to be able to do that when we get old!

  7. Tommy Says:

    You seem to have great knowledge of martial arts and I’m lucky to find someone that actually knows some stuff.

  8. anca Says:

    Tommy… do you honestly believe that MMA is all the proof needed that BJJ is better than judo? Maybe better for MMA aplication (although this can still be argued, the name Fedor immediately springs to mind), but for self defence? Personally, I’d want to spend as little time on the ground as possible (I’ve never seen a one-on-one street fight). Not saying that either one is “better”; it’s a tired arguement with no answer, don’t pretend there is one.

  9. Tommy Says:

    I like judo too. I wish there was a judo school where I live because judo schools are cheap. But, sure you are right some martial arts are better than others at different situations. If it was one-on-one bjj, judo, sambo, etcet. can solve your problem, but if you add one more person to the fight all those grappling arts can become useless and martial arts like Kenpo, Krav Maga, Kali, etcet. might help you but no martial art is designed to fight multiple attackers. As with Fedor he trains some Bjj, but his main ones are judo and sambo. Also throws leave you vulnerable specially in the streets. Most of the time when you throw somebody you fall right with them and sometimes land in a not very advantageful position. And one thing is true 100% of all fights if nobody interrupts and nobody runs aways they will always end up on the ground. So, even though you will have to know how to defend yourself from the ground even if you don’t want to go to the ground.

  10. John W. Zimmer Says:

    @ Anca – I’m with you about not wanting to spend time on the ground. On the ground you can only fight one person at a time effectively if you have the grappling/wrestling skills.
    Also trying to find the best fighting art is problematic as each has its strengths and weaknesses.
    @ Tommy – I tended to agree that BJJ or wrestling would be better on the ground, Judo – Aikido would be better for transitions, Karate/ boxing/ muay thai would be better standing and MMA/freestyle might be better all around (or combos of the first three groups but I would like to point out that I’ve always found the person transcends the style. I mean some fighters will find a way to win no matter what style they start in.
    Two things I have a different take on: 1) most fights end up on the ground because the fighters cannot really strike. Of course that is not always the case but on the street that is probably accurate.
    2) When I was a brown belt in Tracy’s kenpo – studying for sport (point) karate I was also a bouncer. I once had 8 guys come into the bar and I had to ask a couple of them to leave (no id’s).
    They started giving me a problem so I call them outside… 6 of them followed me outside and I told them they could not come back in – they attacked me!
    I knocked the first three biggest guys out by challenging their honor – you know… saying one at a time… then the biggest guy would charge and I would step back and after his punch missed…. reverse punch to his face (knocking him out)…. that worked 3 times for the three biggest guys and then I had a running fighting on my hands.
    I was in great shape so what I did was move in circles as much as possible… whenever I had one guy close I could attack and the rest of them would be on me (so I could not stomp them too much as I wanted). That is one way to fight a group… keep them off by running in different directions in circles and attacking whenever any of them are singles out.
    That fight lasted 5 minutes or more and I did not get hit (I never have got hit in a street fight) and I did not end up on the ground (I’ve only ended up on the ground once when I was asked to throw a friend out of the bar – with wrestled because we respected each other and I ended up choking him out).
    So other peoples realities do not mean that have to be your realities! By the way the cops that came ended up signing up to take karate lessons after hearing the 6 guys saying I attacked them! :)

  11. Tommy Says:

    Well, that story is hard to believe, but it could be true. Ofcourse, if they don’t know how to fight you can even take out 50 guys. But, reality is reality. What would you do if 10 people cornered and took you down?

  12. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Tommy – All a man or woman has going for them in life is their good name. I don’t kid when I’m speaking of fighting… that being said I am not a braggart either but rather I was attempting to open your mind.
    You seemed to accept that all fights ended up on the ground and one defender could not realistically fight a group of attackers and hope to win.
    This is not rocket science but as I already stated all you have to do (if you are a good trained fighter) is keep the critical distance (the distance between you and your attacker) and use initial movement – meaning the hand or foot leads off. This is exactly how sport karate is taught so if one is good at sport karate (meaning he or she hits more often than getting hit) he should be great as fighting.
    There is no substantial difference between fighting one or many people to me. You still have to keep the critical distance and use initial movement. If you want to learn these advance fighting techniques, I would guess most schools that are successful at open tournaments can teach you that.
    If you do not find such a school – go to any Tracy’s or Joe Lewis Fighting System affiliated school (links on the left side).
    Whenever you fight you are taking a risk but if you end up fighting people that are angry or drunk, it is fairly easy to win assuming you are a trained fighter and they are not. If you had to fight trained fighters then my guess is it might not work as well.
    I will probably do a post on how to fight a group of attackers soon as I have been noticing some confusion on how to do that.