BJJ vs Judo: A Detailed Comparison of Techniques, Rules, and Training Methods

Last Updated May, 2024

A BJJ and Judo Practioner engaging

In the diverse world of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Judo stand out for their unique techniques, philosophy, and rich heritage.

Many enthusiasts and prospective martial artists often find themselves pondering, 'What are the differences between BJJ and Judo?'

This comprehensive guide dives into the core differences and similarities between BJJ and Judo, offering insights into each martial art's techniques, rules, and training methods. Whether you're considering starting one of these arts or simply seeking to deepen your understanding, this article provides a clear comparison to guide your martial arts journey.

What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, often abbreviated as BJJ, is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on ground fighting and submission holds. It emphasizes the skill of controlling one's opponent, gaining a dominant position, and using joint locks and chokeholds to force them to submit. BJJ evolved from the traditional Japanese Jujutsu and Judo, adapted by the Gracie family and other practitioners in Brazil.

What is Judo?

Judo, meaning "gentle way" in Japanese, is a martial art that concentrates on throwing techniques, pins, joint locks, and chokes. Kodokan Judo was developed by Jigoro Kano in the late 19th century, Judo emphasizes the principle of maximum efficiency with minimum effort. It's an Olympic sport and is known for its dynamic throwing techniques.

Similarities Between BJJ and Judo

Before we dive into what sets BJJ and Judo apart, let's start with the common ground they share. It's fascinating to see how these two respected martial arts, though distinct in their practices, actually stem from the same roots.

This section explores these shared aspects — from their historical origins to their emphasis on technique and mental discipline. Understanding these similarities provides a well-rounded perspective and a deeper appreciation for both BJJ and Judo

Roots in Japanese Jujutsu

Both BJJ and Judo have their roots in traditional Japanese Jujutsu. Judo was developed from Jujutsu in the late 19th century by Jigoro Kano, and BJJ later evolved from Judo. This shared lineage means that both arts have a common foundational philosophy and some overlapping techniques.

Emphasis on Technique Over Strength

A core principle in both BJJ and Judo is the emphasis on using technique, leverage, and timing over brute strength. This principle allows practitioners of smaller stature to effectively defend against larger opponents, making both martial arts inclusive and adaptable

Self-Defense Applications

BJJ and Judo are both highly effective for self-defense. Judo’s throwing and pinning techniques are useful for neutralizing threats in standing encounters, while BJJ’s ground control and submission techniques are effective in close-quarters defense.

Mental Discipline and Physical Fitness

Training in either BJJ or Judo requires and fosters mental discipline, strategic thinking, and physical fitness. Practitioners of both martial arts develop improved focus, problem-solving skills, and physical conditioning.

Global Sports and Communities

Both BJJ and Judo are practiced globally, with widespread communities and international competitions. This global presence has created a rich cultural exchange and a sense of camaraderie among practitioners worldwide.

Key Differences Between BJJ and Judo

Alright, let's tackle the big question: what exactly are the differences between BJJ and Judo? While both are undeniably effective in their own ways, they've got some key differences that set them apart.

From the techniques they focus on to the way they score points in competitions, there's a lot to unpack here. Let's break it down and see what makes each of these martial arts unique.

  • Focus and Techniques: While BJJ is predominantly ground-based, focusing on submissions and positional control, Judo is known for its standing throws and takedowns, with less emphasis on ground fighting.
  • Sport Rules and Scoring: The rules in BJJ competitions reward positions and submission attempts, whereas Judo matches are primarily scored based on throwing techniques, with most points awarded for control and immobilization on the ground.
  • Training and Sparring: BJJ training often involves extensive groundwork, known as 'rolling', where practitioners spar in ground fighting scenarios. Judo sessions typically include 'randori', where athletes practice throwing and grappling in standing positions.

Focus and Techniques in BJJ and Judo

Each martial art has its unique signature techniques and areas of focus that define its essence and approach. Below, we'll delve into the specific techniques and strategic emphases of BJJ and Judo. From the ground fighting dominance of BJJ to the dynamic throwing techniques of Judo, we'll uncover how these martial arts equip their practitioners with distinct sets of skills for both competitive and self-defense scenarios.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

  • Ground Fighting Dominance: BJJ practitioners spend a significant portion of their training focusing on ground techniques. This includes mastering positions like guard, mount, and side control.
  • Submissions: A key aspect of BJJ is the use of submissions, which include joint locks (like armlocks and leglocks) and chokeholds, to defeat an opponent.
  • Guard Play: The guard position, where a practitioner is on their back controlling an opponent using their legs, is fundamental in BJJ. It's a unique aspect that allows a fighter to be effective even from a seemingly disadvantageous position.
  • Positional Strategy: BJJ places a strong emphasis on gaining and maintaining superior positions on the ground before attempting submissions.


  • Throwing Techniques: Judo is renowned for its focus on standing techniques, especially throws. This includes techniques like seoi-nage (shoulder throw), osoto-gari (major outer reap), and uchi-mata (inner thigh throw).
  • Grappling and Pinning: While Judo does involve ground fighting, it's more focused on pinning techniques and quick submissions after a successful throw.
  • Grip Fighting: A significant part of Judo training is learning how to effectively grip an opponent's Gi (uniform) to control them and set up throws.
  • Dynamic Transitions: Judo emphasizes the transition from standing to ground fighting, using the momentum of throws to gain advantageous positions or submissions.

Comparative Table: Focus and Techniques

Aspect Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Judo
Primary Focus Ground fighting, control, and submissions Throwing techniques and standing grappling
Key Techniques Guard, mounts, chokes, armlocks, leglocks Seoi-nage, osoto-gari, uchi-mata, pinning
Strategic Emphasis Position before submission, guard play Gripping and transition from throws to ground control
Scoring in Competition Points awarded for position control, submission attempts Points for throws, pins, and quick submissions

Training and Sparring

The training methodologies and sparring practices of a martial art are as crucial as its techniques and philosophies. In this section, we compare the training and sparring approaches of BJJ and Judo. From the ground-focused 'rolling' sessions in BJJ to the dynamic 'randori' in Judo, we explore how these practices shape the skills and strategies of practitioners, reflecting the unique essence of each martial art.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

  • Rolling: BJJ training prominently features 'rolling', which is a form of sparring focused on ground fighting. It is a practical application of techniques learned in class and is integral to BJJ training.
  • Technique Drilling: Practitioners spend time learning and drilling techniques, which includes practicing submissions, escapes, and positional transitions.
  • Positional Sparring: Sometimes, sparring sessions are focused on specific positions or situations, allowing practitioners to develop depth in particular aspects of ground fighting.
  • Physical Conditioning: Although less emphasized compared to technique, physical conditioning is still a part of BJJ training, often focusing on flexibility and core strength.


  • Randori: Judo's equivalent to BJJ's rolling is 'randori', which means "free practice". It involves practicing judo throws and grappling in a dynamic and somewhat competitive manner.
  • Uchikomi: This is a form of repetitive throw practice in Judo, where a throw is partially completed. It helps in developing muscle memory for various throwing techniques.
  • Ne waza (Ground Work) Practice: Though less emphasized than in BJJ, groundwork is still practiced in Judo, focusing on pinning techniques, joint locks, and chokeholds.
  • Physical Fitness: Physical fitness is a more integral part of Judo training, with a focus on strength, endurance, and agility, essential for effective throwing techniques.

Comparative Table: Training and Sparring

Aspect Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Judo
Primary Sparring Mode Rolling (ground fighting sparring) Randori (standing and ground sparring)
Technique Emphasis Submissions, positional control, guard play Throwing techniques (uchikomi), grip fighting
Secondary Training Focus Positional sparring, specific situation training Newaza (groundwork), transition practice
Physical Conditioning Flexibility, core strength Overall strength, endurance, agility
Training Structure Technique drilling followed by rolling Uchikomi, randori, and physical fitness drills

Rules and Scoring

Let’s talk about rules and scoring — the backbone of any competitive sport, including BJJ and Judo. Ever watched a match and wondered how they keep score or what move just won the round? Well, each of these martial arts has its own set of rules that can make or break a match. From the point-scoring in BJJ to the all-important 'Ippon' in sport Judo, understanding these rules can really up your game as a fan or practitioner

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

  • Points Scoring: In BJJ competitions, points are awarded for achieving and maintaining dominant positions. For example, taking the back or achieving full mount scores points.
  • Submissions: The ultimate goal in a BJJ match is to submit the opponent, which can result in an immediate win regardless of the points scored.
  • Guard Passing: Passing the opponent's guard (overcoming their leg defense to achieve a more dominant position) is also a scored action in BJJ.
  • Positional Control: Maintaining control in positions like side control or north-south position can also contribute to a competitor's score.


  • Ippon: The highest score in Judo is an 'Ippon', awarded for a perfect throw that lands the opponent flat on their back with force and speed. An Ippon immediately ends the match.
  • Waza-ari: A 'Waza-ari' is awarded for throws that are not quite perfect but effective or for controlling the opponent on the ground for 20 seconds. Two Waza-ari equal an Ippon.
  • Yuko and Koka: Smaller scores, like Yuko and Koka, have been part of Judo scoring but are less common in modern rules.
  • Penalties: Penalties or 'Shidos' are given for passivity, rule infractions, or illegal actions. Accumulating too many Shidos can lead to disqualification.

Comparative Table: Rules and Scoring

Aspect Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Judo
Primary Goal Submission Ippon (perfect throw)
Points Scoring For positions (e.g., mount, back control) For effective throws (Waza-ari) and ground control
Winning Criteria Submission or highest points at match end Ippon, two Waza-ari, or highest score at match end
Secondary Scoring Guard passing, positional control Partially successful throws, ground control time
Penalties For stalling, illegal grips/actions For passivity, illegal grips/actions, rule infractions


As we've explored the intricate world of BJJ and Judo, it's clear that both martial arts offer unique experiences steeped in rich tradition and practical techniques. Whether it’s the ground-based grappling art of BJJ or the dynamic throws of Judo, each art provides valuable skills and lessons that extend to mixed martial arts and even beyond the mat.

Understanding their differences and similarities, from techniques and training methods to their safety aspects, helps us appreciate the diversity and depth within these disciplines.

Whether you're drawn to the strategic groundwork of BJJ or the elegant throws of Judo, your journey in martial arts is sure to be enriching and transformative, offering not just physical prowess but also mental resilience and a deeper connection to a global community of practitioners.