Jiu Jitsu Vs Judo – What are the Differences? Which is Best for Self Defense?

When Royce Gracie grappled and bought opponents twice his size to the mat in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he gave the centuries old Martial art form of Jiu Jitsu, a much needed shot in the arm.

Almost overnight, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu had captured the imagination of the world and it was evident that brute force wasn’t the only thing that could help you fight a large opponent in a dark alley.

While BJJ just took off from nowhere, it also shifted the focus on Judo, that shares a lot of its fundamentals with Jiu-jitsu. 

How different are these two martial arts from one another? 

If you are looking for a crash course in a self-defense technique, which one of these two would you select and why?

Let’s find out. 

Jiu Jitsu Vs Judo – All You Need To Know Guide

Jiu Jitsu Vs Judo

A bunch of us know the differences between the two but there are lots of people who do not. This is why I’m here to explain just exactly how the two are different as well as how they are similar.

Below you are going to read a guide that is designed for beginners to give you the low down on the two martial arts, what they are and which is better for self defense.

What is Jiu Jitsu?

judo vs brazilian jiu jitsu

Jiu Jitsu, originally called Ju Jutsu roughly translates into ‘Soft art’. It was developed in ancient Japan as a means to fight the feudal Samurai who would often yield sharp weapons. 

Using force with bare hands against an armed opponent was so ineffective that the practitioners started to focus on closer combat techniques using joint locks, throws and pin downs. 

This was so effective that it spurned an entire martial art form which came to be called as Jiu Jitsu. 

Over the years, many variations of Jiu Jitsu have evolved from the core martial art. 

However, most of them focus on using technique, movement and manipulation rather than brute force. 

Grappling is a core part of Jiu Jitsu though and if you are uncomfortable with the thought of battling it out with a sweaty opponent on a mat, then this isn’t the right martial art for you. 

You will be closer to your opponent than in any other martial art. So much so, that you can feel their breath on you. 

Most people are unaware of the fact that Judo is also another evolved form of the original Ju Jutsu. 

What is Judo?

judo vs bjj

The original martial art of Ju Jutsu relied heavily on combat with fists and weapons, which was hardly suitable for a sporting competition or for general self-defense practice. 

Notably so, its popularity started to dwindle in the 1800s. 

That’s when Jigoro Kano, an ardent Ju Jutsu practitioner began modifying some of the fundamentals of the art to come up with his own version of Ju Jutsu.

It was called Kano’s Ju Jutsu back then. Eventually, it was renamed as Judo. 

Judo was developed based on the core principles of ‘Maximum Efficiency, Minimum Effort’. 

So, you will find soft, fluid moves based on evasion and manipulation which pits your opponents own force against them to bring them down or to pin them. While hard strikes are a part of Judo practice, they are rarely used.

The idea is to move, evade and manipulate rather than resist. 

This makes Judo a lot gentler and safer for self-defense practice as compared to hard martial art forms like Muay Thai and Karate. 

Mitsuyo Maeda, who was one of Kano’s most skilled pupils was assigned the task of spreading the knowledge of Judo to the world. He eventually made his way to Brazil where street fighting techniques were blended into Judo to form what is known as ‘Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’. 

Judo made an introduction at the Olympics in 1964 Games in Tokyo, Japan..

Jiu Jitsu Vs Judo – How is Jiu-Jitsu Different from Judo?

Since both these martial arts share the same origin, it is not surprising at all to find moves and techniques that overlap. 

For example, you have signature BJJ moves like the arm triangle, which have originated from Judo. 

But despite the obvious similarities, there are some glaring differences as well. 

Here are some of them. 


In Judo, the motive is to throw your opponent to the ground or to floor them by tripping. So, most of the practice and sparring sessions will involve you standing, trying to get a firm grip on your opponent and mastering the art of making the perfect throw. 

In Jiu-Jitsu, the focus shifts to the ground as that’s where most of the action occurs. You will practice a lot of joint locks, pins and holds on the ground trying to dominate the opponent and force them into a submission. However, in a tournament or a real life scenario, it is estimated that the fight may begin with you standing up. So it is not advisable to completely neglect the standing up techniques either. 


The rules of both these martial arts differ considerably. In Judo, if you execute a successful throw on the back, you get one full point which is called ‘An Ippon’. The other ways to score an Ippon are to pin your opponent down for more than 20 seconds or forcing them into submission either by a joint lock or just by strangulation. 

If you get awarded an Ippon and your opponent doesn’t, then you automatically win the match. 

A ‘Waza-Ari’ is half an Ippon and if both fighters do not score an Ippon, then the one with the maximum number of Waza-Aris will win. 

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu though, the onus is on forcing your opponent into submission, which will automatically qualify as a win. Otherwise, the scoring is based on points. Different moves get you different number of points. So, a takedown will net you 2 points whereas a full mount will net you four points. 

Just like in Judo, the match will begin with both the opponents standing on the mat. In the event of a takedown, the action will shift to the ground. 


While the uniforms of both BJJ and Judo look identical to the untrained eye, there are in fact many differences in the two. 

The most notable difference is the fit. The Judo uniform which is called ‘Judogi’ is loose with longer sleeves that enable the fighter to get a firm grip and use it to their advantage. 

The BJJ GI on the other hand has a slimmer, tapering fit which does not give your opponent any chance to use it to their advantage on the ground. 

Jiu Jitsu Vs Judo – Which Is Better For Self Defense?

jiu jitsu vs judo for self defense

The verdict for this is still out there. 

However, the general consensus seems to veer towards Jiu-Jitsu, particularly BJJ being a slightly better choice over Judo for self-defense

The rationale behind this is that BJJ uses a lot of techniques that have been adapted from street fighting, which makes it a more practical choice in a real life scenario. The techniques in Jiu Jitsu are also updated and more modernized to give more application to the years that we live in now.

Whereas if you are looking for a competitive sport and general fitness, just about any one of the two will work just fine. 

Why is BJJ more popular than Judo?

We feel that this is due to the popularity of MMA tournaments like the UFC more than anything else. 

It really bought BJJ into the spotlight and there’s no better promotion than some blood and guts for a brutal martial art, is there?

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