Aikido VS BJJ: What’s the Difference?

Aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) are two marital arts that sprouted from the same land but ultimately took different philosophical and physical paths.

We are going to take a look at the differences between these martial arts while taking some time to examine their common ancestry.

Finally, we will contemplate their roles in modern martial arts. This is not a one of those articles that is going to take a stance and suggest one style is superior to the other; we just want to help you learn something new.

What Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? (BJJ)

akido vs bjj

BJJ History

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu got its start in Japan even though its beginnings are up to debate even amongst martial arts scholars. The fact is that this martial art experienced its greatest resurgence when it was taken up by the Gracie family in Brazil in the early 20th century. Mitsuyo Maeda, a prodigious fighter, brought Jiu Jitsu to Brazil after he honed the style with the realities of street fighting.

Maeda’s student, Carlos Gracie, picked up Jiu Jitsu from Maeda and developed it with several members of his family. Every member of the family added something to the fighting, including elements that started to shift the fighting style more towards submissions and fighting from the back- a vulnerable position.

Now, BJJ has evolved into one of the foremost martial arts in MMA. It came to the United States in the 1990s and became a favored form in many MMA competitions. The Gracie family is still active in BJJ to this day.

What Is The Fighting Style Like?

BJJ is a rather aggressive form, using leverage to defend yourself against people that are stronger and larger. The techniques are focused on bringing other individuals to the ground and fighting them where most people would be at a disadvantage- on the ground.

Additionally, the fighting style puts a lot of emphasis on making the other opponent submit or risk being subdued rather harshly. BJJ can be performed either wearing a BJJ Gi, or wearing a tight fitting outfit such as a rash guard (Click here to see the best rash guards for BJJ & MMA).

This fighting style is significant because it has been tested in actual street fights and in tournaments, allowing its founders and modern-day masters to have a lot of success.

All you need to do is turn on some old matches to see how the Gracie’s conquered many fighting competitions against people that had them physically outclassed. Then, you will see how powerful these techniques can be.

Even today, you will see a lot of the best fighters mix BJJ into their fighting repertoire to add another dimension to their skills.

The video below shows a BJJ match between Royler Gracie and Eddie Bravo, two of the most talented BJJ practitioners to date.

What Is Aikido?

aikido vs bjj

Aikido History

Aikido is a form of martial arts that combines more philosophical elements into its combat. It is also a rather new form that was only “recently” founded in the early 1900s. Morihei Ueshiba founded the first Aikido school, and the torch has been passed down through his family into the modern day.

There is a lot of emphasis on the philosophy of Aikido for the practitioners. Since this martial art is more about mitigation than active aggression, the interpretation of Aikido ( Way of Combining Forces) is a very practical name.

However, Aikido also focuses on philosophy at large. The style focuses on giving people a means to bring about harmony in their lives while also having students mitigate attackers using their own energy against them.

What Is Aikido’s Fighting Style About?

Aikido is a fighting style that does not get a lot of practice outside of dojos. Like we’ve said, it is largely focused on developing the ability to redirect another person’s attack into a method of neutralizing them.

You can expect to see many reactive techniques instead of proactive ones. That means you are not likely to see a lot of offensive attacks by Aikido practitioners. Instead, you are will see them react to others’ attacks, taking the fighter down and neutralizing their threat by getting them to the ground or putting them in specific locks and holds.

Aikido is more about the practice and philosophy rather than the ability to beat someone into the dust. It is more carefully arranged techniques that demonstrate mastery rather than the ability to demolish other fighters. To that extent, you will not see it as the foremost martial arts form on most people’s fighting transcript.

Let’s Compare Aikido And BJJ

Let’s take a quick look at both of these martial arts and break down some basic similarities and differences.

Philosophy: Aikido places a large emphasis on its philosophical goal of reducing harm to the practitioners by redirecting the enemy’s attack. BJJ holds the philosophy of fending off larger attackers through effective combat. BJJ does not have much of a focus on the philosophy of fighting, but instead puts more weight on the science of fighting, so to speak.

Aggressiveness: There is no doubt that BJJ is more aggressive than Aikido. In BJJ, you will be finding effective ways to get inside an opponent’s guard, bring them to the ground, and make them submit to the discomfort caused by the techniques. With Aikido, there is a lot less aggression because the style focuses on deflecting attacks, so you are rarely the aggressor.

Purpose: As you can see in the modern MMA world, BJJ is used as a combat form of martial art. It is designed with the intention of improving the art through competition and real world tests against masters. Aikido is not competitive in that manner. It is practiced throughout the world, with dojos in many countries. Yet, there is no standing invitation to take down members of the founding family as there is with the Gracie’s.

Final Thoughts

Overall, both of these martial arts are about making your opponent submit rather than face more serious injuries in extended combat.

Beyond the desire to make them submit, there are not too many common areas in terms of martial arts philosophy. BJJ is clearly designed to be a more aggressive form and Aikido is not. 

Still, they each hold a valuable place in the world of martial arts, training both the body and mind. Thank you for reading and feel free to drop us a line if you had any thoughts about this short comparison!


James Davis

A fervent mixed martial artist and avid MMA fan, James combines his experience and scientific knowledge to provide you with a unique perspective on the most popular MMA products on the market. He joins the ranks of other MMA enthusiasts in creating this website to guide and educate the next generation of mixed martial artists.

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