BJJ VS Judo: What’s The Difference?

There’s no denying that the two martial arts can look pretty damn similar, especially if you’ve participated in neither of them before.

And that couldn’t be further from the truth. Although both martial arts utilise similar techniques and uniforms, the aim of the game and the way a match is scored varies massively between the two.

That being said, if you already participate in one, you should fall in nicely with the other.

In this article, we’re going to be comparing BJJ VS Judo, looking at both the similarities and the differences between these two grappling based martial arts.

Judo Thow

A Judo Throw

A BJJ Submission


Both Utilise Gi’s

The first thing you’ll notice when you look at these two martial arts is that they both utilise what is called a gi, which is basically just a uniform you wear whilst training or competing.

The reason these gi’s look so similar is because they originate from the same place - Japan. The inventor of Judo, Jigoro Kano created the Gi based of the traditional Japanese item of clothing, the kimono.

Judo gi’s have remained similar ever since then, where as BJJ gi’s have evolved pretty dramatically.

Now, BJJ gis (click here to see examples) feature a much slimmer, tighter cut with far less material, often adorned with patches from the wearers club and embroidered with the make of the gi.

You can also compete in what is known as No Gi BJJ, which as the name suggests, involves competing not wearing a gi. Instead, participants usually wear tight, spandex items of clothing such as a rash guard. Most people tend to start of with traditional BJJ, then make their way to No Gi once they’ve got a feel for it and a bit of experience under their belt.

Judo Gi


Similar Strategies in Both

Both of these two martial arts begin standing, with the intention of throwing your opponent to the floor.

Once on the floor however, the two aren’t so similar, more on that in a moment.


The Rules

In Judo, once one of the competitors has been thrown to the floor the game has been one, providing that they land flat on their back for an Ippon. You can also defeat your opponent by pinning them on their back for 25 seconds.

Where as in BJJ, you would only get points for executing a throw on your opponent. The only way you can win a match is by submitting your opponent or by accumulating more points than them throughout the match.

Judo can also be won by submitting your opponent, however chocks and arm locks are the only types of submissions allowed.

The Belt System

This is another element that is pretty similar, however the two do vary slightly. I’ll list the two martial arts below, followed by the belts in order of how you progress.

Judo Belt Order:

  • Judo
  • White
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Black

BJJ Belt Order:

  • White
  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Brown
  • Black

Most countries such as the UK, have some form of governing body for Judo (BJA). Within this, you are awarded your grades based on your ability to meet certain criteria, such as throws, submissions, holds and knowledge of Judo history.

Where as each BJJ club is in charge of their own belt system. For BJJ, the lineage in which your instructor received their belt is important. Because of this, you tend to see a variation in ability for the same belt depending on how each easily each club awards a new grade.

BJJ VS Judo: Round Up

As you can see, both of these two martial arts are incredibly similar.

Often, professional standard athletes in each of these martial arts will learn the other in order to develop a well rounded skill set.

For a BJJ practitioner, learning how to utilise your opponents movements standing up to land in a dominant position on the floor is an invalable skill.

Likewise for a Judoka, being more knowledgable on the ground with a wide range of submissions, sweeps and techniques will give you a competitive advantage should your fight end up on the ground (Ne Waza). 

Thanks for taking the time to read our article on BJJ vs Judo. Feel free to ask any questions you may have int the comment section below.

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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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