BJJ vs Aikido – Differences and Similarities

BJJ vs Aikido – Differences and Similarities

BJJ and Aikido both are different forms of martial arts. They both teach self-defense techniques. Though being forms of martial arts, they both differ a lot from each other in the application of techniques. They are different in terms of their fighting styles, uniform, ranking system, and rules.

1. What is BJJ?

BJJ is a submission grappling combat sport. It originated in Brazil and was later get introduced in other countries. It teaches self-defense techniques. BJJ teaches how to control and submit your opponent by using joint locks and chokeholds without slamming the opponent.

BJJ practitioners learned the art from Japanese Masters and the Gracie’s modified and revolutionized BJJ. Modernization in BJJ is a continuous process, recently Eddie Bravo made new changes in BJJ and made his own style “10th Planet Jiu Jitsu” famous.

BJJ immobilizes opponents through submission techniques, joint locks, and choke holds. It also teaches how to submit the bigger and stronger opponents. The powerful submissions help the practitioner to force his opponent to tap out.

1.1. Origin

It originated in Japan and then spread around the world from Brazil. In 1897, Mitsuyo Maeda began training with Judoka Jigoro Kano. Maeda went to Brazil and start training Judo to Carlos Gracie and Carlos share his knowledge with his younger brothers. Gracie start refining Judo techniques and make some adjustments and these innovations made a new martial arts form called Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Gracie's family learned this martial art from Japanese masters and spent their lives mastering and propagating BJJ in the whole world.

1.2. Uniform

The uniform of BJJ consists of Gi and Belt.


  • Gi is a Japanese term that means uniform.
  • It is the uniform for BJJ.
  • It is composed of tough, thick, and durable material to last long.
  • The cuffs on the jacket and pants are tighter. It is a must item for the fight.

The fabric for BJJ Gi is cotton. Its length must not be greater than the thighs of the practitioner.


A belt is used to keep the Gi in place. The main purpose of the belt is to signify the rank of the player. These ranks are given below.

  • White belt is the first BJJ adult belt rank.
  • Blue belt is the second adult belt rank.
  • Purple belt is the third adult belt rank.
  • Brown belt is the fourth adult belt rank.
  • Black belt is the fifth adult belt rank.

Other higher belt ranks are as follows:

  • Red/Black belt, also called coral belt.
  • Red/White belt (8th-degree black belt).
  • Red Belt (9th and 10th Degree Black Belt).

1.3. Safety Equipment

Elbow Pads

  • Elbow pads are used to keep synovial joints safe.
  • During submissions and takedowns, whole body weight can come on the elbow joints of the fighter.
  • So, elbow pads are used to avert the breaking of any bone, joint or tissue.

Knee Pads

  • They protect the knees of the fighters from any injury.
  • It also protects the tissues, muscles and tendons around the knee.

Mouth Guard

  • It is used to protect the mouth and teeth during a fight.

1.4. Techniques

Half Guard

  • It is a ground grappling technique in which the fighter is on the mat.
  • The fighter brings the opponent's head under his arm by using the opponent’s collar.
  • The fighter hooks the thighs of the opponent by using his hands.

For more information, you can watch the video.

Open Guard

  • It is applied by grabbing the arms and legs of the opponent.
  • The fighter uses the lapel and the sleeves of the opponent’ Gi.
  • It is a guard where the fighter's ankles are not crossed around his opponent's back.
  • To apply open guard, the practitioner puts his feet on the opponent's ribs.
  • The fighter uses his legs to keep the opponent at length so that the opponent can not grab him.
  • The fighter stretches the hands of his opponent which imbalances him and he falls on the ground.

For more information, you can watch the video.

Closed Guard

  • It is the easiest guard and is taught to beginners.
  • Only the person in the bottom position can move freely and easily apply submissions on his opponent.
  • In this state, the person on the floor is in an advantageous position with his legs locked around the back of his opponent.
  • After pulling the opponent, the fighter exerts pressure on the spine of the opponent and hooks his hands on the opponent’s back.

For more information, you can watch the video.


  • It is a complex position in which a player can either be on the top or at the bottom of a rival, making the breathing process of his opponent very hard and forcing him to tap out.

Side Mount

  • In this state, the fighter is on top of the opponent’s body and executes full compression.
  • The hands of the opponent are not in a freely moveable condition. The player puts enormous pressure on his opponent, forcing him to submit.

Rear Mount

  • It is also called Back control.
  • It gives the fighter a dominating position as he is at the back of the opponent and is not visible to him.
  • The opponent can not see the player and his moves. It is one of the most advantageous positions in BJJ.

Knee Mount

  • It is also called Knee on Belly.
  • In this position, the fighter’s knee is placed on the rib or abdomen part of the opponent.
  • The fighter puts his whole pressure on his opponent, making it hard for the opponent to breathe.
  • As a result, the opponent is forced to submit.

1.5. Ranking System

  • Fighters are awarded ranks according to the color of their belt.
  • White Belt is the lowest and Black Belt is the highest rank of belt color.
  • The score is divided in BJJ is as follows:

Technique Points
Guard Pass 3 points
Knee on Belly 2 points
Mount 4 points
Sweeps 2 points
Takedowns 2 points
Back Control 4 points

1.6. Rules

  • Before the start of the BJJ match, the fighters stand in front of each other showing mutual respect.
  • The decision of the referee is considered final if points get tied at the end of the match.
  • No slamming or hair-pulling is allowed during the match.

1.7. Fighting Competition

  • The fighting competitions in BJJ are organized mainly by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).
  • Other organizations also conduct BJJ tournaments such as
    • UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro Jiu-Jitsu Cup.
    • The North American Grappling Association (NAGA).
    • Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC).
    • The Brazilian National Jiu-Jitsu Gi Championship.
    • UAEJJF - Abu Dhabi Grand Slam (ADGS).

2. What is Aikido?

Aikido is a Japanese martial art. It instructs self-defense techniques which are somehow similar to BJJ and Judo. The techniques involved in Aikido allow twisting and throwing off your opponent. The aim of Aikido is to use the opponent’s own strength and momentum against himself.

The main focus of Aikido is to achieve mental peace and control your own body so that you can subdue your opponent’s technique. The word Aikido is translated as “the way of unifying with life energy” or “the way of harmonious spirit”.

2.1. Origin

It originated in the 14th century in Japan. In the 1920s it was revolutionized by Morihei Ueshiba who is also known as O Sensei. Morihei Ueshiba is known as the founder of this martial art because of his mastery of Japanese Martial Arts.

He is called O Sensei which means “Venerable Teacher”. He has learned many other martial arts. It is distinct from other martial arts because of its emphasis on moral foundations.

2.2. Uniform

The uniform of Aikido consists of Aikido Gi, Belt, and Hakama Pants. Footwear is not worn during the fight but in the dojo, footwear can be used. The dojo is the gym where Aikido is practiced and mastered by its practitioners.

Aikido Gi

  • It is worn during fights in the dojo.
  • The practitioner can wear rash guards or T-shirts beneath them.
  • The aikido Gi, also called Dogi, is similar to the Gi worn in other martial arts.


  • It is used to keep the Aikido Gi in its place.
  • It is also used to signify the rank of the player.
  • Aikido practitioners appear in the Belt system through a series of “Kyu” and “Dan”.
  • Some organizations use only White and Black belts to distinguish the lower and higher grades.
  • It takes 4 to 5 years to reach Black Belt.
  • The traditional Dogi consisted of a Judogi cut that was very wide. This Gi has longer sleeves which cover the wrists and a jacket with short length.
  • The modern Aikido Gi has short sleeves and a long jacket.


  • To keep the feet clean, Aikido practitioners use sandals and other indoor footwear on the premises of the dojo.
  • It keeps the training mats clean.

Hakama Pants

  • These are skirts worn by the Black Belts or senior Aikido practitioners.
  • It represents their ranks.
  • The hakama has seven deep pleats, five are on the front and two on the back.
  • These pleats represent the seven virtues of bushido.
    • Gi: Justice and Integrity.
    • Rei: Civility and Etiquette.
    • Makoto: Honesty and Sincerity.
    • Chugi: Devotion and Loyalty.
    • Meiyo: Honor and Dignity.
    • Yuki: Courage and Bravery.
    • Jin: Humanity and Benevolence.


  • These are generally worn by junior practitioners who are not permitted to wear Hakama.

2.3. Safety Equipment

Groin Guards

  • These guards are worn in the groin region to protect the practitioner from injuries.

Mouth Guards

  • It protects the practitioner's mouth at all times.
  • It keeps the fighter’s teeth safe.

Head Guards

  • It is worn by the practitioners to protect the skull.
  • During Aikido fights, the practitioner’s head can be susceptible to concussions.

2.4. Weapons

Aikido makes use of specific weapons because the body movements in unarmed techniques are the same as the body movements in armed techniques. Training with weapons builds skills that are important in Aikido.


  • It is a Japanese wooden training sword.
  • It is a weapon through which the Aikido practitioners fight.
  • It is used as a substitute for real swords.


  • It is a staff that is about four feet long.
  • It teaches students Aikido principles.
  • Morihei Ueshiba adapted the Jo to teach the principles of Aikido.


  • It is a blade used for stabbing practices.
  • It was basically used by the Samurai of feudal Japan.
  • It has a length of 30cm.
  • It has a single-edged blade and a served shape.

2.5. Techniques

It uses throwing and immobilizing techniques to gain victory over your opponent.

Kokyu Nage

  • It is all about a controlled rhythmic motion and channelizing the power of the opponent by performing artistic moves.
  • For this technique, the Aikido practitioner keeps his focus on his own center.
  • As the fighters know that Aikido is all about using the opponent’s momentum to use against him.
  • So when the opponent grabs the hand of the fighter, the fighter feels the opponent’s energy coming straight through him.
  • The fighter moves from his center and turns the hand of his opponent.
  • It creates an imbalance in the opponent’s position.
  • The fighter comes forward and cuts his own center and the opponent falls to the ground.
  • For more information, you can watch the video.

For more information, you can watch the video.

Tachi Tori

  • This technique involves the use of Bokken.
  • When the opponent attacks the fighter with the bokken, the fighter grabs the sword in between his opponent’s hands.
  • The fighter drops his weight and moves to one side swiftly while tightly gripping the sword.
  • The fighter pushes the sword down and the opponent falls on the ground.
  • The eyes and focus of the fighter must remain on the sword.

For more information, you can watch the video.

Irimi Nage

  • The fighter grabs the hand of the opponent and blends with the motion of the opponent to use the opponent’s energy against him.
  • The fighter moves away from the open hand of the fighter.
  • He grabs the neck of his opponent, gives him a Tenkan, lifts him, and brings him to the ground.
  • In this way he uses his opponent’s energy against himself.

For more information, you can watch the video.

2.6. Ranking System

Belt color is used to signify the rank of the Aikido fighter.

Rank Belt
6th Kyu White Belt
5th Kyu Yellow Belt
4th Kyu Orange Belt
3rd Kyu Green Belt
2nd Kyu Blue Belt
1st Kyu Brown Belt
1st Dan Black Belt
2nd Dan Black Belt with thin Gold Stripe
3rd Dan Black Belt with Red Stripe

Adult Ranking Requirements

Adults have to move through 6 levels before reaching the Black Belt.

  • Students who have earned 2nd or 1st Kyu wear a Brown Belt.

Rank Days of Practice
6th Kyu 40
5th Kyu 60
4th Kyu 80
3rd Kyu 100
2nd Kyu 110
1st Kyu 120
1st Dan 200
2nd Dan 350
3rd Dan 500
4th Dan 650

Youth Belt Requirements

Students under the age of 18 progress towards colored belt ranking system ranging from Yellow to Black Belt.

Belt Hours of Practice
Yellow Belt 15
Orange Belt 25
Red Belt 35
Green Belt 50
Blue Belt 75
Purple Belt 100
Brown Belt 150
Advanced Brown Belt 200
Junior Black Belt 250
Intermediate Black Belt 350
Advanced Black Belt 500

Youth Weapon Requirements

The students under the age of 18 train with the specific weapon through a belt-stripe ranking system. They need to earn a Green Belt to train with specific weapons.

Weapons Hours of Practice
Ichi Dan Kai 8
Ni Dan Kai 12
San Dan Kai 16
Yon Dan Kai 24
Go Dan Kai 36
Roku Dan Kai 48
Nana Dan Kai 60
Hachi Dan Kai 60

2.7. Rules

  • It is necessary for the Aikido practitioners to bow upon entering and leaving the dojo.
  • It is important to come early to the dojo and warm up.
  • The rubber knife must land between the armpit and the belt of the opponent.
  • The knife must touch the opponent at an angle of 90 degrees.
  • The practitioner must not fold the sleeves of the Aikido Gi after stepping on the mat. It is because doing so is considered disrespectful.
  • The fighting approach must be defensive not attacking.

2.8. Fighting Competition

The International Aikido Federation (IAF) is responsible for the development and popularization of Aikido around the globe. It does not have competitions. This martial art is based only on self-defense. IAF is responsible only for the propagation of Aikido in the world.

3. Difference Between BJJ and Aikido

BJJ and Aikido both are different forms of martial arts. They both involve self-defense techniques but BJJ is not suitable for real-life situations.

It is thought to be applied when somebody is expressing aggressive movements toward you. Aikido is more suitable in real-life situations because this martial art is solely for self-defense.

BJJ on the other hand uses self-defense techniques to take down your opponent. It uses sweeps and submissions to gain a dominant position and claim victory. Both forms of martial arts, BJJ and Aikido, differ in terms of techniques, clothing, and ranking system. The principles of both BJJ and Aikido also differ a lot from each other. It can be seen that BJJ is a competitive sport whereas Aikido is a non-competitive martial art.

BJJ Aikido
BJJ originated in Japan in 1897. It originated in the 1920s.
5 ranks are awarded to BJJ practitioners. 6 ranks are awarded to practitioners in Aikido.
It focuses on ground grappling techniques which bring the opponent to the ground. It focuses on a standing fight that teaches takedowns and self-defense.
The BJJ uniform consists of Kimono or BJJ Gi. Aikido Gi is worn by the fighters.
The colors in BJJ rank from White, Blue then Purple followed by Brown, and Black last. The colors in the Aikido Belt rank from White, Yellow then Orange, and Blue followed by Brown and then Black.
No weapons are allowed in BJJ. Specific weapons are allowed in Aikido.
Striking is not allowed in BJJ. Without harming the opponent, striking is allowed in Aikido.
The fighter uses fast submissions and sweeps to dominate his opponent. The fighter uses the strength and momentum of the opponent to claim victory.
It is applicable in real-life scenarios. It is very effective in real-life situations.
It is mainly used for mat fights and self-defense techniques. It focuses on self-defense techniques.
It is a very competitive sport due to which many tournaments and championships of BJJ are conducted in the world by different organizations. It is a non-competitive sport as it is a self-defense martial art.

4. Similarities in BJJ and Aikido

  • Both sports teach self-defense techniques.
  • Both martial arts have their roots in Japan.
  • BJJ and Aikido both are grappling martial arts with some key differences.
  • Both focus on the well-being of the opponent. It means that they do not cause injury to their opponent. These sports do not harm the opponent intentionally.

5. FAQs

5.1. What are the Principles of Aikido?

There are four principles of Aikido which include Irimi (entering), Atemi Kokyo-ho (breathing control), Sankaku-ho (triangular principle), and Tenkan (turning) movements.

5.2. Which Martial Art is the Best, BJJ or Aikido?

BJJ focuses on ground grappling and Aikido teaches practitioners standing fights. They instruct self-defense techniques. If you want to go to a competition, BJJ is the best martial art for you. It is because Aikido is not a competitive sport.

6. Conclusion

BJJ and Aikido both are grappling with martial arts. BJJ being a competitive sport has different tournaments and championships in which the BJJ practitioners partake. Aikido on the other hand is not a competitive sport. It focuses on self-defense techniques. Both martial arts also differ in terms of techniques and clothing.

Photo credit: @revistabudo

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