Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu BJJ Vs Karate

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu BJJ Vs Karate

1. Origin of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

BJJ originated in Brazil and was created by popular judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda, who moved to Brazil to teach judo between 1914–1915. When he immigrated to Brazil, Maeda met Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian politician. Gastao helped the judoka teach judo in different cities across Brazil. Then Helio and Carlos, sons of Gastao Gracie, started learning judo and developed advanced techniques that evolved into today’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

1.1. What is BJJ?

BJJ is a martial art form that focuses on ground combat and grappling. Although there is no striking, it is still an effective self-defense and MMA technique. It is one of the best martial arts for those who need to protect themselves against larger and more powerful opponents.

2. Origin of Karate

The word karate is derived from the Japanese language, translating to "empty hands". It was used as a self-defense strategy on the Okinawan Islands when the islands’ government restricted the use of weapons from 1609 to 1879. Initially, it was a hand fighting technique that was t then further developed by the Chinese.

Karate was developed to counter a wide range of attacks by combining different strikes and sweeps.  

2.1. What is Karate?

Karate is one of the most well-known Japanese martial arts that focuses on the fluidity t of body movements for defense and counterattacks. Karate includes many different techniques and styles, but the most dominant is hand striking by using your elbows and knees.

Some of the techniques in karate are simple and easy, like grappling. But others are difficult and involve nasty tactics. The most common karate tactics are:

  • Goju Ryu
  • Wado Ryu
  • Shito-Ryu
  • Shotokan
  • Kyokushin

Karate not only teaches self-defense but also instills moral values in practitioners such as integrity, respect, civility, humility, loyalty, and compassion.

3. Prominent Differences Between BJJ and Karate 

BJJ is a grappling and ground fighting martial art while karate involves striking techniques. 

BJJ is a martial art that emphasizes contact ground fighting. Every single fight in BJJ starts from the standing position but the fighters eventually get to the ground using throws and takedown techniques. The main focus of BJJ is to narrow the distance, get a good grip, then throw, sweep, or submit to the opponent. BJJ does not include any kind of striking, punching, or kicking.

BJJ Karate
BJJ focuses on grappling and ground combat Karate emphasizes striking techniques
BJJ originated from Brazil, however, one of the versions of BJJ is from Japan Karate originated from Japan
BJJ is not an Olympic sport Karate is an Olympic sport
BJJ is not the classical form of martial art. Karate is termed as key to MMA (Mixed Martial Art)
BJJ is getting more popular nowadays as it is evolving fast with the latest techniques It is a traditional form of martial art and is known for many years.

Karate is a classic martial art based on striking. It involves basic grappling, but the focus is on punches and kicks, as well as using your knees and elbows for striking. Its techniques are simpler and easier to understand but the main goal is to defeat the opponent by using superior strength and moves.

4. Techniques: BJJ Vs Karate

In both martial arts forms, different techniques are taught. BJJ and karate have opposing views on defensive moves.

4.1. Techniques in Karate

Karate involves counterstriking, using the opponent's strength against him/her. Most karate trainers restrict the opponent's movement by using 1-3 different strikes at the same time. The most popular karate techniques are:

  • Open Hand Strikes
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Punches
  • Kicks

 Different schools teach these techniques and students differ in how much time it takes to learn these moves. All of these moves are designed to damage your enemy, however, the main goal is to finish the fight by winning as quickly as possible.

4.2. Techniques in BJJ

BJJ is a diverse martial art that includes complicated techniques. It's a grappling discipline that evolved from the principles of Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ techniques are unique; you can use them to fight any kind of opponent.

The most important techniques that BJJ beginners initially learn include:

5. The Belt System of BJJ Vs Karate

The basic purpose of giving belts in BJJ and karate is the same; to motivate the students so that they can progress in level. The progress in these martial arts is measured by the number of belts that you have earned. However, the color and the way you earn the belt can be different. It takes a lot of time to earn belts in both martial arts.

5.1. BJJ Belt System for Adults

In BJJ, there are eight belt levels for adults:

The BJJ belt system for kids is different from that of adults. There are a total of 13 belts that a child can earn.

5.2. Karate Belt System (Adults)

The karate belt ranking depends on the individual style and type. Usually, there are eight belts.

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Green
  • Purple
  • Blue
  • Brown

There is little difference between the BJJ and karate belt systems as the time required to earn the highest belt rank is almost 10 years for both martial arts. The major difference is that in karate, you need to take a test to earn a belt, while in BJJ, a small demonstration of multiple techniques before the instructor are considered a test. You will be promoted to the next belt rank based on your performance and improved skills.

6. Class Pattern of BJJ Vs Karate

Karate is traditional while BJJ is more flexible and adjustable, especially with the growth of No-Gi jiu-jitsu. As these martial art forms have different techniques, so are the ways the classes are conducted.

6.1. The Class Pattern of Karate

The three basic phases of karate are:

  • Kihon (Fundamentals)
  • Kata (Forms)
  • Kumite (Sparring)

The format of karate classes is usually fixed and cannot be changed. Karate students are more organized and tend to learn every single move step by step until they master the moves properly.

6.2. The Class Pattern of BJJ

BJJ classes include:

The BJJ is more flexible as the technique usually evolves over time. New techniques are developed so there is flexibility in the class format. You may start with the warmups and the next day you may learn the drills. Different schools of BJJ have their distinct class format and teach their students in their own way.

7. Strength & Conditioning

Both BJJ and Karate Improves overall body strength. The BJJ training is predominantly for the upper body parts. In BJJ training, lower body strength is different for every practitioner based on their training. On the other hand, karate includes most of the moves that enhance your lower body strengths.

For extensive training, Karate Kumite requires a lot of energy. Kumite is an alactic and aerobic sport. With high-intensity exercise lasting 10-15 seconds within a 6-11 minutes activity period, it has a 1:1 to 1:2 activity to break ratio. BJJ conditioning is a different level of aerobic exercise, with a 6:1 activity to break ratio that requires more oxygen. 

8. Clothing in Karate Vs BJJ

Both martial art forms use a uniform or gi.

8.1. Uniform in BJJ

In BJJ, there are two different styles: “Gi” and “No-Gi.”

Gi: This uniform is made from thick solid cotton. This thick cotton protects you from being pushed or pulled. BJJ practitioners have to wear it for training and fights.

No-Gi: In No-Gi BJJ, fighters do not wear a gi. Instead, they wear a wetsuit-like fabric uniform referred to as a rashguard. Rashguards are worn with shorts.

8.2. Uniform in Karate

The uniform used in karate is called a karate gi. This uniform is a thin jacket that has good breathability during exertion. The pants are also made of the same material.

9. Rules of BJJ Vs Karate

BJJ and karate come with different sets of rules and goals. The rules of BJJ and karate include the following.

9.1. Rules of BJJ Competitions

Most BJJ competitions are point-based matches. These matches have certain time limitations, requiring you to gain points before time runs out. Only certain submission techniques are allowed in competition. The rules of BJJ competitions were established by theIBJJF.

The basic techniques that earn points are:

  • Takedowns/Sweeps/Knee on Belly: 2 points
  • Guard Passes: 3 points
  • Mount/Back Mount: 4 points

Position/Technique Points earned
Mount/Back Mount 4 points
Guard Passes 3 points
Takedowns/Sweeps/Knee on Belly 2 points

There is another set of rules in another type of competition. In this type of competition, you can win only by submission, for example, in EBI sub-only, there are time restrictions, and you can use any type of submission technique.

9.2. Rules of Karate Competitions

The competition rules for classic karate sparring were originally established by the World Karate Federation, but are now handled by the Olympics. You can only kick towards the head in this tournament and can only punch the main body. These rounds are about 2-3 minutes each. Moreover, you are restricted to striking below the waist.

The basic techniques that earn points are:

Techniques Given for Points earned
Ippon(Head Kick) Jadon kick technique by which you kick to an opponent's head or neck, or when they're falling. 3 points
Waza-ari (Body Kick) Chudan kicks, which involve kicking of the abdomen, chest, and sides. 2 points
Yuko Strike (Uchi) and punch (Tsuki) to the sides of the head and body. 1 point

There are also other competitions besides sparring competitions in which fighters participate for the best kata or training exercises in karate. The competitor with the best training wins the match. The standards for sparring competitions are:

  • Practical performance: Includes all the moves, timing, stances, concentration, and way of breathing.
  • Energetic Performance: Power, quickness, and coordination.

10. The Pros and Cons of BJJ Vs Karate

10.1. Pros of BJJ Vs Karate


  • BJJ has proven to be effective in real-life MMA situations repeatedly.
  • BJJ does not involve striking, thus reducing the chances of injury.
  • Self-defense is important. BJJ's primary principle is to use a variety of strangleholds and locksto control and subdue an opponent.
  • BJJ involves ground fighting, so its intense training builds your body strength, improves flexibility, and maintains your weight.
  • BJJ has a great network of people who could become potential friends.
  • BJJ is an excellent method to stay fit and healthy.
  • BJJ gives competitors the confidence they need to fight a strong opponent.
  • BJJ and other martial arts can be used as a form of rehabilitation. Stress can be relieved and your ability to deal with pressure can be improved via training.
  • BJJ is a fun exercise for kids that can help them develop discipline.
  • There are numerous chances to take part in competitions. Numerous organizations hold BJJ competitions around the world.


  • Karate teaches you how to defend yourself. You will learn the basic striking moves you can use for self-defense.
  • Maintains the shape of your body and improves your self-confidence.
  • Improves leadership skills in children as they progress and receive different belts.
  • Regular physical exercise and movements keep your body healthy and helps you maintain body weight.
  • Karate increases your knowledge of Japanese culture.
  • Teaches stress management and reduces aggression.

10.2. Cons of BJJ Vs Karate


  • BJJ does not include striking moves like punching and kicking.
  • Sometimes intense trainingcan be painful as you have to practice chokeholds and locks.
  • It takes a long time to master BJJ.


  • There is a lack of ground fighting movements and techniques as karate students are only taught striking moves.
  • It takes a long time to learn karate moves and can be difficult to manage all the other activities along with karate training.

11. Similarities: BJJ Vs Karate

  • These two martial arts are Japanese in origin.
  • Both of these martial art forms originated in the early 1900s.
  • BJJ and karate have belt systems, and although the colors and belt systems are different, the goal is to motivate the students.
  •  Fighters for both martial arts have to wear a gi or uniform for training and competitions. However, BJJ gis and karate gis have different styles and thickness.
  • Both BJJ and karate promote development in kids, build up their confidence, improve discipline, and have a positive effect on their physical health.

12. Which Martial Art is Better? BJJ Vs Karate

Both of these martial art forms differ in many ways as BJJ and karate both have their pros and cons. Whenever BJJ and karate compete, BJJ tends to win the argument.

There are many reasons why BJJ is considered better than karate, although karate is still effective in ways that BJJ is not.

  • According to popular belief, over 90% of fights end up on the ground. Because you don't have the balance, space, or distance to deliver strikes effectively once you're on the ground, the hitting power of a kick or punch is lost. To use joint locks, manipulate your joints, or choke the aggressor, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu relies on skill and leverage.
  • Karate increases the risk of injury because of its striking moves and the fighters have to use protective equipment on their hands and legs. In BJJ, no striking moves are used, thus there is a reduced risk of injuries.
  •  BJJ is the sum of three martial art forms: judo, grappling, and wrestling, while karate is a specific type of martial art with certain striking techniques.
  • In karate, the strength of your blows depends on striking power while in BJJ, fighters rely on timing and grappling techniques to defeat their opponents. This makes BJJ perfect for smaller individuals. Even if they don't know striking techniques, fighters can win a fight on the ground by relying solely on BJJ.
  • BJJ is a versatile martial art evolving with the times and new techniques are being developed all the time. Meanwhile, karate is a traditional martial art that uses the same striking moves that have been practiced for years.

13. Conclusion

BJJ and karate are different in many ways, but they are both perfect for self-defense. You should know your needs before selecting the martial art you wish to learn. Whether you choose BJJ or karate, the main things you need are devotion and determination. You will have to train hard and sweat it out. Still, you want to start training? Then go ahead and start practicing today.

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