Judo vs Jiu Jitsu: Which Martial Art is Better in 2020?

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The eternal debate – which grappling art is king: judo vs jiu jitsu? 

Modern day mixed martial arts competitions have shown the world that, in order to be a complete fighter, one must be competent in a mixture of fighting styles. But without at least a basic knowledge of grappling, you’re done before the fight even starts.   

Many effective fighting styles exist, but when it comes to grappling people are still asking the question: which martial art is better in 2020, judo vs jiu jitsu? 

This article will outline the basics of judo vs jiu jitsu, with an overview of each martial art’s history, strengths and weaknesses, and a recap at the end with a decision about which one is better. 


History of Judo

Judo, literally translated to “the gentle way”, is a Japanese martial art created by Jigoro Kano in 1882. 

Over time, the martial art has developed into a popular modern-day combat and Olympic sport. 

Judo came from Kano’s interpretation of jujutsu, a martial art developed in feudal Japan for close combat with armored opponents, involving techniques for hand-to-hand and short weapon encounters. 

Kano, an educator in Japan, studied jujutsu for years before founding his own dojo, where he began teaching his own art, judo. 

Emphasizing principles of maximum efficiency and minimum effort, judo focused on throwing techniques with some ground techniques, although technically did include all of the techniques from traditional jujutsu. 

As judo was created in times of peace and jujutsu was created for purposes of war, Kano stressed the philosophical aspects of judo that had to do with personal development and self-improvement. 


History of Jiu Jitsu

Jigoro Kano trained many great students at the Kodokan in Japan. One of Kano’s top students, Mitsuyo Maeda, was sent overseas to spread Judo with the world starting in 1914. 

It was on a trip to Brazil that Maeda fatefully introduced judo to a handful of businessmen, namely Carlos Gracie. 

Helio Gracie, the younger brother of Carlos, learned and modified the art that was being taught to his older brothers. Being lighter than his siblings, as well as frail and sickly at the time, Helio had to emphasize technique and leverage over strength and athleticism in order to effectuate the different movements. 

Over time, this version of the art became known as Brazilian jiu jitsu or Gracie jiu jitsu, and transformed to heavily emphasize and develop ground fighting techniques and strategies. 

Brazilian jiu jitsu has grown to be one of the most effective martial arts in the world, with positional tactics ideal for self-defence scenarios as well as for use in mixed martial arts fighting. 

For more, check out our article: the history of jiu jitsu,


Strengths of Judo

With the histories of each martial art taken care of, it’s time to analyze the strengths and weaknesses. The question still remains, which is better: judo vs jiu jitsu? 

As we have learned, jiu jitsu was developed as a modified version of judo. That being said, it’s fair to claim that judo has the upper hand at first because of the art’s wide range of skills and techniques and longer lineage. 

Whereas jiu jitsu focuses on ground fighting with limited throws and takedowns, judo was developed with Kano emphasizing throws with some limited ground fighting. 

The main strength of judo is clearly the art’s well-developed collection of standing techniques. A well-timed throw can subdue much larger opponents when correct technique is used. 

Likewise, a carefully chosen throw, trip or other standing technique can land the individual in a great position once on the ground, remaining out of danger and in a position to inflict damage if necessary. 

The elements of throws, trips and other techniques are broken down into three parts:

Kuzushi: off balancing of opponent.

Tsukuri: fitting of the technique – moving your body closer to opponent’s before execution. 

Kake: execution of technique. 

With devastating throws and a working knowledge of ground fighting, judo is indeed one of the most powerful and dangerous martial arts that exists. 


Strengths of Jiu Jitsu

If judo has a collection of effective throws, trips and ground fighting techniques to win fights, where does that leave jiu jitsu in the ongoing battle of which martial art is better: judo vs jiu jitsu? 

Jiu jitsu is a comprehensive ground system used to get positional control leading to a submission. 

Although jiu jitsu does not place a lot of emphasis on standing techniques, the art makes up for it with its razor sharp fight-ending submissions on the ground. 

Strangles, arm locks and leg locks, these submissions – and the positional exchanges that allow them to be possible – come from the effective use of timing, technique, and leverage. 

And when most fights end up on the ground, jiu jitsu turns out to be a fantastic resource to have in your martial arts arsenal. 

Because of the emphasis on proper technique and the avoidance of strength and athleticism, jiu jitsu proves to be a great choice for martial artists of any size, weight, or age – for purposes of competition, fighting, or self-defence. 

Want to take your jiu jitsu game to the next level? Get access to our Fundamental Nogi Grappling Instructional here


Weaknesses of Judo and Jiu Jitsu

Because of the strengths and weaknesses of each martial art, judo and jiu jitsu actually complement each other very well. 

This is because the main weakness of judo is its underdeveloped ground fighting, while the main weakness of jiu jitsu is its underdeveloped standing fighting. 

Where one martial art is strong, the other is weak. 

A judo athlete will not be lost when it comes to ground fighting, but is oftentimes no match for a jiu jitsu athlete. Likewise, a jiu jitsu athlete is familiar with some standing techniques but for the most part will quickly be put on his or her back when facing a judo athlete. 

Mixed martial arts competitions have shown the danger of not being a well-rounded fighter, as being overly specialized and lacking knowledge about certain techniques and styles can make one very vulnerable. 


Which is Better: Judo vs Jiu Jitsu

Now that everything has been laid out, the question must be answered: which grappling art is king: judo vs jiu jitsu?

Competition-wise, each martial art has different objectives, so it isn’t exactly fair to compare in that sense. 

However, overall our biased opinion (the site is called jiu jitsu marketplace after all!) is that jiu jitsu is a more complete art than judo. 

This is because of the likelihood that the fight will end up on the ground, where the person knowing more jiu jitsu will have the upper hand. A throw or trip can be fight-ending, but a tightly applied strangle or joint lock has more of a chance to inflict a similar degree of damage. 

So the answer to the question is that jiu jitsu is the more complete martial art – at least that’s what we think. 

Just don’t say that to a judo black belt if they’re close to enough to grab a hold of you! 

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