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BJJ Vs. Judo for MMA – One Practitioners Opinion

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Written by: Mike Long

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Ask 10 MMA enthusiasts what the best grappling art for MMA is and chances are you’ll hear BJJ 10 times. Ask 100 and you might hear Judo once or twice.

The reason for this is simple. Ever since UFC 1 when Royce Gracie took the world by storm with his compact submission style, BJJ has been known as the end all be all of grappling in the MMA world.

However, in this article I’d like to pose some challenges to this belief, and perhaps give you a new mindset in the process.

Before we set out on this journey, I should admit that I am biased. I trained Judo for many years, competed at the national level and won many state championships. Furthermore, my family owns a Judo school.

Fair enough?


So why do most MMA fighters prefer BJJ?

The answer is simple, BJJ specializes in submissions and so adding submissions to your repertoire can greatly increase your chances of winning. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly submission specialists in Judo. Ronda Rousey springs to mind with her amazing 100% armbar finish rate in her fights.

The truth is though, for the most part, Judo is predominately a position based sport. Judo sport practitioners primarily focus on throws and pins. Both of these translate extremely well to MMA. In fact, many BJJ practitioners have a hard time switching to MMA because of the different mindsets. In BJJ, the best position you can be in is the best position for submissions.

Not so in Judo. Laying on your back can quickly lose you a match. In fact, if an opponent pins another opponent on his back in Judo for more than 25 seconds, they automatically win the match.

So what we end up with is a grappling art that teaches submissions just like BJJ, but with a much greater emphasis on control and takedowns. This is why an equal level BJJ vs Judo match will generally result in the BJJ fighter getting tossed around like a rag doll.

If you ask me, this combination of control and takedowns is the perfect base for MMA. A strong Judo practitioner can control exactly where the fight goes. If he wants to stay standing, he can use his strong base and takedown defense to shrug off takedowns while unleashing his striking. And if he wants to go to the ground, he can use his powerful takedowns to get it down there. Once he’s on the ground, he can use positioning and control to go for ground and pound or submissions if he prefers. It is this reason that I think Judo is the ultimate grappling art for MMA. Judo allows you to control your opponents unlike any other art, and control is arguably the most important thing in MMA.

So if you find yourself looking for a local grappling school, don’t just consider BJJ. If you see a good Judo school, why not stop by and try out a few classes. You might just be surprised at how useful it is.

Before we go, I’ll leave you with 2 clips of Judo legend Akiyama doing what he does best in his latest bout with Jake Shields:













About the author:

Mike Long is an avid martial artist with over 18 years of experience in various arts from Kenpo Karate, TKD, to Judo and JuJutsu. These days he trains primarily standup at his Muay Thai gym, although you can still find him grappling with the fighters there from time to time. In his free time, he runs Motorcycle Insurance Helper, a website dedicated to helping riders find affordable motorcycle insurance without the traditional hassle.

About Mike Long

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Category | Fight Science

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Derek Says:

    Lots of great points. Judo in MMA is very under-rated. I believe a technical judoka can neutralize a wrestlers ability to control where the fight ends up.

  2. John Says:

    I have practiced both with an interest in MMA and street fighting.

    1) BJJ has always had an MMA connection – since the days of
    Helio challenge matches etc. Tactics v. the boxer or the wrestler 9or even the judo player) are embedded in the BJJ pscyhe.
    In contrast, Judo has been an isolated sport/ game. This is one reason why judo is so underated- with players not understanding how to adapt tactics to other disciplines (and getting beaten up by bjj whitebelts).
    2) In the USA, Judo is a minority sport and alot of players are not ground technical – this is another reason looking at UFC history etc. In Russia or Japan Judo is understood and respected more.
    3) Most BJJ schools are training multiple times per week. Whereas in Judo once a week class is more common- some Bjj blue belts are very good as they have had loads of Mat time- equivalent to the same as some Judo brown and black belts.
    4)My advice is to respect both and not make ignorant generalisations- judo and bjj players are not generic- there are different styles and types of player – be smart and steel the best elements of each.

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