Skip to Content

Jiu Jitsu vs Boxing

When it comes to jiu jitsu vs boxing, the fact is that a Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner will always win in an altercation between them and a non grappling trained boxer.


Both martial arts are extremely popular and effective. Both are great for self defense, but lets take a deeper look at the differences, which one may be better for self defense, and which one may be best for you.

Key Takeaways on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs Boxing

  • Self-Defense: both martial arts are great for self defense
    • but if you don’t have any skills in grappling you will be extremely vulnerable in a street fight
  • Training: BJJ involves ground drills, control techniques, and sparring, whereas boxing emphasizes bag work, pad work, and cardiovascular fitness along with footwork and head movement.
  • Equipment: BJJ requires a Gi or no-Gi attire like rash guards and shorts, plus optional mouth guards. Boxing needs gloves, hand wraps, bags, headgear, and mouth guards for protection.
  • Fighter Comparison: Boxers may have the upper hand in a ranged fight, but BJJ practitioners gain advantage on the ground or in close combat.
  • Complementary Benefits: Together, BJJ and boxing create a comprehensive martial arts skill set, with BJJ covering ground fighting and boxing enhancing stand-up combat skills.

In reality, choosing between training either of these sports should come down to which one you find more enjoyable. Plus you can always consider training both.

Related: Which Martial Art Should I Learn First?

 Jiu Jitsu vs Boxing

How Do the Rulesets Differ for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Boxing:

Both jiu jitsu and boxing are heavily shaped by their competition ruleset. These rules influence how these martial arts are trained and often influence how effective they would be when used in a real life self defense scenario.

BJJ Ruleset:

The goal in bjj comes down to the below 3 step process:

Take opponent down > control them > submit them

  • In bjj controlling the opponent on the ground and eventually submitting him is the goal.
  • Strikes are strictly prohibited.
  • Once an opponent is on the ground and controlled via a pin (such as mount or side control) you can then work toward a submission
    • submissions fall into two categories: 1. Joint Locks 2. Strangles
  • In a competition setting, different organizations have very different rule sets
    • Matches can be timed differently (most are usually 4-7 minutes long). For instance, the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) has time limits for different belt levels. However, some high-level matches have no time limit and can end only in a submission. (its not uncommon for these matches to go behind 30 minutes)
    • In common competitions, your opponents are chosen based on sex, age, experience, and belt level
    • You are put into a bracket against other competitors and usually in a “round robin format” or single elimination format
    • Matches are sectioned off within a certain boundary on the mats (however, the boundary rules are less strict than those found in wrestling)

Boxing Ruleset

Since boxing has been around longer in the modern world as a viewer sport, the boxing ruleset is a bit more strict, complex, and even maybe a bit limiting:

  • In boxing, the goal is to knock out the opponent or make them unable to continue the fight
  • Each round is scored by the judges individually. If both boxers are still fighting at the end of the fight, the winner is determined by the fighter with the higher score provided by the judges
  • Striking is only allows with a closed first
  • There is no other form of striking allows (striking with your head, elbows, knees, legs is prohibited)
  • A strike can only be delivered above the waist. Strikes in the back of the head, to the groin, and the kidneys are not allowed.
  • Matches are fought in a square standard ring
    • Standard ring sizes range is 16 to 24 feet (4.9 to 7.3 m) between the ropes, with 2 feet (0.61 m) space around the outside
  • Every round lasts 3 minutes with a 1-minute break in between, generally there are 12 rounds in a professional bout
Brazilian Jiu JitsuBoxing
strangles(guillotines, triangles, rear naked chokes)strikes (jabs, cross, hooks uppercuts)
joint locks (arm bars, ankle locks, kimuras)counter punching
takedowns (often taken from wrestling, judo)dodging and weaving
pins (mount, side control, knee on belly)timing your punches
Common Techniques in Jiu Jitsu and Boxing

What Equipment Do You Need for Boxing?

In boxing training and competition here are some common items you would need:

  • regulation padded boxing gloves
  • shorts
  • mouth guard
  • padded hear gear
  • boxing specific shoes
  • boxing pads for training
  • heavy bag
  • speed bag
  • groin protection

What Equipment Do You Need for Jiu Jitsu?

In jiu jitsu training, classes are either trained in the gi (a cloth jacket and pants) or are considered no gi (where you usually wear a rashguard and shorts).

In bjj your experience and rank are signified by a colored belt – for our full guide on the jiu jitsu belts check out our post here.

Aside from clothing some other common equipment you might need for bjj are:

  • mouth guard
  • head gear (as seen in wrestling)
  • knee pads (since you are on your knees often in training)
  • ankle or wrist gear (if you have any injuries)

How to Learn BJJ

Here are some basics on how to learn bjj effectively:

  • include deliberate practice in the training room
    • focus on a specific position or position during each training session

  • After you learn the basics you should spend a good amount of time live grappling – not just general sparring, but also positional sparring with different positions that are difficult or uncommon. This will help you become more comfortable and familiar with them.
  • Competitors too frequently fixate on submissions. Great BJJ technique results from having control over your opponent—moving their body where you please. There is some truth to position over submission

  • If you want to excel, focus on comprehension of certain positions— common reactions from specific techniques or positions, how to escape from common pins like mount or side control, how to enter into your own pins, and most importantly, how to maintain control in these dominant positions

  • Drill a new technique or positions frequently then once you learn the basics of it try to include it during live sparring (we recommend attempting these newly learned techniques on someone less experienced than yourself

How to Learn Boxing

Now, here are some general boxing training tips:

Beginners should  be grounded in the four principal methods of putting the body weight into fast motion: (a) Falling Step, (b) Leg Spring, (c) Shoulder Whirl, (d) Upward Surge

  • The power line is an important element of punching. When instructors and trainers fail to realize the close relationship between the power line and weight motion, it generally results in subpar punches with little force. So be guided!
  • Straight punching with power must be given importance  because instructors often emphasize shoulder whirl, leading beginners to believe that they should only punch straight without stepping.



  • Teach the falling step (“trigger step”) for straight punching, if not given emphasis then the left jab will usually be used lightly as an opening tool or “setup” instead of taking advantage of its stunning potential.
  • There is a difference between shovel hooks and uppercuts, but beginners are not shown this. Similarly, taking long steps with hooks may open up those hooks into swings. The bob weave should be explained  properly to those just starting out.

It is my personal belief that beginners should be taught all types of punches before being instructed in defensive moves, as nearly every defensive move should be accompanied by a simultaneous or delayed counter punch.

Jiu Jitsu for Self Defense

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an effective form of self-defense for a number of reasons.

  • It is an excellent martial art for self-defense because it emphasizes practical techniques that can be used in real-world situations.
  • It uses the principle of using an opponent’s force against them. So, even a smaller person can defend themselves against a stronger attacker
  • Is a great workout and an excellent way to develop coordination, balance, and flexibility.

If you want to achieve optimal fitness levels and learn how to defend yourself, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu should be your go-to activity.

In addition,  Some of the coaches have revealed that “BJJ is commonly trained as a sport. However, enforced rules in sparring and drilling can interfere with the frame of mind needed for self-defense situations.”

Being able to “get up” quickly and efficiently is one of the best things Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can teach you when it comes to multiple attackers.

To increase your chances of successfully fending off an attack, get up off the ground as soon as possible – most assailants will have friends with them. So, be careful.

Take note! Use BJJ and wrestling techniques to get back to your feet, then run. Don’t get too caught up with any one attacker: you can lose focus and then their friends will jump in.

Always remember this from our great coach Rorion Gracie. It says:

“Self-defense is not just a set of techniques, it’s a state of mind that begins with the belief that you are worth defending”

  Street Sport BJJ (Comparing BJJ for Self Defense and Sport BJJ)

If you are considering tips for practical self-defense training. You may consider this comprehensive presentation between street sport BJJ and BJJ for self-defense.

                   
Sport BJJ

BJJ for self-defense
Is designed to be highly effective in a competition settingBJJ can be modified for self defense and focus on takedowns and control via pinning positions
Utilizes many positions where the attacker can be effective from their back such as from full guard or half guard positioncan be used to safely and efficiently deescalate an altercation without the need for excessive damage to you or your attacker
Should be modified for any self defense situation since many common sport bjj positions can lead playing from less dominant positions and vulnerable to strikesAn ideal form of self-defense for smaller individuals who might otherwise be at a disadvantage in a physical confrontation

Hence, BJJ is an excellent self-defense system for several key reasons, whether you’re interested in sports or self-defense.

Boxing for Self Defense

Boxing is likely one of the best options for self defense. There’s a reason why boxing.

The two main issues with boxing for self defense are:

  • it doesn’t include any grappling whatsoever
  • has limited striking (only teaches striking with a closed fist)
    • as opposed to muay thai which teaches striking with every part of every limb (fist, elbow, knees and legs)

Boxing is still solid for self defense since it can teach you the basics of punching, counter punching, combination punching, and defensive maneuvers in striking.

There’s no doubt that learning the basics of boxing is very effective in self defense situations; however, we strongly recommend including some form of grappling training that’s why MMA (mixed martial arts) has become so popular.

BJJ and Boxing in MMA

Mixed martial arts takes the best from the most effective martial arts and combines them into one training and fighting system.

It takes the effective grappling from wrestling, bjj, judo, and sambo and combines it with the striking found in muay thai, boxing, and kick boxing.

Boxing is one of the core martial arts that every MMA practitioner should learn.

Boxing and BJJ are mere components of MMA, which is an entirely different game.

During the first UFC event, every one was blown away by the effectiveness of bjj.

However, when fighters learned to defend against BJJ after the later events, bjj took its equal place among the other martial arts that all MMA fighters must learn – such as wrestling, boxing, muay thai, and bjj.

Submission specialists in MMA must learn and use many other skills to integrate their BJJ skills in the cage. If a bjj specialists only relies on his jiu jitsu in the cage they will be sorely disadvantaged.

A skilled MMA fighter must be efficient at all common martial arts found in MMA in order to be well rounded and effective from everywhere.

There’s no doubt that boxing is a great foundation for bjj. However, when kicks and takedowns can be come into play they can be used very effectively against the standard boxing stance. Range is something that ever boxer needs to be aware of when going into MMA.

Takedowns, elbows, kicks all require a different awareness that is often not required in standard boxing.

The truth is that – as long as a martial art is modified for cage fighting, it can still be very effective.

Grappling vs Striking

If a grappler and striker were to fight each other, who would come out on top? If you want to win the game, which player should you choose?

Fights are more often than not, rarely won from the clinch; however, whoever controls the clinch has power over what kind of fight it will be.

If a grappler dominates the clinch techniques, he (or she) will likely take the fight to ground combat. However if a striker is in charge of the clinching skillset, there’s less chance of him(or her) letting The bout go to wrestling on flooring.

Grappling and striking are two very different fighting styles that are often used in MMA. It is a close-quarters fighting style that emphasizes taking your opponent to the ground and using submission holds to finish the fight.

on the other hand, striking is more of a traditional fighting style that emphasizes using punches and kicks to wear down your opponent.

So, to answer which is better? between Grappling vs striking? It really depends on what you’re looking for in a fight. If you want a quick knockout, then striking is probably your best bet. If you want to focus on control and submissions then BJJ would be better.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which style you prefer.

 Best Martial Art for Small Guys

We would have to give this one to Brazilian jiu jitsu. BJJ is made for a smaller practitioner where they can use control, leverages, and submissions against a larger opponent.

There are many martial arts out there, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

However, we strongly recommend still learning a striking martial arts usually in either boxing, kickboxing, or muay thai.

When it comes to finding the best martial art for small guys, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, there are a few things to consider that can help you make the best decision for your individual needs.

Think about what you hope to gain from martial arts training. Are you looking for self-defense skills, improved fitness, or something else? Once you have a clear idea of your goals, you can begin to narrow down your options.

If self-defense is your primary concern, then you may want to consider a martial art like Krav Maga or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that emphasizes practical techniques.

If you’re more interested in the mental and physical benefits of martial arts training, then arts like Karate or Taekwondo may be a better fit.

Ultimately, the best martial art for small guys is the one that meets your individual needs and goals.

 Boxing or Jiu Jitsu?

If you want to learn how to strike effectively, then boxing is probably the right choice for you. But if you’re interested in a more well-rounded martial arts experience, then jiu-jitsu is worth checking out. Try to consider this comparative presentation for boxing vs jiu jitsu.

BoxingJiu-jitsu.
uses punching as its main form of attack, this means that boxers generally have better striking skills.relies primarily on grappling and submissions. This means JJ practitioners are more adept at close-quarters combat.
rounds are only three minutes long. Boxers need to be in peak condition to last the full 12 rounds. matches can go on for up to 30 minutes or more if submission only.  Fighters need to maintain their energy and focus over a much longer period.
·       points are awarded for clean punches that land on the opponent’s head or body. points are given for takedowns, guard passes, and submissions. 
boxers must be aggressive and good at counter punchingjiu-jitsu fighters are strategic 

  Is BJJ Dangerous?

With proper training and safety precautions, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be enjoyed without fear of serious injury.

BJJ is a martial art that focuses on grappling and is also known for its “ground game”, which can be very dangerous if not properly applied. 

Although BJJ can be dangerous, it is still practiced by many people all over the world. The reason why people still practice this martial art is because of its self-defense capabilities and its fitness benefits.

Take heed of this! When practiced correctly, BJJ can be an excellent way to stay in shape and for self-defense.

BJJ and Boxing – Last Words

While both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and boxing are formidable and widely practiced martial arts with their own self-defense merits, it’s generally understood that in a confrontation, a BJJ practitioner with grappling knowledge has a significant advantage over a boxer without such training.

Each discipline offers unique training experiences, from BJJ’s ground-based techniques to boxing’s focus on striking and cardiovascular fitness.

When comparing fighters, boxers might excel at range, but again, BJJ fighters have the edge in grappling exchanges.

The two can also be seen as complementary. Training both is definitely recommend if you are training MMA.

Ultimately, the choice between BJJ and boxing should be based on personal preference and enjoyment, and which one you stick with longer!

Thanks for reading – Zack

Related: Check out our post on finding a legitimate BJJ gym here