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Jiu Jitsu Vs Karate: What’s the Difference and Which Is More Effective?

Jiu Jitsu vs Karate

Which one wins in jiu jitsu vs karate? Both martial arts have been around for some time, but both have some key differences in techniques and effectiveness.

Throughout my own martial arts journey I have tried karate, boxing, aikido, judo, and Brazilian jiu jitsu.

For me, personally, Brazilian jiu jitsu had everything that I was seeking in a martial art, but this post was written to help compare the two very different martial art forms – jiu jitsu vs karate.

Related: How long does it take to learn bjj (as well as other martial arts like karate)


Jiu Jitsu is solely focused on grappling and ground fighting. There is no striking involved, but it is quiet effective in self defense and MMA. 

Related: Which Martial Art Should I Learn First?

Karate focuses on mixing kicks with punches. In karate since it is based around quick, light contact strikes they must have speed and accuracy.

Jiu JitsuKarate
grappling basedstriking based
submission based competitionpoint based competition
full live sparringlimited live sparring
10+ years to get a black belt5 years to get a black belt
good for MMAnot as good for MMA
good for self defensenot the best for self defense

The UFC and MMA really shed light on the most effective martial arts. Here is a quick highlight video from UFC 1 back in November 1993:


Karate Basics

Karate is a Japanese martial art that focuses on developing movements of the body for both defense and offense.

Integrity, respect, civility, humility, loyalty, and compassion are just a few of the principles that karate encourages people to live by.

In the US there are a handful forms of karate practiced. Some of the well known martial art forms are: 

American Okinawa-Te
American Karate System
Shotokan
Tang soo do
Para-karate

Karate moves are mostly based on hand strikes, but uses elbow and knee strikes as well some kicking techniques.

Karate has a strong and traditional history since it is one of the oldest martial arts.

It places a strong emphasis on self-development, growth, and disciple.

Karate also encourages leadership, goal-setting, and self-discipline.

These principles will often permeate the lives of karate practitioner’s.

Simply because of the abilities and habits cultivated via karate practice, individuals may achieve a high degree of dedication and commitment to any chosen task.


Comparison in Self-Defense

BJJ is better in self-defense aspect as its techniques are more practical and efficient compared to Karate.

It’s not like karate is bad. But modern Karate has become too point oriented and light contact based. Modern practice has pivoted from the self-defense angle to wining competition. 

BJJ has proven is its worth in the street fights of Brazil. At the early stages of UFC matches were staged Style VS Style and BJJ went out victorious most of the time (as shown in the video above).

Comparison in MMA

MMA is dominated by BJJ fighters. The way BJJ fighters train themselves for years, their learning ability and body flexibility reaches great heights. Thus learning striking is not much of an issue for them.

But for karate practitioner learning how to defend grappling gets a bit difficult. This is one of the key reasons that BJJ fighters perform well in MMA. 

Time to reach the Black belt 

Karate advancementis sluggish due to strict promotional criteria. Students need around of 3-5 years of constant training to reach the Black Belt. 

On the other hand BJJ takes a lot more time to reach the black belt compared to Karate. It usually takes a practitioner 10 years to master the art form and get the prestigious Black Belt.


Grappling Martial Arts Explained

The simplest explanation of grappling martial arts is that it is a fighting style that does not involve striking opponents or using any weapons.

In this martial art form, an individual is to grapple their opponent, take hold of, seize, or fasten your them using a strong grip with an initial goal being to take your opponent to the ground.

Once an opponent is taken to the ground the ability that they have to generate massive amounts of force and damage is severely limited.

Here, by trapping your opponent in a challenging position on the ground, you obtain the upper hand over them at close quarters by maintaining a dominant position.

Some common grappling techniques are:

  • Takedowns
  • Sprawls
  • Throws
  • Clinches
  • Submission Holds
  • Escapes
  • Securing Techniques
  • Reversals or Sweeps

Although it may appear that larger, stronger individuals would be better equipped to employ grappling as a combat method, this is not always the case.

When you have a better grasp of how the body functions and which joints can be held to conquer your opponent regardless of size, you can successfully grapple someone.

So Who Wins Karate or Jiu-Jitsu?

So Who Wins Karate or Jiu-Jitsu?

Karate and BJJ are two completely different art forms.

Choosing one winner in a comparison is a bit unfair so to say.

But if we have to choose a winner based on practical and efficient techniques tested via frequent live sparring situations the winner would have to be undoubtedly Brazilian jiu jitsu.

As we had previously talked about that BJJ moves are more practical. Karate has much focus on competition point fighting, and fighting under a specific ruleset. But in a street fights there’s no space for rules. 

In a street altercation between two practitioners of each martial art, the BJJ fighter will get an extra edge if the fight is in a closed space like a bar or a room. Once the BJJ fighters gets a strong grip and takes the fight to the ground there’s no turning back for the karate fighter.

Karate vs Jiu Jitsu – Conclusion

Karate vs Jiu Jitsu in conclusion I would say both the art forms are useful in their own ways. Uplifting and degrading one shouldn’t be the intention.

There are benefits to both martial arts – it simply depends what a practitioner is looking to gain from a specific martial art.

BJJ and Karate are two different martial arts that do not hold much in common apart from being a martial art form.

Yes, BJJ is superior to karate in most aspects, but this should be not be the only reason for you choosing it. 

BJJ is an art form that focuses on grappling and Karate focuses on striking. So you have to decide what suits you.

If you don’t know which one to choose yet you can consider giving both a try.

Give a try to both the art form and see what attracts you to the mat the next day. In the end both the art form is fun to learn and will lead to a better lifestyle. Choose one and stick with it you would surely see the results one day!