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Jiu Jitsu vs Kung Fu – Who Would Win?

BJJ vs Kung Fu

  • In terms of a physical altercation between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs Kung Fu it is clear that bjj will have the strong advantage (see videos below on actual fights that involve the martial arts)
  • Modern day Kung Fu shouldn’t really be considered a practical martial art when it comes to self defense
  • However, Kung Fu is one of the largest and most diverse martial arts styles that contains dozens of martial art styles within it such as Shoalin Kung Fur and
  • Kung Fu training can certainly be effective if properly pressure tested with frequent live sparring
  • The most difficult part of training Kung Fu would likely be finding a legitimate instructor that believes in full contact sparring
  • Jiu-Jitsu has become prominent in MMA due to its effective grappling and submission techniques, while Kung Fu has a more limited presence, although some fighters (such as Tony Ferguson) do integrate Kung Fu strikes into their skill set.

When it comes to Jiu Jitsu vs Kung fu the debate has pretty much been settled on which one is the more effective martil art – mostly thanks to MMA and almost a dozen videos on Youtube and Reddit where a kung fu challenger faces a bjj practitioner (see compilation of these videos below).

However, in this post we intend to breakdown the two martial arts and highlight just how massive and diverse kung fu is, training principles that make a martial art effective (hint: live sparring), and what we can learn from traditional vs modern martial arts.

Jiu Jitsu vs Kung Fu

What is the difference between Jiu Jitsu and Kung Fu?

The art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is:

  • A grappling-based martial art that emphasizes advanced procedures and practical application.
  • Focusing on techniques such as joint locks, holds, chokes and throws.
  • Helping practitioners to stay healthy, flexible, and robust, build their endurance, and burn excess calories during workouts
  • Practiced more frequently as a method of self-defense than as a competitive activity.

The most important aspect of the sport is to keep control over a more substantial and aggressive opponent despite being small and of less strength than them. 

Engaging in regular BJJ strength training and understanding the correct position submissions will give you access to its numerous health benefits and prepare you for times of need for self-defense.

On the other hand, Kung Fu is a form of martial art that is mainly striking-based, and the training is traditionally practiced. 

The typical response of practitioners to an attack is to avoid it, followed by quick kicks and hand strikes to defeat an opponent. 

Kung Fu was established initially for the sake of performance rather than being used for self-defense. 

While Kung Fu may have an advantage in certain situations through counterattacks, a BJJ expert may easily avoid it and take the fight to the floor.

Compilations of videos where a BJJ practitioner fights a Kung Fu practitioner:

Royce Gracie Vs Kung Fu Practitioner of 15 Years:

BJJ blue belt vs Kung Fu black belt

Jiu Jitsu in MMA

MMA competitions, in which its technique is featured prominently, are where some people get their first introduction to jiu-jitsu. 

It differs from other forms of martial arts because it does not feature striking actions. Instead, it focuses on fighting on the floor and does not depends on kicks alone but on an array of skills.

A smaller and more vulnerable individual may effectively protect oneself against a more extensive and stronger aggressor.

The techniques used in BJJ are concentrated upon the ability to take an opponent to the ground and grapple with dominating in position, from which the opponent may be harmless.

Origin and Histroy of Kung Fu

What is the origin of kung fu?

Kung fu is an ancient martial art still practiced today in China. It has a long history and origin when many different talents were developed and vastly refined. When it initially began, it consisted simply of several fundamental abilities such as cleaving, chopping, and stabbing. 

These skills began in prehistoric communities’ hunting and defensive demands, which lived from over 1.7 million years ago to the 21st century BC.

These societies existed from before the beginning of recorded history. Eventually on, the system of Kung Fu emerged and grew more prominent as the fighting skills from the Xia Dynasty (21st century BC – 17th century BC) to the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368). It managed to reach its high point during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. 

The Xia Dynasty (21st century BC – 17th century BC) is considered to be the period during which kung fu was first developed (1368 – 1911).

It has advanced to the point where it is more than just a collection of martial skills or physical movements in the modern day, making good progress. In addition, it can be fun and a strategy for enhancing one’s performance.

  • Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art with a rich and diverse history spanning over 3,000 years.
  • Kung Fu is one of the largest and most diverse martial arts styles.
  • Kung Fu is has since branched out into hundreds of different styles, such as Wing Chun, Tai Chi, and Wushu. Kung Fu’s techniques are often inspired by the movements of animals, like the tiger, crane, and snake.

Popular Types of Kung Fu

Kung Fu StyleOriginLocationKey Techniques
Wing Chun18th centuryGuangdong, China; Hong KongCenter line theory, chain punches, low kicks
Tai Chi17th centuryThroughout ChinaSlow, fluid movements, balance, joint locks
WushuAncient ChinaThroughout China and worldwideAcrobatics, high-flying kicks, weapon training
Shaolin Kung Fu5th-6th centuryHenan Province, ChinaAnimal movements, striking, grappling, weapons
Shuai JiaoOver 4,000 years agoVarious regions of ChinaGrappling, throwing, wrestling, joint locks

Wing Chun

Wing Chun, also known as Wing Tsun or Ving Tsun, is a Chinese martial art that originated in the southern region of China. It is believed to have been developed around 300 years ago by a Buddhist nun named Ng Mui. The art is named after her student, Yim Wing Chun, who continued to refine and pass down the techniques.

Wing Chun is primarily practiced in the Guangdong province of China, as well as Hong Kong. The martial art is known for its close-range combat techniques, with a focus on efficiency and directness. Key aspects include center line theory, simultaneous attack and defense, and the concept of ‘sticky hands’ (Chi Sao) for sensitivity training. Some of the common techniques include chain punches, low kicks, and trapping hands.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi, or Tai Chi Chuan, is an ancient Chinese martial art with roots in Taoist and Confucian philosophy. Its origins date back to the 17th century, although its true lineage is often debated. Tai Chi is practiced throughout China and has gained popularity worldwide as a means to improve balance, flexibility, and overall health.

Tai Chi is characterized by its slow, fluid movements, which are performed in a series of choreographed postures. These postures are designed to promote the flow of Qi (life energy) throughout the body. While Tai Chi is primarily known for its health benefits, it also contains self-defense techniques, including grappling, striking, and joint locks.


Wushu, also known as Chinese martial arts or Kung Fu, is an umbrella term for hundreds of fighting styles developed in China over thousands of years. Wushu has strong roots in Chinese history, culture, and philosophy, and is practiced throughout the country and beyond.

Wushu techniques are incredibly diverse, ranging from acrobatics and high-flying kicks to swift, fluid strikes and intricate hand movements. Many Wushu styles incorporate weapons, such as the staff, sword, and spear, into their training. Wushu has gained international recognition through competitive events and stunning displays of athleticism and skill.

Shaolin Kung Fu

Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the oldest and most famous martial arts, originating from the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province, China. It was developed around 1500 years ago by Buddhist monks who sought to improve their physical health and self-defense capabilities.

Shaolin Kung Fu is known for its extensive range of techniques, which often mimic the movements of animals, such as the tiger, crane, and monkey. The art incorporates both hard (striking) and soft (grappling) techniques, as well as the use of traditional weapons, like the staff and sword. Shaolin practitioners also emphasize the importance of mental and spiritual development, often incorporating meditation and Qigong into their training.

Shuai Jiao

Shuai Jiao is an another ancient Chinese martial art that has strong ties to Kung Fu that focuses on grappling, throwing, and wrestling techniques. It has a history that dates back over 4,000 years, making it one of the oldest known martial arts. Shuai Jiao is practiced in various regions of China, with each region having its own unique techniques and styles.

The primary goal of Shuai Jiao is to control and subdue an opponent through off-balancing, joint manipulation, and powerful throws. S

ome of the common techniques include hip throws, shoulder throws, and leg sweeps. Shuai Jiao also incorporates striking techniques, but the emphasis remains on grappling and controlling an opponent.

Training and Culture

Kung Fu training typically involves practicing forms (sequences of techniques), may also involve sparring, and learning self-defense applications.

The martial art’s culture is heavily steeped in tradition and emphasizes moral values, discipline, and respect for oneself and others.

Kung Fu practitioners often wear silk or cotton uniforms with intricate knot fasteners and embroidery, along with a colored sash to indicate rank.

Full Contact Sparring

Some Kung Fu styles incorporate full contact sparring, which allows practitioners to test their techniques and skills in a controlled environment which we know makes a martial art effective.

This type of sparring is essential for developing effective self-defense skills and understanding the practical application of Kung Fu techniques.

If there is no full contact sparring, it is very hard to determine the effectiveness of a martial art.

Kung Fu in Modern Martial Arts

While Kung Fu has a long history, it continues to evolve and adapt to modern martial arts practices.

Many Kung Fu practitioners also train in other martial arts, such as Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and boxing, to develop a more well-rounded skill set.

Comparing Jiu-Jitsu and Kung Fu

Martial ArtOriginPrimary FocusTechniquesTraining Methods
Brazilian Jiu-JitsuEarly 20th centuryGround fighting, submissionsJoint locks, chokes, sweeps, take downsLive sparring, drilling, technique-focused practice
Kung FuAncient ChinaStriking, fluid movementsPunches, kicks, animal forms, weaponsForms (katas), conditioning, technique perfection

Differences between Jiu-Jitsu, Kung Fu, and Karate

Jiu-Jitsu, Kung Fu, and Karate are distinct martial arts with unique techniques, philosophies, and training methods. Jiu-Jitsu focuses on grappling, joint locks, and submissions, while Kung Fu emphasizes striking and a diverse array of techniques inspired by animal movements. Karate, a Japanese martial art, concentrates on powerful strikes, blocks, and linear movements.

Self-Defense Applications

Both Jiu-Jitsu and Kung Fu have practical self-defense applications (with BJJ of course having more effective applications).

Jiu-Jitsu’s grappling techniques are effective for controlling and submitting opponents, especially in close-quarters situations.

Wher Kung Fu may fail is if the training doesn’t involve live full contact sparring. Without this sparring it is very difficult to tell if it will be effective for self defense at all.

Real-Life Situation Effectiveness

In real-life situations, the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu and Kung Fu will of course depend on the practitioner’s skill level, experience, and ability to adapt their techniques to the situation.

We’ve see in countless examples that Brazilian jiu jitsu beats Kung Fu.

This may be due to Kung Fu’s lack of sparring, focus on traditional techniques, inability to adapt to deal with other martial art styles effectively

Sparring and Pressure Testing Importance

Sparring and pressure testing are crucial components of martial arts training, as they allow practitioners to develop and refine their techniques in a controlled environment.

Jiu jitsu heavily incorporates sparring. In fact, it is done in nearly every class. There is simply no denying a technique if it works on a fully resisting opponent.

The issue with more traditional martial arts is that they often don’t include sparring so there’s no way to tell if it works. If traditional martial arts can adapt and evolve they cant certainly bring out their more effective techniques and leave behind the less effective ones.

Traditional vs Modern Martial Arts

AspectTraditional Martial ArtsModern Martial Arts
OriginAncient cultures and philosophies, practiced for centuriesEvolved to address contemporary combat sports and self-defense needs
ExamplesKung Fu, Karate, AikidoBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Krav Maga
FocusPreservation of historical roots, discipline, respect, and forms (katas)Practicality, effectiveness, live sparring, physical conditioning, and real-life scenarios
EmphasisMastering techniques and forms, spiritual and philosophical aspectsDeveloping skills directly applicable to self-defense and combat sports
Experience in real-world situationsLimited, due to less emphasis on live sparring and practical applicationImproved, through regular sparring and pressure testing against resisting opponents
Effectiveness in self-defense and practical situationsMay be limited, as emphasis on forms and techniques may not always translate to practical self-defense skillsMore effective, as training methods prioritize practicality, allowing practitioners to develop directly applicable skills

Martial arts can be broadly categorized into two groups: traditional martial arts and modern martial arts.

While both types have their merits, it’s important to understand the differences and their effectiveness in self-defense and practical situations.

Traditional Martial Arts: Traditional martial arts have been practiced for centuries, often originating from ancient cultures and philosophies. Examples include Kung Fu, Karate, and Aikido. These martial arts typically focus on the preservation of their historical roots, emphasizing discipline, respect, and the practice of forms (katas) or patterns.

In traditional martial arts, the focus is often on mastering techniques and forms, with less emphasis on live sparring or practical application. This can lead to a lack of experience in real-world situations where self-defense is necessary. Additionally, many traditional martial arts prioritize the spiritual and philosophical aspects, which may not always translate into effective self-defense techniques.

Modern Martial Arts: Modern martial arts, on the other hand, have evolved over time to address the needs of contemporary combat sports and self-defense situations. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and Krav Maga are examples of modern martial arts. These disciplines prioritize practicality and effectiveness, focusing on live sparring, physical conditioning, and real-life scenarios.

Modern martial arts often concentrate on developing skills that are directly applicable in self-defense and combat sports, making them more effective in practical situations. By incorporating regular sparring and pressure testing, practitioners of modern martial arts gain experience in applying techniques against resisting opponents, improving their ability to defend themselves in real-life situations.

Why Traditional Martial Arts May Not Be as Effective for Self Defense and Practical Situations

While traditional martial arts have a rich history and cultural significance, their emphasis on forms and techniques may not always translate to practical self-defense skills. Practitioners may lack experience in dealing with real-life scenarios and resisting opponents, as their training often focuses on perfecting techniques and adhering to historical traditions.

In contrast, modern martial arts prioritize practicality, with training methods that involve live sparring, physical conditioning, and real-life scenarios. This approach allows practitioners to develop skills that are directly applicable to self-defense and combat situations, making them more effective in real-life confrontations.

Kung Fu is both a traditional and modern martial art, with many styles preserving ancient techniques and philosophies while also adapting to the evolving landscape of martial arts. This adaptability ensures that Kung Fu remains relevant and effective in the modern world.

Bruce Lee and Kung Fu

Bruce Lee’s Training in Kung Fu

Bruce Lee started his journey in the world of martial arts by training in Wing Chun, a close-range combat style of Kung Fu.

Under the tutelage of the renowned Grandmaster Ip Man, Lee honed his skills and developed a strong foundation in Kung Fu. However, his curiosity and thirst for knowledge led him to explore other martial arts, including boxing, fencing, and various grappling styles.

Its this thirst for knowledge and openness to other martial arts which made him such an excellent martial artist.

Bruce Lee’s Impact on Martial Arts

Bruce Lee’s innovative approach to martial arts transcended the traditional boundaries of Kung Fu and other styles.

He believed in practicality, adaptability, and personal expression, which eventually culminated in the creation of his own martial art system, Jeet Kune Do.

This revolutionary system emphasized the importance of being fluid, adapting to different situations, and discarding rigid techniques in favor of what works best for the individual practitioner.

Lee’s philosophy and teachings had a profound impact on the martial arts world, inspiring a new generation of martial artists to explore various styles and techniques, ultimately leading to the emergence of modern mixed martial arts (MMA).

His influence can be seen in the rise of cross-training and the blending of various martial arts styles, breaking down the barriers between traditional disciplines and promoting a more integrated approach to self-defense and combat sports.

Choosing between Jiu-Jitsu and Kung Fu

Factors to Consider

When choosing between Jiu-Jitsu and Kung Fu, consider factors such as personal goals, preferences, physical abilities, and the availability of quality instruction.

Each martial art offers unique benefits, and the best choice will depend on the individual’s unique needs and desires.

If you are looking for a practical martial art -> go BJJ every time

Personal Goals and Preferences

Your personal goals and preferences will play a significant role in determining the best martial art for you. If you are interested in ground fighting, submissions, and grappling, Jiu-Jitsu may be

the better choice. On the other hand, if you are drawn to striking techniques, fluid movements, and a diverse range of techniques inspired by animal movements, Kung Fu might be more suitable.

Physical Abilities

Consider your physical abilities when choosing between Jiu-Jitsu and Kung Fu.

Jiu-Jitsu is often praised for its effectiveness in allowing smaller, less physically strong individuals to overcome larger, stronger opponents through leverage and technique.

Kung Fu, while requiring a certain level of physical fitness, also offers techniques that can be adapted to different body types and abilities.

Quality of Instruction

The quality of instruction is critical when choosing a martial art. Look for schools with qualified, experienced instructors who can effectively teach the techniques and principles of the chosen martial art. Whether you choose Jiu-Jitsu or Kung Fu, finding a good instructor will greatly impact your progress and enjoyment of the martial art.

Compatibility with Other Martial Arts

If you are interested in cross-training or eventually competing in mixed martial arts, consider the compatibility of Jiu-Jitsu or Kung Fu with other martial arts.

Jiu-Jitsu’s focus on grappling and submissions can complement striking-based arts like Muay Thai or boxing.

Kung Fu’s diverse range of techniques may also add a unique element to a fighter’s stand-up game.

In conclusion, both Jiu-Jitsu and Kung Fu offer unique benefits and have a rich history and tradition.

Kung Fu vs Jiu Jitsu – Conclusion

So, who would win in a fight in terms of kung fu vs jiu jitsu? 

It is evident that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would win in a fight against Kung Fu. 

While Kung Fu is a decent *traditional martial art* form of self-defense and has some benefits, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is designed explicitly for fighting and subduing opponents. 

MMA fighters have overwhelmingly chosen to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu over other martial arts forms, making it the clear choice in this match up. 

If you are interested in learning more about how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu could benefit you or your loved ones, please make a discovery call with one of our experts today. 

We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and help you get started on the path to becoming a martial arts master!

Thanks for reading, and see you at the next one!