BJJ vs MMA: What’s The Difference?

You’re probably here looking for a good fighting style to learn or you’re just curious.

Either way, you’re here to learn about the differences between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts.

The Short answer is that MMA is broader and potentially violent, while BJJ is a specialization and less aggressive.

Though this is the case, there is more to it than meets the eye. 

Let’s dive into this article showing the differences and when you should take either.

Bjj vs Mma

What is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)?

Saying that you’re ready to start MMA might imply hundreds of things.

It’s not as specific as saying you want to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a single type of martial art.

There are a lot of different styles in MMA, and you can start at any age.

Grounding is fun for kids and adults because it helps them get in touch with their bodies, learn self-defense, and slow down.

Popular Kinds of MMA


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has a lot of chokes, leg locks, compression locks, grappling on the ground, submission holds, and floor work.


Judo is a combat sport that started in Japan in the late 1880s.

It is a type of martial art that is a bit more modern. 

It is a full-contact sport where you have to keep your balance while your opponent tries to throw you flat on your back to the ground.

Judo is where the hip toss and other well-known throws come from.

Boxing’s Golden Age 

People often think this is MMA because of how ESPN’s MMA is shown on TV.

And yes, the way kickboxing combines wrestling and punching is MMA, but there is more to it than that.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a complicated sport that is great for people who are getting better at martial arts, but it’s not always the best place for a beginner to start.

The best thing about Muay Thai is using your whole body. 

The way to control your opponent is called the “Art of Eight Limbs.”

You must move your knees, hands, elbows, forearms, and every other small body part. 

It’s very planned out and beautiful to look at.


Submissions, choke holds, arm holds, mounting and jumping on, uppercuts, or performer-oriented defenses.

Western and televised wrestling, like the WWE, have made the sport more like a performance. 

Also, the winner is almost always known ahead of time.

Related Reading: What Is The Belt Order In Taekwondo – Find Out Here.

What is BJJ?

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a very advanced martial art that is based on grappling.

The main goal is to use a joint lock or choke to take control of the other person and make it hard for them to move. 

BJJ was first made for self-defense so that a more petite man could use leverage and technique to control a much more robust opponent.

Mitsuo Maeda, a master of judo, brought traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu to Brazil in the 1920s.

Carlos Gracie and those who came after him changed this Japanese art into what is now known as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

Some parts of traditional martial arts are still used in BJJ, like the belt ranking system.

Like judo and karate, it is done in a gi, which is a kind of uniform. 

Today, BJJ’s competitive sport version is significantly different from the original.

Classic BJJ is mostly for fighting, usually against an untrained opponent.

The sports version, on the other hand, is about winning a grappling match against a highly trained athlete.

There are four main ideas behind BJJ. 

  • Classic BJJ
  • Self-Defense
  • MMA Version
  • No-Gi Version

For each principle, timing is essential in different ways that affect how you train. In a traditional BJJ class, you might wear a kimono or uniform and a rash guard, for example. 

For MMA, you’ll wear shorts, and for self-defense, you can wear regular athletic clothes.

What’s the Difference?

What's the Difference

BJJ is a type of martial art that involves grappling. MMA, which stands for “mixed martial arts,” uses many different martial arts, including BJJ.

Most people who fight in MMA use Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

So we have to be careful when telling people the difference between the two martial arts styles.

From a grappling point of view, BJJ and MMA differ in several important ways.

Key Difference Between BJJ and MMA

  • Striking moves are also part of MMA grappling. 
  • Gi Chokes and guards are used in BJJ
  • MMA uses techniques from wrestling and catch-wrestling.

Should You Learn MMA or BJJ?

Whether you focus on MMA or BJJ depends on what your goals are in martial arts.

In the past, someone would learn BJJ and a striking martial art like Muay Thai before putting the two together to make MMA. 

Today, you can start learning MMA grappling and striking simultaneously.

Choosing MMA

If you want to learn striking arts like kickboxing, boxing, muay Thai, and grappling, you should focus on MMA.

Since you are learning more than one martial art simultaneously,

MMA is more dynamic and, some say, more challenging to learn than just BJJ. 

If you start out with MMA as your primary focus, you might never master any one martial art.

It’s similar to being a jack of all trades but a master of none. 

For example, most of the best UFC fighters don’t have black belts in BJJ because they train in other martial arts instead.

Choosing BJJ

If you want to learn a martial art, get in shape, and don’t like getting hit in the face, BJJ is the better choice.

Since there is no striking in BJJ, you are much less likely to get a concussion or other head injury. 

BJJ is not, however, a risk-free sport that is easy to do.

Instead, it is an excellent martial art for people who don’t want to fight. 

If BJJ is your primary focus, you can train in both Gi and Nogi if you want to.

Since BJJ is all you do, you will move through their belt system more quickly.

Related Reading: Karate Belt Order – Check Out Here

Final Thoughts

It ultimately still depends on what you’re up to.

MMA can be potentially more violent, and BJJ can be a little too passive. 

Learn what you desire, but keep your body and mind in check.