Judo or Jiu-Jitsu for Self Defense: 6 Main Differences!

Judo and Jiu-Jitsu are two of the most popular martial arts. Many trainees practice both because they want to be able to use them in a self defense situation. So which one is better? We’ll compare the most important self-defense aspects of both in this article.

Defense Techniques Standing, Gripping, Throwing Tripping, Locking, Pinning
Learning Curve 12-18 Months of Training 6-8 Months of Training
Safety Levels Not Safe for Assailants Very Safe for Assailants
Natural Stance/Position Standing Position Ground Position
Defense Range Open or Spaced Close-quarter
Suitable for Defending Against Multiple Attackers A Single Attacker

1. Judo is better for staying on feet, Jiu Jitsu for defending on the ground

The main aim behind Judo is to throw the opponent, either by tripping, kicking, or pushing them to the ground, while ensuring that you stay on your feet during the fight. But Jiu-Jitsu is more focused on the domination technique. Rather than throwing the attacker, you are more concerned with their submission after you have grappled and restrained them.

Therefore, Jiu Jitsu techniques are more focused on control and domination rather than throwing the opponent and staying at a safe distance, which is the case with Judo.

Takeaway: Judo requires standing, maintaining a firm grip, and mastering the art of throwing your attacker. Jiu-Jitsu on the other hand is concerned with tripping, locking, and pinning your attacker to the ground until submission.

2. Judo has a steeper learning curve

Although both martial arts require great exertion and commitment, there is still a difference in how long it takes to master them. For the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the approach is simpler, and only a few weeks of training can get you to a point where you’re able to beat up someone who hasn’t trained before. On average, 6 months of consistent training is enough to get a grasp of the BJJ techniques to a decent level.

The approach to learning Judo is however more thorough. In most cases, Judo trainers also teach their students the art of BJJ in case they end up getting to the ground to fight. Obtaining physical strength to fight while standing as well as balancing the footwork can take a lot of time. This is why it takes 12-18 months of Judo training to get good at it, in comparison to 6-8 months of BJJ.

Summarily, Judo is a good choice for self-defense if there is a lot of time and perseverance to train over a long period, while BJJ might be the right choice if the training will be done in a short period.

3. Jiu Jitsu provides safer restraining methods

Self-defense doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hurt your assailant. In fact, it’s best if you can protect yourself without causing injuries to the attacker, from a legal (and human) standpoint.

Here too, the difference between the two martial arts can be outlined. When defending yourself against an armed assailant, there might be a need to be aggressive and overly brutal, but defending yourself against a drunk, an abusive family member generally doesn’t require throwing fatal kicks. Therefore, when you see a method of self-defense whereby the assailant is mounted and jokingly poked in the cheek, there is a high chance that this method is BJJ.

Restraining an attacker such as a drunk can be safely done with BJJ techniques as the attacker only needs to be well grappled. But, Judo on the other hand does not have such fancy restraints. It will rather end in the assailant being kicked down the hall. Hence, BJJ is a safer self-defense method to use on attackers than Judo which can cause more or less serious injuries.

4. Judo is better in standing, Jiu Jitsu in ground position

This is perhaps the major difference and basic reason a lot of people opt for Judo (standing grappling) over BJJ (ground grappling). There is a difference in the method of fighting in Judo which has an edge over that of Jiu-Jitsu.

90% of fights come in a standing position, and it would prove quite difficult to use BJJ for self-defense in this scenario. Jiu-Jitsu requires getting the opponent on the ground for a better chance of success. Judo on the other hand is effective while standing. So it is a perfect choice for anyone who would like to maintain their position while they protect themselves from danger.

Running away is also easy when using Judo to protect yourself since you are already on your feet and are good with footwork. It is also better to be in a standing position because you get to see the opponent’s movement better.

Having said that, Jiu-Jitsu is still a good choice for people who prefer fighting from the ground and for those who find it difficult to maintain a standing stance during a fight due to injuries.

5. Jiu Jitsu is better in close quarters, Judo in the open

When BJJ is in use, the attacker needs to be in a close quarter and provably alone, because once on the ground, it is difficult to deal with another attacker in a standing position. This is why BJJ might prove handy for a close-range fight.

Judo is exercised in a standing position and provides more versatility. So it can be used successfully in the open. Judo also gives you a level of fluidity in movement and techniques, it also allows you to stay in a safe position should the attacker be handling a dangerous object.

Takeaway: The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a good choice of self-defense if the fight is in a close-quarter, but fighting an attacker from a greater distance is best done with Judo.

6. Judo is more efficient against multiple attackers

BJJ is not a fighting technique suitable for fighting against a lot of attackers. With Judo it is easier to move from one assailant to the other and to protect yourself from each strike and attempt made from more than one area. While being a professional at BJJ and Judo makes both methods suitable for multiple less skilled assailants, a professional Judoka would still have an upper hand.

Takeaway: Methods of self-defense in BJJ are suitable for defending against attacks coming from a single source, but Judo is better suited for fighting against multiple assailants at once.


In conclusion, there are various distinguishing features between Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, and these are outlined in the fighting techniques, the safety options when fighting against different assailants as well as the suitability of using either of them against single or multiple attackers.

Learning Jiu-Jitsu also takes a shorter amount of time when compared to a great period one has to train before mastering the art of Judo. There is however a significant advantage in Judo, the standing position. Judo as a self-defense practice allows for a standing position to be maintained, while a ground position is the best position for Jiu-Jitsu.

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