Judo or BJJ- Which Style Should You Train in?

Which Style Should You Train in?  BJJ or Judo

One of the biggest debates around at the moment is what should you train? Should you train BJJ or Judo?

In this article we will tackle the question of which is best and which you should train.

Many years ago the only type of martial arts that were around that focused on the ground game were of course Judo, Wrestling, Sambo and Traditional Ju Jitsu. However this all changed when the rise of BJJ (or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) happened.

People suddenly wanted to learn the ground game or Newaza aspect of martial arts and if we are honest Judo probably had a lot of new students as a result of this rise of interest in grappling. Yet as more and more BJJ clubs open across the world many people are unsure if they should take up Judo or BJJ?

The End Goal

People dont take up martial arts because they want to learn a martial art, the art is just a vessel to get them to their final destination. For many this is to have fun, make new friends, get stronger and fitter and also to learn some type of self defence.

There are many different fitness options out there for people from going to the gym, running, crossfit or another similar class. So the main difference really is that judo or another type of martial art offers self defence- this is the simple thing that sets it apart.

To the average person therefore the styles of BJJ and Judo are the same, they wear the same types of uniforms (the Gi), they both train on mats and they both do standing and ground work. So again to the average person the difference between the 2 is almost indistinguishable.

Even if we are to look closer at the ethical side of the arts and to enquire about the way in which Judo delivers almost an intangible benefit to a persons life as their brain and body will develop a mentality that solves problems and over comes adversity. Again the sport of BJJ can easily make the same claims.

So if both sports deliver the same end goal and are so similar, how can we advise a student on which discipline to take up and why?

The point here is getting the balance right for the standing and groundwork practice. How we practice each of these elements is often determined by the amount of time allotted for each and this is often related to the rules that govern each of the sports. In Judo for example, in the past, the rules determined for a long time that Newaza exchanges would only be allowed shorter periods of time to hunt, capture and complete a technique, which often was not nearly enough time, before standing the fighters up to continue the contest on the feet. This meant that more emphasis was concentrated on Tachiwaza (standing) techniques than on the ground. Therefore, the throwing skills became more prominent.

This particular rule has now been changed to allow more time in Newaza exchanges if the techniques are progressive in nature, and this, in turn, has encouraged the teaching and learning of groundwork skills in Judo. The balance of learning has now been addressed.

As BJJ ground fighting is allowed more time on the ground searching for the submission, it has evolved to be more technically involved on the ground. The way I see it, there is very little emphasis on technical ways to get them down to the ground. It’s more of a ‘get-the-down-at-all-costs- way of tranisition and I think Judo can help with that.

I can’t help but wonder if BJJ just readjusted their balance of top vs ground if we could help them become an even more technically sound sport. My thinking is maybe of a small rule adjustment in their matches in order to make a subtle change. Not being able to drag an opponent to the ground for example, but having to throw into a groundwork position could encourage more teaching and learning in throwing skills. These simple aspects could just help to adjust the balance of play in both BJJ and Judo. I’m only saying this as the sport starts standing up, just like Judo.

If matches were to start on the ground, then ok, off you go, keep up the great work! However, right now, it doesn’t. So, improving your throwing game as well as the transition game will improve your start any day of the week, all day long.

Train Smarter and Not Just Harder

There are 168 hours in one week, and depending on your level of dedication, skill, and personal life commitments you could train anything between 1 hour and 40 + hours each week however lest just say you have 3 hours per week to train, may be just 3 sessions that you can do.

Now in those 3 sessions you can choose to take part in- Judo or bjj or both!

This is the dilemma facing many different martial artists across the world today and what has happened to this point is that many have chosen to concentrate on one or the other. The result is easy to see, Judo clubs across the world do very little Newaza training and BJJ clubs do very little standing work or Tachiwaza. We can see the end result by watching a Judo or a BJJ match on YouTube. The BJJ fights have little or no attempt at throws and the Judo have very little Newaza.

The gap is now getting wider and wider and each art seem to have rules that endorse this type of game play.

However if we look closer at the rules of each sport, then we can see that both still use the areas they are neglecting- BJJ still has take downs and Judo still has Newaza and both can help each sport to win or lose a match. With this in mind it is clear that both sports can benefit from what is known as Cross Training with each other and the smart athlete will see massive gains by cross training.

But I should Just Do More Judo Newaza

This is an argument that is essentially sound, yes doing more Judo Newaza is a great thing but hardly any clubs run Newaza only sessions these days and there are a lot of reasons why they dont. For some it is down to club funds, venues may be unavailable, players might not want to train more in Newaza- the reasons can be varied but in some clubs there are players that want more! These players want to get better and without the structure in place to help them it would seem very silly not to take advantage of the opportunity to do more Newaza at a venue nearby.

The other side of this equation is the same with BJJ. Players might hate the thought of being thrown, the mats in BJJ clubs are often very thin and again devoting more time to standing grappling takes away time from the ground where they need to be to win fights. So BJJ players might not want or be able to train in standing work in their sport.

When most of Judo match is tachiwaza and most of a BJJ match is on the ground it is difficult to justify spending an extra hour doing training for the aspect of their sport that they do the least and this has resulted in this in balance in both sports.

Become Skilled and Not De Skilled

For those Judo or BJJ players who want to have success in their sport it is essential that the use their time as effectively as possible. When we talk about success we do not mean winning world medals, it is success as it pertains to each individual. This might mean winning a local or area medal, it might just mean being better in your own club, or it could mean getting on a National squad. Regardless of the goal you need to use your time effectively to become more skilled.

For example- if you have 3 x 1 hour sessions a week to train in BJJ and you spend 15 minutes on standing grappling each session then you train 45 minutes on standing per week which seems a lot.

However lets say you cross train and spend 2 sessions of BJJ in the week and then you go to a Judo club for 1 session per week Where you do 45 minutes standing and only 15 minutes on the ground. You have actually ended up with a grand total of:

Groundwork- 1 hour 45 minutes per week

Standing – 1 hour 15 Minutes per week

There is actually zero difference- if you go to a Judo club you are spending no more time on your Standing work as you would if you stayed at your BJJ club. The same also to Judo from a standing/newaza view point.

So why cross train then?

The answer is simple, because for the time you are cross training you are with people who spend the vast majority of time doing the aspect you want to improve on.

If we use the same basic guidelines the BJJ player who trains 3 x per week and 52 weeks a years and does a Judo session would spend 5460 minutes or 91 hours a year training on the ground and just 3,900 minutes or 65 hours on their standing game.

The Judo player that did the same would of course spend 91 hours a year training on his Tachiwaza and just 65 hours on their ground game. So basically the BJJ players has had a whopping 26 hours more practise than the Judo player on the ground over a year, and over 5 years???

130 hours more training!!!

It is the compound effect that makes cross training special because when you go to training you are being immersed with athletes who have a great deal more training time than you do in the area you want to improve. Now I realise that these are just rounded figures and don't take into consideration of a warm up or cool down etc, but the core aspect is here. Training with people who are specialists in the area that you want to improve.

So Which Should I do – Judo or BJJ?

I know what you may be thinking, I haven’t answered the question of which I advise people to do, Judo or BJJ.

However this is because it all comes down to choice. You will pick a style that suits you and what you enjoy. It is clear that both offer amazing opportunities to get fit and make new friends.

What is clear is that if you want to make faster improvements in your ability in either sport then cross training is an excellent way to do this.

For BJJ players adding a Judo session is easy and very affordable to do and likewise with Judo training in BJJ once a week.

If you start cross training today then in a few years the results will compound and both your tachiwaza and newaza will improve.

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