What’s the Difference Between BJJ and Taekwondo?


BJJ Taekwondo 
 Focus Grappling Art Striking Art (Emphasis on Kicks)
 Origin  Brazil (via Japan)  Korea
 Founder  Carlos & Helio Gracie (via Mitsuyo Maeda)  General Choi Hong Hi
 Influenced by  Judo (or Kano Jujitsu)  Korean martial arts (Taekkyeon, Subak, and Gwonbeop)
 Fight Techniques  Choke-holds, takedowns, and joint locks  Kicks and hand strikes, including head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques
 Fight Positions  Advancing position, ground fighting, and submitting an opponent  Fighting, diagonal, and crouched stances
 Popular Choice for  Both children and adults, men and women
 Physical Fitness Total body workout, improved cardiovascular health, improved reflexes, strength and conditioning
 Philosophy  Self improvement, self-esteem, discipline, confidence, respect, body awareness, self-control, perseverance

On paper, Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may be two of the most different sports out there. From its differing fight techniques and stances, the only real commonality may be that both sports are newer to the martial arts scene than its elder statesmen, Karate and Judo. However the intangible takeaways can be parallel in many ways.

One of the vast differences between the two are its focus: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling art, starting from the feet as a combatant takes down an opponent for a submission. Taekwondo is a striking art – much like Karate – but with a stronger emphasis on kicks and hand strikes to win a match.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was originally founded in (surprise!) Brazil by Carlos and Helio Gracie around 1914. The Gracies had been taught the ways of Kano Jujitsu or Judo from Mitsuyo Maeda in Japan before transitioning into BJJ.

The origin of Taekwondo can be traced back to around 1955, introduced by General Choi Hong Hi in Korea. It was inspired by a variety of Korean martial arts, such as Taekkyeon, Subak, and Gwonbeop. There are two types of Taekwondo: WTF and ITF – the main difference being ITF is North Korean (and the original Taekwondo), and WTF is South Korean (a modernized ITF) . The form between the two are different, with ITF having similarities to Karate, however the kicks remain the same. ITF is suited for self-defence teaching, while WTF is primarily used for sport sparring and competition, including the Olympics.

Both sports are considered newer, and in some ways, take part of its teachings from other martial arts which had birthed in the 1700’s and the 1800’s.

On the mat, BJJ techniques include a handful of choke-holds, takedowns, and joint locks to submit an opponent and claim a match. There are dozens of potential moves, making every reaction a calculated one. This is one of the primary reasons that it works as a fitness and self defense mechanism for both men and women of all ages.

There’s more to Taekwondo than just kicks and punches. Taekwondo is popularized by its use of kick techniques – from head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kick techniques. It uses a combination of speed and agility called the “Theory of Power”, where the power of a strike increases dramatically with the speed of the strike. Like BJJ, it’s popular among both men and women of all ages for self defense and fitness.

Positioning between the two sports also differ in many ways. BJJ uses an advancing position, grounding fighting, and submission of an opponent. Taekwondo uses both a distance based and upright stance to approach and defeat an opponent. It’s important to research which fight position is best for you or your family to learn.

Taekwondo and BJJ provide numerous intangibles to self-improvement. Participation in both sports can increase a student’s discipline, self-esteem, respect for others, confidence, and body awareness. BJJ has been a popular choice for women as a form of self-defence, allowing a typically smaller person to overtake a larger opponent through leverage and body resistance. Taekwondo, particularly ITF, can be a very strong self-defence tool with the proper instruction and master – although it’s important to remember that a good martial artist will use his/her awareness and teachings to avoid trouble and resolve conflicts.

So, which is the best martial art for you and your family? If you’re interested in learning self defence, BJJ or ITF Taekwondo may be a better choice. For mental and physical fitness, both sports will provide great return on your investment. For competition fighting, you can’t go wrong with BJJ and WTF Taekwondo. Like we always say, research research research!

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