JIU JITSU VS KARATE
The comparison between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Karate are similar to the contrast of jiu jitsu vs kung fu, as modern Karate has forms of Kung Fu incorporated. Potential students will always look to compare different Martial Arts in order to see what style suits them the best. The difference between a striking art and a grappling art can be quite substantial, like the difference between krav maga and jiu jitsu. BJJ is a relatively young Martial Art, as its origins go back to the start of the twentieth century. Karate on the other hand has an extremely old heritage as it dates back to Asia in the seventeenth century.
Karate is purely a striking Martial Art which incorporates kicking, punching, and defensive blocks using their arms and legs. Karate focuses on using the highest amount of their bodys power at the point of impact. Karate embodies the philosophy of timing, tactics, physical toughness and spirituality to gain advantage over their opponents. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an extremely complicated Martial Art as it utilises a high intensity series of movements that are designed to subdue their opponents and submit them. A BJJ practitioner will start on the feet and incorporate Judo and Wrestling techniques to take the fight to the ground, before using specialised control tactics to gain positional advantage and set up submissions with choke holds and leverage based joint locks.
What This Article Covers:
- The Origin of Karate
- The Origin of BJJ
- How Does BJJ Compare to Karate?
- Which Martial Art Is Easier to Train?
- How Does Karate Differentiate From BJJ
- So, Who Wins Between BJJ and Karate?
THE ORIGIN OF KARATE
The history of Karate started as a common fighting style known as Okinawan, this was practised by the East Asian ethnic group who lived in the Ryukyu Islands. After a series of political changes that flourished throughout the Ming dynasty, large groups of Chinese families from Fujian Province moved to Ryukyu in 1392. There was an extensive cultural exchange as many Chinese arts were introduced to the people. By 1477 King Sho Shin introduced a new policy which banned any kind of weapons among the Chinese people. This forced many Chinese people to begin developing unarmed combat, and after the invasion by the Shimazu clan in Okinawa in 1609, just reinforced the need for a fighting style like Karate.
Members of the Okinawan upper classes regularly were sent to China so they could study different political and practical disciplines. Due to the legal implications of banned weapons, the Chinese people incorporated Kung Fu into Okinawan Martial Arts. Traditional Karate began to resemble forms of Fujian Martial Arts like White Crane, Five Ancestors, and Gangrou quan. During the 1820's Matsumura Sokon taught a composite of Shaolin and Karate, Matsumura's style would later become the Shōrin-ryū style. Matsumura taught his Martial Art to Itosu Ankō, and from the early 1800's to the early 1900’s Itosu adapted the two forms into a combined combat discipline.
In 1901, Itosu introduced Karate into Okinawa's public school system, where the dynamic and spiritual Martial Art was taught to children. Itosu's significant influence in Karate created mostly all of the common styles we know of today. Itosu's students have become some of the world's most influential karate masters, including Gichin Funakoshi, Kenwa Mabuni, and Chōki Motobu. Itosu would go down in folklore as the Grandfather of Modern Karate.
THE ORIGIN OF BJJ
The history of BJJ dates back to the 1900's after the famous student Mitsuyo Maeda brought his Kokudan Judo that he learnt from Jigoro Kano, to Brazil. Mitsuyo Maeda befriended a businessman named Gastao Gracie, and after some time getting to know each other Gastao introduced his son Carlos Gracie. Mitsuyo would eventually accept Carlos as one of his students and begin to teach him his philosophies in life and the techniques of his Martial Art. Carlos Gracie was extremely interested in Mitsuyo's Martial Art, especially the randori section where he learnt several choke holds and joint locks. Carlos became exceptional at the Martial Art as he had studied it for several years with the Japanese pioneer.
Carlos would teach his younger brother Helio Gracie everything he had learnt from Maeda. Helio was a smaller and lighter framed fighter and he found it particularly hard to execute many of the Judo throws. Helio began developing his own system of leverage based movements in order to help a smaller fighter survive and defeat a larger and much stronger fighter. Through the development of Helio's more grounded aspect of fighting, Gracie Jiu Jitsu was born. Helio would then teach all of his sons and as Rorion and Rixon became exceptional they challenged all of Brazil, including many other disciplines. The most iconic challenge was luta livre vs bjj where Rixon Gracie fought against Hugo Duarte on the beach, the famous fight saw Rixon win by ground and pound.
Helio would then decide that Gracie Jiu Jitsu would travel to the United States of America. Rorion Gracie was the only son that spoke fluent English, so Helio entrusted him to take the business to the US. By this stage he was managing Rixon as he was winning high calibre fights in Japan. Due to the sudden rise in fame of Rixon Gracie, Rorion decided to use Royce Gracie to challenge in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Royce was more submissive to Rorion which made him easier to control, and Royce starred in the UFC Gracie Jiu Jitsu was put on the map. Rixon was becoming extremely frustrated with the control that Rorion had over him and his brother, so he decided to break away and start his own academy. Many other Gracie's including Renzo Gracie followed suit and moved to the US to start their own academies. Rorion became enraged and threatened to sue all of his brothers for trademark infringement for using the name Gracie Jiu Jitsu, as many of his brothers adopted the new term of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
HOW DOES BJJ COMPARE TO KARATE
There are considerable differences between BJJ and Karate, as one is a pure striking art while the other is the complete opposite with its ground fighting aspects. BJJ utilises a combination of Judo and Wrestling to take down their opponents to the ground, and then utilises a series of high calibre control positions to secure submissions. Karate is more about using high pressure strikes by hand or foot to incapacitate their opponents. They use a combination of defensive blocks mixed with attacking punches, palm strikes and kicks to take out their opponents.
BJJ fighters will not use any form of striking to gain advantage over an opponent, unless they are fighting in Mixed Martial Arts, instead they utilise a multitude of complex submissions like choke holds and joint locks. A BJJ fighter has an exceptional talent for getting close to a striker without taking significant damage, just like Royce Gracie in the early UFC days. In comparison Karate fighters will step in and out of range so they can execute many of their traditional striking techniques. This is an apparent style made famous by the UFC Champion Lyoto Machida.
WHICH MARTIAL ART IS EASIER TO TRAIN
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an extremely complex Martial Art that takes a long time to master. The great aspect with training BJJ is how humble an academy can be. BJJ practitioners can train at high intensity and stay relatively safe from injury. The highly repetitious combat involved in BJJ is an extremely realistic way of gaining Martial Arts skills and real life conditioning. This is how practitioners become highly skillful professionals, by training in full contact sports like bjj and Muay Thai.
Karate is very different to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as the training has less contact involved. Many Karate dojos will only practise cartas and singular training methods. Karate practitioners will often toughen up their body parts by striking a Karate Makiwara, wooden boards or a wooden horse. This may be good for the application of a strike, but in terms of real life scenarios this is where the Martial Art has its failings. If a Karate fighter was to practice full contact sparring against an opponent, then the Martial Art would become extremely deadly.
HOW DOES KARATE DIFFERENTIATE FROM BJJ
There are significant differences between both of these styles of Martial Arts. The main differences are the obvious, striking vs grappling as Karate uses kicks and punches and BJJ uses grappling control and submissions. There are other differences like how each system is ranked and graded, there is also difference in the uniforms they wear.
BJJ follows a certain rule set, where practitioners in competition can win by accumulating points from various control positions acquired. At the end of the round whoever is up on points will win the fight, only a submission can end the fight before the time limit runs out. There are certain moves that a BJJ fighter cannot use like certain leg locks, slams, neck cranks and various other rare movements. In Karate competition, practitioners must not use full contact as they will pull their punches and kicks short. Each strike is given a certain amount of points and if no winner is sorted then both practitioners must perform cartas.
BJJ has an extensive belt ranking system that has thirteen different coloured belts in the kids divisions. The children's belt system begins from the white belt as each student works their way through the grey, yellow, orange and green belt groups. Each coloured belt group has three separate belts including a white striped, a black striped and a solid colour version. BJJ adult belts begin with the white belt, instructors will grade each student by adding four stripes during the course of their progression. Students will then go through the blue, purple, brown and finally black belt ranks. The last few extremely rare belts like the coral and a red belt are almost unattainable in BJJ. There are no tests in BJJ, as instructors will grade their students through observation of their overall skills, character, knowledge and how they perform with their application. It can take a student over ten years to achieve the black belt rank, which makes it an extremely special and a hard belt to earn.
The Karate ranking system begins with the white belt and moves through the orange, blue, yellow, green, brown, and then black belt. Once a student has attended enough lessons their instructor will invite them to test at a regional grading. The test involves a student performing cartas of all the moves they have learnt, once finished they will be awarded a belt. Students may also need to perform board breaks as they get closer towards their black belt. The average time it takes to earn a black belt in Karate in only five years.
Both Martial Arts wear Gi uniforms, the only difference between Gi's are the grade of the strength of the material. In Karate they use a lighter Gi, to make it easier to move around and utilise kicks. The BJJ Gi is much stronger as it is used to consolidate grips on their opponents. The BJJ Gi also has extremely thick lapels so the practitioner can use it to choke their opponents. BJJ has a secondary uniform that is worn during the No Gi division which is more commonly known as submission grappling. Many students compete in both versions of BJJ and will debate over which style is better. Grappling vs bjj have similar game styles with the main difference being that in No Gi they wear a rashguard, compression pants and shorts.
SO WHO WINS BETWEEN BJJ AND KARATE
Even though Karate has a striking background, it is extremely hard to believe that it could win against the might of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Karate may be able to land some strikes in the opening few seconds of a fight, except BJJ fighters are well known for their takedown skills. Most people would expect BJJ to surely take the fight to the ground and win. Once the fight is grounded a Jiu Jitsu fighter will be far too much to handle for a Karate practitioner. A Jiu Jitsu fighter uses a combination of high intensity movements to control their opponent. They also use dynamic transitions to set up different submissions like choke holds and joint locks. A Karate fighter has no skill level fighting on the ground and will find themselves overwhelmed at every turn.
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