Understanding the Different Types of Martial Arts: Karate vs. Jiu-jitsu | Karate International

Understanding the Different Types of Martial Arts: Karate vs. Jiu-jitsu

Wednesday, July, 25 2018

In a previous post we looked at the difference between Karate and Taekwondo. Another commonly asked question that we hear from prospective students involves the difference between Karate and another very popular martial art, Jiu-jitsu.


When people hear, see, or read about Jiu-jitsu today, what is typically being referred to is Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has foundations in traditional Jiu-jitsu and Judo, and has evolved into a distinct martial art in the last 75 years.  


In the early 1900s, a Japanese judo expert and prizefighter, Mitsuyo Maeda, travelled the world giving judo demonstrations. Maeda was approached by Carlos Gracie in Brazil in 1917 and took him as a student. Gracie and his brothers evolved the martial art over the next several decades to form what we know as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu today.


What is the Difference Between Karate and Jiu-jitsu?


Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a style that has a heavy emphasis on ground fighting. In grappling arts like Jiu-jitsu or judo, practitioners usually spend most of their time on the ground, trying to gain dominance over their competitor and trying to get that person to submit. There is also an emphasis on locks and chokes in order assist in gaining leverage over your attacker.


More striking-based styles of martial arts, like Karate, tend to have less emphasis on groundwork and more emphasis on the standing phase. Karate practitioners will spend more time practicing linear, hard movements. That style favors punches, kicks, and demonstrations of strength.


Is Karate better than Jiu-jitsu?


One martial art isn’t clearly “better” than another. As someone looking to practice a martial art, it’s better to focus on the teacher and seek out a sport that provides good instructors and an atmosphere that you find suits your own particular style and goals.


There are a few fundamental differences in the environment of a Karate school and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu school. With Jiu-jitsu, it typically helps to be a bit more flexible. It’s a focus of the fighting style to be on the ground contorting your body in a way that is sometimes a bit unnatural. So, if you have physical limitations that inhibit your flexibility in some way, it may take some work before you can successfully practice Jiu-jitsu. Also, Jiu-jitsu typically requires a partner whereas, with Karate you can train on your own.


There are many benefits to the Jiu-jitsu fighting style. It teaches the leverage needed that can help to overcome bigger, stronger opponents. That’s why our Karate style incorporates elements of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. We take the elements that are most effective in Jiu-jitsu and combine them with elements of Kenpo Karate and Kickboxing in order to bring our own unique style to our students.


Ultimately, however, you should try out different styles of martial arts until you find the right mix of instructor, fighting style, facility, and class camaraderie. Those factors will be much more influential in your success as a martial artist over any particular style of fighting.