Is Karate More Effective Than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? (It Depends!)

There are so many different martial arts that you can choose to learn, each with their own techniques, philosophy and history. Deciding which one to focus on can be difficult- how do you know which one is going to be best for you?

Some people decide to learn the martial art that they think will be the most effective.

Is Karate More Effective Than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? 

This depends on what you are looking to achieve- you might want an effective form of self defense, an effective technique for striking an enemy, or an effective fitness workout. 

We have compared two of the most popular forms of martial arts to help you decide which one is more effective and which one will be the best option for you. Keep reading to find out more. 

What Is Karate? 

Karate is a martial art that originated in the Ryukyu Islands with heavy influences from Chinese martial arts. Krate uses a combination of striking and blocking moves.

It is based on traditional techniques that are centuries old, but it was officially taught as ‘karate’ in the 1900s and has now become one of the most popular martial arts in the world. 


Karate is based on striking, which means a lot of the movements you learn are different types of attack to use against your opponent. However, it focuses mainly on counter attacks, which allows you to use your opponent’s force against them. 

You can strike with punches and kicks, as well as an open hand. You can also use your elbows and knees, giving you lots of potential points of contact. The strikes must be made with precision and speed.

The strikes are put together into combinations called Katas which are performed almost like a dance sequence during your training. This improves coordination, technique and strength in preparation for using the movements in a fight. 


Karate is a well-established martial art with various governing bodies and organizations depending on your area. This means that most karate classes will follow the same kind of structure. 

You begin with fundamentals, before spending some time on forms. The class ends with a sparring session. This system allows students to work on all elements of their training, and the consistency is good for discipline. 

What Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu originated in Japan. It was used by Samurai soldiers when they needed to get involved in unarmed combat. Japanese Jui Jitsu branched off into different forms including Judo.

When a Judo student came to Brazil a group of men took the techniques and used them to create their own martial art- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

It is based around grappling and is designed to help you get your enemy to the ground and overpower them using minimal effort. 


The main goal of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is to get your opponent on the ground. This is because they have less chance of hurting you or striking you when they are on the ground, and it gives you the opportunity to immobilize them. 

You learn how to use your opponent’s body weight against them, which means that a skilled fighter can take on someone who is much bigger in size and strength and still come out on top.

Some of the key movements you will learn are sweeps, submissions, takedowns, throws, joint locks and strangulations. 


Jiu Jitsu is less regimented than Karate and the structure of the class will vary depending on your teacher. However, it will probably involve some kind of warm up and drilling techniques.

Most classes have a free roll section as well as some situational sparring to help prepare you for using your skills in self defense. 

What Are The Similarities between Karate and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? 

You will have noticed that there are a lot of differences between Karate and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but how are they alike? Here are some of the main similarities: 

  • Competitions – both martial arts use a point based system to score fights during competitions. You can win by getting a significant point lead on your opponent, or by knocking them out (karate) or getting your opponent to submit (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu)
  • Belts – Both martial arts use a belt system to track skill and experience. There are some differences with the colors, but black belt is the highest and it takes at least 5 years of training to reach this level. 
  • Uniform – both martial arts require students to train in a Gi, which is a form of lightweight uniform. It is loose fitting to ensure it is comfortable and allows for a full range of movement. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi is thicker because it has to be suitable for grappling without ripping or tearing. 

Which Is Better? 

Which martial art is better – Karate or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? 

If you are looking for self-defense skills that are easy to apply in real life situations then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is best. It works especially well on people who are not trained, but it can also be used against other students.

It gives you the skills to overpower your attacker even if they are bigger or stronger than you.

Karate can be used for self-defense, but it can be more difficult to apply it to a real life situation when your opponent is not using karate techniques. 

If you want to learn how to strike your opponent then Karate is best because there is no striking in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Karate gives you lots of striking movements and you have a lot of choice when it comes to points of contact.

You also learn how to control your weight and shift it. It provides you with a full body workout which will help to tone your muscles. 

You can combine Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Karate to give you a good range of skills to use for Mixed Martial Art fighting (MMA) or real life self defense.  (See Also: Karate VS. MMA: Which Is Better?)


Both Karate and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are excellent choices of martial art that will be effective against your opponent. 

Christopher Anderson
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