Karate is undoubtedly one of the most popular sports in the world. With an average of 50 to 100 million practitioners worldwide, it’s the mainstream choice for those interested in beginning their path to learning a martial art. However in recent years, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has edged forward as the “new kid on the block”, more recently popularized by the the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) and their legendary mixed martial arts fighters becoming household names. Compared to many of the fight techniques such as Taekwondo, Muay Thai, and Judo – whose roots traced back to the 17th and 18th century – BJJ is one of a handful of fight sports to have birthed in the 1900’s. Karate, in comparison, originates from the late 17th century and has evolved over the past few centuries, having reached a height in popularity in the 1960’s from mainstream cinema.
So, what’s the difference between Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
The two martial arts are very different in fighting style. Karate is focused on striking, while BJJ is focused on grappling. Karate involves stand-up fighting and distance stances, while BJJ includes advancing positions, ground fighting, and opponent submission. In the most simple sense: BJJ begins where Karate ends.
Both sports originate in Japan, although at different time periods. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu takes most of its roots from Judo or Kano Jujitsu when Judo master Mitsuyo Maeda travelled to Brazil to teach Carlos and Helio Gracie, who then went on to develop Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Karate, on the other hand was influenced by Chinese martial arts during the culture exchanges between China and Japan.
Mobility, body control, and physical fitness can be explored in both fields of practice. In Karate, you can expect to learn proper techniques to punches, kicks, knees, and elbow striking as you aim to put your opponent down on the mat. This is one of the key differences, as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu utilizes takedowns and submission tactics such as choke-holds, sweeps, and joint-locks to bring your opponent from their standing on their feet to “tapping out”.
Both sports are a popular choice for children and adults of all ages. Self-improvement can be found in many areas of BJJ: from self-esteem, discipline, confidence, respect, and body awareness. Karate offers a similar return on your investment. There is a tendency for women to join BJJ in part of learning self-defence, as the use of body control allows a typically smaller person to overtake a larger opponent through the use of leverage and body resistance. Karate offers a good opportunity to practice self-defence, although strength and power become more of a necessity.
Like most decisions in life, choosing the right martial art for yourself or your family requires proper research. Take the time to learn about the clubs in the area, and ensure you will be learning from an experienced, authentic, and educated master. It’s like bringing your child to the doctor: would you bring them to a poorly rated doctor that is 5 minutes away, or to a highly rated doctor that is 15 minutes away?
After you have decided on a reputable martial arts club, look for a trial offer so that you can decide if that BJJ or Karate is right for you or your children. Dedication is an important attribute for learning.
Your journey to self improvement begins today!