I'm fairly well acquainted with the history, concepts, goals, and methodology of judo and BJJ. I realize that BJJ evolved from judo, and that both involve takedowns/throws and chokes and joint submissions, and that there is much overlap in the techniques.

Here's my dilemma--

I started taking BJJ classes and I'm finding they focus heavily (entirely) on grappling technique. My BJJ place has taught absolutely zero in the manner of takedowns. I asked about this and they gave me a really iffy answer. I haven't seen the more advanced students working on it either. But they do a really good job teaching grappling!

So I started taking judo classes on the side.

And I've discovered they focus entirely on throws, with zero mention of grappling technique.

Are both my schools incomplete? Are they potentially sub-par? Or is this common, that BJJ should focus on grappling and judo should focus on throwing?

  • 2
    Both schools sound like they are teaching only part of their arts. That's not a value judgement, different people focus on different things. Personally I'm more surprised a Judo school wouldn't deal with grappling, since chokes and locks are a pretty major part of judo, while in my experience BJJ is less focused on much throwing/etc beyond trips and sweeps. Please note that's my experience only. Sep 19, 2013 at 15:16
  • 1
    Some BJJ schools focus on takedowns and other's don't seem to, I think it's important to find a school that is a good fit for you and to ask about the principles behind their teaching methods, as any reputable gym will have clear ideas behind their teaching methods.. BJJ is a bit like judo on the ground or judo a bit like bjj stadning up ;)
    – user6827
    Oct 21, 2013 at 11:39

7 Answers 7


My experiences in judo and BJJ

The judo club I trained at regularly for several years was about 50/50 between newaza and tachiwaza (groundwork and throws). (Actually, it was more like 43/47/10 with the 10% being kata and standing joint locks.)

My time at other judo schools has showed the ratio to be fairly different: 75/25 in favor of throwing, or even 90/10.

My six months at an MMA-oriented BJJ club involved zero takedowns. Those were covered in judo or wrestling classes. We were allowed to start standing if there was space.

My visits to sport BJJ schools have been about 90% groundwork, 10% throws, with most of the nagewaza work being fitting in or throw-for-throw, not sparring. Maybe the advanced classes had more throws; I'm only a white belt.

I've heard of BJJ schools that are supposedly 60/40 between groundwork and throws, such as the Ribiero or Camarillo organizations, but I have not experienced that personally.


There's nothing wrong with any of these approaches. It's all down to your goals and the school's goals.

BJJ-for-MMA has little need for judo throws or working gi takedowns, but their wrestling might get a lot of attention. Sport-BJJ views takedowns as optional. Judo can be balanced or it can focus entirely on just surviving groundwork. Judo or BJJ for self-defense might give time to both, plus some work on defending against strikes.

However, I am generally cautious of an instructor who can only teach "their game". This means that it would be a negative mark if the school doesn't teach takedowns because the instructor can only win from his back, or if the school doesn't do groundwork because the instructor only knows uchimata. It's not a disqualifying error, but it's something to take into consideration.

How Things Should Be

I prefer a more balanced approach, because I want to have at least a portion of my training be relevant to self-defense. Aesthetically I dislike a judoka without a versatile ground game and the jiujitsiero whose only option from standing is to pull or jump guard. Options are good.

The best thing in grappling is to throw your opponent devastatingly, pass their guard, mount them, and choke them out from the top. But it's equally great to pull guard against a larger, stronger, better takedown artist, then reverse the position with a quick guard sweep, take their back, and choke them out. The dominant performance should be valued as much as the weaker defeating the stronger.

Because of the way sport BJJ and sport judo are taught, sometimes the best option is to train both separately. But a BJJ-for-MMA school should be conversant with takedowns, and any school that purports to have general-purpose BJJ or judo should spend at least a tenth or a quarter of their time on groundwork and throws each.


Since both Judo and BJJ are combat sports, their competition rules will heavily dictate what is and what isn't trained.

Judo discourages training grappling on the ground in their rules by both limiting the time the athletes have on the ground as well as awarding Ippons which effectively end the match before anything can happen on the ground. Thus most Judo Schools focus heavily on the takedown.

On the other side BJJ discourages throws/takedowns. This is mostly done by declaring the guard a neutral position and not awarding any points for pulled guards. Oftentimes it is very hard to properly judge whether the takedown or the guardpull was initiated first. On top of that it offers an easy way out for anyone who hasn't a strong grasp standing up, as he can simply pull guard or even just sit on his butt and forgo the standup grappling completely. This is why BJJ schools often "forget" about takedowns.

Even if you find a school with the right mindset about it, oftentimes they won't be as competent in the other arts, since they most likely come from a long lineage of BJJ/Judo Instructors who themselves were rather onesided.

Fortunately with the surge of MMA it seems that a lot of schools identify with neither and incorporate whatever works in their training. This works especially well if they aren't too proud to cooperate with other Wrestling/Judo/BJJ/Whatever schools, since a specialist will always be better than a Jack Of All Trades. So if you have the opportunity and you are striving to be a "pure" grappler, I would highly encourage you to seek out experts of the various styles.

I have already seen Grappling tournaments which have their own rulesets, less biased in either direction. I hope we will see more of that, as grappling for me is everything that can be described as "No strikes allowed, full contact combat sport", I don't like rules that try to limit that artificially.

  • 1
    You can lose points for sitting on your butt, even if your opponent doesn't touch you. Unless you're pulling guard when your butt hits the floor, or very soon after, 2 points to your opponent
    – user6827
    Oct 21, 2013 at 11:41

Nothing wrong with either your BJJ or judo schools.

As you move up the ranks in BJJ you'll be exposed to more throws and the same goes for newaza in Judo. But like you said, BJJ is focused on the ground and Judo is focused on standing. You'll mainly train for the primary aspect of each sport, especially as a lower belt.

I've also seen a BJJ school never practice takedowns until a week or two before competitions, and even then it's practiced very lightly. The justifications:

  1. It's easy to get hurt practicing throws without practicing break falls as much as you do in Judo, so the time and effort is channeled towards practicing more ground techniques instead.
  2. A throw is only worth 2 points in BJJ tournaments.

I also mix BJJ & Judo. I think it gives a good confidence boost at the start of a BJJ match. And it's fun to train both - feels fresh going back and forth between BJJ and judo.


I have high ranks in and teach both, and have traveled throughout the western world training both, and competed in both broadly.

What you describe is perfectly common for both--many bjj schools do no standing practice, many judo schools do no ground practice. Those that do either, do them sparingly, and usually somewhat poorly.

I fully advocate cross training. The nice thing for anyone that cross trains is that they get the experience of study with others who heavily specialize--I don't want the half-assed Judo techniques at a BJJ school, I want the high quality ones I learn from people that do it constantly, not a couple times a year at most.

In reality, I consider them two sides of the same coin. BJJ really is just Judo (I say this as a BJJ brown belt who started BJJ before Judo) that evolved down a different path and from early students (the infamous Gracies) that never seemed to have learned the standup portion of Judo well, honestly. Therefore the rules they made did not reward that part of the art, therefore those techniques weren't passed down deeply.

Likewise in Judo, the rules have been deliberately bent to ensure Judo's throws remain its specialization. So, few schools have meaningful newaza curricula, in spite of the early Judo scene being a massive hotbed of newaza innovation, including the seeming invention of the triangle, possibly the only truly known novel groundwork technique of the recent times.


I train in Judo and achieved a 5 Dan. I have been training for 38 years. I have done a lot of travelling to different clubs, most of them do 50/50 standing & ground. Most of the judoka I have trained with are excellent on the ground, but training at BJJ as well as Judo can only benefit you as a martial artist because they specialise in ground work. Judo has a great transition from standing to ground, but remember an experienced judoka can put someone on there back fast and hard, but if they wish to can just as easily put you on your head. If it all goes wrong, as it is not a perfect world, the ground work is there.


From an MMA prospective... I am a jiu jitsu guy more than a Judoka but I will never discard anything that isn't useful.

I do prefer to be on the ground, as I am a Jiu Jitsu guy (I can stand as well, but I'm more leaning towards a specialist) but I have learned a lot of Judo techniques. Because in reality, the fight starts standing and you don't win any points from your back unless you sweep or submit. Having learned Judo my top control and my strength and my clinch takedowns have all been strengthened. Judo allows me to get close and take them down without getting sprawled on or eating a knee or an uppercut.

Unless you did freestyle wresting or Sambo, shooting for the legs in BJJ isn't a powerful thing. BJJ is more gentle than Sambo or Wrestling. In MMA the risk of eating a big knee is higher for when you shoot for a takedown. I prefer Judo so I can stay upright and control the clinch and not risk getting KO'd.

BJJ and Judo are very very similar in their ideology, about taking the other people down. Judo is the takedown aspect and stop. Then Jiu Jitsu is the rolling part. Both are very important and you can benefit from both. Never discard anything that isn't useful. Always adapt and test new things. Whatever works for you is good!


In my opinion, it's because most judo people look at judo from the standpoint that judo is an Olympic sport and governed by the International Olympic Committee. So when you are on the ground in judo, you have a short time to make it happen before they stand you up. Just like all the sports like this in the Olympics, the sport has its particular rules. Jujitsu is a grappling art. Judo is a throwing art with time limits on ground grappling, then we stand and try to win by ippon. For you own interest, you would pick a school that does what you want. Judo grappling is based on a missed throw, to choke, pin, or submission. It seems jujitsu is all 100% win by grappling and no point for a throw. This is only my opinion with 5 years judo, 4 years karate, 5 years boxing, and 7 jujitsu lessons.

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