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BJJ vs Tae Kwon Do

Both Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) are well-known martial arts, focusing on different techniques and offering different benefits. Tae Kwon Do is a striking-based martial art that emphasizes kicks and hand strikes, whereas BJJ is a grappling-based martial art that stresses ground combat and submission grips. By comparing BJJ and Tae Kwon Do and outlining their differences and similarities, we can help you decide which martial art is the most suitable for you to study.

Who Should Learn BJJ?

BJJ is for everyone but not everyone may want to learn it. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a ground based combat sport. Its closest equivalents are wrestling and sambo and to a lesser extent, judo. BJJ is a highly dynamic sport, requiring a high degree of athleticism and patience as it has a steep learning curve. You should learn BJJ if your goals include:

  • Learning practical self-defense
  • Becoming fit
  • Improving flexibility and balance
  • Looking for a mentally challenging martial art
  • Are also training MMA

I chose to practice Jiu Jitsu because I had been doing a striking martial art in Muay Thai and wanted to learn a grappling martial art. I also knew BJJ would be mentally challenging as well as physical. I also wanted to round out my practical self defense knowledge. Some downsides (if you consider them downsides) of learning BJJ is that it is a physically demanding sport, generally requires you to spar with others and is only relegated to the ground. Training can also be expensive depending on the gym you attend.

Develops a high level of fitness and strengthCan be physically demanding and lead to injuries
Improves flexibility and balanceCan be difficult for beginners to keep up with advanced students
Teaches valuable self-defense techniquesTraining can be expensive and hard to find
Provides a sense of community and camaraderieCan be intense, both physically and mentally
Helps with stress relief and mental focusCan be time-consuming, requiring a regular training schedule

You Shouldn’t Train BJJ If…

  • Want to learn striking
  • You don’t like sparring
  • Don’t enjoy wrestling/grappling
  • Don’t like steep learning curves

Who Should Learn Tae Kwon Do?

Tae Kwon Do is a much different martial art from BJJ and as such, may attract people with different interests or goals. Tae Kwon Do is one of the most popular striking martial arts. As with BJJ, learning Tae Kwon Do can help someone achieve better physical fitness and provide mental stimulation. On the other hand, Tae Kwon Do is admittedly less practical in terms of self defense or competitive fighting, such as MMA. Therefore if your main goals are self-defense or MMA – Tae Kwon Do may not be for you.

Tae Kwon Do is great for those who want to experience a traditional martial art without the need to spar other. In Tae Kwon Do you can learn forms or board breaking. If you would rather not have to face others in combat, Tae Kwon Do may be better for you than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Tae Kwon Do is also a great sport for kids. There are tons of Tae Kwon Do schools that offer classes for kids. It’s a great way to teach kids discipline, focus and physical activity.

Develops cardiovascular fitness and powerCan be physically demanding and lead to injuries
Improves coordination, balance and flexibilityCan be difficult for beginners to keep up with advanced students
Teaches valuable self-defense techniquesTraining can be expensive and hard to find
Provides a sense of discipline and focusCan be time-consuming, requiring a regular training schedule
Helps to build self-confidenceRequires a lot of memorization of forms and techniques
Can be a great way to relieve stress and anxietyCan become repetitive if only focused on forms and not sparring

You Shouldn’t Train Tae Kwon Do If:

  • You want to learn grappling
  • Are looking for practical self defense methods
  • Don’t want to learn forms
Tae Kwon Do fighters spar

BJJ vs Tae Kwon Do: Techniques

There is very little overlap in the techniques required for BJJ and the techniques required for Tae Kwon Do.

man doing karate stunts on gym
Flying Sidekick in Tae Kwon Do

The focus of BJJ is ground combat and submission grips. BJJ practitioners often dominate and subdue their opponents using a range of chokeholds, joint locks, and other submission holds. In order to get the battle to the ground, BJJ also teaches a variety of takedowns, including trips, throws, and sweeps. In the safe and supervised atmosphere of sparring (rolling), practitioners are permitted to utilize submission grips and attempt to submit one another as part of the training.

Tae Kwon Do , on the other hand, emphasizes kicks and hand blows because it is a striking based marital art. Tae Kwon Do practitioners attack and protect themselves with a range of kicks, punches, and strikes. Tae Kwon Do also contains sparring, where practitioners can employ their striking prowess against an opponent, as well as forms or poomsaes, which are prearranged sequences of techniques that are done alone.

Both BJJ and Tae Kwon Do have distinctive advantages and might be helpful for various objectives and preferences. While Tae Kwon Do is well-known for its emphasis on striking and usage of forms as a technique to build concentration, discipline, and power, BJJ is recognized for its emphasis on striking and is frequently believed to be more successful in self-defense scenarios and in sport grappling tournaments.

Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Tae Kwon Do Better for Self Defense?

As we mention above (but in case you skip right down here) BJJ is generally a better sport to learn self defense or be prepared for street fight situations. Tae Kwon Do is a wonderful martial art that can improve your physical fitness and mentally stimulate you, however, it is much more of a “sport” than a practical, modern day fighting form. The technique of the sport including its kicks, blocks and punches are designed to work within the confines of the sport. For example, spinning kicks, a common technique in Tae Kwon Do, would be highly impractical in a self defense situation but effective in a traditional sparring match. It’s not to say that a TaeKwonDo fighter won’t be useful to have in a self-defense/street fight scenario – it’s just that you shouldn’t pick up TKD if your main focus is self defense.

Jiu Jitsu by contrast was designed first and foremost as a street fighting martial art n Brazil. It was tested and developed as a way for smaller opponents to manipulate bigger ones. For sure there are numerous techniques in jiu jitsu that would also be impractical in a street fight, but for the most part the sport is practical in a self defense situation. Other martial arts that are useful in self defense include Muay Thai, wrestling and judo.

BJJ vs Tae Kwon Do: Origins

The Gracie family, notably Carlos Gracie, invented BJJ in Brazil at the start of the 20th century. For the purpose of developing a more effective and adaptable grappling style, the Gracie family changed and altered traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu or Japanese JuJutsu. Both the Japanese and Brazilian versions of jiu jitsu evolved from Judo which also began in Japan. The Gracies brought BJJ to the United States in the 1980s. It became widely known when Royce Gracie used BJJ to win the very first UFC event. BJJ continued to grow in popularity as UFC and mixed martial arts became more mainstream.

On the other hand, Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial art and is thought to be among the oldest martial arts in existence. Tae Kwon Do is noted for emphasizing striking and kicking skills and is described as “the method of the hand and foot.” Tae Kwon Do derives from the centuries-old Korean martial technique known as Taekkyon, which was practiced for both self-defense and recreation. The Korean military standardized and refined Tae Kwon Do into its present form in the 1940s and 1950s. Tae Kwon Do has found some representation in the UFC but is more well known as an olympic sport.

Where Do You Learn BJJ and Tae Kwon Do?

Tae Kwon Do and jiu jitsu are both learned in specialized schools which you can most likely find in your neighborhood. While some martial arts will share a gym, such as BJJ and Judo – it is fairly rare to find a gym that offers both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do. The two martial arts are very different from a technical standpoint but also culturally. Tae Kwon Do gyms will be highly structured and weave its Korean roots actively into education. Students often count in Korean and observe Korean customs of respect such as bowing. There is usually a high deference for the master of the school, with students expected to bow to them.

You can generally find jiu jitsu schools by going to Google or checking out our directory of the best jiu jitsu schools in numerous cities around the US.

BJJ vs Tae Kwon Do Culture

Most BJJ gyms are not as likely to have a unifying culture tied back to Brazil or Japan. Some schools will say the common phrase “Oss” which derives from a Japanese saying. There usually isnt the same level of deference for the professor of the school. Rarely is there bowing or anything too formal. Though there are some schools like Gracie Barra that do observe some of the traditional customs.

Tae Kwon Do practitioners practicing a group form – a pivotal part of the culture of the sport

BJJ vs Tae Kwon Do Belt System

Taekwondo and Jiu Jitsu have a belt promotion system that marks a person’s progress and skill level in each martial art. The system of promotion and the colors themselves are pretty different between the two martial arts however.

The BJJ belt system goes from white to blue to purple to brown to black. Promotion is determined by the student’s aptitude for showcasing a command of the techniques, as well as by how well they do in competition and sparring. In BJJ, promotions are typically given by the student’s teacher and can take a few months to many years, depending on the student’s development and degree of proficiency. In between each belt is also 4 stripes to mark progress from one belt to another. The color system is constant and does not change from school to school.

The Tae Kwon Do belt system goes from white to yellow to orange to green to purple to blue to brown to red to red-black and then finally black. Promotion is determined by the student’s aptitude for showcasing a command of the techniques, as well as by how well they execute in forms and sparring – which is a big difference with BJJ since there are no forms in that martial art. Tae Kwon Do promotions are often given out by a group of instructors and can take anything from a few months to many years, depending on the student’s development and degree of proficiency. Unlike BJJ, the exact belt system may vary school to school in Tae Kwon Do. The colors I list above are the general order, but some schools may skip some belts or even have more belts between white and black.

Additionally, Tae Kwon Do employs a system of Dans and Poom, where Dans are black belts and pooms are equal to degrees for black belts. This grading system is distinct from BJJ’s. The greatest rank that is obtainable is the 9th Dan, with the ranking system going from 1st to 9th Dan. However, there is just one degree of black belt in BJJ, and there are no other ranks.

What Do You Wear in BJJ and Tae Kwon Do?

During practice and tournaments in Tae Kwon Do, pupils generally wear a uniform called a “dobok.” A V-necked, long-sleeved shirt and drawstring-fastened slacks make up the standard dobok. Typically, the top and bottom are constructed of a breathable, light material that promotes complete range of motion during exercise.

White belts use white doboks, and black belts wear black doboks, with the color of the dobok often reflecting the student’s rank. Different color schemes could be used at some schools. Additionally, students must wear a belt that matches their level. The color of the belt often corresponds to the Tae Kwon Do general ranking system, with white being the color for beginners and yellow, green, blue, red, and black being the color for experienced pupils. Students must also wear safety equipment when sparring, including a chest protector, hand pads, foot pads, and a mouthguard (for females). To avoid head injuries while sparring, headgear is also required.

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), students generally don a uniform called a “gi.” The student’s rank-appropriate belt, slacks, and jacket make up the uniform (gi). The jacket and pants are typically constructed of a strong cotton cloth. Unlike in Tae Kwon Do, the Gi plays an important role in several techniques. A BJJ fighter can submit their opponent by gripping the fabric of their opponent’s gi and closing in around their neck. Gis are available in a variety of weave varieties, including single weave, double weave, and gold weave. Each kind has unique characteristics, including durability, weight, and thickness.


In BJJ there is also no-gi, which is the practice of BJJ without the Gi. No-gi BJJ has grown in popularity over the past decade as it is the preferred version of BJJ for MMA and UFC fighters.

Contrary to Tae Kwon Do, BJJ does not mandate any special safety equipment, however it is advised that trainees use mouthguards while grappling and sparring.t’s important to keep in mind that different BJJ schools may have particular demands for the gi, including those related to color, brand, and patch placement. It’s crucial to inquire about the specific gi requirements at the institution where you’ll be training.

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