I’ve practiced both BJJ and judo. I currently live and train in Fukuoka, Japan, but started in San Francisco, CA.
I made this video out near Meinohama beach. There is an area that I like going to and I rode around on my bike and talked. Later I added some footage of myself practicing judo and BJJ mostly in Japan, but there is some from CCSF.
What judo is mostly
First let’s start with the goal.
Ippon is the goal and that is either a throw where the opponent lands on his back, a pin or a submission.
Kodakan judo was a complete grappling program, but nowadays judo is mostly stand up grappling and throws. The rules to judo have changed over the years to partly suit the needs of television viewers.
Watching ground grappling was boring, but watching someone getting thrown is exciting. So they changed the rules to please the TV viewers – so my former sensei Mitchell Palacio said.
In a judo competition a person can win by ippon which is either a throw where the opponent lands on his back, a pin, or a submission.
If the fight goes to the mat and there is no submission within a certain amount of time they will stand them back up again.
What’s judo practice like?
It depends on the school. At CCSF in San Fran, practice starts with some running and light calisthenics, then forward rolls, ukemi: side and back falls, then maybe the teacher will teach techniques, uchikomi: drilling the throw without throwing, nagekomi: letting your partner throw you and then finally randori.
That was at CCSF.
I have been training at Fukuoka univ. and that’s higher level judo. Some stuff is similar to CCSF, but more intense and I didn’t see anyone teach a throwing technique.
Maybe cause all of them were black belts (except me) and it is assumed that you know all of them.
There practice looks something like this:
- Warm up: stretching, falling, rolling, walking, running, walking on your hands, cartwheels, etc.
- 5 minute intense interval exercises: jumping, running in place, push ups, sit ups, burpees, side steps, mountain climbers, etc. (It gets the blood flowing!)
- Uchikomi – drilling the throwing technique without the throw
- Nagekomi – letting your partner throw you often 5 times and then switching
- Different kinds of randori – free sparring sessions
- Something where one person has to fight many people in a row without a break
- Newaza – ground sparring where you try to pin or submit your partner
So far out of the 4 classes I have been to there hasn’t been much newaza. One day they practiced some pins from the turtle position and another did newaza sparring.
All of my judo practices have been 2 hours.
The place where I train now is called Sekiryukan and we don’t really do much of a warm up. You can on your own and then we do uchikomi or newaza sparring and then tachiwaza or standing randori.
What jiu-jitsu is mostly
First off you should know that jiu-jitsu or “BJJ” evolved from judo. However, it’s focus is newaza.
The goal of jiu-jitsu is a submission. Unlike judo a pin or throw can’t end the match or win it.
What’s jiu-jitsu practice like?
It depends on the school. Some schools have an intensive workout and others not.
Many have a warm up like this:
- Shrimps (sometimes in reverse)
- Hip escapes
- Forward rolls
- Backward rolls
- Side shrimp (not that common and difficult)
- Back fall with technical stand up
- Bear crawls
- Crab walks
Then the teacher usually teaches some techniques and you get to practice them with a partner.
Then sometimes there is drilling where you start in a certain position try to escape and/or submit your partner.
Sometimes there is a king of the mountain where the winner stays and the loser goes. And others where one person stays regardless of if they win or lose.
Then there is sparring. You are free to spar with your classmates. The times are often 6 minute rounds although I have seen 2 minute rounds at CCSF and at another school when it is busy.
Sensei Palacio at CCSF has a sort of nagekomi version of jiu-jitsu where you let your partner do a few moves and then switch.
I think that is cool. You choose the technique. I haven’t seen this at any other school.
Jiu-jit$u is more profit driven
BJJ is more profit driven. It’s more of a money making scheme. It’s more entrepreneurial.
Judo on the other hand is not. In Japan it’s part of the school system. Many students will choose whether to do kendo or judo.
That’s part of the school system. I know judo and kendo are both part of many school systems and I had friends in Japan that both did kendo and judo in school.
So it’s kind of like wrestling in the USA which is also part of the school system. Not in all schools, but in many.
Here are some examples from here in Fukuoka, Japan where I am currently. I have been to 3 different places inquiring about judo.
- Meidoukan. Charges 10,000 Yen ($100) a year plus an additional fee of 1,900 Yen a month I think. You can train 3 days a week.
- Sekiryukan. Charges 3,500 Yen a month and you can train 3 days a week.
- University of Fukuoka. Now I just walked into this place and it’s quite impressive. It has a huge bright yellow and red mat and so far they haven’t asked me for any money.
So you can see that it’s cheaper.
BJJ on the other hand is entrepreneurial.
I currently pay 10,800 Yen ($100) a month to train at Axis jiu-jitsu.
Tri-Force jiu-jitsu charges the same.
I went to another place called Carpe Diem and the guy said 20,000 Yen a month. And I thought the guy was trying to take advantage of the dumb new foreigner in town…
So I left.
I train at Axis jiu-jitsu now for 2 reasons. One it’s closer to my house and two the sensei invited me to train for free on my first day.
The other 2 schools in Fukuoka wanted me to pay right away.
I guess in the USA I got used to a free first class.
In San Francisco I used to train judo and jiu-jitsu a lot at City College which is almost free or is free now I think.
I also trained at Romelo Melo occasionally which was like $160 a month or $130 when I signed a contract for my first year.
I don’t like contracts though and after 14 months there I went to CCSF to learn some judo and jiu-jitsu.
Caeser Gracie was like $120 for a few months.
Evolve jiu-jitsu was like $130 I think, but I only went there for the free open mats on Friday.
Ralph Gracie was like $180 a month, but I only went to a few open mats in Berkeley and once in downtown SF.
So jiu-jitsu costs more money and it’s more entrepreneurial.
Jiu-jitsu is also more branded like: 10th planet, Gracie, Alliance, etc. In judo there are no brands.
Judo is judo.
Judo is usually more academic and less profit driven
You can probably train judo somewhere for free actually. Well, you might be able to depending on where you are. I did. City College in San Francisco is now free as far as I know. When I started there it was like $80 a semester.
Certainly there are places that will make you pay for judo probably like BJJ, but I haven’t been there. Where I currently train in Fukuoka, Japan costs about $30USD a month. On top of that I have been a guest at a couple of universities and a high school in Japan for free.
I also entered a competition for judo shodan for free.
Competitions in BJJ can cost quite a bit like maybe $100. The only BJJ competitions that I did where at City College and those were pretty cheap like maybe $25 if I remember correctly.
Are the mat’s the same?
Mats will vary from gym to gym, but in my experience I’d say that BJJ mats tend to be softer which may seem ironic. Both the surface of the mat and the cushion part of the mat tend to be softer in BJJ gyms.
And judo mats tend to be more firm, but sometimes have springs in the floor. Judo mats tend to also have rougher surface material on them too. One thing that I have noticed about the really soft mat where I currently train BJJ is that doing stand up techniques like throws and moving around is more difficult cause the floor is spongy like.
Are the gi’s the same?
At first glance it may look as if the gi’s are the same. They are similar, but judo gi’s have a longer skirt – the part of the jacket below the belt.
White is the traditional color and blue is also usually acceptable at least for competition.
Jiu-jitsu gi’s have a shorter skirt and the gi’s tend to have a lot of advertising on them with logos and what not.
In jiu-jitsu there are:
- White gi’s
- Blue gi’s
- Black gi’s
- Camouflage gi’s
- Pink gi’s
- Purple gi’s
- Red gi’s
And probably more.
But in judo it’s only white and blue. Logos are not common like in BJJ, but some companies do put smaller logos on their gi’s like “Mizuno”.
And then in Japan the judoka’s often put their name on the back of the jacket.
Also another slight difference is what people wear under their gi’s. In judo most males do not wear anything under their gi, but in jiu-jitsu I would say many males wear t-shirts or rash guards under their gi’s.
What are the belts like?
In BJJ you have five belt colors: white, blue, purple, brown and black. Some schools also place stripes on belts to measure progress through the belts.
The belt colors are similar around the world.
In judo you have some variance of the belt colors depending on the school and country. Where I trained at City College in San Francisco we had: white, green, brown (w/ 3 degrees) and black.
I have also seen students from other academies and countries wearing yellow (which might be a youth belt) and blue belts which might be higher than green belts.
In Japan there’s usually only white and black belts. At the youth level there may be some schools that use brown and green.
There are also certain levels of black belts called degrees in BJJ and dans in judo. In judo a very high level black belt may receive a red belt at 9th or 10th dan, but these high ranks are rare.
How long does it take to get a black belt?
In BJJ most say it takes 10 years, but it really depends. I know brown and purple belts who have been practicing for 10 years. I even met a blue belt who said he had been practicing for 10 years.
If you are extremely gifted and you practice often It can take less time.
In judo it’s generally easier to get a black belt called a shodan. It depends on the school – always and you.
My teacher at CCSF said you can do it in 2. Judo is more academic so it seems like if you just apply yourself every semester and do the tests you can level up. But most took around 5 years there I think.
Here in Japan you have to do a competition called shodan shinsa. You have to win 4 times and do the kata.
Judo is more formal and there are more rules
As mentioned earlier it’s common to bow in judo when stepping on the mat or at the beginning or end of class. Traditionally you either sit on the mat kneeling or cross legged.
If you don’t your teacher might yell at you.
In jiu-jitsu I haven’t been to a school that told me to sit a certain way. It’s just generally more relaxed and less formal.
If you’re belt comes undone then you tie it back up and tuck your gi in. If your belt comes undone in BJJ it doesn’t really matter in fact many people will just take it off. And throw it to the side.
If you try that in judo you will probably get yelled at like I was once.
In judo there are certain ways of bowing and beginning randori, competitions and even uchikomi sometimes. You bow and step in with your left foot first and then your right and then “hajime!” begin.
When you finish you step out with your right foot first and then your left and then bow.
At the end of the class you bow out usually and hands at your side left foot back to your knee, right foot back to your knee while on your toes and then point your toes back and come to seiza – kneeling.
To get up you get off your butt, get on your toes and then step your right foot forward and then left and stand.
Should you bow or handshake?
In jiu-jitsu it’s common to shake hands with your classmates in some dojos and then again when you leave. And in all of the dojos that I have ever rolled in you always slap hands and then fist bump your partner before you spar.
In judo shaking hands is not common.
I remember when I first started judo after about a year of jiu-jitsu. I went to the class and tried shaking my teachers hand and he just kind of looked at me in a cold and indifferent manner and offered me a limp hand.
I don’t think he liked hand shakes.
In judo you bow and it’s called “rei”. You often bow in the beginning of class and at the end and at those times you sometimes kneel and “bow”. Sometimes you bow when you step on and off the mat.
You usually bow when you do randori with your partner too.
What’s the difference between judo newaza and BJJ?
Well, as far as Kodakan judo goes I’ll make some generalizations here based on my experience. Of course a judoka could train Kosen judo which is uncommon and that could affect their style or maybe they also train BJJ or wrestling.
- A lot of the judokas are going to go for a pin if you “roll” (BJJ term) with them and when they pin you they might stop because they won in their mind. Their are a lot more pin positions in judo that aren’t commonly used in BJJ.
- They tend to be top dominant and don’t play guard.
- They might roll over and give you their back which doesn’t happen in BJJ.
- They might be faster and more aggressive. Not sure why it seems that way, but maybe because there is a time limit in judo for newaza.
- There are also shorter sparring rounds in judo which have been 2-3 minutes and in jiu-jitsu 5-6 minutes. Kosen judo competitions are 6 minutes long.
Kosen judo has a different rule set that allows for more newaza and some of the techniques currently forbidden in Kodokan judo.
It is more akin to old judo.
- You can pull your opponent to the ground (kinda like pulling guard in BJJ)
- You can do ashi garame which is not allowed in kodakan judo and in some BJJ competitions.
- You can’t do any leg submissions.
- You can win by ippon: pin, submission, or clean throw.
- There is no time limit to be on the ground.
Watch this video of a Kosen judo competition.