With the growing popularity of mixed martial arts, many fighters and sports fans have paid closer attention to two of the most effective disciplines in the world. Muay Thai is known as the most effective martial art for stand-up striking, while Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has established a reputation as the top martial art for grappling. But the question lingers in our minds — which one is better?
In this blog post, we discuss the essentials of these two diverse kinds of martial arts and settle the debate once and for all about which one is better.
What is BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu)?
In 1882, BJJ evolved from Judo, a Japanese martial art, and has since become a sport and a martial art itself. The “jiu” in Jiu-Jitsu is actually derived from the “ju” in Judo, and is an anglicized variant of the Japanese word that means “soft” or “gentle.”
As its name suggests, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a form of martial art that originates in Brazil and utilizes grappling as the main attack. Fighters who use Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu use chokeholds and joint locks to render their opponents immobile. This discipline is more about using technique and leverage rather than exerting power, making it great for self-defense. It’s also a good option for people who are looking to lose weight and tone their bodies.
It wasn’t until the 1990s when Royce Gracie dominated the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) using BJJ that the discipline gained notoriety and recognition for its effectiveness. As a member of the prominent martial arts Gracie family, Royce Gracie became a central figure in the popularity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Soon enough, Royce’s expertise in ground combat paved the way for the future and proved the efficiency of this martial art. Since then, this grappling style has become a signature technique you’ll find in all MMA fighters.
What is Muay Thai?
Muay Thai, on the other hand, was developed in Thailand and is known for its aggressive style that involves striking opponents. The techniques it uses are based on movements found in animals such as the elephant, tiger, and crane, and aim to help fighters stand up to opponents who may be stronger and larger.
Muay Thai was originally a form of kickboxing, which typically uses elbows, fists, shins, and knees to hit their opponents. This form of Thai boxing focuses more on power rather than speed, and can also be a good option for self-defense while offering benefits for strength and cardiovascular training.
Because of its success as a martial art for striking opponents, the popularity of Muay Thai has grown in the past few years and has been heavily featured in MMA and other combat arenas. As a result, Muay Thai is practiced by many of the top fighters in the world.
However, we’re still unsure of how much Muay Thai could be used in the future of UFC. Even so, time will tell when it will get a permanent spot in the world’s toughest martial arts competition.
Muay Thai VS Jiu Jitsu – Which One Is Better?
Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, it’s time to answer the big question: which is better?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple — we first have to consider that each discipline has its own unique techniques that are suited for different situations.
For instance, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the better option for grappling, while Muay Thai is much better for stand-up striking.
When we’re talking about the ground game, a fighter who uses Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can grapple a Muay Thai fighter — and the Muay Thai fighter would have plenty to fear if this happens. The effectiveness of BJJ would allow the fighter to neutralize and wear down the Muay Thai fighter while on the ground, eventually getting on top and pinning them.
A BJJ user could keep the fight under control by utilizing different joint locks and chokes, which means that a Muay Thai fighter would need to avoid getting taken down at all costs. Should they fail to stay on their feet, the fight would be highly likely to end quickly.
A Muay Thai fighter, on the other hand, would be considerably stronger when it comes to a stand-up fight where they can use a range of kicks made effective by their long limbs. They would also be able to perform roundhouse kicks with a lot of power due to their flexible legs and hips.
Additionally, a Muay Thai user could keep their opponents within range and cut off the ring, where they could then deliver devastating attacks using their elbows and knees.
Overall, it comes down to this: in a fight between a Muay Thai fighter and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, if the Muay Thai fighter is knocked down, the BJJ fighter is likely to win. If the BJJ fighter cannot knock them down, however, they’ll be at a serious disadvantage.
BJJ and Muay Thai FAQs
Which is Harder to Learn: BJJ or Muay Thai?
Muay Thai is harder to learn than BJJ because it relies heavily on timing, which can take months and even years to develop. BJJ relies more on muscle memory and leveraging strength, which can be learned much faster.
To provide you with an idea of the learning curve between these two disciplines, you’ll have a pretty high chance of beating an untrained opponent after training for 2 years in BJJ. If you choose Muay Thai, you’ll still have a decent chance after 2 years, but the odds would be stacked slightly further against you.
This is because even untrained people can throw a basic punch, but they don’t know how to fight once they’re on the ground.
Which Should I Learn First?
If you’re interested in learning both practices, you can start with either; they’re both great for getting in shape and for self-defense. Because you can learn both, it doesn’t matter which one you start with — but keep in mind that sparring using Muay Thai is a lot harder on your body compared to BJJ sparring.
If you plan to start sparring quickly, it’s best to start with BJJ, which will get your body accustomed to a moderate amount of impact before moving on to the heavy blows you’ll receive in Muay Thai. Muay Thai also has a more difficult learning curve, so if you want to become a better fighter quickly, it’s best to learn BJJ first.
Can I Combine Muay Thai with BJJ?
Combining BJJ with Muay Thai sounds like a great idea on paper. With the best striking martial art and the best grappling martial art at your disposal, you can train to be a well-rounded fighter.
However, there is value in learning them separately; most MMA fighters will be a jack of all trades and a master of none. This means that they will be worse grapplers compared to pure BJJ fighters and will be worse at striking compared to pure Muay Thai fighters.
It’s up to you to decide where you want to excel and which strategy to use to supplement your existing arsenal.
Granite Bay Jiu-Jitsu is a leading martial arts school that inspires and motivates individuals who have a burning passion for transforming their lives. We hold both youth and adult MMA programs, BJJ and kickboxing classes, and self-defense classes in Granite Bay, California.
If you want to stay safe on the streets, tone your muscles, or just improve your skills in a discipline that many have come to love, be sure to visit our website or contact us today at (916) 587-1411.