Karate vs Jiu Jitsu: EVERYTHING You Need to Know

So I as sitting browsing the internet then found a video about Karate vs Jiu Jitsu. It got me wondered as Karate and Jiu Jitsu are currently two very popular martial arts. Many wonder their difference and which is harder. I’ve also searched and got opinions from the people who know a lot about these martial art.

There are lots of differences from Karate and Jiu Jitsu. The most notable among them is their approach in fighting. Karate focuses on standing strikes such as strikes, punches and elbow attacks. In Jiu Jitsu, they focus on ground attacks and grappling.

But there are a lot of difference between Karate and Jiu Jitsu so we need to talk about all of them, they not just vary in style but also stance, cost, focus, practicing and their difficulty in learning. We will discuss them all in this article.

Which is harder Karate or Jiu Jitsu?

Jiu Jitsu is harder than Karate because it takes 8-15 years just to reach the black belt. Someone who is dedicated to Karate can earn a black belt as early as 2 years. It usually takes only 5 years to get a black belt for casual practitioners in Karate.

In this sense, Jiu Jitsu is harder.

Furthermore, it can be really hard because the focus of fighting in Jiu Jitsu is a lot different from other martial arts. Even experts in other martial arts are having a hard time in learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

This is because Jiu Jitsu’s approach are ground attacks which is different from a lot of martial arts.

Most martial arts are focused on strikes such as punch and kicks. It is no wonder that even if you ask kids about martial arts, they are going to say that martial arts are mostly punches and kicks.

This makes BJJ unique.

If you want to know more information about how hard Jiu Jitsu is, here is an article discussing why Jiu Jitsu is very hard especially for beginners: Why is Jiu Jitsu Hard

Who will win in a Karate vs Jiu Jitsu match?

Karate will most likely win in a distance fight, this is because karate is specialized in strikes and some of their strikes are very strong. However, once Jiu Jitsu gets close to the enemy and made the fight into a ground fight, Jiu Jitsu will win because Karate doesn’t know how to do ground fights.

But that is not the whole picture.

There are instances of Jiu Jitsu black belters get defeated even in a ground fight.

You don’t know what happens in a match. That is normal and a lucky punch can easily knock people out.

This happens a lot of matches. That’s why even if Brazilian Jiu Jitsu successfully put the fight in a ground one, they should still be more careful for strikes as some strikes from karate are explosive.

But the picture is that Karate is the art of fighting in a distance. Which is why they focus on Distance techniques. Everything from their form and attacks are based on beating enemies in a distance.

That makes it hard for Jiu Jitsu since they need to grapple their enemies to win the match. Although they can just run and put the fight into a close up match, I doubt a high level Karate Black Belter won’t have anything in their sleeves to counter that.

But once the distance become a close up fight, Jiu Jitsu will dominate even if the enemy is way stronger.

That is also why Jiu Jitsu is preferred in MMA matches, it is really good in close up match.

In fact, Karate is rare in MMA fights because of closeup distance as its weakness.

If you are interested in knowing how strong a BJJ black belter is, you may check out this article: Is a Jiu Jitsu Black Belter Dangerous?

Karate vs Jiu Jitsu: A side by side comparison

There are lots of differences between Karate and Jiu Jitsu and it might be confusing. That’s why here is a table summary of everything you need to know about their differences.

KarateJiu Jitsu
Fighting StyleStrikingGrappling
Fighting StanceSide on StanceSquare Stance
PopularityMore Popular WorldwideLess Popular Worldwide
Cost$75-$150 per month$150-$200 per month
FocusSpeed, Strength, Balance, SkillsSkills, Speed
PracticeAlone/ with PartnerWith Partner
Street FightsGood for Multiple EnemiesGood for 1v1 fights
DistanceDistance TechniquesGrapple Focused
Type of FightingStanding FightsGround Fights
InjuriesLess ProneMore Prone
Belt Progression 78
Black Belt2-5 Years8-15 years
CompetitionWKF StandardsIBJJF Standards
Table Summary of the DIfferences between Jiu Jitsu and Karate

Karate vs Jiu Jitsu Based on Fighting Style

Karate is focused on strikes such as punches, kicks and elbows, while Jiu Jitsu is focused on grappling and joint locks. Their fighting style is different and has a different purpose. Strikes are good when maintaining distance while grapples are good in ground attacks.

These ground attacks can force enemies into submission and they are very powerful in immobilizing enemies.

That is why only a few martial art can fight against Jiu Jitsu when on ground, some of them are Judo and wrestling.

But most can’t including karate.

Karate on the other hand focuses on strikes. Their strikes are deadly that they prefer fighting in a distance where they won’t get any damage.

This makes karate good in fights where distance is necessary.

Karate vs Jiu Jitsu Based on Fighting Stance

Karate is focused on side on stances like what you see in Taekwondo, this is because it is a good stance to maintain distance and it makes them harder to get hit by the enemy. Jiu Jitsu on the other hand is more on square stance because it is focused on grappling.

Side on stance

This is because Karate wants to maintain distance and prevent any strikes from reaching them. They are good at evading attacks and striking when there is an opening. Side stance does both of them since it decreases their size to the enemy by standing in the side.

They can also strike easily because of their position.

Jiu Jitsu on the other hand focuses on square stance, this is because it is a better stance for balance which they need in grappling. It also makes it easier to grapple enemy and bring them down to a ground fight.

Square Stance

Square stance lets them easily capture their enemy and bring the fight into a close and ground fight. With the variety of moves Jiu Jitsu has, they can easily put the enemy into a position where they can do various moves to lock their enemies.

Once they stay immobilizing their enemies, they can start doing joint locks and chokes which forces enemies into submission.

People who know Karate have no idea about fighting Jiu Jitsu at this position, making the fight on Jiu Jitsu’s side. The things that Karate can do to counter this is to maintain their distance or learn a martial art that teaches ground fights.

A popular choice is wrestling and Judo. Another is Traditional Jiu Jitsu which where BJJ came from. Here is an article where I differentiated them both in a detailed manner like this article: BJJ vs Japanese Jiu Jitsu

Which is more Popular: Karate vs Jiu Jitsu

Karate is way ahead of Jiu Jitsu when it comes to popularity. This is because Jiu Jitsu is relatively a newer sport that only got its fame in the 1993 UFC match where Royce Gracie defeated boxing, wrestling and savate in the competition. But Karate has been there since 1600s.

If we are going to check out google trends, if we take a look at the worldwide graph, Karate which is the blue color is more popular.

However, it is worth noting that the popularity of BJJ is increasing at a very high rate and there might be a time where it can be more popular than Karate.

This is because it is one of the most popular choice in MMA because this martial art can make you beat enemies that are way bigger and stronger than you.

Cost of learning: Karate vs Jiu Jitsu lessons

As a general rule, Karate membership is more cheaper at about $75-$150 a month but still depends on the school. Jiu Jitsu on the other hand costs around $150 – $200 a month. However, some Karate classes are paid per session basis which ranges around $60 per session.

If you are judging based on a monthly membership fee, Karate will be much cheaper. However, when you start learning Karate, you might need an instructor to focus on teaching you. This cost more and can reach $60 per session.

What’s good in Karate is that once you learn the moves, you can practice them at home alone. Which is rare for Jiu Jitsu because it is a grapple based martial art.

You can learn Karate moves alone that is a good plus. There are many good karate courses online and a lot easier than Jiu Jitsu.

For Jiu Jitsu, it is important to practice with a partner because it involves thinking on what to do to force enemies into submission.

Jiu Jitsu requires a partner to learn and that might make it more expensive in the long run as you always need to find a roll partner when studying.

What attributes are focused on Karate vs Jiu Jitsu

Karate is focused in increasing your speed, strength, skill and balance as they are necessary for strikes. Jiu Jitsu on the other hand focuses on skill and speed. This is because in Jiu Jitsu, you can beat an enemy that is 40 lbs above your weight by skills and speed alone.

Some say that speed is not important in Jiu Jitsu, only skills. But I don’t think the same.

Jiu Jitsu involves thinking of your enemies’ moves and countering them with yours.

You speed of execution of attacks and grapples is a big deal as it not only makes the attacks fluid and fast, it also forces pressure into your enemies.

Putting pressure on enemies will force then to be defensive which is good if you want to continuously attack.

Karate on the other hand, focuses on speed, strength, balance and skills. All of which are very important in strikes.

Speed of strikes, strength of strikes, proper execution of skills is important. Balance is also important as you need to maintain your distance to your opponent and swiftly deal a powerful blow.

But that doesn’t mean that Karate is harder than Jiu Jitsu. In fact, everyone will tell you that Jiu Jitsu is way harder to learn. This just mean that there are lots of factors that can make you either good in karate or bad.

The good news is karate is very easy to train and learn. You can even practice alone without any problem which is very different from Jiu Jitsu.

Can you practice alone? Karate vs Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is quite hard to practice alone as you need to practice grappling by grappling someone. This means that you always need to have a practice partner or what they call rolls. Karate on the other hand can be learned at home because it mostly has drills you can follow.

Karate is easier to learn because of this, as we will see later, getting a black belt is way easier than karate compared to Jiu Jitsu.

One of the reason is how you practice Karate. You can practice the strikes even if you are alone which is very different from Jiu Jitsu.

In Jiu Jitsu, you always need a sparring partner. Which is known as rolling. This makes sure that you learn how to anticipate enemies’ moves and what move you can apply in the given situation.

It is no wonder black belts in Jiu Jitsu are very good in analyzing what the next moves of their enemies are. Because of this, Jiu Jitsu is also called human chess.

Which is Better for Street Fights: Karate vs Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is better on street fights if the fight will be a one versus one situation. However, if there are 2 or more enemies, the grappling will make them very susceptible to attacks. This makes striking type of martial arts more effective such as karate which has a lot of strikes in its sleeves.

Jiu Jitsu is better on one versus one but such fights are quite rare.

Remember that it is advised by all martial arts to stay away from fights like this.

That is the reason why Jiu Jitsu is recommended on competitions because it is good for one versus one situation. More than that can cause them to be very susceptible to attacks.

That is why most BJJ black belts also study another martial art that is focused on standing strikes. One of which is Karate.

In a fight against multiple enemies, Karate wins. Also, their focus on maintaining distance is good to beat enemies without receiving any damage.

At what distance do they shine? Karate vs Jiu Jitsu

Karate is very good on distance fighting as distance is necessary to make strikes stronger. Jiu Jitsu on the other hand is good at very close combat as their grapples need to bring enemies to the ground with them. Striking in less distance decreases the destructive power of strikes which is why Karate always maintain distance on fights.

To make a powerful strike, distance is necessary. That’s why karate likes maintaining distance and doing the side stance. This leaves enough room for them to punch, kick or elbow to make it more devastating.

Jiu Jitsu, since it is a grappling sport, needs to put the fight into a very close up range. They shine more on those situations.

That’s why in distance fights, Karate wins but when BJJ forces it into a closeup match, it will be hard for Karate to retaliate

Karate vs Jiu Jitsu: Which is focused on Ground and Standing fights

Karate is more focused on stand up fights with strikes as its source of power. Jiu Jitsu on the other hand is more on ground attacks and joint locks.

Which is more prone to injuries: Karate vs Jiu Jitsu

Karate is less prone to injuries in the sense that their matches always use protective equipment for strikes. Furthermore, they discourage punches to the head. Jiu Jitsu on the other hand is more physical such as grapples and joint locks which makes it more prone to injuries.

It is worth noting that kicking in the head is legal in Karate and in fact, it gives a lot of points in the competition.

Plus, powerful kicks can cause injuries and that’s why Karate can be a source of injuries.

If you are interested in knowing good safety equipments when doing Jiu Jitsu, here are my recommended.

Here are my four recommended safety equipment for you to bring when practicing and sparring.

Others such as headgears if applicable are sometimes provided so there no need to get them.

If you are interested why I recommended them, check out this article: Are you too old for Jiu Jitsu

In the article, I’ve discussed my recommended gears to prevent injury which applies to everyone. I also explained why you need them.

Karate vs Jiu Jitsu based on Belt Progression

Karate Belts in Order of Progression:

  1. White
  2. Yellow
  3. Orange
  4. Green
  5. Blue
  6. Brown
  7. Black

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belts in Order of Progression:

  1. White
  2. Blue
  3. Purple
  4. Brown
  5. Black
  6. Red and black belt
  7. Red and white belt
  8. Red belt

Karate and Jiu Jitsu based on how long to Reach Black Belt

It usually takes 2-5 years to reach a black belt in Karate and 8-15 years for a black belt in Jiu Jitsu.

This is based upon how dedicated you are to the martial art.

There are some outliers which got BJJ black belt in just 3 years and the record is 1 and half year but that only happened once. That person is Travis Stevens which learned Judo by age 6.

Usually it takes 10 years if you practiced without a break. 8 years if you are talented

What is the difference in Competition rules between Karate and Jiu Jitsu

Here is a simplified competition rules for Karate

Kick to the head3 Points
Kick to the Sides, Abdomen, or Chest2 Points
Punches1 Point
Point system in Karate Simplified

This is a very simplified version for you to understand, for a full list of competition rules, you can visit: World Karate Foundation

Here is a simplified competition rules for BJJ

Mount, Rear mount, Take the Back4 Points
Passing the guard3 Points
Takedown, Sweeps (from Ground), Knee on belly2 Points
Point System in BJJ

Fore more information regarding this data, you can check out International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation

Can you learn both BJJ and Karate?

You can learn both Jiu Jitsu and Karate. This makes you into a better fighter since you can both fight with ground attacks and distance strikes. The combination of the two is really powerful and their styles complement each other. It is a good choice to learn both after mastering the other.

Many black belters in Karate and Jiu Jitsu start to learn the other.

In fact, it is very common for Brazilian Black Belters to start learning a martial art focused and striking.

One of which is Karate which is a very popular choice. This is because Karate has a lot of strikes that involve punches, kicks and elbows. It is also a good choice for distance matches since it is one of the weakness of Jiu Jitsu.

This makes them a very versatile player and very powerful in every possible situation in fights.

Thus, learning both BJJ and Karate is a good idea.

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