When this karate black belt entered the black belt division of a BJJ tournament, he clearly bit off more than he could chew. Perhaps he didn’t realize he entered a grappling tournament. Or maybe he thought that the techniques he learned in karate class would translate well in a BJJ tournament. Either way, as you can see in the video of the karate vs. BJJ matchup, he left the mat with a sore ego and a sore arm.
What is Karate?
Karate is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Modern karate was developed in Okinawa, Japan. Karate is considered to be a highly effective system of self-defense, and an excellent form of exercise that promotes a number of values and life skills
Three Components of Karate Practice
The practice of karate consists of three primary components: kihon, kata, and kumite.
Kihon, which means “basics” in Japanese, covers various strikes, kicks, blocks, stances, and movements. Karate students typically practice these techniques in lines during class to refine them and make them instinctive.
Kihon helps students develop an understanding of body mechanics and how to to generate maximum power with minimum effort.
Kata, which means “forms” in Japanese, refers to a traditional predetermined pattern of movements that promotes a number of self-defense principles. Kata practice develops balance, coordination, agility, strength, and speed.
Kumite, which means “sparring” in Japanese, is the practice of applying karate techniques against a resisting opponent. Movie fans may recognize the term from Bloodsport, a 1988 film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bolo Yeung. Karate beginners typically only practice choreographed kumite. More advanced karate practitioners, however, develop their fighting skills through the practice of full-contact kumite.
Karate vs. BJJ
The primary difference between karate and BJJ is that BJJ is a grappling art, whereas karate is a striking art.
While Karate has a focus on punching, kicking, and hand-based strikes, BJJ’s primary aim is to subdue an opponent or aggressor using with wrestling-style takedowns, position holds, and submission attacks.
Karate vs. BJJ Training Differences
The aims of karate and BJJ lead to differences in the way students practice these arts.
In most BJJ academies, students spar intensely. In BJJ, practitioners trade takedowns and wrestle for position, and the game ends when one player submits the others. Once one student concedes defeat, the game starts over again.
It’s more difficult for karate students to train at full intensity without getting hurt. Therefore, many karate schools only allow students to spar after months of training, and this is usually done with heavy protective gear.
The ability to train safely at full speed is an advantage that BJJ has over karate.
What’s Better in a Street Fight: Karate or BJJ?
BJJ is widely considered one of the most effective forms of self-defense. Martial artists such as UFC commentator Joe Rogan and famed Navy Seal Jocko Willink both recommend BJJ over all other martial arts for self-defense purposes.
A key benefit that BJJ holds over other martial arts for self-defense is that it stresses technique over athleticism. BJJ allows a small, weak person to defend his or herself against a much larger opponent. This was demonstrated in the early days of the UFC, when BJJ legend Royce Gracie defeated bigger, stronger opponents like Ken Shamrock.
More Karate vs. BJJ Fights
In 2001, BJJ fighter Fabricio Pereira issued an open challenge to fighters from other martial arts. In October 2002, a karate fighter accepted the challenge. Watch their karate vs. BJJ fight here:
In another karate vs. BJJ fight, a karate expert takes on a BJJ fighter in an old-school challenge match in Brazil.