Is Aikido or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the Martial Art for You?

Aikido and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) are two incredible martial art forms that developed from the same land  - Japan - but took on different physical and philosophical pathways. The article explores the origins, history, and current state of each martial art to help you decide upon which one to study.

Aikido Origins

Aikido is a martial art form that incorporates philosophical elements into combat. Aikido is on the newer side of martial art history as it was formed in the early 1900s. You’ll find that Aikido is founded upon mitigation more than active aggression. What this means in practice is the ability to redirect another person’s attack into a method of neutralizing them. Aikido is all about practice and philosophy - not so much being able to demolish someone.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Origins

Don’t let the name fool you - BJJ got its start in Japan. The true beginnings of BJJ are up for debate among martial arts scholars. However, what we know to be true is that the Gracie family took up Jiu-Jitsu in the early 20th century. Mitsuyo Maeda, a very prodigious fighter brought Jiu-Jitsu to Brazil once he aligned the art with the realities of street fighting. Carlos Gracie, Maeda’s student further developed BJJ with other members of his family. Each family member added something into now what has evolved into one of the foremost martial arts in MMA. BJJ came to the U.S. in the 1990s and the Gracie family is still active in BJJ to this day.

Aikido vs BJJ Differences

The biggest and most notable difference between Aikido and BJJ is that BJJ concentrates primarily on grappling techniques while Aikido practitioners fight on their feet using wrist locks and throws. The differences between Aikido and BJJ range from techniques, philosophy, fighting styles, and more.


Aikido places a large emphasis on its philosophical nature and goal of reducing harm by redirecting the enemy’s attack. Aikido is not about perfecting the technique - it is more about assimilating to the motions of the attacker and redirecting the attack. When you think of Aikido, think of physical prowess that meets mental energy. In fact, the translation of Aikido in English is “the way of harmony of the spirit”. Seems rather fitting, right?


BJJ is founded on fending off large attackers through effective combat. The goal of BJJ is always to get your opponent to submit. BJJ focuses heavily on mental strength but in a different manner and intention than Aikido.

Fighting Style

Potentially the most significant difference between Aikido and BJJ is the fighting style. Aikido deflects attacks by fighting upright on both feet. While BJJ is a grappling art form (preferably on the back) and aims to subdue opponents.

Aikido vs. BJJ Uniforms

There is a distinct difference between Aikido and BJJ uniforms. A BJJ gi is generally white, blue, or black with a belt tied around the waist to represent rank and progress. No-gi BJJ uniform is generally a rashguard with shorts. An Aikido uniform is a traditional martial arts uniform with a top similar to what you see in Karate and pants that are called a hakama. A hakama is a traditional samurai clothing style of very wide pants that are worn on a gi. They are usually for those at a higher skill level. The Aikido uniform has 7 folds for symbolization.

Aikido vs. BJJ Belts

The belt ranking system of Aikido and BJJ are both done with colors, but there is a difference. Aikido has six belt colors: white, yellow, orange, blue, brown, and black. In BJJ, there is white, blue, purple, brown, and black. On average, it is more realistic to achieve a black belt in Aikido in a shorter time than BJJ. BJJ has more restrictions and guidelines for progression.

Aikido vs. BJJ: Similarities

There are some key similarities between Aikidia and BJJ to consider when deciding which martial art to take up.

Confidence Builder

While Aikido and BJJ have different intentions, techniques, and philosophies, they are both great ways to learn and encourage confidence. There is always something to work towards. Continuing to strengthen the mind and body, as well as knowing how to defend oneself is incredibly powerful. Both arts reward technique, strategy, strength, and power. A pretty solid foundation for confidence, don’t you think?


While the influence of philosophy varies, there are core principles that never change. Aikido and BJJ strive to be a life filled with peace and strength. There is always an insurmountable amount of respect for oneself, others, and their martial art. Not a coincidence that BJJ is referred to as the gentle art, right?


Utilizing energy (your own and your opponents) is a massive part of both Aikido and BJJ. Both share a love for putting leverages on the opponent’s joints and learning how to use energy for defense and to win.

Which one should I choose?

You probably know what’s coming here… You’re truly the only one who can make that decision. Both Aikido and BJJ are grappling martial arts - but Aikido is more of a self-defense martial art while BJJ has evolved into different styles and types of art. BJJ is known for being much more diverse while Aikido is known for being good for an initial attack. BJJ probably takes over for finishing the attack, however. Ultimately, find the intention of your training and goals. A decision should fall into place after that.

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At The Boxing Club, we pride ourselves on bringing the best BJJ classes to San Diego. We have crafted full programming based on power, stamina, flexibility, grappling, and advancing our mental strength. Our classes are designed to give newer belts a place to learn and those who are already invested, a place to keep on the learning. Learn from the best with our award-winning coaches who are intentional with the instruction they bring on and off the mats. Try a free class on us.


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