BJJ vs. Muay Thai – Which One Is Better?

With so many martial arts, picking one that best complements your MMA, self-defense, or fitness needs can be tricky. BJJ and Muay Thai are two of the most popular martial arts. Both disciplines are worlds apart, but it’s still worth diving into the differences and pros and cons of the two.

In this article, you’ll learn about the following:

  • What are BJJ and Muay Thai, and what makes them different?
  • The pros and cons of adding both to your MMA and self-defense practice.
  • Which is better overall.

What Is BJJ?

BJJ lasso guard - BJJ vs. Muay Thai

BJJ, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is a grappling discipline that focuses on joint locks, chokeholds, sweeps, ground positions, and a few takedowns. The martial art started in the late 1800s in Japan, but after its creator went to Brazil and passed down his knowledge to the Gracie Family, the BJJ system was created.

The martial art wasn’t as big as it is today. In fact, it only grew to massive popularity after Royce Gracie won the first UFC tournament. Even more surprising at the time was that he could easily defeat guys twice his size.

BJJ is one of the core martial arts that every MMA fighter should master. That is if they want to become well-rounded fighters. Although strength and endurance are required in BJJ, it still focuses heavily on techniques and mastery of the principles.

BJJ takes on two primary forms: Gi and No-gi. In Gi BJJ, practitioners wear a heavy kimono which can be used in various techniques. On the other hand, no-gi doesn’t require a kimono. The lack of a kimono in no-gi means that some methods using gis are not applicable there.

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Advantages And Disadvantages Of BJJ


  • Makes Fighters More Well-Rounded – As we’ve seen from guys like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Charles Oliviera, and even heavyweights like Frank Mir, a good ground game can end fights quickly. Even against wrestlers, BJJ is effective.
  • Good Defense Against Ground And Pound – If you find yourself under some heavy strikes from above, BJJ can save you from a lot of damage. Aside from controlling your opponent, you can also use submissions to finish the fight from there.
  • Teaches Close-Quarters Takedowns – If you find yourself in the clinch, some BJJ takedown techniques can also work in your favor. Although the takedown arsenal of wrestling is superior to BJJ, it’s still good to add more.
  • Great For Controlling Aggressors – If you get into a streetfight, you can use BJJ to control aggressors and wait until the authorities arrive. This is often a better alternative as compared to striking with them.
  • Easily Accessible – BJJ gyms are widely accessible across the globe. It’s suitable for people of all genders and ages, so everyone can join in on the fun whenever they can.


  • More Complex – Compared to other martial arts, BJJ is more complex. It’s not something that everyone will find easy to do. However, as long as you train consistently under a good coach, you can learn most techniques quickly.
  • Techniques On Foot Are Limited – Although there are BJJ techniques that help you engage with fighters even on your feet, they are still pretty limited. BJJ fighters are still better on the ground than anywhere else.
  • Equipment Can Be Expensive – Gis are very expensive and hard to maintain. With each Gi costing around $100 or more on average. It’s safe to say you need a hefty budget when practicing BJJ.

What Is Muay Thai?

Muay Thai - BJJ or Muay Thai?

Muay Thai is the biggest sport in Thailand. It’s a striking discipline that uses your fists, elbows, knees, and shins. Muay Thai also incorporates sweeps and clinches into the overall arsenal of the fighter. Many MMA fighters use Muay Thai as a striking base because it is a well-rounded martial art.

Muay Thai and Kickboxing are often confused with one another. However, they are two different striking disciplines. In Kickboxing, clinches and sweeps are not allowed. It’s also not allowed to catch and hold on to kicks during a tournament.

Thai Boxing is one of the most well-rounded striking disciplines out there. Thanks to the arsenal of kicks, knees, and jumping attacks, fighters can be very dangerous, even from long distances. It’s also straightforward to close gaps using Muay Thai techniques.

In close combat situations, the knees and elbows from the clinch allow fighters to dish out severe damage. Because of this, Muay Thai fighters have the chance to control wrestlers and BJJ practitioners if they’re planning to take the fight to the ground.

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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Muay Thai 


  • Provides Striking Techniques From All Ranges – One of the reasons why it’s such an excellent striking discipline is that Muay Thai teaches techniques from all ranges. This can be good in both MMA fights and self-defense scenarios.
  • Conditions Lots Of Body Parts – The constant use of the 8 points in Muay Thai also means that these parts of your body will be more conditioned and durable.
  • Sweeps Are Good Takedowns, Too – If your opponent gets too close and clinches with you, many Muay Thai techniques are great counters for their aggressiveness. Particularly, sweeps can help you drop them on their back very quickly.


  • No Ground Techniques – If you’re fully a Muay Thai practitioner transitioning into MMA, your biggest weakness will be grappling. The absence of ground techniques in Muay Thai will make you vulnerable against BJJ practitioners and wrestlers.
  • Can Be Risky In Self-Defense And Street Fights – Striking disciplines are great in street fights, but there’s always a risk of getting hurt. Kicks in Muay Thai may put you at more risk, especially if you slip up during a kick.
  • Frequent Injuries – Injuries in Muay Thai are widespread. Aside from bone injuries, you also need to worry about cuts because of the use of elbows and knees.

Which One Is Better For MMA? BJJ Or Muay Thai?

MMA is about being the best at flawlessly blending all aspects of the game. Learning both disciplines is essential if you plan to become an MMA fighter

Being good at Muay Thai makes you a dangerous striker in various situations. On the other hand, being good at BJJ also gives you an ace on the ground.

As a consequence, there’s no martial art that is superior to the other. MMA fighters need to be versatile in both disciplines and other martial arts.

The ideal approach would be to pick what works best for you offensively. Then, you can learn the defensive aspects of the other martial art and add them to your arsenal.

Let’s say you love grappling. You would learn enough Muay Thai to avoid KOs and find openings to take the find to the ground. Conversely, If you are better at Muay Thai, you need to learn enough BJJ to defend takedowns and get back on your feet to execute your striking game plan.

If you aren’t interested in any, train both until you find what works best for you. 

Which Is Better For Self-Defense?

how to win a street fight - self defense

In our opinion, we find that BJJ is a better martial art for self-defense scenarios. Some techniques will help you disarm opponents quickly. Instead of standing up with attackers, BJJ teaches you to control your opponents instead so that they don’t do any more damage. 

It is worth mentioning that in self-defense scenarios, BJJ is better for one-on-one situations, and it’s not built for multiple attackers. 

In cases where you might face two or more attackers, you have a better chance of defending yourself through Muay Thai.

Use long-range techniques to create space, find an exit, and run to a safe location. 

BJJ Vs. Muay Thai Final Thoughts 

If you’re planning on becoming an MMA fighter, it’s best to go on and study both martial arts as it makes you a more well-rounded fighter. However, if we’re talking about self-defense scenarios, BJJ is the clear winner.

Moreover, the accessibility of BJJ makes it easier to train, so it’s something that you can get into almost immediately.

Are you interested to learn more about these two martial arts? Continue browsing MMAWhisperer for more articles like this.

Until next time. 

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