Which Is Better BJJ Or Muay Thai?

Mauy Thai is a striking art which originated in Thailand. While BJJ is a grappling based martial art derived from Judo which was created in Brazil. Both are highly effective martial arts which you see frequently used in high level MMA contests. We will do an in depth look at the two martial arts and help you determine which is better for you.

Which is better BJJ or Muay Thai? Mauy Thai is better than BJJ in the standing position particularly when strikes are involved while BJJ is better on the ground. Both martial arts are highly effective in their area of specialty. If your goal is to be a submission expert BJJ is better however if you want to be a striking master Muay Thai is better.

What Is The Goal Of Mauy Thai?

What is the goal of Mauy Thai? The goal of Mauy Thai is to inflict damage on your opponent by using striking techniques such as punches, knees, kicks and elbows. A fighter is instantly declared the winner if he knockouts his opponent. Kicks are the highest scoring strike and if no knockout occurs the fighter who has landed the most damaging strikes will win the contest.

What Is The Goal Of BJJ?

What is the goal of BJJ? The goal of BJJ is to control your opponent through the use of takedowns, pins and submissions. BJJ emphasizes using technique rather than strength and athleticism to control your opponent. Points are awarded based on the amount of control you are able to achieve over your opponent and a submission results in an instant victory. 

Strengths Of Mauy Thai

  • Flat learning curve – withing a few months you can large progress – strong fundamentals, powerful and fluid combinations, success in sparring
  • Lots of weapons – Mauy Thai will teach you how to knockout an opponent out with punches, kicks, elbows, and knees
  • Combines striking with grappling – Mauy Thai will teach you how to strike and takedown your opponent, also you will learn how to transition between striking and grappling making you a more complete fighter
  • Highly effective in a street fight – all fights start standing and usually involve strikes, Mauy Thai will give you the skills you need to out strike any attacker in a street fight
  • Competition and professional career path – There are lots of opportunities for fighters to compete in Mauy Thai, high level Mauy Thai professionals can earn high purses and use their skills to provide for their families and become rich

Weaknesses Of Mauy Thai

  • Brain damage – You will suffer blows to the head which can lead to you getting knocked out and suffering concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • No ground fighting – ground fighting is an important part of combat if you are a novice at ground fighting you risk being submitted or pinned and knocked out with strikes on the ground
  • Hard to find gyms – If you aren’t from Thailand it can be difficult to find authentic Mauy Thai gyms as most gyms in Western countries are just kickboxing gyms
  • Prize money lower than boxing and kickboxing – As most of the big Mauy Thai competitions are in Thailand and Thailand is a lower middle income country the prize money is much smaller than boxing and kickboxing, It is much easier to earn millions in boxing than Mauy Thai

Strengths Of BJJ

  • Highly effective in street fighting – People become very easy to control once you take them to the ground, most people have no idea how to defend against submissions, this makes BJJ so effective in a street fight as it will teach to become an expert in these two highly effective areas of combat
  • Great Base for MMA – ground fighting is a fundamental aspect of MMA with 17% of UFC fights ending in submission, many high level BJJ athletes have gone on to have great MMA careers such as Demian Maia and Jacare
  • Ability to win fight without hurting opponent – you do not want to end up in jail because you punched someone and they hit their head and are now dead, BJJ allows you to take an attacker down and pin or choke them resulting in you winning the fight and your attacker suffering no damage
  • Safe – BJJ is one of the safest full contact martial art, BJJ has an injury rate of 9 per 1000 exposures which is very low, in contrast Judo has an injury rate of 25 per 1000 and Taekwando 73 per 1000
  • Everyone can train BJJ – BJJ techniques can be modified to suit everyone’s level of mobility, BJJ techniques were designed to be performed with little strength or athleticism, it is common to see BJJ athletes ranging from small children to elderly adults

Weaknesses Of BJJ

  • No striking – nearly all fights involve striking, BJJ does not teach any striking, if you do not train against striking you will struggle to implement your grappling technique when you face an opponent who is trying to knock you out
  • Expensive – BJJ is one of the most expensive martial arts to learn, memberships will set you back $120-$200 a month
  • Lack of takedowns – even though BJJ is a grappling art which takes place on the ground, the art does not focus heavily on takedowns, as fights start standing if a BJJ athlete can not get the fight to the ground their BJJ technique is useless
  • Countered by wrestling – BJJ’s kryptonite is wrestling, a wrestler can choose to prevent a BJJ athlete from using their techniques by either defending against their inferior takedowns, or pinning them on bottom and raining down punches and elbows, Khabib used this strategy very effectively to rag doll a number of BJJ black belts

Does Muay Thai Have Grappling?

Does Muay Thai have grappling? Yes, Mauy Thai has grappling. Fighters use snapdowns, trips and upper body throws to take their opponent down to the mat. Takedowns are scored by Mauy Thai judges. However submissions are banned in Mauy Thai and once a fighter is taken down the referee will pause the action and get the fallen fighter to return to his feet.

When most people think of Mauy Thai they primarily think of kicks, elbows and punches. However grappling is a major part of Mauy Thai. Judges reward takedowns so it is common to see fighters looking to throw each other in matches. A common takedown in Mauy Thai is a throw where a fighter interlocks their hands behind their opponent’s head, pulls hard on the head to unbalance them and then takes a big step resulting in the opponent coming crashing down to the mat.

Another popular takedown in Mauy Thai is where a fighter will use a sweep or a trip. A fighter will often catch a kick and then kick the supporting leg making their opponent lose balance and fall. This technique can also be performed without catching a kick.

Mauy Thai fighters will often establish double underhooks similar to a Greco Roman wrestlers by placing their arms underneath the armpits of their opponent and securing a body lock. From this position they will drive and take their opponent.

Here Is A Highlight Of Some Great Mauy Thai Grappling

Fighters will often spend hours everyday on purely grappling from the clinch position. Foreign fighters who go to Thailand to train with locals are often shocked at how strong high level Mauy Thai fighters in the clinch. It is common to see foreign fighters being thrown around and taken down at will.

Should I Start With Muay Thai Or BJJ?

Should I start with Muay Thai or BJJ? You should start with Mauy Thai as you can progress faster than BJJ. Within 6 months of Mauy Thai you will be able to use the techniques to defend yourself. While it will take at least a year of BJJ before you are capable of using the techniques in a self defense situation.

Mauy Thai is much more intuitive to learn than BJJ. Everyone has seen how punches and kicks are meant to look. Even people who have never trained before have most likely thrown punches and kicks before. People on their first of Mauy Thai are usually able to throw a half decent low kick and jab.

The mechanics of striking are much simpler than grappling. The techniques have much less moving parts and require less coordination to be performed effectively. Due to this you will make huge leaps in your technical advancement and within a few months you will be a favorite in a street fight against an untrained attacker.

BJJ is very difficult to learn. There is a reason it takes someone on average 10 years to get a black belt. There are so many techniques and each technique has so many steps. It can be very overwhelming and difficult to remember the techniques when you start. It is not uncommon for white belts to fail to recall anything they learned in their first few sessions or to struggle to perform the warm up correctly.

BJJ techniques require a lot of body control. You often have to display leg, foot, arm and hand coordination all at the same time while performing movements that you are not accustomed to. Due to the complexity of BJJ it takes a long time to learn. After a couple of months you will struggle to use your knowledge in a street scenario. Realistically it will take you 1 year of training to get you to the point where you will be confident to defend yourself using BJJ.


Mauy Thai and BJJ are two very different martial arts. Which is better will depend on your personal goals. Mauy Thai will turn you into a dangerous striker who can knockout his opponent with knees, elbows, punches and kicks. Whereas BJJ will turn you into a submission hunter with the ability to break limbs and choke people unconscious. Both martial arts are highly effective with Mauy Thai being better than BJJ in the standing position and BJJ being better than Mauy Thai on the ground.

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