Aikido vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – What’s the Difference and Similarity?

Aikido vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – What’s the Difference and Similarity?

When you look at the martial arts of Aikido vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you may begin to distinguish a major difference between the two arts. But if you study the movements and philosophies of each, you’ll see they have more in common than you think. Let’s break down the similarities and differences between Aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and which one is the more effective martial art.

Origins of Aikido

The martial art of Aikido shares a similarity with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu also being a rather young martial art. Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba , who is referred to as “Osensei”(Great Teacher) by some Aikido practitioner. Ueshiba began developing Aikido between the late 1920’s and 30’s.

Before Ueshiba began developing this martial art, he spent years training various older Japanese martial arts. Primarily one called Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu directly under its founder Takeda Sokaku. He spent nearly 30 years studying to come up with his martial art.

Aikido vs BJJ

Aikido’s development was also heavily influenced by the religion of Omoto-kyo. Ueshiba became a devout follower of this religion and studied directly one of its creators Onisaburo Deguchi.

Aiki Budo was the original name for Aikido, before Ueshiba started using the name Aikido. He started this sometime around 1942 during a government sponsored reorganization and centralization of Japanese Martial Arts. Today, the martial art of Aikido is still practiced in a lot of the world with people still studying its principles.

Origins of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

For those that don’t already know. Here is a quick rundown on the origins of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and how it has developed over the years.

The commonly shared origin is that BJJ started with the Gracies. Master Mitsuyo Maeda was sent to Brazil by the Judo grandmaster and creator Jigoro Kano to share the teachings of Judo. There, Maeda met Brazilian businessman Gastao Gracie, whose sons he taught in exchange for Gracie helping him with immigrating.

brazilian jiu jitsu

Gastao’s sons began developing their own techniques and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu came from this. Luiz Franca also helped develop Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but he and his story would need another article to cover.

From BJJ’s birth until now it has shown to be one of the most effective martial arts in the world. It's continually practiced by millions of fans across the world. It's one of the fastest growing martial art, and continues to grow to this day! 

Similarities Between Aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Both of these martial arts actually share quite a few similarities between each other in technique and philosophy. Also with the roots of both martial arts coming from Japan.

In Technique, both Aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are grappling martial arts. They were developed as self defense martial arts against an attacker. Based on the idea of using the opponent’s energy against them and using little to no strength with the techniques. Subduing an attacker by putting leverage on the opponent’s joints.

With philosophy, both Aikido and BJJ strive to live a life of peace. Always have respect for others and treat everyone as equals.

Differences Between Aikido vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

While, there are a few similarities between these martial arts, there are also many differences. Below we are going to breakdown everything from how each martial art is ranked, trained, the uniforms, and the competition.

1. Ranking System

The ranking systems of Aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are both done by colors, but the systems are a little different. Aikido has six ranks going from white, yellow, orange, blue, brown, and then black belt. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for adults have 5 ranks going from white, blue, purple, brown, and then black. Kids in BJJ have more belts and the number and color usually differs by academy.

2. Training Differences

You can really start to see the main differences between the two with how each are trained. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a wide variety of different training methods that are always evolving with the teams. Drilling different scenarios and submissions with training partners and then putting what they learned into action during practice rounds.

Aikido is very linear in how the martial arts are trained. Students will practice pre choreographed movements on one another like katas. These movements are supposed to mimic real life situations and prepare the students to defend themselves.

3. Aikido vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Uniforms

You’ll also notice a distinct difference in the uniforms worn in both martial arts. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi or kimono is the uniform worn in a Gi BJJ class. General colors worn are white, blue, and black with the belt representing your rank tied around your waist. In NOGI BJJ, the uniform worn is generally a rashguard with shorts or spandex.

The uniform for Aikido is more of a traditional martial arts uniform and the styles of Aikido. A top similar to what you see in Karate and skirt-like pants that are called a hakama. The hakama is a traditional piece of samurai clothing that students of Aikido train.

aikido vs BJJ

Aikido’s uniform also has more symbolism than the BJJ gi. There are 7 folds in the Akama(5 in the front, 2 in the back) and they all symbolize something.

Yuki: Which signifies courage, valor, bravery.

Jin: Means humanity, charity, and benevolence

Gi: Justice, righteousness, integrity

Rei: Stands for etiquette, courtesy, civility (also means bow/obeisance).

Makoto: Means sincerity, honesty, and reality.

Chugi: Stands for loyalty, fidelity, and devotion.

Meiyo: The last fold that stands for honor, credit, glory; also reputation, dignity, and prestige.

4. Competition Differences

With Brazilian Jiu Jitsu most competitions are broken up into tournament style brackets. To win the competition, you can either win by points or submissions. Submissions include strangles or joint locks that are permitted by the BJJ federation that is running the event.

In Aikido, there are no competitions in this martial art art. It is strictly a self defense only martial art. Having a competition in Aikido would go against the principle the art was founded upon.

Benefits of Cross Training Aikido and BJJ

A straight Aikido student would most likely you will stick to practicing the patterns and techniques of Aikido. A student of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu however could possibly learn a few things from Aikido. 

The philosophy of using an opponent's energy against them is a great principle to use in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Also some of the wrist locks in Aikido may be useful to you if you like cranking wrists.

Strategic Differences Between Aikido and BJJ

Aikido is generally taught in the same format of responding to the attack of an opponent in 1-3 steps. Attacker does A, you respond with a defense in step B, and C is the last move you use to make the attacker prone.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a bit more complicated and prepares you for the unpredictability of the attacker. Also teaches backups, when initial attacks or defenses don’t work.

Aikido vs BJJ - Which One's Better?

The edge has to go to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, because it has been proven to be a more effective martial art. Aikido may be good for an initial attack, but it doesn’t account for if the initial moves fails.

Aikido may help you defend one attack, but doesn’t have an answer if the opponent attacks you in different ways. Jiu Jitsu is a much for diverse martial arts that always has improvements being made to the techniques. It is a martial that has evolved and grown over the years, while Aikido relatively stays the same.

aikido vs BJJ


Both Aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are grappling martial arts and that’s only one of the few similarities they share. Aikido is a strictly self defense martial, where the techniques and teaching styles have relatively stayed the same. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has evolved with different styles taught within the martial art.

Generally if you train one of these martial arts, then you’re not going to train the other. But they do share one important thing and that is the need to know self defense. Both of these martial arts teach self defense and that is one of the most important skills you need to learn in life.