September 4, 2022

Muay Thai vs Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ): Which One’s Better?

The Muay Thai vs BJJ debate has been ongoing and revolves predominantly around their takedown principles, range vs. closeness. 

Muay Thai synthesizes the powerful strikes with BJJ’s grappling and strangulation, hailing it as the ultimate martial art that imbibes the techniques of both. 

A person choosing between the two art forms might benefit from the knowledge that these disciplines are well-known for complementing each other during real-life fights. 

Both the martial art approaches reign supreme as two of the most sought-after schools of defensive combat among practitioners of all ages. 

Muay Thai incorporates standing-strikes and menacing blows that have helped the discipline acquire the name “the art of 8 limbs”. Through thorough practice, a Nak Muay can coordinate their knees, feet, fists, and elbows to knock out an enemy within seconds. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, on the other hand, is a gentle art with superior grappling techniques. It is fatal to fall prone to the ground in the hands of a BJJ practitioner. Here, an opponent’s submission through pinning and strangulation gains a victory for the fighter. 

How it all Began

Muay Thai as a combative art form came into effect under the Siamese or Thai army. It evolved steadily from Krabi Krabong, a weapon-based battlefield tactic that added proficiency to combating unarmed against armed opponents. 

With its initial identity as Muay Boran, Muay Thai blended in techniques of Western Boxing, submission and grappling into the discipline, helping it mold into one of the present-day formidable MMA full-body combat sports.

Muay Thai fighter tying rope around his hand preparing to fight

Similarly, the roots of BJJ date back to the Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, a more aggressive form of tackling an enemy to the ground. The revolution of BJJ began in the hands of Jigoro Kano, who polished the traditional art form into an adept ground fighting technique for the opponent’s ultimate submission. 

Kano’s disciple Mitsudo Maeda, globalized the discipline through the Brazilian Gracie family who helped to promote the defensive art form as a training sport. BJJ is known today as one of the most effective versions of MMA that concentrate on immobilizing the enemy, tracing minimum leverage on strength and power. 

Techniques & Training (Differences)

The techniques imbibed through Krav Maga encourages a fighter to invest their physique into a fight. 

And when it comes to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it is the survival of the mindful. 

The attention to detail in both can help a watchful eye grasp the striking distinctions between the two disciplines, which also synchronize beautifully for menacing combat. 

These distinctions form the base of Muay Thai and BJJ disciplines:

Physical Incorporation

A Muay Thai fighter proceeds on their feet. Their strength lies in utilizing the whole body to smash an opponent to the ground. As the “art of eight limbs”, the martial art leaves no stones unturned while attacking with fists, elbows, knees, and feet.

Here, dirty fighting is normalcy where the fighter can kick an opponent’s groin and elbow their chest without flinching. A Nak Muay is a menacing human weapon, with a body conditioned to wage war against anyone who dares to taunt. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu might possess the name of “gentle” but by no means encourage showing mercy. Rather, BJJ imbibes dangerous grapples, strangulation, and holds that can render an opponent senseless on the ground. An enemy mistakenly pulling a BJJ fighter to the ground can commit a deadly error, costing their victory. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Triangle Choke

Physical Contact Benefits

A striking technical distinction between the two disciplines would be range vs. closeness. 

Muay Thai possesses a powerful stance known as teeps or push kicks that throw off an opponent within seconds. Push kick allows the fighter to utilize their feet for a frontal ranged kick to the enemy’s groin. 

Not only does this disbalance away an opponent but also have them experience an excruciatingly mind-numbing pain that distracts their focus. 

A BJJ fighter on the ground is as deadly as a Nak Muay on their feet. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu imbibes impeccable grounding techniques that leave no room for escape. 

By grappling an opponent, a BJJ fighter can pin them to the ground, submitting them to their defeat through choke-holds and back-mounts. Hence, the closeness to the enemy is of the benefit. 

Which is better for a Street Fight?

A street fight requires smartness, quick-thinking, and surefootedness. A fight can be lethal, leaving one of the fighters bleeding on the ground. 

Moreover, a street brawl, in reality, does not always include two parties. In a world of mob-justice, a fighter will need to train their bodies to take on multiple hits. 

And Muay Thai excels as a combat system fit to take on multiple opponents through a full-body offensive approach.


Muay Thai can deliver offensive strikes at the drop of a hat. For street fights, there are no set rules. A fighter can utilize blows, throws, strikes, and kicks without a thought, for survival.

Muay Thai’s standup striking tactics work wonders on dis-balancing an enemy. Here, counter-attacks fare better over purely defensive tactics to block a punch. 

cared smart boy is attacked by thugs

The discipline aims at utilizing every limb in the body to engage ferociously with an opponent. Range, force, and speed form an indomitable force that can overwhelm the enemy to accept the excruciating hits. 

An opponent, in the hands of a BJJ practitioner, will end up helpless and vulnerable as here, trapping is the key. A BJJ fighter will await the enemy’s proximity, utilizing it to throw them on the ground. 

While speed and mobility do not play pivotal roles in BJJ, steady and impactful handiwork can have an enemy pass out from strangulation and agonizing joint locks. Here, positional dominance can take over combat in no time. 


There are possible flaws and the absence of defensive moves in Muay Thai. Being a predominantly offensive discipline, the art form relies on a series of deadly strikes until the opponent taps out. 

However, if a Nak Muay lands on their back or ends up prone during a fight, there are limited ways to escape. 

Muay Thai’s defense tactic is to throw off an enemy. Due to the unpredictable lethality and full-body brawling, there are minimal methods of utilizing arms or legs to block any incoming strikes. 

On the other hand, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu acquires proper mobility benefits on the ground. Here, positional dominance can pull an opponent down, helping the fighter choke, mount, or pin the enemy to submission. The ground serves as a fire-pit for someone brawling against a BJJ fighter. 

Which one is more Effective?

In terms of effectiveness, Muay Thai provides lethal defensive moves and is one of the most beginner-friendly martial art forms in the MMA strata. 

The fighting style for Muay Thai is deadly when the Nak Muay is on their feet. From executing powerful strikes to gut-wrenching teeps, disorienting the enemy with one blow is more than effective.

BJJ on the other hand, ideates moves to ground an enemy to their vulnerability. The discipline encourages inclusive learning that aids women and children to grasp the basics of self-defense, but limits maneuvers to grapples and joint-locks. 

Of course, both possess the ability to be the learning ground for everyone, irrespective of their gender, size, and age. 

There are, of course, strategic, helping practitioners understand the effectiveness of the approaches:

Feet vs. Handiwork

Muay Thai is a deadly approach, where the fighter utilizes their body as a lethal weapon for assault. As most fights begin standing up, Muay Thai possesses proper leverage over grounding the enemy while retaining their steadiness. 

BJJ, on the other hand, works wonders through grappling abilities but can contact challenges when against multiple opponents. Additionally, there are no concepts of striking an opponent. Meaning, the limitation of pure defensive and ground-moves can be futile for an effective win. 

The Benefit of Range

Muay Thai utilizes the benefits of proximity as well as the range. At proximity, a Nak Muay can attack with a flurry of punches and strikes, aiming for the chest, throat, and face. 

At the range, kicks, and teeps prove fruitful in dis-balancing an enemy from a short distance. The opponent neither can be up on their feet nor flee. Hence, Muay Thai’s utility is diverse and well-rounded for assault as well as defensive throw-downs to partially immobilize the enemy. 

Here, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can utilize the proximity but will require extra footwork for ranged enemies. As grappling requires the opponent to be within the handy range, BJJ might fall short of striking opposition to submission. 

Which one is better for Self-defense?

Muay Thai executes dominant and self-reliant approaches to defending over BJJ’s grounding and submission tactics. 

The former executes strikes and kicks that are designed to hurt an opponent. Here, distracting the enemy through pain is the key to winning a fight. 

While BJJ is arguably a safer form of self-defense, there are limitations to taking on a variety of opponents whose appearances to prompt a fight are realistic. 

Here are how Muay Thai can stand out as a force to be reckoned with:


There are limited restrictions in Muay Thai combat, allowing fights to project real-life combat for either fighter. 

Muay Thai as an approach, relies on relentless strikes and hits, injuring the opponent to submission. 

An enemy at a striking range will receive the aggressive treatment that includes powerful hits, gut-wrenching kicks, elbow-puncture, and more. There are minimal rules in grounding an enemy, allowing technical fighters to resort to semi-violent approaches during combat. 

However, for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, there are set-prohibitions for training sessions that strip away vital offensive move-sets for real-life fights. 

A BJJ practitioner might face difficulties in submitting an opponent who might have training in Muay Thai or Krav Maga, as there are limited move-sets in the gentle art form, for tackling overwhelmingly powerful strikes. 

Street fighting


Muay Thai executes a flurry of attacks within a few seconds. There is no room for counter-attacks once a Nak Muay initiates their offensive approach. 

The violently impactful hits can restrict an armed opponent’s chances of aiming for any weak spots to gain momentum. 

Not to forget, Muay Thai helps fighters gain proficiency in taking on a series of attackers as every hit can throw one off their feet. 

BJJ, however powerful and dangerous on the ground, might face challenges against armed opponents. Not to forget, the restrictions of the no-leg zone policy can prove fruitless during real-life combats as there is no prior experience in pinning an opponent’s legs through joint locks. 

Cost Comparison

The basic training in Muay Thai requires 8 to 12 weeks of constant practice and rigorous training. This cardio-intrusive martial arts workout performs best if a fighter can contribute two days of the week for continuous sessions. 

On average, each session fee can cost around $100. Hence, adding in 2 days a week, the monthly fees would come to $800

Hence, for a complete high-quality training session to grasp the fundamentals of Muay Thai, the investment would be $9600. 

For a comprehensive BJJ practice, a trainer needs to provide 3 days of their week for Jiu-Jitsu sessions on language, positional skills, and grappling techniques. 

Monthly training fees for BJJ can add up to $170, meaning a yearly expenditure of $2040. 

Which one should I learn?

Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu both contribute evenly to the MMA fighting disciplines. However, one stands superior when it comes to being an all-rounder for menacingly offensive and powerfully defensive approach. 

Muay Thai reigns supreme through brutal strikes and superior grappling skills, imbibing the approaches of both itself as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

Hence, if you wish to train for MMA fights, Muay Thai is right up your alley. 

While Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focuses on grappling and positional submissions, it lacks the fundamental aggressiveness, vital for real-life combats. 

Both martial art disciplines strive towards self-defense by respecting the discipline you imbibe for your journey.

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Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

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