Judo Pros and Cons (Complete Guide)

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Judo is a martial art that translates to “gentle way.” Its goal is to throw an opponent to the ground and then submit them with a joint lock or choke. But it’s not for everyone, so what are the Judo pros and cons?

Judo Pros Judo Cons
Helps build core strength Throws can induce injury if not executed properly
Helps promote healthy weight management Can be less effective than other martial arts for self-defense
Boosts self-esteem Training in a gi poorly prepares practitioners for real fights
Builds confidence Not as well-rounded as BJJ

Judo has similarities and origins with both Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After all, both Judo and BJJ are based on the original Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.

So that means that Judo shares many of its pros and cons with both of those arts.

Today, we’ll dive deep into all of Judo’s pros and cons, including the 1 con that once fractured one of my ribs. That way you can decide if it’s the right martial art for you or your child.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Is Judo actually effective?

Judo is very effective, as proven by some of the top MMA champions with a Judo background, such as Ronda Rousey, Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, and Fedor Emelianenko. But Judo is also effective because of its ability to use an opponent’s momentum against them. 

Judo (translated “gentle way”) is a modern Japanese martial art and unarmed combat style that is mainly a sport today.

Judo is a way of human formation as well as a form of physical and mental training. Jigoro Kano (1860–1938) invented it in 1882.

He studied old jujutsu (samurai martial arts) but ultimately decided to eliminate “the most hazardous methods” and establish “Kano Jiu-Jitsu,” which is now widely recognized as Judo.

Strikes and thrusts with the hands and feet, as well as weapon defenses, are part of Judo.

The most prominent feature of Judo is the emphasis on “randori” (free practice). The rules of the “judo sport” are complicated. The goal of “sport Judo” is to either throw or takedown the opponent, immobilize or otherwise subdue the opponent with a pin, or force the opponent to submit with a joint lock or a choke.

The International Judo Federation is the sport’s international governing organization. It has also been an Olympic event since 1964. A judoka is a Judo practitioner, and the judo costume is known as a “judogi.”

Judo also gave rise to a slew of derivative martial arts worldwide, including Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Krav Maga, Sambo, ARB (Army Hand-to-Hand Combat), close-quarters fighting (CQC), and mixed martial arts (MMA).

But almost all Japanese martial arts have some similarities.

For example, in a recent article on my website, I shared how Aikido differs from BJJ when used for self-defense. BJJ, of course, gets used a lot more in UFC matches. But there’s 1 key way that an Aikido practitioner could beat a BJJ fighter.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Is Judo useful in MMA?

Judo is extremely useful in MMA, and many champions, such as Ronda Rousey, Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Karo Parisian, Fedor Emelianenko, Hector Lombard, and Vito Belfort have won multiple matches employing Judo in conjunction with other arts. 

When it comes to mixed martial arts, certain martial arts are thought to be more effective than others.

People frequently consider wrestling, BJJ or Muay Thai as the most beneficial martial arts for MMA. But Judo definitely has its place among some of the top MMA champions.

Choosing BJJ and wrestling over Judo is understandable because they are very similar in moves and techniques. After all, they are all grappling styles. All these are excellent disciplines to study.

But Judo is actually very useful.

Of all the fighters I just mentioned who use Judo in MMA, Rhonda Rousey is probably the most well-known. This is for a good reason; after all, she used Judo to become one of the most famous MMA fighters.

In fact, in what is considered her top fight, she won the match in just 14 seconds.

Can Judo beat BJJ?

Judo has proven effective against BJJ, as seen in the 1951 fight between Masahiko Kimura and Helio Gracie. Kimura threw and pinned Gracie to the ground, seized his arm, and broke it (twice) before Gracie’s teammates officially accepted defeat.

And yes, the Kimura armlock that is widely used in BJJ, and Judo is named after Masahiko Kimura’s technique he used to break Gracie’s arm (in 2 places).

But Judo can also defeat BJJ because it is a more versatile martial art that teaches stand-up combat and ground fighting. BJJ, on the other hand, is primarily focused on ground fighting.

So, while a BJJ practitioner might win (although it would not be easy) on the ground, a Judo practitioner would excel in stand-up combat. Judo features more stand-up combat training than BJJ.

This is why, in a fight, Judo can defeat BJJ.

If you want to learn more about the differences between BJJ and Judo and how they compare to each other, you can read up in this recent article on my website.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Top 5 Pros of Training Judo

1. Great for knowing how to take down an opponent

If there is one thing Judo will teach you, it would be taking down your opponent to the ground.

In Judo, floor grappling and chokeholds are core training that must be passed before belts are handed to students. And with many street fights ending up on the ground, knowing how to control who and when it goes to the ground and then what to do on the ground are crucial skills to know.

2. Great for knowing how to defeat an attacker on the ground

Apart from throws and grappling, joint locks and chokeholds are also Judo-based.

And that is the only way to induce a submission in your opponent after you have brought them down. Holds and locks can be really painful, so it forces an opponent to tap out and accept defeat readily.

Or, in a real-life self-defense situation, you can easily break someone’s arm and then get away.

3. Helps boost confidence and self-esteem

Judo training regularly not only promotes confidence but also instills self-esteem.

It’s done in part through hard training, where you get a feeling of accomplishment when you get good at certain techniques or meet the goals you set for yourself.

Another way it boosts self-confidence is knowing you can handle yourself and others if things get out of hand. This, in turn, will increase self-awareness.

And that will help you avoid potentially awkward situations.

4. Training helps build strength, flexibility, and healthy weight management

From the outside, it may not appear to be a strenuous workout, as there are no powerful punches and kicks.

However, Judo training is one of the most difficult in all martial arts. Even the warm-up activities for Judo can cause you to breathe heavily and sweat profusely.

Randori, also known as free sparring, is a component of Judo training in which you practice your techniques against opponents who are fully resisting your techniques.

This is easily one of the most challenging workouts ever created.

So you are likely to lose weight if you practice 3 or more times per week, along with eating a relatively healthy diet. And you’ll be building muscle and gaining flexibility along the way.


5. Low risk of concussion

The rate of injury in Judo compared to some other martial arts is very low. Therefore, concussions are very, very, very (and again, very) rare.

That’s because, in large part, there are no punches or kicks to the head.

Most injuries that arise in Judo are sprains and maybe fractures, which are very rare also. Judo is rule-based, and there should always be an instructor present, so incidents can be broken up before they get out of hand.

Top 5 Cons of Training Judo

1. Lack of stand-up training for punches and kicks

While you will surely learn all there is to know about grappling on the floor, there is practically little or no training in kicks and punches, all of which can be grouped as stand-up training.

You will start from standing. But quickly throw or take an opponent down to the ground. Then you’ll likely stay on the ground until one of you taps out.

So, if your opponent is successfully evading your takedown techniques, then there is nothing but to keep trying. This can tire you out and give an advantage to your opponent.

And if they know boxing, Karate, Kung Fu, or kickboxing, their punches or kicks could easily overwhelm you. But it’s worth pointing out that some Judo dojos have been known to include striking work in their curriculum for this reason.

But it is not part of core training in Judo.

2. Not very useful against multiple attackers

Judo is about taking someone to the ground and then joining them on the ground and submitting them.

But, it doesn’t help much when faced with multiple attackers.

After all, if you’re on the ground with 1 person and their buddies are still standing, you’ll be incredibly vulnerable. Unless you receive special training on how to give various people chokeholds and/or joint locks at the same time, then this here is one big disadvantage of Judo.

If faced with multiple attackers as a Judo student or expert, please, flee. 

But really, in a real-life attack scenario, escape is always the best option, no matter how skilled you are or no matter what martial arts you know.

3. Very rule-based which can be unrealistic for self-defense

Judo is as much of a sport these days as it is a martial art.

As such, depending on the dojo, it is limited to Olympic rules, which prohibit or altogether abolish many very powerful moves.

So for self-defense training, this can create an unrealistic framework as the real world won’t follow any rules.

4. Training in a gi and on mats doesn’t prepare students for a real-life attack.

Judo training is almost always done wearing the traditional Japanese uniform called a gi.

This consists of loose-fitting pants, a robe, and a colored belt. BJJ schools have come to offer no-gi classes so that students are better prepared for real-world self-defense situations. But this is rare in the Judo world.

In a street fight, of course, no one will be wearing a gi, and it can be hard to translate all of the skills learned into street clothes.

Additionally, using mats also offer a less painful approach during training.

But in real-life fights and self-defense, you could get knocked down onto concrete. Now, knowing how to fall properly will still help you.

But a dojo mat can make it harder to spot your own technique deficits.

5. Training for takedowns, chokes, and arm locks can be painful or damaging

While an advantage of Judo is a lack of serious injuries like a concussion, serious injuries sometimes do occur. This can be due to the negligence of the instructor and your sparring partner.

Also, not knowing when to tap and submit is another common error on the part of students.

I once got knocked unconscious training Judo because I was brand new at the time and had never been told what tapping was or when to do it.

The fact that the woman who choked me unconscious was shorter than 5 feet tall and over 70 years old did wonders for my ego, lol.

But chokes holds and locks going awry can cause permanent damage to limbs and other body parts if not performed safely and under strict supervision.

But, as said above, this is rare, and you can eliminate this possibility by checking a dojo’s accident rate online or inquiring from family and friends.


Firstly, we checked if Judo is actually effective. Then we found out if Judo is useful in MMA, and I named some surprisingly well-known UFC names that do employ Judo in their fighting style.

We then looked at if Judo could beat BJJ and the match that Helio Gracie lost after getting his arm broken twice! But we also concluded with a complete and in-depth look at all of Judo’s pros and cons.

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