Muay Thai VS BJJ – Which one is better?

Photo of an empty old Muay Thai gym

Muay Thai vs BJJ

Arguably two of the most talked-about martial arts today. They are both disciplines that will improve your ability to defend yourself effectively. Muay Thai and BJJ in Brisbane is growing just like all around the world. The debate of Muay Thai vs BJJ has been going on for some time. There are some people who swear by Muay Thai and others that believe BJJ is all you need, we believe a balanced approach will allow you to be a well rounded martial artist able to adapt appropriately to the situation you find yourself in.

This article will discuss some of the similarities and differences between the two art forms, how they are capable of complimenting each other and we’ll end on a ‘simulation’ (BJJ vs Muay Thai).


Two people going for a run as sunrise.

Muay Thai vs BJJ – Similarities

When asked, ‘which one is easier? Muay Thai vs BJJ?’ The simple answer is, neither. What makes learning one easier than the other depends on variables other than the style of combat itself. Quality instruction is one of these variables, it really helps to be trained by the best available to you. Personal preference is another variable, some people find Muay Thai suits them better than BJJ or vice versa, if you choose to devote your time to the art that feels ‘right’ for you, you’re likely to find it easier and more enjoyable.

Although BJJ takes place on the ground and Muay Thai on the feet, they both require you to be mindful of your cardiovascular system.  If you find yourself easily out of breath doing simple tasks, you’ll find both disciplines to be extremely taxing on your system. But don’t worry, once you start consistent training you will quickly start to see improvements in this area.


A Muay Thai fighter walks out to the ring under lights.

Muay Thai vs BJJ – Differences

With an explosion of interest for Muay Thai and BJJ in Brisbane as well as other big cities around the world, it is important to highlight the differences.

We need to first acknowledge that they come from different divisions within the martial arts ‘family’. Muay Thai is an exclusively stand up (striking + clinching) art form while Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a purely grappling style, which almost always ends up taking place on the ground.

Muay Thai probably isn’t the right art form for you, if you don’t want to get hit.

On the other hand, If finding yourself in vulnerable positions that have you tapping to avoid passing out or having a part of your body go to snap city, then BJJ in Brisbane, Rio or anywhere in the world, probably isn’t the best fit.

You’ll meet adversity in both disciplines, there is no avoiding that.  Pick your poison.


Two BJJ athletes competing in the Gi.

Muay Thai vs BJJ – The Ground

A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist’s home, a Muay Thai artist’s hell. Almost all fights start standing, therefore, at least initially, a Muay Thai fighter has the advantage. However, it is also true that a considerable amount of fights end up on the ground at some point.

A Muay Thai fighter is trained exclusively in striking on their feet, therefore, if a fight does hit the ground (i.e. a street fight), they are likely to panic and leave themselves open to attack.

The comfort a BJJ artist has on the ground can be a double-edged sword in a street fight. Due to the nature of grappling, it can only be used effectively in a 1-on-1 confrontation safely. The act of fleeing is also made considerably harder when on the ground.


Unavoidable Situations

A BJJ athlete takes the back of another and proceeds to set up a choke.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was designed specifically for the smaller,  weaker person to be able to neutralize their larger, stronger opponent. This isn’t just cute language to get people involved. No wonder BJJ in Brisbane and other major cities is becoming more popular, as people want to feel safer when they’re out living their life. You’ll see it time and again on the mats, being humbled on a regular basis is commonplace when training BJJ.

The confidence that you’ll build in the gym doing BJJ regularly will allow you to maintain a level head when the skills are needed in a 1-on-1 altercation outside of the gym with any size opponent.


Two Muay Thai fighters compete in the ring in front of a crowd.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai descends from ancient battlefield tactics of the Siamese, now known as Thais. By training Muay Thai, you are training your body to become a weapon. However, these tools can cause fatal damage if in the wrong hands. You should only use the necessary amount of force to keep yourself safe.

Due to the nature of striking, it is possible to fight more than one opponent at once (although not advisable), it is significantly safer than if you were to attempt to do the same with BJJ.

Two kids practicing Muay Thai sparring in a shallow river in Thailand

Muay Thai vs BJJ – Sparring

An essential part of Martial art practise is sparring. You can see how well you’re retaining what you’re learning during drill practise while under pressure.

Due to the nature of the art forms, you’ll find ‘full power’ sparring happens in BJJ significantly more often than in Muay Thai. This should be of no surprise. If you make a mistake in BJJ and end up in an armbar, no problem, you can tap. If you make a mistake during Muay Thai and get cracked with a full power elbow to the jaw, well… it isn’t pretty.

Both disciplines advise wearing a mouthguard/gum guard, if you like your teeth (or even if you don’t), get one.

Two MMA athletes in the cage waiting to get their hand raised.

Muay Thai vs BJJ – Simulation 

This question depends on so many variables, so let’s give both opponents a level playing field.

Opponent A – 3 years of experience training BJJ exclusively at a well-respected gym

Opponent B – 3 years of experience training Muay Thai exclusively at a well-respected gym

For the BJJ artist to execute his game, he will need to take the fight to the ground. For this to happen he will need to perform a takedown. This naturally leaves Opponent A open to strikes in the attempt to perform the takedown. If he is able to get his hands on Opponent B and execute the takedown successfully. He is likely to end the fight soon after via submission.

For the Muay Thai artist, he will want the fight staying on the feet. As opponent B is coming in attempting takedowns, he will make sure to maintain distance by performing techniques that keep his opponent at bay (simple boxing would be optimal initially). He will then begin mixing up his combinations with kicks, being careful to mask his kicks well, this is because if the BJJ artist catches the kick he has a solid opportunity to take the fight to the ground. If Opponent B can maintain the distance, he will soon make short work out of Opponent A.

Opponent A can be much more effective if they do the following…

  • Improve confidence in basic striking, allowing for less damage to be taken when coming in for the takedown.
  • Throw shots and maintain good head movement to set up their transition and take their opponent down.


Opponent B can be much more effective if they do the following…

  •  Improve confidence in both takedown defence and on the ground, allowing for clinch work to take place and kicks to be thrown more freely without fear of being taken down and held there.


At TFC we are the go-to location for Muay Thai and BJJ in Brisbane. Come try the different disciplines and see which one fits you best.

Interested in learning Muay Thai? Check out this link to get started on the right foot!

Take a moment to listen to this discussion between two martial art veterans  – Joe Rogan and Eddie Bravo talk about the effectiveness of certain martial arts in a street fight, enjoy it here!