There used to be a time when Karate was the world’s greatest martial art. Millions of people were captivated by Japanese martial arts movies and the skillset of the practitioners. Nowadays Karate has been dumbed down to one of the least respected martial arts when it comes to the classics. What happened? In the meanwhile, Royce Gracie took the world by storm by winning UFC 1 with this BJJ style. BJJ has risen, since then, to become one of the greatest sports and martial arts in existence. How do these two styles compare? Is one better than the other? BJJ vs Karate who wins?
The downfall of Karate
Again, there used to be a time when Karate was the most popular martial art. And this is not to say that it wasn’t an effective martial art. Karate utilizes arm and leg strikes that can be devastatingly powerful. However, our theory as to why Karate got so watered down with time is that the practitioners became complacent. There used to be a time when it took a lifelong training and persistence and even talent in Karate for the practitioner to get a black belt. With time, the entire martial art’s spirit got turned into a business model. Karate schools started the mass production of black belts and now even 12-year-old adolescents are frequently carrying a black belt in Karate.
Again, we’re not trying in any way to tarnish the legacy of Karate. Some of the best MMA practitioners and most skilled fighters in the world have had a base in Karate. One such example is Georges St. Pierre, UFC double-division champion that started his martial arts practice with Kyokushin Karate. It’s certainly useful as a martial arts base and you can learn important martial arts concepts by learning Karate.
Another important thing that influenced the eventual downfall of Karate is its insistence on traditional values. Karate, according to the leading practitioners, is not just a martial art. It’s a way of life. They put a strong emphasis on humility, loyalty, and hierarchy. This is not bad per se, of course. We’ll make a comparison with the way of BJJ below.
The rise of BJJ
There are thousands of BJJ schools all around the world and it’s safe to say that this is one of the most popular martial arts today. But how did it come to be this way? Well, you have a big part of the answer to this in the aforementioned UFC 1 event and Royce Gracie’s role in it. He managed to beat the practitioners of many different martial arts. As you may know, back in the day, the UFC was an amalgam of many different martial arts. It took a long time before the styles blended in the usually MMA style that we see today in most fights. Back in the day, there were pure-blooded Muay Thai practitioners, Karate practitioners, Sambo practitioners, Boxing practitioners, and many other styles.
So, it goes without saying that BJJ rose to prominence because Royce managed to use this style to defeat much larger opponents with relative ease. BJJ is now a staple in the arsenal of the top MMA practitioners. Even casual observers of UFC and other organizations’ MMA matches have an understanding of the most important BJJ concepts. This is due to the fact that BJJ is very important as an element of the ground game of the fighters.
Also, the sports game of BJJ is very popular. There are many international organizations that host tournaments that thousands of people come and see.
The reason as to why this is the case is the fact that sparring is very important in BJJ – much more important than in Karate. So, it’s much more difficult to hide fake black belts. A true BJJ black belt needs to dominate the arena 99 times out of 100. A fake BJJ black belt will be revealed as such with the help of one invite from a purple belt. If the purple belt in BJJ can dominate the black belt – then something is amiss. This makes the base of BJJ a lot stronger than in, say, Karate, where people get their belts by practicing various fixed katas.
Also, the focus in BJJ isn’t really in traditional values. It doesn’t try to become larger than life. In BJJ, it’s more important to seek new challenges and to go for the victory no matter what. It’s difficult to be a black belt in BJJ because you will have to endure the constant onslaught of all the belts below you that will be hungry to “take your scalp” so to speak. You can’t slip. Contrast this with the principles of humility and hierarchy in Karate and you will come to understand why the current structure of BJJ is much more stable than that of Karate.
BJJ vs Karate fight example
If you wish to see a fight between a Karate practitioner and a BJJ practitioner – then see video below. It’s a no rules fight and it clearly shows that the game ends for the Karate guy once the BJJ guy takes the fight to the ground. In this sense, Karate and every other standing-based martial art are powerless against BJJ. A fighting style needs to have a proficient takedown defense if the fighter is to even have a chance against a BJJ fighter. And Karate is not exactly known for any takedown defense techniques.
Both BJJ and Karate are examples of effective martial arts. However, Karate’s time has passed and now BJJ is in the limelight. As a BJJ practitioner, though, you can’t allow yourself to be complacent. You must be aware of the possibility for BJJ to get watered down as well and for little children to start getting black belts. We hope that this won’t come to be.