Thoughts on TKD and BJJ after 10+ years of TKD and 10 days of BJJ

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Online, it's pretty much dogma that BJJ is the greatest martial art in the world, and TKD is C-tier at best. This may be a bit of hyperbole, but it's the attitude I see from a lot of people. Moreso on Reddit than on here. While I don't yet have the full picture of BJJ, I now think I have enough to comment on my experiences. Especially after the last 2 days in which I've done actual rolling.

First, there are a lot of similarities between the two, in terms of how instructors build competency in their students. I had this impression that in BJJ, you would basically be trying to bench 500 pounds until somehow you were strong enough to do so. However, they give you enough resistance and pressure to help you grow, while also letting you work. What I've noticed is that the higher the belt I roll with, the easier it is for both of us. The higher belt is in more control while burning less energy, but also has a real good feel for how much I need to grow. The other white belts are always just scrambling.

Second, the differences between the two. I would say BJJ is a better full body workout, and overall I feel more drained after BJJ class. However, TKD was a much better cardio workout, and more often I would find myself out of breath during class. Kicks are some of the most cardio-intensive martial arts techniques, and I feel validated in saying that now that I've been trying another art. Another interesting difference is that even though there's more techniques in BJJ, we do much less per class.

So far, it's been 2 techniques per class. A sweep from bottom, and a pass from top. We learn it, drill it, and then positional roll with it. In Taekwondo, it was a few minutes each of punches, kicks, blocks, forms, drills, punch defense, sparring, and hand grabs. In the white belt class, we would do 1 form and 26 different techniques, which would all be on the test. It was nice to have an overall picture in Taekwondo. It's also nice to dig deep into each technique in BJJ. If I were to go back to TKD and get my 4th Dan so I could open my own school, I would definitely want to find a happy medium between the two.

Third, is how effective my training in Taekwondo and Hapkido has been, compared to what the internet would tell you. I haven't actually rolled with a blue belt yet. But I have with a couple of other white belts, the purple belt, and the professor. The purple belt and the professor completely dominated me, and looked like they were just playing with their food while doing so. However, I've had a lot of control over the other white belts I've rolled with. At least, I was always the one in the more dominant position. This validates the opinion that many in Taekwondo have. Taekwondo grappling may not be on the same level as an experienced grappler. However, it is sufficient against a completely untrained opponent.

(For those who know me, and know I have also done Hapkido, I have specifically not been using my Hapkido techniques. I don't think it would be fair to the other white belts to start going into wristlocks, which I understand are a more advanced concept in BJJ. And I don't want to open that can with the higher belts). What I have made use of is the more Taekwondo approach to grappling during the standup).

Last, I really like my Professor. I thought of my Taekwondo Master as a good teacher, but not necessarily the greatest of mentors, and we had a very strained relationship (especially at the end). While I am still in the honeymoon phase with this school, the Professor seems much more laid back, much more approachable, and more willing to hang out and be one of the guys. I've already made a couple of jokes at his expense (and he at mine). However, I think this is more about him than about BJJ (and same about my Master and Taekwondo).

Overall, I'm really liking BJJ. While I feel that my previous experience gives me a leg up, I also feel I have much to learn, and I have no illusions that I should be anything other than a 0-stripe white belt at the moment. The folks I've felt a stronger competitor than have also been 0-stripe white belts, and there are plenty of 0-stripes that I haven't had the opportunity to roll with yet, who are bigger and will probably be a much bigger challenge. I feel validated about my past training in Taekwondo and Hapkido, but due to organizational politics, I don't feel that's the path forward for me. I'm glad of where I was, and I'm glad of where I am.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Second, the differences between the two. I would say BJJ is a better full body workout, and overall I feel more drained after BJJ class. However, TKD was a much better cardio workout, and more often I would find myself out of breath during class. Kicks are some of the most cardio-intensive martial arts techniques, and I feel validated in saying that now that I've been trying another art.
Grappling and striking use the bodys energy systems in a different way. You can be in great shape for stand-up striking, but be completely wiped out after a BJJ class. And the reverse is true. You can be in great shape for BJJ, but get exhausted quickly in a striking class (especially a kicking art).

In my opinion (having a fairly wide range of experience) the most physically demanding aspect of martial arts is stand-up wrestling for takedowns.* It works cardio, isometric strength, explosive power, speed, everything. I can do a lot more rounds consecutive sparring with standup striking, ground grappling, or weapons than I can wrestling for takedowns.

*(Im excluding acrobatic practices like tricking or parkour. I dont have experience with them and Im at the age where I dont think I have the physical capability to pick them up. But they certainly look like they are pretty intense forms of exercise.)
 

Flying Crane

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*(Im excluding acrobatic practices like tricking or parkour. I dont have experience with them and Im at the age where I dont think I have the physical capability to pick them up. But they certainly look like they are pretty intense forms of exercise.)
Are you still training capoeira?
 

Tony Dismukes

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Are you still training capoeira?
Not for a while. My wrists have gotten arthritic enough so that I can't bend them back and put any significant weight on my hands. So that removes a lot of the capoeira repertoire for me. My instructor would work with me to let me do just the techniques I can handle, but I have my schedule full with BJJ and HEMA (and occasionally Sumo) right now anyway. The HEMA is a lot easier on my aging body.
 

Flying Crane

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Not for a while. My wrists have gotten arthritic enough so that I can't bend them back and put any significant weight on my hands. So that removes a lot of the capoeira repertoire for me. My instructor would work with me to let me do just the techniques I can handle, but I have my schedule full with BJJ and HEMA (and occasionally Sumo) right now anyway. The HEMA is a lot easier on my aging body.
I can certainly appreciate that. We cannot do it all. My opinion is that it is great to experience many things so that we can ultimately find the one or two things that are best for us, that we are happiest with, and then focus on just those.

Just for curiosity, how did the capoeira training go?
 

Tony Dismukes

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Just for curiosity, how did the capoeira training go?
I trained for a couple of years, got my first cord, had a lot of fun. But as my wrists got worse, I drifted away from regular training, and my teacher moved the class to a new facility, and the pandemic hit. Then I started HEMA, and that filled up most of the time that I wasnt training Jiu-jitsu.
 
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