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BJJ Vs Lethwei: What's Better?

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One thing we are always being asked is to compare the effectiveness between two different martial arts, and today we're going to be comparing BJJ Vs Lethwei. In this article we'll compare Lethwei & BJJ and decide which one is more effective. The answer to this question isn't going to be easy to find, but we'll delve into all areas of the different sports to find the answer!

BJJ is a martial art which has always been looked at as one of the deadliest grappling art forms on the planet. BJJ is a grappling martial art which is focused around using an opponents weight against them, and their limbs to submit them.

What is BJJ?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, often referred to as BJJ, is a dynamic and intricate martial art that traces its roots to Japanese jiu-jitsu and Judo. It distinguishes itself through its focus on ground fighting, wherein practitioners engage in controlled combat, aiming to subdue their opponent through a variety of techniques.

BJJ's essence lies in grappling, employing tactics such as joint locks, chokes, and positional control. Guard, a fundamental BJJ position, involves protecting oneself while on the ground and seeking opportunities for offense. BJJ also emphasizes submission holds, compelling an adversary to concede defeat or risk injury.

In BJJ, practitioners don gi, a traditional uniform akin to Judo attire, fostering grips and control. Yet, no-gi BJJ transcends traditional boundaries, emphasizing speed and adaptability.

What is Lethwei?

Lethwei, also known as Burmese bare-knuckle boxing, stands as an enigmatic gem in the world of combat sports. Originating from Myanmar, this ancient martial art exudes raw power and a rich historical tapestry.

Lethwei revolves around an unyielding ethos—combatants use fists, elbows, knees, and shins, employing their own bodies as weapons. Unlike conventional boxing, fighters eschew gloves, entering the ring with only hand wraps, placing an emphasis on formidable punches and bone-crushing strikes. The brutal elegance of Lethwei lies in its minimalism.

A Lethwei match unfolds in a square ring, and fighters wear a unique accessory: a distinctive headband called "let hpan." This symbolizes their readiness to engage in fierce combat, and removing it signifies surrender—an act rarely witnessed.

The sport's rules allow for clinching and grappling, elevating the intensity of each bout. With rounds often lasting three minutes, fighters demonstrate not only their physical prowess but also their indomitable spirit and endurance.

What are the differences between BJJ & Lethwei?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Lethwei are two distinct combat disciplines, each with its own unique characteristics. Let's explore the differences between BJJ & Lethwei:


  • BJJ originated in Brazil and is primarily ground-focused, emphasizing submissions and grappling techniques.

  • Lethwei, on the other hand, hails from Myanmar and is a stand-up combat sport, emphasizing striking with fists, elbows, knees, and shins.


  • BJJ practitioners wear a gi, a traditional uniform that facilitates grappling techniques.

  • Lethwei fighters wear minimalistic attire, often just hand wraps, and shorts, with no gloves or protective gear.

Rules and Scoring:

  • BJJ employs a points system and submission holds to determine winners.

  • Lethwei matches have a strong focus on knockouts. Victory is often achieved by KO or decision, with no points system in place.

Fighting Style:

  • BJJ emphasizes ground control, positioning, and submissions, with a strategic and methodical approach.

  • Lethwei is renowned for its ferocious striking, promoting aggressive and relentless attacks.

International Recognition:

  • BJJ has gained global recognition and is a cornerstone of mixed martial arts (MMA) training.

  • Lethwei remains relatively niche outside of Myanmar, with limited international exposure.

In conclusion, while both BJJ and Lethwei are martial arts, they cater to different preferences and styles of combat. BJJ focuses on ground techniques and submissions, whereas Lethwei is a high-impact stand-up striking art. The choice between them depends on one's interests and goals in the world of combat sports.

Is BJJ or Lethwei more effective for self defence?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), renowned for its ground combat techniques and submissions, offers valuable skills for self-defense scenarios. BJJ practitioners learn to control opponents, neutralize threats without causing excessive harm, and submit aggressors without relying on striking. This is particularly advantageous in situations where de-escalation is key, such as restraining an unruly individual.

Conversely, Lethwei, characterized by its brutal stand-up striking, may not be as conducive to self-defense in contexts where minimal force is the goal. However, Lethwei's emphasis on conditioning and mental fortitude can enhance one's ability to withstand and evade physical threats.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of BJJ or Lethwei for self-defense hinges on personal preferences and the specific self-defense scenario. BJJ excels in controlled situations, while Lethwei may deter aggressors through its intimidating reputation alone. For a well-rounded self-defense skill set, combining elements of both disciplines can provide a versatile toolkit for real-world encounters, ensuring one is prepared for a range of potential threats


In the intriguing clash between BJJ and Lethwei, it becomes evident that there is no definitive winner. The choice between these martial arts hinges on individual goals and circumstances.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) excels in ground combat, offering effective techniques for controlled self-defense and sports competition. Its emphasis on submissions and strategy fosters a methodical approach to conflict resolution.

Lethwei, on the other hand, specializes in unbridled stand-up striking, ideal for those seeking a more aggressive and formidable fighting style.

Ultimately, the "better" choice depends on one's objectives. BJJ empowers practitioners with ground skills, while Lethwei imparts fierce striking capabilities. The wisest path may be to embrace the best of both worlds, cultivating a well-rounded martial skill set that can adapt to diverse situations.

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