Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: A martial art that focuses on grappling and ground fighting adapted from Kodokan Judo by Carlos and Helio Gracie of Brazil in the early 1920s.
Capoeira: a martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music developed by Angolan slaves in Brazil at the beginning of the 1500s as a method of self-defense and rebellion.
Both are martial arts which originated in Brazil (albeit from very different roots) and now practiced all around the world. More importantly, both happen to be activities that I love and thought it’d be fun to find some data on.
I have been training capoeira on and off since 2006. I really enjoy the music, energy, and flow of the martial art. BJJ is a newer endeavour for me. I was introduced to it about six months ago, and love that it’s both a great workout and also builds very practical self-defense skills. Limited time and energy have forced me to focus on just one of the two activities, and while I still love and would like to keep up with capoeira, my priority at the moment is improving my BJJ.
According to Google search data, I’m riding on a wave of BJJ’s growing popularity worldwide. Though not an exact indicator of popularity, Google search trends can provide a sense of what people around the world are interested in at a certain time and over time. As the chart below illustrates, BJJ has been steadily growing in worldwide search volume while capoeira has been declining over the past five years.
Interestingly, searches for both martial arts, but especially capoeira, experience a notable drop at end of each year into the new year.
These are the top 10 countries where the term “Brazilian Jiu-jitsu” was most searched on Google (as a fraction of total searches in that location):
3. South Korea
5. New Zealand
The top 10 countries where “capoeira” was most searched on Google (as a fraction of total searches in that location) are:
The graphs below show the search volume of both terms in the top 10 countries where they were Googled. While interest in BJJ seems to be spread somewhat evenly among the countries, interest in capoeira is largely limited to the three former Portuguese colonies of Angola, Mozambique, and Brazil.
It seems that while BJJ is becoming an increasingly well-known martial art all around the world, capoeira remains a niche activity in most places. The popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) perhaps has had an impact on the popularity of BJJ across the globe in recent years, as many UFC fighters are trained in BJJ and the number of UFC events and its worldwide reach continues to increase. Skilled capoeiristas can definitely kick ass, but as far as Google search volume and worldwide popularity goes, capoeira is no match for BJJ.