What to Look for in a BJJ Academy

In Articles, Beginners tips by Bojan

Choosing the right BJJ school is important and requires research. Jiu-jitsu is becoming more popular and naturally more schools are opening their doors. But how do you make the right choice? There are a few key factors you can use to make your decision a bit easier. Your goals, instructor’s style of teaching, travel time, cost, and class dynamic should all be part of your decision process.  

Your goals

Goals are probably one of the most significant factors in your decision-making process. When deciding on where to learn BJJ, you should be honest with yourself and state your goals. Do you want to compete, learn self-defense or have fun and learn Jiu-jitsu? Competition goals will demand a serious and consistent training program. The head instructor of the academy preferably should have competition experience under his belt. You are also going to benefit from high caliber training partners with a similar mindset. Preparing for a competition with fifty five-year-old Army veteran Dave is not optimal.   Self-defense schools emphasize the basics and teach techniques effective in an altercation. You are going to have fun learning BJJ defense skills and in the process build more confidence. Hobbyists will primarily use Jiu-jitsu as a weight loss activity that is challenging while being part of a friendly and pleasant environment. The strict grinding type of training one finds in competition based schools will not be suitable for them. And the self-defense academies might be too intimidating. Make your choice based on your goals and you won’t feel out of place.  

Style of teaching

Not every Jiu-jitsu black belt will make a good teacher. The desire to teach comes from the willingness to share knowledge. You should visit two or three different academies and get a feel for the style and dynamic of instruction. Does the professor actually give a shit or is he half-assing it? It is challenging for instructors to divide their attention when teaching too many people at one time, but when you get your instructor’s undivided attention, it has to be quality over quantity. Their focus must be on you as if they are trying to move you without physically touching you; some would call it using the force. Great coaches have a structure to their curriculum. They also have the gift to explain techniques in a way that is easy to grasp.

Travel time   

For some people, this may be the deal breaker. Traveling too far to learn Jiu-jitsu does not sound appealing to most people. You associate travel time with convenience, and that is understandable. Life is busy, and you have other responsibilities which are more important than BJJ. A school within a reasonable distance from your home or job might be something you are looking for. That will keep you motivated, and you can never use excuses such as ‘’too much traffic’’ or ‘’it is too far’’. Typically people who travel long distances to an academy seek something particular and are driven by competition goals.  

Cost

The saying ‘’you get what you pay for’’ still holds truth. On the flip side, not every World Champion black belt offers world-class lessons. Wayne Gretzky is considered the best player in history but failed as a coach. You pay for the value of coaching, not the name of the instructor. Academies that charge a significant chunk of cash have World Champions or big names teaching there. Prices for Jiu-jitsu academies on average are $150-$250 per month.  Weigh in all the factors from above, and that will help you make a more comfortable decision.  

Final thoughts

Explore your options before you commit to a particular academy. Most academies offer weekly trials. Take advantage and attend their classes. Do not rely on the information you see or read online. Consider all of the factors mentioned above. Cost, travel time, style of teaching, and your goals are all things to consider. After all, is said and done, you should enjoy learning Jiu-jitsu in a great community of like-minded individuals.