BJJ Celebrities, The Non-Barrier
Written By: Kevin Bradley
Photo: @Gordonlovesjiujitsu (Gordon Ryan)
Pick any popular sport. Now take the star of a professional team in that sport. Imagine Tom
Brady on fourth down, Steph Curry draining the three, Sydney Crosby getting the hat trick. Now
imagine that, with little difficulty, you could play flag football with Brady, Horse with Curry, and
take on Crosby in a shootout. Sounds great, right?
Well you’re never going to get any real facetime with the best of the best in a professional
Unless you’re talking about BJJ.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is seeing an unprecedented amount of exposure to the average joe. More
people than ever before are familiar with the art thanks to the UFC and modern action movies
like John Wick. But since it’s still several centuries and billions of dollars in revenue away from
being the NFL, you can interact with the best grapplers in the sport more or less like you would
other normal people.
Take seminars for instance. How much would a hungry young football player pay for a practice
with Peyton Manning? It’s a big number. Well for $200, you could attend a seminar with
Gordon Ryan arguably the greatest submission grappler alive today. Also, you might just see
him around if you’re a member at Renzo’s NYC. $200 and that’s only because he’s the best,
with other high level grapplers offering instruction for much more affordable prices.
These are people who don’t train at exclusive training facilities and camps, but at gyms literally
anyone can sign up at. Wanna train with Keenan Cornelius? He runs classes at Legion. JT
Torres? Try his gym in New York. John Danaher? Pretty sure he’s reading the Necronomicon in
the blue basement this very moment. Say hi for me.
This level of access to the guys at the bleeding edge of the sport give BJJ a different level of
comradery. It really feels like, at all levels, that we’re all in this crazy thing together. If you’re in
the sport, it may not strike you how truly baffling this is.
The lack of natural revenue generated by the sport has made the division between us and the
stars permeable. The only thing that separates us is that we KNOW just how terrifying and
impressive they are.
Now, none of this is to say the lack of money is a good thing. It sucks because these are people
training just as much as the athletes in bigger sports for a fraction of a fraction of the salary. But
as the sport slowly grows with more promotions giving higher paychecks, the quality of life is
But this time of intimate availability to interact with these legends might ebb the more the
sport grows. So enjoy being able to afford that Garry Tonon seminar while you can!