How to Choose A Jiu-Jitsu Academy

Whether you’ve moved to a new area, or are just new to Jiu-Jitsu choosing the right academy sets the tone for your entire Jiu-Jitsu journey. But how does someone choose the right gym for them, how do you know it’s the right fit, and what do I need to know in order to make the right decision for me? 

Distance traveled to the gym. Unless you’ve decided you want to try becoming an active competitor or MMA fighter and that you’re going to train at a specific academy, you should try to find something within a reasonable distance of where you’re living. This will depend on your personal tolerance for commuting. Personally, I want to keep my commute under one hour one way, anything longer and I don’t have time to do other things after training. 

The gym’s lineage. Some people might tell you that it is important to have a black belt instructor, but that isn’t necessarily true. What is more important is that the gym has a legitimate lineage. When you visit the gym ask the owner what their lineage is and then verify it by doing a quick online search. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t give you a clear straight answer be wary of joining that gym.

Does the gym’s culture match your goals? It is important to find a gym that will not only push you, but also, match your personal goals. If you want to be an active competitor then going to a family oriented gym might not match your goals, but if you’re looking to learn something with your wife or kids then a family oriented culture will obviously be the best option for you whereas that might not always be the case at an MMA focused gym. That being said, one of the best family gyms I’ve trained at is also an up and coming MMA gym so this is less of a rule and more of a guideline.

Cost of membership. Starting Jiu-Jitsu can turn into an expensive lifestyle really quick if you’re not careful and the cost of a membership to an academy is a necessity if you wish to start, and continue on, your Jiu-Jitsu journey. Most gyms offer a free trial class, or classes, so you can get a feel for the gym before you commit to spending the money to attend. Find out the pricing of different gyms in your area and ask yourself if the price of your preferred academy is comparable to other gyms in the area. Things that might increase the costs of membership are the instructors rank and success as either an MMA or competition professional, or the lineage of the school. Affiliation fees are usually pretty expensive and that cost is usually passed on to the students in the form of membership fees.

Trust your gut. There isn’t enough stock put into trusting yourself when making a decision based solely on your gut feeling. If you go somewhere and you feel like something is “off” when you’re doing your trial class then trust it. You don’t join a gym, you join the people in that gym so it is important that you trust yourself when trying different places. The people at the gym become the next closest thing to family for a lot of people so it is important to trust your gut when making this decision. The worst thing you can do is ignore the alarm bells going off in your head then feel like you’re stuck in a bad situation.

Whatever you decide to do it is important you make the right decision to you and hopefully this will give you a good start to help you start one of the best experiences you can have. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing in life worth having ever is. What are some things you look for when you were looking to join a new academy?


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