How To Run A Successful Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy

If you want to be the person behind a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy, you have hard work cut out for you. Well, at least if you want your club to be a successful one. If you think you can just rent a space, put on a gi, and get students, you’re fooling yourself, it takes crazy amounts of dedication and works to get things rolling. Still, it is going to be worth it when it all kicks off, and there’s a way to make sure you do all the right things. Following a set of simple rules and learning from others’ mistakes are probably the most important things to focus on.

I’ve never really had a real ambition of running my own Jiu-Jitsu club. Dream, maybe, but never really thought much about acting on it. Several months ago, due to situations in my own academy, I was kind of thrust into co-running a Jiu-Jitsu club. To be honest, I had no idea that running a BJJ gym could be so much work. That said, I do have help and guidelines, so I’m definitely not moaning about it. In fact, I’m loving it. Still, for those starting from scratch, it can be beyond hard to get things right. Unless you have a blueprint of sorts to elan on to. That’s where the experience of countless others comes into play.

How To Start From Scratch

When you’re setting up a Jiu-Jitsu club, you have more variables to take into account than you can think of. Form the initial logistical issues all the way to interpersonal relations and stuff beyond your control. And yes, you need to factor even stuff that is beyond your control into the mix, before you even start. Remember, if you do not want to be surprised, you need to think of every possibility out there, good or bad.

That said, let’s take a look at the stages of founding and establishing your own BJJ gym. First up, you need to know how to start and put things into motion. Next, even more important, you need to know how to run a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club and grow it as you do. Finally, remember not to fall into the pitfalls of being a Creonte or succumb to the lures of a McDojo. Keep things simple and everything else will take care of itself, once you get momentum in the right direction.

1. Business Experience

Let’s make something clear. If you want your Jiu-Jitsu club to succeed, you need to make it a business. Period. Whichever business model you choose, si down to you. Just make sure it is appropriate for what you’re trying to sell, otherwise, you’ll lose more students than you’ll gain .of course, having business experience helps, but not too much unless it is in a similar situation. A BJJ gym is different than other businesses, and lots of it has to do with how personally involved you need to become with your gym members. Still, unless you can pay the bills, a club won’t be able to exist. Moreover, you need to make a certain profit out of it, especially if it is intended as your only source of income.

2. Commitment

This is huge. There’s nothing, absolutely nothing more important than commitment. While you might start off in any basement with mats, not a lot is going to happen unless you’re truly committed and dedicated to your Jiu-Jitsu club. You need to make sure you’re the real deal, and you’re focused on Jiu-Jitsu and your students. Everything else is going to fail you in the long run. Despite your reasons to start, from business inspired, through having to travel too far, all the way to accomplish a personal dream, you can’t be fake as a Jiu-Jitsu club owner. Remember that and you’ll do just fine.

3. Short And Long Term Plans

This is huge. Once again, the reason for starting a BJJ gym is not really important. Whatoyur’e going to do with it is huge, though, Even when you start, you need to have an idea where you want your club to end up. There are different directions in which you can take your Jiu-jitsu club. Options include a recreational club, a competitor’s gym, a self-defense academy, or any combination of the above. Moreover, it is okay to start with JIu-Jitsu, but have plans to include strength training facilities or simply gear in the gym down the road. All that needs to be factored in from the very beginning. A great direction to thin about heading to is looking to set a BJJ gear shop of your own. Of course, this could only materialize after the club is up and running. Thre are countless examples of what you can do to constantly keep your club growing. Just make sure to have most of them ready before you even begin.

4. Off The Mats

If you think running a BJ gym only takes place on the mats, you’re much mistaken. Let me put it this way – you’ll become an expert at administration when you start a BJJ academy. From registrations for initial licenses, all the way to rents, leases, paperwork, and different legal stuff, you’ll become a black belt in no time. Moreover, there are logistics and sponsorships when it comes to competitors. There are promotion and marketing which hare things that require constant attention and just as much dedication off the mats as on them. Just be ready to drive a lot and be in a lot of meetings you’d usually avoid if you’re really interested in making your Jiu-Jitsu club a successful one.

5. Affiliation

Finally, you could always run a BJJ gym without any affiliation. For most people, this isn’t an option though, but you should know that in most cases, this can be limiting. The bigger the organization you’re affiliated with, the more demands and directions they’ll have of how you should run your Jiu-Jitsu club. This might make it easier, I agree, but in the long run, it may not be the direction you want. IF you choose to be an affiliate, make sure that your ideas and vision are in sync with those that are set as mandatory conditions for joining that particular affiliation.

The Rules For Running A Great Jiu-Jitsu Club

Before we wrapping up, let’s look at how you’ll want to run your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club once you have everything up and running. Starting anything is extremely hard, as you already know from training Jiu-Jitsu. However, if you’re to succeed, really succeed, you’ll need to follow several key rules. Even if you manage to make the best possible academy version, it won’t last unless certain things are in order. So, once again, as you go into building a legacy for yourself, make sure you have all the Is dotted and all the Ts crossed.

  • Location

First up, location. There are a few things to remember about location in terms of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. First up, it needs to be accessible. People need to be able to come reasonably close by car and have parking spots provided. You won’t believe how many potential members a bad parking spot might cost you. Furthermore, people need to know where your gym is, find it easily and preferably, not have to travel too much to get there. In that sense, you need to choose the best spot of town that’s acceptable for you to rent, but that has the best possible location. Moreover, having a big landmark near your Jiu-Jitsu club will make ie very easy to find, not just for new members, but visiting grapplers as well.  Finally do your best not to switch locations too much, and even if you do, try to find something really nearby.

  • Schedule

When it comes to schedule, the more is usually the better. In those terms, that means more training days per week, rather than more groups. At least at first. When you’re kicking things off, you’ll start off with one group of people. Remember that three times per week is the bare minimum you should start off with. Recommended is anything between four and five, whereas six would be ideal. As you keep going through, there won’t be any growth without adding in other training groups and classes.

One example is dividing your core group into advanced and fundamental. That means everyone up to blue belt goes in the fundamentals group and all others in the advanced. With time, the perfect division would be to break up the advanced group once again, this time ending up with intermediate and advanced. Also, you want to think about including kids’ classes, and you want to do it straight off the bat. It is amazing how much they can change how your academy works.

Finally, keep a clear structure, have a curriculum and make sure your classes follow the pattern. If every class is different and you seem like you’re doing things off the top of your head, you can even be a coral belt and you won’t keep people in your Jiu-Jitsu club.

  • Environment

Of course, the one thing that has people coming back for more, apart from beginning able to choke pother, is training environment. For Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the traditional eastern martial arts approach doesn’t really work well. Instead of rigidity, you need a loose atmosphere where people can come to learn. Remember, you’re working with adults mostly, so you can’t treat them like kids. That said, a certain level of discipline has to in place.

A shortlist of what is not acceptable will usually suffice. That said, the shorter and more precise the list, the better. Nobody likes learning a lot of rules. So, keep banter to a minimum while in class, roll respectfully, be clean and smile are great ones to start off with. Everything outside those is okay, and people should actually be encouraged to come and ask questions or questions about certain moves in order to understand them better. That’s what Jiu-Jitsu is all about anyway.

  • Online Presence

There’s no way around this in modern times. If you want your Jiu-jitsu academy to be successful and grow, you’ll need a strong online presence. That means for starters, having an awesome website. The better the website, the better your marketing is. On top of that, social media presence is a must. In those terms,  you can use whatever, but Facebook and Instagram are absolute musts. In the beginning, you’ll need to do it all yourself, and you’ll need to be very diligent about it. Later on, you might enlist someone’s help or even hire a professional to do your online marketing. However, you need to do it constantly otherwise your club will never grow. Make sure you ask everyone, especially visiting grapplers to leave reviews. This will do wonders for you online as well as give you insight whether you’re doing a good job or not.

  • Hygiene

Even the most beautiful Jiu-Jitsu academy, with the perfect location, incredible training environment, and great marketing, everything will come crashing down if hygiene is anything less than stellar. For starters, you need to have an extremely clean mat space for training. Next, dressing room hygiene also has to very high. You’ll need to have ground rules that are unquestionable when it comes to personal hygiene as well. The best option is to have showers in the facility you have your Jiu-Jitsu club setup in. If this is not an option things can be hard, but not impossible. Just make sure every other aspect of hygiene is pristine and you can’t go wrong. One ringworm outbreak, though, and even a well-established gym might never recover, so take this point really seriously!


Running a Jiu-Jitsu club is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Apart from the obvious returns, you also get a lot of personal satisfaction from classes and feedback from individuals. Plus, you get to do what you love for a  living and do it your own way. Thre’s really nothing like that feeling, but you always have to stay conscious about how you go there, and what you need to do to get to the next level. Best of luck!

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