How To Find a Good Jiu-Jitsu Gym?
If you’re looking for a good jiu-jitsu gym near you, you’re on the first step towards success at physical fitness and self-defense. However, finding the right gym has become difficult nowadays, especially after so many “McDojos” have sprung up in large cities.
A so-called “McDojo” is a place where the instructor doesn’t know much more than you do, and you can almost pay for your belts without mastering the techniques. They’re almost like a martial arts McDonalds! While these gyms have smeared the concept of real martial arts, there are still some great gyms out there. You just need to know where to look.
So, how can you differentiate between a quality gym where you’ll actually learn Jiu-Jitsu vs. one where you’re paying to get beaten up? How can you identify whether a certain jiu-jitsu gym is right for you (or your kids)?
This article will give you a few essential pointers to help you choose the perfect Jiu-Jitsu gym. It will also guide you on which red flags to avoid when selecting your new gym and answer popular questions about finding a new Jiu-Jitsu gym.
So, let’s dive into it!
Start With Your End-Goal in Mind
What do you want to achieve by doing Jiu-Jitsu? Do you want a place to train for better fitness or to lose weight? Or do you plan on competing on a national level soon?
Some gyms may be perfect for helping you with certain goals, but not others. Some gyms train only Jiu-Jitsu, while others are more MMA-type. Knowing what you want to achieve by starting jiu-jitsu will help you choose the perfect jiu-jitsu gym.
Here are some goals that you should keep in mind when looking for a jiu-jitsu gym:
Jiu-Jitsu is an excellent activity for weight loss and improving your fitness levels. The high-intensity training, along with calisthenics and muscle-strengthening activities, makes Jiu-Jitsu one of the best sports for improving and maintaining your fitness.
It also depends on your fitness level before joining the gym and what goals you have about fitness. For instance, if you are already pleased with your fitness and your main priority is learning self-defense, you will need to find a gym that prioritizes that.
When looking for a good Jiu-Jitsu gym, one of the main goals that you should have in mind is improving your self-defense techniques. Self-defense is becoming more and more important as crime rates increase across the globe.
This is why it is necessary to find a good gym instructor who knows all the techniques- from the basics to the more advanced stuff. Beware of instructors that do not have the knowledge or experience to teach but are simply looking to take your money by showing off a few good-looking moves.
The quality of his students can judge a good instructor and whether or not they have medaled or competed in state-level and national championships. He or she will not only teach you all the self-defense techniques you need to know but will also train you in a way that makes your journey safer and more enjoyable.
3. Improving Self-confidence
Life can be hard sometimes, and it can be even harder with a lack of self-confidence. Lack of self-confidence usually comes from not knowing what will happen and a fear of failure. We all face our challenges every day. Being confident in who you are and your beliefs makes facing those challenges easier.
Jiu-Jitsu is a sport where you face an opponent every day, and you’re forced to confront failure. This leads to higher confidence levels over time. So, if you have low self-esteem, finding a Jiu-Jitsu gym that will challenge you to achieve your full potential every day should be your main priority.
4. Getting discipline into your life
Having a goal of achieving self-discipline in your life is important. This is because a disciplined person can achieve their goals more effectively and overcome challenges, problems, and obstacles.
Like most martial arts, Jiu-Jitsu is not easy to even come close to mastering. It requires countless hours of effort, hard work, following instructions, and getting to the gym on time!
You are required to constantly look back at your skillset and evaluate your weaknesses so that you may improve. Thus, discipline and Jiu-Jitsu are entwined with one another. Apply this mindset to your career, education, and your whole life in general, and the possibilities are limitless!
5. Competing in Jiu-jitsu
Whether your goal is to compete locally, on a state level, or even in national Jiu-Jitsu championships, you will need to find a gym and instructor that are willing and able to take you to that level. The gym you are looking for should have state-of-the-art facilities you require to make the most out of your training. Ensure that there are wrestling mats, gym equipment, showers, and cafes because you will likely be spending a couple of hours everyday training.
Check that the gym has a large mat space to prevent potential injuries from collisions and that they use high-quality mats. Good instructors will also help you enter competitions and help you progress up the ranks to reach your goal, whether that be to compete in state championships, national championships, or even internationally.
6. Competing Professionally in MMA
Jiu-Jitsu is a big component of MMA. The main focus of Jiu-Jitsu is on self-defense and helping you find positions in which you can dominate your opponent. While more attacking and offensive forms of MMA are popular, almost all the athletes that compete are experts in self-defense.
So, if you are an MMA fighter looking to sharpen your self-defense skills, you’ll need to find a gym that trains fighters on a professional level. Having a strong Jiu-Jitsu skillset might even give you an advantage over your competition, especially in professional MMA. Make sure that your instructor is willing to take you to the top.
How Far Are You Willing to Travel?
When deciding on which gym to join, location is critical. If you are working or studying full-time, having a gym within a 15-20 minutes drive is important. You may think that you’ve found the perfect gym only to see that it’s too much of a hassle to travel so far every day.
Remember that the easier it is to get to the gym, the more likely you will go. The good news is that there are so many different gyms to choose from in most major cities that you’ll most likely find one close to you.
You should also see whether your schedule aligns with that of the gym. Find a gym that offers multiple classes a day, allowing you the freedom to choose when you go to the gym, depending on your schedule or workload for the day. For example, you may like going to the gym in the afternoon on weekdays but in the morning on the weekends. This will allow you to train more and improve at a more steady pace.
Get a Class or Two for “Feeling-Out”
The best way to check out whether the environment of the gym is a good learning environment and a respectful one is to take a class or two before deciding whether it’s best for you or not. Most Jiu-Jitsu gyms will provide a free class session to allow new students to see the instructor’s teaching style and whether there is mutual respect between trainees.
In an ideal gym, the instructor will have knowledge and ability, and know-how to teach with patience, and the environment promotes learning and competing.
What to look for in a Good Gym?
There’s a lot to look for in a new gym, but here’s the essentials:
1. Material and equipment.
There should be no compromise when it comes to material and equipment in a gym because it is a matter of safety and progress. A good gym will always look neat and clean and have all the equipment required in a state-of-the-art facility.
Ask yourself, does this gym have enough mat space for all the trainees to roll without the risk of injury? What is the quality of the mats that are being used?
The amount of space that the gym has will be directly related to the number of students the gym has. Many Jiu-Jitsu gyms are just looking to make money and thus do not have enough space to accommodate all their trainees. Beware of such gyms and go for a gym with enough space for all the students, even if it is a smaller gym with less membership or a larger gym that offers more classes.
3. Number and type of students
As I just mentioned, the number of students in a gym must be proportionate to some extent to the amount of mat space available. However, even if there is an adequate amount of space available, you should look at the range trainees in terms of age, gender, and fitness level.
This will indicate whether the gym provides a comfortable environment for everyone or not. While having more training partners is important, everyone will have their preference for how many people they are comfortable training with.
4. Pure jiu-jitsu or MMA gym
If you are choosing between joining an MMA gym or a Jiu-Jitsu gym, I would advise you to try them both out. MMA is an exciting mixture of a wide variety of martial arts, and Jiu-Jitsu is, well…just Jiu-Jitsu.
You might be thinking to yourself, ‘Well, that’s a no-brainer. I’ll go to the gym that teaches me everything.’ However, Jiu-Jitsu will provide you with a solid base to start your MMA journey- if that’s what you want to do.
The Best Gyms Have Qualified Instructors
Most of the best Jiu-Jitsu gyms will have at least one qualified instructor who has competed or even medaled in state and national championships. The easiest way to find out if your instructor is legit is to search them up on the internet and see their qualifications and up to what level they have competed.
The first training session will also give you many clues as to whether your instructor is as good a teacher as he/she was a competitor. You should probably ask the instructor for their lineage. Most BJJ practitioners will know exactly how their training can be traced back to the original Gracie brothers.
How Many Days Will You Train Per Week?
If you are a beginner, you should be training a minimum of 2-3 days per week to see consistent improvement over time. However, if you are a more advanced competitor and are looking to make it to the next level, you’ll be looking to train up to 6 days per week. Ensure that the gym you choose not only has many classes throughout the day but is open at least six days a week as well.
Is There a Training System?
Look closely at what the training system of the gym is. Is the instructor taking an active part in all lessons (even with the beginners)?
Is there a segment reserved for fitness, sparring, and learning new techniques?
What are the Fees?
Search around and go to all the local BJJ gyms and ask them their monthly fees. It is important to know the average price range so that if you find a gym that you like, you don’t get ripped off.
And even if the price range is a bit over your budget, you can negotiate terms with the instructor.
Does it Have a Reputation in the Jiu-Jitsu Community?
A gym with a high reputation in the Jiu-Jitsu community will have a better reputation in the Jiu-jitsu community. You can consult with surrounding gyms or contact people who already train there for a better image of the gym. Online reviews may help in some cases.
I believe that the most important factor in deciding which gym to join will depend on your goals. Once you know your goals, spend enough time finding an ideal gym. The last thing you want is paying for a membership you’re hardly ever going to use or going to a McDojo!