So, you’ve finally decided to give Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a try? That’s awesome! It’s an excellent sport. There’s a reason why many BJJ practitioners get hooked. It’s super addicting, be warned! But next question becomes, how do I practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu near me? Is there a good gym close by and do you even need to go to a gym to start Jiu Jitsu training? In this guide, we take a look at several ways you can start Jiu Jitsu training. You have plenty options out there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Jiu Jitsu Training at a Formal BJJ Academy
If you want the full benefits of you Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Training, the most recommended method out there is to train at a formal BJJ academy. With training in an actual gym, you will get the full BJJ experience.
You will have an instructor that will be guiding you in how to do the technique and how to perform them in the proper form. Your first day in BJJ won’t be perfect - you will make mistakes! But that’s ok.
By having a structured class, your instructor (or professor as they are called in more formal BJJ academies) will guide you along the way. Your training partners will be there to help you as well.
If a more structured class is more your pace, this is definitely the best way to engulf yourself in the BJJ lifestyle. Do a quick Google search on “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Near Me” and see what pops up!
What to Look for in a BJJ Class
When you do a quick search in your area, how do you know which school you should start your Jiu Jitsu training? A few things you ought to consider might be the professor, the students, cleanliness, class structure, and pricing.
The Professor and Instructors
The most important thing to look for in a BJJ class is to look at the professor and the instructors that run the gym.
Is your BJJ instructor approachable and easy to talk to? Is his or her level of instruction clear and concise? The best instructors are typically very friendly and humble. They treat everyone with respect like a part of the team.
The BJJ circle is small, if your instructor is well-known and respectable, his or her reputation will speak for itself.
For best results in your Jiu Jitsu training, pick an instructor with a high level of teaching, skill, a role model, and an innate ability to inspire others.
Next thing you should look at is the students that practice at the school. Students are a reflection of the instructor and of the school.
Cocky and arrogant students reflect badly on the school and the head instructor. Not all the time of course, there’s definitely an exception to every rule. But this is something to look out for – if there are a lot of students in the school that are rude and unfriendly, this might be a red flag!
These students will be the ones you will be spending the most of your time training with. Make sure to pick a school with students that you feel comfortable training with!
Every gym should adhere to some level of cleanliness. This might be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised!
Gyms should have a proper cleaning schedule. The mats that you will be rolling in, will be full of bacteria if they aren’t properly maintained. Last thing you want is ringworm or a staph infection! Yuck!
Students should also be keeping up with the proper hygiene. No one wants to roll with students with stinky Gi’s or razor-sharp claws!
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is generally a more laid-back martial art. Some are easy going but some can be much stricter and more structured. So, depending on your preference of teaching can determine which school you choose.
Classes are usually structured where students start off with warm up drills. These are then followed by techniques of the day.
After several drilling repetitions, the class then goes into live rolls (live sparring). These are where you can show off your skills and try out some of the techniques you’ve just learned!
Lastly, the price, how much will it run you to start your Jiu Jitsu training? This will of course depend on what school and who your instructor is. If you are in a high-quality school with a well-known reputation, your prices might be higher.
Generally, classes range between $80 - $130 per month. Some may even be higher for top-tier schools out there.
Luckily most gyms do offer free trial classes, sometimes even a week trial! Definitely take advantage of this. Give the school a test drive and see if you fit in!
Top 8 Jiu Jitsu Gyms to Train BJJ
When you do a quick Google search on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Near me, what pops up?
If you live in a large city, chances are you will have a ton of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academies to choose from. Which is great! The more options the better!
If you see names like ATOS, Alliance, or Renzo Gracie Academy, you are in luck! These are top-tier BJJ schools with a great reputation and a high level of teaching. These might be a little bit pricier options, but the quality and level of teaching is going to be at the elite level.
If you are serious about Jiu Jitsu, looking to compete at the top level, these gyms might be worth looking into! Here are the top 9 Jiu Jitsu Gyms to train BJJ:
ATOS Jiu Jitsu - San Diego, CA
Led and founded by Andre Galvao and Ramos Lemos, ATOS has a legendary reputation for being one of the best Jiu Jitsu schools in the world.
As an IBJJF World Champion, 8-time IBJJF Pan American Champ, ADCC Champion, among many others, Galvao has made a reputation for himself as world class BJJ competitor and coach.
ATOS has produced top level blackbelts like the Mendes brothers and Keenan Cornelius.
Marcelo Garcia Jiu Jitsu Academy - New York City, NY
Marcelo Garcia is one of the most beloved and respected BJJ fighters of all time. He is even considered as one of the All Time Best BJJ Fighters. He is extremely humble and super welcoming.
Marcelo's passion is Jiu Jitsu and it shows in his teachings, his students, and his school.
People that step into Marcelo’s gym have a true passion for BJJ. It’s a BJJ mecca!
Every serious BJJ fighter should train here at least once in their BJJ lifetime.
Renzo Gracie Academy - New York City, NY
Led by none other than Renzo Gracie himself, the Renzo Gracie Academy is highly regarded as one of the best schools out there.
Renzo Gracie is BJJ and MMA legend. His reputation speaks for itself. Grandson to the late Carlos Gracie (one of the founding fathers of BJJ), his teachings are world class.
He has produced top level fighters to include Rolles Gracie, Gregor Gracie, and Matt Serra (former UFC champ).
It’s also home to legendary coach John Danaher and his infamous Danaher Death Squad (DDS). DDS has the likes of Eddie Cummings, Gordon Ryan, and Garry Tonon – true grappling elites and pioneers of the sport!
Alliance Jiu Jitsu - San Paolo, Brazil
Alliance Jiu Jitsu is a dominant name in the sport. It was originally founded in the early 90’s by now 8th degree red/white coral belt Romero Cavalcanti along with his two of his star black belt pupils.
He started the school with Fabio Gurgel and Alexandre Paiva, both who are now 6th degree black belts who are head coaches at the Alliance Gyms in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro respectively.
Alliance was also home to 5x IBJJF Champ and 4x ADCC Champ Marcelo Garcia.
The San Paolo location, headed by Fabio Gurgel, is one of the most prominent schools you can train in BJJ. Their facilities are excellent and instructors are world class!
Art of Jiu Jitsu - Costa Mesa, CA
If you are an avid fan of BJJ, you have likely come across AOJ. The Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy was founded by ATOS black belts Guilherme Mendes and Rafael Mendes, along with RVCA founder Pm Torre.
They had a vision for creating a top-notch Jiu Jitsu environment with world class teachings. And that they did! AOJ is highly regarded as a BJJ haven by many practitioners.
Their facilities are top of the line and produce world champs by the day! They offer classes 7 days a week and have a very good online training program.
University of Jiu Jitsu - San Diego, CA
The University of Jiu Jitsu was founded by brothers Saulo and Xande Ribeiro. Both are IBJJF hall of famers and most decorated athletes in BJJ.
Saulo is the author of the bestselling BJJ book Jiu Jitsu University and 6x IBJJF World Champ. He’s the only one that has world titles at 5 different weight divisions! Xande is a 7x World Champ and 2x ADCC World Champ.
Their academy, known as “The U,” is an excellent training facility that exemplifies the art of BJJ. They have a high regard for BJJ ethics and respect for the sport, and it shows in their facilities and their classes.
Roger Gracie Academy - London, UK
Roger Gracie is a 10x BJJ World Champion and is arguably the GOAT of the sport. He has beaten the likes of Robert Drysdale, Xande Ribeiro, Andre Galvao, and Marcelo Garcia.
He is a true legend of the sport and his Jiu Jitsu is a sight to see! Roger’s school in London teaches the traditional Gracie family teachings.
Roger Gracie Academy is home to the top competitors in the country. It has helped mold, popularize, and develop the sport in London. Overall great facility to train BJJ. They also offer some MMA classes!
Nova Uniao Academy - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The Nova Uniao Academy was founded by André Pederneiras and Wendell Alexander. Originally from two opposing BJJ gyms, when these two merged their schools together to form Nova, they became a force to be reckoned with.
They have become one of the most prominent names in BJJ. They’ve produced elite BJJ and MMA fighters with the likes of Jose Aldo, Robson Moura, BJ Penn, and John Lewis.
They’ve grown immensely over the years with over 400 affiliate gyms worldwide! If you are anywhere Rio De Janeiro, this might be a place you should check out!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Training at a Jiu Jitsu Gym
The main advantage for having an entire gym to train with is the volume of people you get to go up against. With Jiu Jitsu, each player’s style is different from the other. If you are consistently rolling up against the same person, you’ll get easily accustomed to their style after a while. Having that variety will exponentially increase your knowledge base.
With an actual class, you have a more structured way of learning the technique. A well-structured class will not only help you learn the discipline that comes with the sport, but being in an actual Jiu Jitsu gym will gain you new friendships and teammates willing to help you along the way.
Some downsides with a class are that they are offered at specific times only. Some gyms are only open Monday through Friday. Sometimes they are open from 10 AM – 6 PM. This can be difficult for someone who works a 9 to 5 job!
Also, some academies have a ton of students. This make it extremely difficult to get some rounds in. You’ll have to take turns! It can get overwhelming. With a larger class, your instructor’s time will be evenly split up among all the students. This mean you might miss some key details along the way if your instructor was not able to detect and correct your technique.
Jiu Jitsu Training Through Private Lessons
If you want to get a structured laser focused type training, something you could also look into is doing a Private Lesson with a coach or instructor. You can use your own head coach, an instructor, or even an upper belt student in you school. Or, you can even look outside your school if you choose.
Do a quick search on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu near me and see what kind of results you get. Sometimes instructors do advertise their services online.
Similar to when you are looking for a gym, do your research! Things you should be looking for might be the instructor’s credentials and teaching style. Is their teaching clear and concise? Can they point out the flaws to your game? Do they have your best interest at heart, or are they trying to make a quick buck?
With the right instructor, private classes can really boost your learning curve. You get a full hour of focused and supervised training rather than maybe 15-30 min of drilling with your training partners. They can get expensive though. There’s definitely advantages and disadvantages as well.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Private Lessons
Training with a coach will get you a more focused learning regime. With a one on one private lesson, your coach’s main primary focus is you. In this session, there are no interruptions or distractions from other students. You will have the opportunity to truly learn the technique as your coach will be able to point out the minor details and flaws to your technique.
Private BJJ lessons can really put you ahead of the curve, as it helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses. You can have your questions answered much quicker too. Plus, you don’t have a time constraint. You can schedule privates at a time that works best for both you and your instructor.
On the downside, Jiu Jitsu training through private lessons does have its disadvantages. For one, you don’t get that many rolls. Your instructor can do their best to simply point out the minor intricacies to your technique. This is where you can work to perfect your form. But the downside is that you don’t get to practice it right then and there in a live roll. Sure, you can try it out with your instructor, but chances are they are 11 steps ahead of you already if you try that same move on them! Another big one is the price point.
Privates can range up to $50-$100 per hour – sometimes even more! At this price point, you might not get the full benefits of it, especially if you are just starting out. For it to make sense to do privates, you need to be at a certain level of experience. At the white belt level, you are simply learning the alphabet and at blue belt you start forming sentences. You wouldn’t want to be going to an advanced writing class when you are still learning your ABCs!
Training BJJ with Your Friends
Starting anything new can be intimidating, especially a sport or a martial art that you’ve never tried before. One alternative method you could try is to first start training with your friends that do BJJ.
Sometimes a formal martial arts class isn’t for everyone. What if you don’t want to train with sweaty old men you’ve never met on your first day of class? Sometimes, training with a friend might be that extra nudge you need to get you started on your journey.
You’d be surprised how many people actually start by just training at someone’s garage. This way you are in your comfort zone, training with people you know rather than a stranger at the gym. You can teach each other your techniques, see what works and what doesn’t work.
One way it can backfire on you though is both you and your friend are complete beginners. That’ll probably do more harm than good. It’ll be like the blind leading the blind so to speak! However, there are ways you can make the most out of training with your friends.
There are excellent resources out there – BJJ Online Courses and BJJ books. Utilize these resources to gain some insight when you and your friends start training together.
Advantages and Disadvantages with Training Jiu Jitsu with Friends
The great thing about training with friends is that you already know each other. There doesn’t need to be any awkwardness like you would if you decide to train in a gym. You would be rolling and drilling techniques with strangers if you choose to go train BJJ in a gym setting. Newbies generally find it “weird” to be that close to a stranger straight from the get-go.
It might be more of your pace to first start training with your friends. It’s much easier and more comfortable to train with a familiar face. Plus, it's great because you will be going at your own pace and not at a class or a private instructor’s pace. You can work with each other’s schedule to determine the time and place to train. There are no time constraints here, you can train for an hour or longer if you choose.
A major downside for training with a friend is the limitation of your growth. After a certain time, you get used to each other. If you continuously spar with the same person, you will most likely get used to their bag of tricks! In Jiu Jitsu, you will be needing some variation to determine how well rounded your game is.
Another big issue is if you are both lower belts, you might not get the full benefit of learning the right way. Sure, you will both be at the same level, and will most likely push each other to get better. That competitive drive is always great to have among friends. However, when it comes down to the minor intricacies and perfection of the game, you might need some outside help from a higher belt.
There are a ton of resources out there for you when you start your Jiu Jitsu training. There are BJJ books, Online Courses, and DVD’s. Not to mention YouTube! A lot of free stuff on there as well, if you choose that route.
If you are short on funds and can’t exactly afford a BJJ class or a Private class, you’ve got options. Even if you don’t have friends that train BJJ, you can even go the route of getting yourself a grappling dummy! Point is, the options are there for you! Here are some of the top resources we like:
Top 5 Best BJJ Books
Top 5 Best Online BJJ Training Resources
When it comes down to it, when you ask the question “how do I practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu near me,” the answer isn’t so simple. It truly depends on you as a student. Do you like your privacy? Maybe start with some of the books and online resources. You can practice solo, practice with a dummy, or practice with a friend.
Keep in mind though, Jiu Jitsu Dummies can be lazy at times - they don't fight back! I mean they just sit there! If you have some friends that practice Jiu Jitsu, definitely take advantage of it. They’d be happy to get you into it! Live rolls with training partners will only accelerate your learning experience.
However, sooner or later, you’ll have to get yourself in a BJJ class. You just have so much more benefits when you have multiple training partners. Your game will be much more complete. You can fix your flaws and get that much better. If you have the time or the budget for it, this is the most recommended way in learning the art. The techniques you learn, the friendships you make, and the discipline and benefits you earn from training in a BJJ class – you can’t get this stuff anywhere else!