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The Best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu In Bergen County NJ. BJJ Training In Westwood
Ask anyone who trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and they'll tell you how much they LOVE it because it’s both mentally and physically engaging. You'll never feel bored or unchallenged like you do with other forms of exercise, plus BJJ training will get you in top athletic shape! You’ll love every minute you spend on the mat, and you'll feel incredibly good off the mat. For most of our students, BJJ training takes the place of going to a gym to lift weights or run on a treadmill. Step out of the boredom of your regular workout and do something that gives you a valuable life skill by trying out the the best BJJ in NJ at Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA.
A BJJ Gym Is A Great Way To Make Lifelong Friends
When you train BJJ at Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA you don’t just learn how to defend yourself, you become part of a community of dedicated practitioners from all walks of life who are working together towards a common set of goals. Our BJJ Gym has a family friendly welcoming atmosphere where friendships and social bonds form organically. Not to mention we have a great time doing community events together! Getting in shape, learning martial arts, and gaining confidence should be a fun lifelong practice with benefits that go far beyond the gym.
Our BJJ Gym Has a friendly, relaxed training atmosphere
Step foot into Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA, and you immediately feel welcome. You'll enjoy a safe and friendly environment with a strong sense of community and camaraderie. We have a zero tolerance policy for meat heads, bully behavior and bad attitudes here. Any sense of intimidation you may have initially felt will immediately dissolve when you experience our fun bjj classes and the cooperative nature of our students and staff. You're going to love it here!
Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life Through The Best BJJ classes In Bergen County NJ
If your personal goal is to get in shape, BJJ training will work your muscles and your core making you functionally strong. Our students regularly gain muscle, develop a chiseled physique, and notice a drastic increase in their strength while gaining valuable defense skills. BJJ classes combine interval training with resistance training which is proven to burn fat and increase lean muscle mass. You don’t have to deal with the boredom of going to a gym in order to look the way you’ve always wanted to.
Our BJJ School has an organized step by step curriculum and BJJ system
While many academies that teach BJJ in bergen county NJ have an unorganized “whatever” approach to learning Jiu-Jitsu, we're different. You'll enjoy a structured curriculum that takes you from white belt to blue belt within 1.5-2 years and all the way to the black belt. Our Bjj school will help you quickly learn how to defend yourself and even become a competitive champion if you like.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Is The Top Martial Art For Self Defense
Two words: efficiency and leverage... The efficiency of Jiu-Jitsu techniques let you control and submit your opponent with minimal energy and movement. (But don't get me wrong ... you still get a killer workout, since you can burn around 700 calories during one hour of Jiu-Jitsu training!) And all the techniques are based on leverage. This allows you to become extremely powerful and effective – even if you lack strength, speed, size or flexibility. That's why virtually every top UFC or mixed martial arts fighter has a Brown or Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And it's why thousands of every-day people are turning to BJJ for self-defense and as a base for MMA training. Come try the best brazilian jiu jitsu in bergen county nj!
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gives You The Confidence To Defend Yourself
You never have to get into a fight to enjoy the feeling of power and certainty you now carry inside you everywhere you go. Confidence comes from training to fight even if you never compete. But if you or a loved one are ever assaulted, your BJJ training will snap into place – so you can safely diffuse the threat, even against larger and stronger assailants! With BJJ, you'll be a hero in your own home. And that confidence bleeds through in every area of your life... work, social situations, life challenges, everything.
Our instructors have a distinguished pedigree and are highly skilled at teaching Jiu-Jitsu
Your results and level of enjoyment with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu have everything to do with where you choose to train. Head instructor Wil Horneff is a Pan American champion and is a bjj black belt under Ralph Gracie, brother of Renzo Gracie and grandson of Carlos Gracie. Most importantly each instructor places a big emphasis on their own continuing education both as practitioners and teachers so when you train here, you can be assured you're getting world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instruction.
We Are A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu School With Quality Personal Attention
During each class, you'll receive guidance and hands-on instruction from qualified instructors and assistant instructors. Our hands on step by step approach is a major advantage that helps you learn and retain the techniques while accelerating your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills. We teach things in a way that’s easy to understand for the absolute beginner.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Classes Are Both Mentally and Physically Engaging
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training is addicting. It’s like playing chess with your body. Class by class you will gradually master the moves, techniques and strategies that make self defense effortless. Have you ever played chess against someone with a couple years under their belt? Now imagine that time was spent learning the BJJ game. That’s why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners walk with confidence and pride. You’re going to be somewhere in a couple years. Why not be a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
BJJ Training Allows You To De-Stress And Lower Your Anxiety Levels
We all have anxiety. Oftentimes, due to life circumstances we may find ourselves living in a constant state of anxiety and stress which can lead to depression. Medical science has shown how unmitigated stress can wreak havoc on both or minds and our bodies. When you train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you are able to release your stress in a positive way that will allow you to better handle your interpersonal relationships both at home and at work. The practice of consistently coming to BJJ classes and doing something for yourself will lead to a better life for both you and the people you love. Our workouts push your body to the max and you will leave the gym feeling energized.
You Can Become A BJJ Champion
If your desire is to be a BJJ Champion, Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA can help you get there. Our brazilian jiu jitsu academy has a mix of skill levels from white to black belt. We have a dedicated competition team that students can apply to once they are ready. Our brazilian jiu jitsu instructors can be seen on the mats training with the students every class and our student body is comprised of many distinguished competitors and highly skilled practitioners.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need prior experience in Jiu-Jitsu to start?
No. All of our Jiu-Jitsu Foundations classes assume no prior BJJ or martial arts experience. You will experience an energetic class with lots of drilling and positional training with the personal attention you need to thrive.
What kind of equipment do I need?
You will need a Gi which is the brazilian jiu jitsu uniform and sometimes students feel more comfortable with a mouthpiece as well even though its not required for the Foundations classes.
As a beginner in BJJ, do I need to spar?
No there is no sparring in the beginner classes. It's important that you progress at your own pace. Beginning BJJ students do a lot of drilling and positional training before they begin sparring.
How effective is BJJ for real world self defense?
BJJ has proven itself time and time again as the best total self defense system for the real world. It relies on the principles of leverage to allow smaller, weaker people to defeat much larger, stronger opponents on the ground which is where most fights wind up.
My main priority is fitness. Can I expect to lose weight and gain muscle by taking BJJ classes?
Yes absolutely. Training Jiu-Jitsu engages your core and provides the resistance training you need to get a strong cut physique. Additionally, the bjj training closely resembles interval training which is the most effective way to burn fat.
Do I need to be in shape before I start training brazilian jiu-jitsu?
No. The foundations program assumes you have no prior experience have not developed good cardio yet. The classes are designed to push your body and mind and to get you in fighting shape. However, there are breaks and students can go at their own pace.
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“I have a demanding job and training grounds is where I come to recharge and destress. It's great being able to train with my son and we love the positive atmosphere and great instruction.” - Dave Panzarella
“Professor Wil is highly skilled at both training and teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” - Ryan Hall Ultimate Fighter Winner
“My goal is to be a world champion and I can say without a doubt that this school has what it takes to help me reach that goal. ” - Luis Gil Pan American Champion
“Whether you are trying to find a place for your child or you are an adult trying to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu this is a perfect choice. You won’t find better!” - Eduardo Montes
“I get a great feeling from the school because everyone is looking to help each other out. I feel like I am 18 again.” - Tom Raimondi
“I am a personal trainer and I can say that the training grounds program will make you stronger, and increase you stamina, all the while giving you solid self defense skills” - Kelly Lynam
Joining Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I used be very athletic when I was younger but as I got older, work and life made it difficult. Since consistently attending BJJ classes I have seen great improvements in my stamina, cardio, and flexibility. I have just recently been awarded my blue belt after 2 years of training. It was honestly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have a demanding life and job and training grounds is where I come to destress and do something for myself. I love being able to train with my son. Training brazilian jiu-jitsu makes me so much better in every other area of my life. You walk out of each class feeling like a new man. I highly recommend it. Pearl River, NJ
I’m really not the type of person to write reviews unless I really think a place merits one. I’ve been here for 8 months at this point learning brazilian jiu jitsu. If you want to learn bjj this is the place to do it. The people you meet at this bjj gym are friendly and the coaches are awesome especially Professor Wil who’s the head instructor. I love everything about it. Paramus, NJ
Anthony De Filippo
I have always wanted to take martial arts classes and wanted to find a reputable Bjj gym close by. I initially had planned on trying out several places but after one class at Training Grounds Jiu Jitsu I knew it was the place for me. I do both the brazilian jiu-jitsu and the kickboxing classes and couldn’t be happier. As with any new venture especially a brazilian Jiu jitsu gym there is always the intimidation factor but as soon as I stepped in the door the friendly demeanor of both the staff and students put me at ease. Professor Wil does a wonderful job at breaking down the jiu jitsu moves and making you feel like your progress is very important to him. Everyone has been so helpful that it would be better described as a family friendly bjj school rather than an mma gym in my opinion. My goal was initially just to learn Jiu Jitsu but I am now in better shape with better flexibility, strength, and cardio. I love it here. Northvale, NJ
I've live in bergen county and been training for 6 years. I started it just to get in shape and learn a martial art. I've trained at a lot of schools in both bergen and rockland counties before settling on Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA. It was the home I always wanted as far as a BJJ gym is concerned. BJJ has increased my confidence so much over the years because you are constantly testing yourself in a safe environment. I don't know where I would be without the training here. It's given me so much self assurance on so many levels. It's the most healthy outlet that I could ever have imagined in my life. It's a place where I can come to forget about work, forget about any of life's problems. And for that hour or so that I am training bjj nothing else matters. It's just a wonderful feeling that it gives you. As far as the instruction is concerned. I've trained at lot of other jujitsu schools and learned from a lot of good instructors but never one like Professor Wil. He shows such an incredible amount of detail in the techniques. It makes a world of difference in your progression. I'm not saying other instructors aren't good, but sometimes finding someone that works well with you, who will give you a solid understanding of how bjj works is really night and day. Before this I've never had an instructor that has taken so much personal concern and attention to his students individually. Montvale, NJ
My name is Lazlo Ember. I'm 47 years old. I was looking for a jiu jitsu school and there are a lot of martial arts schools that teach bjj in nj so I wanted to find one that was a good fit. Where I could learn specifically for self defense purposes. Things are getting rough out there and you can come across some nasty people and I wanted to learn how to handle whatever comes. I wanted to be strong and healthy and do it's now before it's too late. I work a lot of hours. I'm married. Life is tough and there is always time constraints but I find it very easy to come here and I'm learning a lot and getting stronger. You gain a lot of self confidence, you feel better, and it makes me a better worker and better husband. Everybody is very nice here and it came as a surprise because you never know what's going to happen walking into an brazilian jiu jitsu school. This is the first time I did this and I was a little nervous coming in here initially but the environment and friendliness of everyone put me at ease. Every time I leave I feel excellent. I am stronger and more confident and I look forward to continuing my training. Northvale, NJ
Training Grounds is the best gym for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA. The staff and especially Professor Wil are absolutely top notch. They have a really well thought out BJJ curriculum and the atmosphere is just so encouraging and friendly. Professor Wil is a Ralph Gracie black belt in BJJ and really knows his stuff. The way he teaches is clear and concise and makes the complicated seem very simple to understand. Each student that walks through the door gets a lot of personal attention and all of the instructors go way beyond in their efforts. I’ve been here for a year and half now and each and every time I have come away from class feeling like I’m growing. I haven’t had this kind a workout since my high school football days. Whether you are looking to compete in martial arts, learn mma for self defense or simply have a great workout, Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA is place where you can grow and I highly recommend them. Tenafly, NJ
I’m a 39 year old father with 4 children and haven’t been very active recently. As a result of where I am starting from Professor Wil and the other coaches made adjustments to the curriculum to accommodate old injuries and to match my age and body type. After roughly 6 months of going 2-3x a week I have lost a bunch of weight and I feel great. Initially I was hesitant to reach out after a poor experience at other brazilian jiu-jitsu gyms but after talking with Prof Wil on the phone I knew this academy was going to be a good fit. The students make you feel right at home. I haven’t encountered any aggressive people who are trying to “take out the new guy,” as I have at other schools. Everything about this bjj gym is on point from how they teach to the atmosphere. Hohokus, NJ
These guys are for lack of a better term to describe them, AWESOME! The instructors are truly masters of bjj and finding someone who is really good at teaching is challenge. Oftentimes, at least from my experience in wrestling it's especially hard to find someone who is good at both teaching and doing but that’s what you find here. Whether you are trying to find a place for your child or you are an adult trying to learn bjj, this is a good choice. You won’t find better! Woodcliff Lake, NJ
I wish I had joined Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA much sooner. I’ve been a member for 5 months and it has a very welcoming warm atmosphere. There are no egos and everyone is trying to help you, especially if you are new. The instructors give you personal attention, are friendly and are skilled technical communicators. The more advanced jiu jitsu students are helpful as well and don’t have any issues if you ask them advice. They go out of their way to take time helping you learn. Overall Training Grounds is a safe environment to learn bjj and the way they teach makes it fun. Old Tappan, NJ
Actor Alex Wraith
I've been to a bunch of other brazilian jiu jitsu schools and academies in nj. I chose Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA because the environment is amazing. There are no egos, no "tough guys." Everybody is great, everyone helps each other out. There are a lot of martial arts schools that are starting to teach bjj in nj so it's important to make sure you are going to one with a good reputation with qualified instructors. Professor Wil is very interactive with his students no matter what your level. I have seen tremendous changes in my body from my cardio to flexibility to strength which has benefited me tremendously in a real life self situation. If your confidence is down this is the place to get your confidence up and learn how to defend yourself. Marvel’s Agents Of The Shield Netflix “Orange Is The New Black Emerson, NJ
My name is Tom Raimondi. I'm a technical consultant in both Rockland and Bergen County. Prior to coming here I had absolutely no experience with martial arts. In the past I'd always joined a regular gym going on a treadmill, lifting weights and it was very boring which was why I wasn't going. I was looking for something else to do that was exciting so I started looking into jujitsu schools. I always had an interest in brazilian jiu jitsu and from watching the UFC. Since I've been here I've learned a ton. My cardio has increased incredibly. I was in very bad shape before I came here. I have strengthened up my core and my back which I had problems with in the past. And now I have a much higher confidence level to be able to handle myself in a self defense situation. Professor Wil is very patient and has a very well thought out curriculum and is able to convey the techniques in a way that people like me who have absolutely no brazilian jiu jitsu experience can easily learn it. I get a great feeling from the school because everyone is looking to help each other out, and push each other to reach their full potential. I feel like I am 18 again. Haworth, NJ
Have you been looking for a fun hobby to add enjoyment to your life? If you have thought about starting BJJ for fun, we highly encourage you to try it out. When it comes to living a happy, fulfilled, and successful life, we cannot understate the importance of participation in activities we enjoy. For many of us, BJJ provides a fun hobby that is quite different from your typical recreational activities. In fact, the vast majority of BJJ artists train out of sheer enjoyment for the activity itself. For most regulars at any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym, BJJ is primarily a fun hobby they engage in recreationally. Even among the competitive athletes in BJJ, the art is first and foremost enjoyable in itself.
BJJ is a great option if you are looking for a fun hobby for several reasons. Furthermore, BJJ has many additional benefits, even for the recreational trainee, when compared to other common hobbies. Of course, the bottom line for anything we do for fun is that we must enjoy it. For those of us bitten by the so-called ‘BJJ bug,’ training jiujitsu takes the cake.
Why is BJJ so Fun?
There are nearly endless recreational activities you can choose from if you are looking for a fun hobby. From traditional arts to hiking to recreational badminton, the list goes on and on. When it comes to physical, athletic hobbies, BJJ offers several things that other recreational sports do not. The following are just a few of the top reasons you may find BJJ a more enjoyable, beneficial activity.
BJJ Offers a Friendly Opportunity for 1-on-1 Competition as a Fun Hobby
Whether you do BJJ as a competitor or just for a fun hobby, one thing is certain. BJJ is a competitive activity. Regardless of your deeper goals in the sport, every time you roll, you are pitting your wits, skill, and ego against another person in a similar frame of mind. Many physical hobbies shun any sense of competition. Sure, things like yoga, step aerobics, and hiking offer personal physical and emotional growth. However, in most cases, a recreational hiker, aerobics enthusiast, or yoga practitioner never faces any pretense of competition during the course of the activity itself.
With BJJ, the competitive aspect is baked-in to the very nature of the practice. Even if you are casually ‘flow rolling’ with a longtime training partner, the end goal is competitive in nature. You are ultimately trying to submit the other person through leverage, technique, and physical dominance. If the specific roll is not that competitive, you are still trying to improve your ability to submit an opponent to your will. Does this mean training BJJ is always stressful if you are not the ‘competitive type?’ Not necessarily. Once you develop your ability to manage your ego, the competitive aspect greatly increases the intrinsic reward in the activity. In fact, we argue that this competitive aspect makes BJJ more fun than non-competitive physical activities. Don’t get us wrong. Self-esteem and not turning everything into a life-or-death competition is important for mental health. However, at the end of the day, your deeper reward system responds to the structure of competition. A healthy sense of competition makes BJJ more fun.
BJJ Represents a Deeper Physical Reality
When push comes to shove, combat sports are a different beast from traditional sports activities. Traditional sports are, at the end of the day, a game. Of course, combat sports have rules that separate them from true life-or-death violence. Despite that, a combat sport is more representative of the outcome of a real fight than traditional sporting activities. As humans, we inherently understand the implication of a combat sports outcome. If I lose to you in badminton or soccer, that does not really say much about who would win in a real fight.
On the other hand, if I choke you out in BJJ, the implication is that you are unconscious (or worse). If it were a real-life encounter, you would now be at my mercy. Obviously, the stakes are not that high, even in BJJ competition. But we still have a deeper emotional understanding of what it means to lose in a combat sport. Many of us do not find traditional sports as engaging for the simple fact that the rules are entirely contrived. On the other hand, the real-world implication of BJJ is more interesting and ultimately makes for a more fun hobby.
BJJ Offers the Opportunity to Truly Test Your Ego
BJJ is a fun hobby in large part because it offers the opportunity to truly test your ego on a deeper level. This may seem off-putting at first. However, in the long run, this opportunity makes BJJ much more fun than most other run-of-the-mill physical hobbies. This does depend in large part on your disposition towards competition and conflict. However, in BJJ you face yourself as much as your training partner or opponent.
As we mentioned in our previous points, you cannot hide from the reality that BJJ represents. It is virtually impossible to train BJJ and convince yourself that you are as good as anyone else when you’re a newbie. Based on the above, it may sound like BJJ would be less fun as a hobby than other activities. This may be partially true initially. BJJ is frustrating. However, that makes the intrinsic reward of improvement at BJJ more satisfying and fulfilling than other activities that seem easier at first. In the long run, the depth of BJJ makes it a much more fun hobby than other recreational endeavors. If you are not willing to face your own limitations and fears, you will perpetually limit personal growth. This fact brings us to the second reason we see BJJ as a fun hobby with more benefits than other common activities.
BJJ Offers Endless Room for Improvement
You probably have the notion that a black belt is a ‘master’ at BJJ. This is, in many ways, a true enough statement. However, ask any BJJ black belt, especially those at a high level, and they will tell you they are constantly working to improve their game. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has no endpoint. There are so many positions, details, intricacies, and opponents. The moment you feel you have mastered one thing, someone will come along and blast a hole straight through it. Even if you excel in a certain position, there are undoubtedly other areas of the game you can improve.
The truth about BJJ is that you can always improve. Even as you age out of your strongest, fastest, and most athletic stage of life, there’s room to get better. You will always be able to improve your angles, pressure, and details that make or break the positions in BJJ. For example, Grandmaster Helio Gracie trained BJJ into his 80s. While others his age had likely long given up on physical improvement, Helio continued to roll with world champions. Could he beat them? Well, he probably was not submitting a world champion at 80. However, he could always work on survival, defense, and of course, improving his student’s knowledge. As five-time Black Belt World Champion Saulo Ribeiro describes in his seminal work Jiu Jitsu University, Grandmaster Helio would tease world champion black belts as an 80-year-old man. He would not say that he could beat them. But he would tell them “I don’t think you can beat me.” Most of them could not tap him out despite being decades younger and BJJ world champions themselves. The point of this anecdote? BJJ never gets old.
Is BJJ a Fun Hobby for Everyone?
We have laid out our main reasons we think BJJ is a great activity if you need a fun hobby. You may still be wondering ‘Is BJJ really fun for everyone?’ We are going to be honest… BJJ is not for everyone. To really enjoy BJJ requires grit, determination, and a willingness to push through discomfort for self-improvement. When you are drilling and rolling live, BJJ is not always a ‘relaxing’ experience. Depending on who you are rolling with and how hard you are going, it may be quite the opposite. For many, it takes a good investment of time and energy to reach the point where BJJ is ‘fun.’ But it’s worth it. Once you get to the point where you can reach a ‘flow state’ in BJJ, the intrinsic rewards are insane. Sometimes, you may see two long-time training partners roll with no timer long past the end of class. They have lost all sense of time and are entirely in the moment, completely engaged in the act of trying to choke each other out. Guess what? They are probably having a really good time.
The fact is anyone can get good enough at BJJ to make it a fun hobby. You do not have to be a master to reach the point of flow in BJJ. You just need to stick with it long enough to have a few moves from each position. Once you reach the point where you do not have to think your way through every position, BJJ gets really fun. The initial hump to get to mid-blue belt is probably the most frustrating time in BJJ. At more advanced ranks, the dynamic changes, and training gets more and more fun. If you reach a point of coaching in BJJ, the rewards can be even greater as you watch your students grow… but that is far down the line.
How Long Does It Take for BJJ to Be a Fun Hobby?
We have established that BJJ is a fun hobby for reasons not common to other activities. You’re also now aware that it may take some time to reap the ‘fun rewards’ of training BJJ. But how long does it take for it to get fun. There really is no exact answer to this question. For many people, and hopefully you, BJJ can be a fun hobby starting on day one. All the frustrations we discussed earlier still apply, but that does not mean you will not have fun or feel the satisfaction of BJJ training. BJJ should be fun from day one, frustrations aside. Once you really hit your stride after a few months of training, it gets even better. Establishing solid training partners is also vital to this process. The training partners and community will be a large part of what makes BJJ a fun hobby.
Since we are being 100% honest with you... You will reach a point in BJJ where you can tap out bigger, stronger guys and girls with ease. While BJJ is not *only* about tapping people out, there is no denying the satisfaction and, dare we say, fun of controlling and submitting a large resisting opponent. Yes, it is fun to tap people out. We cannot say specifically how long it will take before you reach the ‘new people don’t have a chance’ phase of your training, but it will happen if you stick with BJJ. The sooner you start training BJJ, the sooner you will reach this point.
Start BJJ to Find a Fun Hobby!
The only way to know for sure if you will enjoy BJJ is to start training and stick with it long enough to find out. While we cannot guarantee it will be your ultimate hobby, you may be surprised. BJJ is spreading fast and gaining popularity for a reason. Sure, it's an effective form of self-defense and necessary for MMA. But at the end of the day, most people who train BJJ do so for the pure joy of grappling itself. We encourage you to do a trial class of BJJ and stick with it for a little to see how you like it. You can always stop if it is not for you. However, if training BJJ is something you have been thinking about for a while, we highly recommend trying it as soon as possible. The sooner you start BJJ, the sooner you will reap the rewards of this fun hobby.
When it comes to making friends and building relationships, training BJJ for community and friendship is one of the major unspoken benefits of Jiujitsu. We all have varying reasons for starting martial arts training. From self-defense and getting in shape to competing, there are many benefits to martial arts. Despite these varying motivations for training, there is one big reason we all continue: the sense of community and the people we meet in martial arts. BJJ is excellent for being part of a positive, friendly community. The team building and community aspect of BJJ is one of the reasons it stands out as a top martial art. Compared to other activities, BJJ is one of the better options for building a sense of community.
How Does BJJ Build Community?
BJJ is in many ways a unique martial art. Often, the competitive aspect of martial arts such as wrestling and boxing caters to a younger, more athletic crowd. Do not get us wrong, you can absolutely begin training and competing in these martial arts as an adult. However, most general adult boxing or kickboxing classes focus primarily on the fitness component and less on the competitive team aspect. As far as wrestling, adult classes are not as commonly available.
On the other hand, traditional martial arts that may be more appealing to adults such as Tai Chi or Aikido often have less emphasis on the live training component. Are there exceptions? Of course. But compared to BJJ, you are not likely to do as much live training in many other ‘softer’ martial arts styles. BJJ sits neatly in the middle of these other arts. Of course, BJJ training is tough. It is physically, mentally, and at times, emotionally difficult. However, compared to the intensity of boxing sparring or competitive wrestling, BJJ is far more accessible to the average person looking for a good martial art. Sure, your joints might take a beating. You might get bruised or scraped. But head injuries are not as common in BJJ as they are in live striking. Most of us working professionals simply cannot afford the brain damage from sparring boxing or kickboxing. This special place BJJ has in the world of martial arts makes it excel at community building. You get the benefits of camaraderie associated with intense live training, without the damage from striking martial arts. Additionally, the fact that BJJ is more accessible to everyday people increases the overall number of people who train. BJJ is spreading in popularity for the reasons we have discussed. This means you can connect and grow with a much larger group of people compared to niche martial arts.
The BJJ Community-Building Aspect of Live Rolling
The live rolling is one of the biggest reasons BJJ builds such a solid community. To really train BJJ, you need partners you trust who are also committed to improvement. You need an instructor invested in your development who honors your dedication to training. Live rolling depends on you and your partner trusting each other to stay safe. You roll at high-intensity and try to choke and joint-lock each other. Clearly, it is vital that you trust your partner’s intentions regarding your health and safety. Through this mutual understanding, you will build deeper bonds with your training partners. This takes time to truly develop. But over time, relationships and community building are inevitable with your long-term training partners.
The Bonds of BJJ Community Competition
In any good sports team, the players are likely tightly knit. You cannot effectively work together and win if you do not have a deeper understanding of one another. This does not mean every teammate is your best friend. However, there will be an element of camaraderie that accompanies competition. This same pattern is true if you compete in BJJ. The community in BJJ often revolves around some aspect of competition. Luckily, BJJ competition is a reasonable goal for the average practitioner when compared to other sports. On a good BJJ team, everyone supports one another. This is especially true if you are willing to put your skills on the line to compete. In victory and defeat, the camaraderie you get from heading to competition with your BJJ ‘squad’ is irreplaceable. Generally, your teammates and coaches support you whether you win or lose. Teammates who compete understand the stress and intensity. They know what you are going through and will support you for competing. Teammates who do not compete will be impressed by your willingness to toe the line.
Why is Community in BJJ Important?
We cannot understate the importance of having a strong, positive community for long-term success and happiness. When it comes to BJJ, the community is everything. You will be training and interacting with the other members at your gym on a very regular basis. Furthermore, you need to trust your training partners. You should not go to practice wondering if you will get injured by a teammate. Of course, injuries do happen. However, an injury should only occur accidentally. If someone is intentionally trying to hurt you, that is a major problem. Any gym that fosters this type of energy should raise red flags. The members reflect the overall culture of the gym. A positive community in BJJ schools would not allow someone like this to continue training. It reflects poorly on the entire gym if the instructor permits a student to train after demonstrating this energy. The community in BJJ is part-and-parcel to the overall experience of training. It is necessary for the growth of both the individual students and the overall program. An instructor’s reputation as a competitor or coach can help attract students to a school. However, without the underlying sense of community, the school will not retain students nor flourish.
How Do I Know if a BJJ School Has Good a Community?
There are several ways you can predict whether a BJJ school has this culture and community.
The BJJ school has a thriving class attendance
If you notice a packed class when you first come to a trial class, that is a good sign. At the end of the day, people vote with their time and wallets. If there is not much class attendance, something is probably driving people away. While a full class is not a guarantee of a great community, if the evening classes are dead, there is a good chance something is not great at the school. The exception to this observation is a newly opened BJJ school. It takes time to build up a dedicated student base. If you find a newer school with an instructor you like, small class size may not necessarily be a bad sign.
The BJJ School Has a Range of Belt Ranks
In a BJJ school with a good community, there should be a range of belt ranks attending an all-levels class. It takes a long time to build purple, brown, and black belts. Even a white-to-blue belt takes 1-2 years of dedicated attendance for an instructor to promote. A packed class tells you the instructor can bring in new people. A range of ranks on the mat tells you the instructor can keep students dedicated over the long-haul. This is unlikely to occur if the underlying community is not great. Here is another factor to consider. As a white belt, you cannot really know how good someone is at BJJ.
An average blue belt can possibly tap you out with similar ease as a purple, brown, or even black belt. On the other hand, if someone is a purple, brown, or black belt, they most likely have some skill with grappling. Certainly, enough skill to know whether following an instructor is worth their time and money. If a purple belt tells you a certain instructor is ‘really good,’ it is probably true. It is one thing to convince a newbie you are a good instructor. However, advanced BJJ artists are unlikely to train under someone who is not a skilled practitioner themself. Furthermore, advanced ranks may have had training with multiple different instructors. As such, they can make a better judgment on the quality of the training and community at a BJJ school. Does a bunch of upper belts at class guarantee it is a good community? Not necessarily. But it is a good sign.
Someone Greets You at the Door
Other than class attendance and a range of belt ranks, there is one final indicator of a solid community. When you walk into the door of the BJJ school during business hours, someone should greet you. Long gone are the days of being snubbed by the leaders of a dojo until you spent months scrubbing the floors to ‘show your worth.’ In the modern era of BJJ, the schools are a combination of community and small business. Both are fundamentally about people. If you are rudely greeted at the door, there is a good chance the overall community is negative. Even if you are ignored or otherwise not greeted when you walk in, that is a bad sign. BJJ school owners with a mind on building a good community will for the most part ensure you feel welcome the moment you step in the door. If you walk in during business hours, you should be greeted. The good news is that most BJJ gyms do not survive if they cannot build this underlying trust. This must come from the top-down and bottom-up. The head coach must exemplify these values to the point that a brand-new white belt immediately follows suit.
Can I Still Train BJJ for Community If I Don’t Compete?
If you are not a competitor in BJJ, you still benefit from the community aspect of BJJ. The fact is, around half the people who train BJJ almost never compete. Among those who do compete, most do so recreationally. Although competition helps build camaraderie, it is not the glue that holds the community together. The training itself is what brings people together. For the reasons we have discussed, the least competitive member at a school is still important for the community. Even for non-competitors, the BJJ gym will eventually feel like a second home. Every training partner, young to old, competitive to casual should feel welcome at the gym. At the end of the day, most of your time training BJJ is spent at the gym with your teammates. As such, you should not feel the need to compete to be a part of the community.
The BJJ Community Creates Lifelong Friendships
There are few activities that bring so many people together like BJJ. Training Jiujitsu transcends most of the barriers that often divide us in outside life. In BJJ, the primary focus is training grappling and self-development as a martial artist. In today’s world, BJJ brings people of all backgrounds together to enjoy a communal activity. This is a huge benefit in terms of everyone’s development. If you spend enough time training BJJ, eventually you will know people for years and even decades. Despite everyone being on a different path in life, BJJ brings you together. We are virtually more connected than ever through social media. With BJJ, you build a real connection with people that cuts across time and space. Grappling builds a much deeper community because it is so different from most of our day-to-day lives.
Of course, reaping the benefits of BJJ for community requires you to do your part. You must be a thoughtful and consistent training partner. Any negative energy you bring to the gym may come back to bite you. However, if you are at a BJJ gym with a good community, the training will provide relief from whatever else is going on in your life. While you will not be best friends with everyone at your gym, you will develop deeper friendships and relationships in BJJ. Those of us that end up training BJJ for years will almost always admit, it is the community at our BJJ gym that keeps us coming back for more.
We can all agree, most of us do not plan to be professional competitive BJJ artists. However, that does not mean you cannot do BJJ competitions. In fact, most people who compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu do so out of a love for the art itself. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does not fit neatly into a single box. BJJ is a martial art, sport, practice, hobby, and lifestyle all in one. Even world-class BJJ competitors are motivated primarily by dedication to the BJJ practice. BJJ competitions are available in most major cities. They can be Gi or No Gi. Competition brackets range in skill level from white belt to black belt divisions. They are further divided by weight-class, with the weight-cutoffs varying depending on the promotion (a fancy word for the organization running the event).
What Are the Rules in BJJ Competition?
BJJ competition rules depend on the specific promotion as well as the belt level. With few exceptions, BJJ competition rulesets do not allow any form of striking. Commonly banned grappling techniques include wrestling slams such as the suplex. Additionally, many competitions prohibit slamming your opponent to escape closed-guard, triangle, or armbar. Finally, a few niche takedowns such as scissor-style takedowns may be banned.
Generally, these grappling throws are banned due to the higher potential for concussions or knee injury (in the case of scissor takedowns). Competitors without wrestling experience are typically not prepared enough for these techniques. Always double-check with the promotion before assuming anything is or is not legal. Some tournaments and competitions allow a larger range of grappling techniques for more experienced competitors.
In addition to the banned throws, many competitions prohibit certain leg locking techniques depending on the belt level. For example, most promotions universally prohibit heel hook submissions at lower levels. This is primarily due to the risk of injury and the experience required to understand these techniques. Most mid-to-high level No Gi brackets allow virtually all leg locks. Traditional Gi BJJ rulesets ban heel hooks at all levels but allow certain prohibited leg locks at brown belt and up.
Neck cranks are the final submission that most BJJ competitions ban at lower levels. These techniques may be reserved for higher-level competitors or disallowed outright. Exceptions aside, 99 percent or more of what you learn in a standard BJJ class is allowed in BJJ competition. This includes basic wrestling takedowns and the wide range of sweeps and submissions in BJJ.
What are the Different Types of BJJ Competitions?
Different BJJ competitions vary in specific rulesets, bracket set-up, and duration. BJJ competitions are also divided into Gi and No Gi brackets.
Single/Double Elimination Tournaments
Single and double elimination tournaments are the ‘standard’ tournament competition type. In this setup, you will be in a bracket with the other competitors based on weight, age, and skill/belt level. You will be paired off for your first match with another person in your bracket. Each ‘round’ of the tournament pairs off competitors. The winners then face each other in the next round. This repeats until the final match between the last two winners from all previous rounds. Whoever wins this match gets first place in the tournament, while the loser of the final round places second. Depending on whether a tournament is ‘single’ or ‘double’ elimination, you may have the opportunity to roll again after your first loss. In a ‘single’ elimination tournament, once you lose, you are out. In ‘double elimination,’ you will face another losing competitor from the same round as you lost. Assuming you win all your matches from there, you may end up getting third place. In some single-elimination tournaments, you may still have the chance to fight for third place if you get far enough in your bracket. If this is not the case, the competitors have a ‘tie’ for third place on the podium.
A round-robin tournament involves a similar bracket set up by weight class, age, and skill level. The main difference in round-robin is that you will face every other competitor in the bracket. The competitor who racks up the most wins takes gold, second silver, and third bronze. One of the biggest advantages of round-robin is that you get more matches. The buildup in training and anticipation for BJJ competition occurs over weeks if not months. You spend a day of travel and waiting around for matches. If it is single elimination and you lose your first match, you can be ‘one and done’ without getting much competition time. In round-robin, you are guaranteed more time competing, which may be worth it to show off your skills. Round robin tournaments typically have a cap between eight and twelve competitors. This is due to the greater number of matches per competitor. After all, the referees want to go home at some point!
A ‘superfight’ is a BJJ event where you face a single opponent. It’s sort of like an MMA fight except with grappling rule sets. In fact, these days it's common for superfights to be in an MMA cage. Promoters typically organize superfights differently than tournaments. They are more of a spectator event. Competitors typically compete one-at-a-time and have the whole attention of the crowd. The promotion will have lights, alcoholic drinks served to the audience, and other amenities typical to a sporting event. This is in contrast to a tournament that lasts all day with multiple matches across a large mat area (and generally no alcohol!).
Superfights are often more exciting to participate in and watch than normal tournaments. It’s a chance for you to put your skills on display with the full attention of the crowd. You may walk out to your favorite pump-up song. The lights will be on you. The crowd will cheer. Your nerves may be higher and the anticipation greater than typical tournament nerves. That said, superfights are usually more fun. Given that superfights usually have one match at a time, a given event has a limited number of spots. Furthermore, most superfights are at a minimum only going to host blue belt matches and higher. While your grandma may love to watch you compete after one month of training, the crowd is there to see more advanced BJJ in action.
How Long Should You Train Before Competing in BJJ?
If you are interested in BJJ competition but are new to the sport, you are probably wondering how long you need to train to compete. You will not find one right answer to this question. Depending on how nervous you are, you may want to work on your skills for a while before competing. Your first competition can be nerve-wracking. The more preparation you have, the more confident you will be. On the other hand, competition in BJJ is one of the best ‘reality checks’ available to us. You will see exactly where you stand against people who are like you in age, size, and skill. You will immediately find holes in your game that may not come up with your normal partners. Furthermore, every tournament is an opportunity for serious character and skill growth as a martial artist. Realistically, you should have a game plan and a basic understanding of positions in BJJ before competing. You should understand the goals of sweeping, passing guard, and control and submissions. However, you will not (and should not) be a master at anything in BJJ before competing.
Ask your instructor
The best solution is to ask your head instructor how he or she feels about you competing. Your BJJ instructor will most likely be honest. The biggest concern an instructor will probably have is your ego. If you get absolutely destroyed in your first tournament, will you give up on BJJ? While you may instinctively say no, a crushing defeat in tournaments can be demoralizing. Ultimately, if you have a real love for BJJ, tournament losses are simply a learning opportunity. Even BJJ black belts get absolutely demolished in tournaments against other, better black belts. The loss itself is not a problem. The issue lies with how you handle it. To put a distinct number on it, most white belts who train for six months to a year will be more than ready for their first white belt tournament.
Is BJJ Competition Dangerous?
Given that BJJ is a contact sport, competitions have an inherent risk. When competing, you are going 100% against another person of your size, strength, and skill. You are probably not going to tap as quickly if you have the mindset to win. Your opponent will likely crank harder on submissions than a training partner. With both of those factors in mind, the risk for injury does go up compared to normal training. However, if you know when to tap, you should be fine. The referee will also do their best to keep you safe and ensure you and your opponent follow the rules. For the most part, serious injuries from BJJ competition are relatively rare. This is particularly true at lower levels when the stakes are lower.
Do I Have to Compete to Get Promoted?
Another common question about BJJ competition is whether you need to compete to get promoted. This is entirely up to your instructor. Most instructors will eventually promote you even if you do not compete, provided you are consistently training and improving your BJJ. That said, some competition-focused schools may require or expect you to compete at least once at each belt level. Additionally, winning your tournaments may show your instructor you are ready for promotion. On the other hand, losing tournaments is not necessarily a sign that you shouldn’t be promoted. You may have faced a seasoned competitor who was nearing promotion themself. Showing up and competing shows dedication and passion, and that may be the driver for promotion provided you are improving overall. A big reason that frequent competitors tend to get promoted faster is that they train more.
If you are constantly signing up for tournaments, you are less likely to skip practice. If a loss in a tournament shows you a hole in your game, you may be more motivated to work on it. Overall, you will notice a correlation between frequently competing and overall commitment to BJJ. As such, even if your instructor does not require competition for a promotion, you may still rank up sooner if are a competitor. Of course, at the end of the day, it is not about the belt, but the journey itself. You should not feel compelled to compete if your only reason is to rank up.
Can You Get Paid to Compete in BJJ?
If you’re a new BJJ student, you should not be worried about getting paid to compete. Many people ask this question in regards to BJJ competition. Unfortunately, most BJJ tournaments pay out very little, even to the highest level competitors. Certainly, local tournaments are not enough to pay bills. Larger, big-name tournaments may have larger payouts. However, these will be highly competitive brackets with the best people in the world vying for victory.
Overall, BJJ competition is not a hugely lucrative endeavor. We do have one noteworthy exception. If you have the dream of owning a financially successful BJJ school, making a name for yourself in BJJ competition is a good idea. The competition itself may not offer a huge financial payout. However, it gives you the opportunity to display your BJJ skills and earn your respect in the BJJ community. As you compete more and more at higher levels, you will get to know the other local competitors. If you end up opening your school, even a local reputation as a solid competitor may bring students through your door. Word-of-mouth matters a lot in BJJ. Competition is a way to prove to the community that you have real BJJ skills and make a worthy instructor. Financial gain is probably not your primary motivation for competing. However, if you plan to make a living doing BJJ, competing throughout your journey is a wise move.
In Conclusion: BJJ Competition
BJJ competition is a great way to test your mettle as a martial artist. We cannot understate the mental and physical growth from the competition process. Realistically, you should compete as soon as you and your instructor feel ready. Ultimately, BJJ competition will be a huge boon to your overall development in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
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