Jiu-Jitsu's Current Golden Period

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber

Photo By: Jeff Chu

Jiu-Jitsu is Getting Better. We Have it Pretty Good.

The market has expanded. Kids these days have it so good (grumbled the 13-year veteran). Choices are everywhere. I swear to God that today’s blue belt World Champions would have been brown belts five years ago. The rising quality of competitors arising from all over reflect the rising quality of competition for your loyalty and dollars.

More choices = better quality, more customization, more niches, better fits, more freedom. There is much less of a chance today that you will be banned from your academy for taking a class or going to an open mat at another one. The idea of you getting blackballed for switching academies altogether has also gone out of vogue. There have been so many splits and unions and political struggles in the BJJ world that almost no one can escape hearing about or being part of some awkward choice between BJJ parents. Just as you should for any controlling relationship, leave if you feel pressure to do something you don’t want to do. There’s too many cool places out there that have at least figured out you can’t dictate the life of a paying customer. (Yes, loyalty is important. But freely chosen loyalty means more than when it’s forced.)


The increased exposure of the sport means that many people may have three or more academies within driving distance. (I’m sorry if you don’t!) I tell new people to try them all and see what feels right for them. Everyone will seem like a wizard anyway when you’re new so it will be hard to gauge based on skill alone. You might as well go somewhere that made you happier when you left class than when you first came in. If you hear something weird about a place, investigate and find somewhere else if you’re uneasy. Women: pay attention to the sort of attention and respect you receive and don’t automatically discount rumors. Don’t automatically believe them, either, but be cautious and above all trust your gut.

The increased exposure of the sport also means you as a student are not necessarily the special butterfly and necessary meal ticket you once were. Instructors/academies have more leverage to set standards for behavior and etiquette for their student body and less pressure on them to cut deals in price because there are more people to draw from in the world that don’t think Jiu-Jitsu looks weird. Thank you, UFC. While everyone should be treated with respect, that respect goes both ways between the business and the paying students.

There’s a new gi company coming out every week! There are gis and rashguards catering to every body type and personality. There are soaps and tapes and fashion and even flip flop manufacturers that were smart enough to embrace the brother and sisterhood of Jiu-Jitsu to give you better and better choices.


Support BJJ by partaking in tournaments near you. Reward the ones that provided a good experience by encouraging others to do them the next time they come to town. Buy photographs from the professional photographers documenting the scenes so that they continue to want to capture those scenes. Show your friends to make them want to join you.

Don’t settle for a bad experience. Expect more. Figure out what is important to you in an academy and find out what options best fit the bill. As always, if you can’t identify what makes you happy it will be harder to find it. You may love the crowded experience of a full mat more than you care about how pretty those mats are or aren’t or the complete lack of locker rooms. Or maybe you can’t imagine training in a gym without showers that offer towel service. Maybe the instruction is so good the rest of the qualities you thought mattered all fall away in compare. Embrace what you love. Appreciate the community. Support the community. Make sure you do what you can to make that community better for others and make sure it is doing something good for you. Competition is a great thing, and all these options are making us all better.