Disclaimer: Legion AJJ is a jiu jitsu academy in San Diego and this article will mention our programs. However, the author has some unique experience when it comes to finding ‘jiu jitsu near me’. Miha has spent 2 years straight traveling around the world on his jiu jitsu journey.
He has found jiu jitsu from the jungles of Costa Rica to the urban sprawl of Tokyo and in this article, you will get the ability to find great jiu jitsu near you as well. Let’s begin.
P.s. If you prefer watching videos to reading you can skip to the end of the article for the video version.
Table of Contents
What’s more important, the ‘jiu jitsu’ or ‘near me’ ?
When we’re looking for ‘jiu jitsu near me’ we have to deal with 2 ranges. One is the quality of the jiu jitsu academy we end up choosing. It can range from dangerously terrible to absolutely elite.
Then there’s the range of distance. That goes from ‘I live above a jiu jitsu academy’ to ‘I need to travel 6 hours by boat to learn a rear-naked choke’.
When we find the perfect sweet spot between distance and quality, we have found the sweet spot on the Jiu Jitsu Near Me ContinuumTM.
We have to start by looking at the quality part of the equation because the tolerance of the distance depends on the quality of the academy that you will be traveling to. Sounds good?
QUALITY: Why is the quality of jiu jitsu near me so important?
Quality of Jiu Jitsu Near Me For Beginners
If reading this article is part of your research on the way to starting jiu jitsu, then kudos to you. Jiu jitsu is one of those things you will wish you started sooner, no matter what age you are (unless you’re like 4 in that case congrats on your savant-like reading skills).
Great jiu jitsu academies will work to make that first impression fantastic.
Starting any martial art is stressful enough, here are some signs of a good academy:
- Structured classes, instead of random free trials.
- A focus on preventing injuries, without “nerfing” the martial art.
- Teaching realistic self-defense, but not too much of it.
- Not relying on pressure selling to gain members.
- Genuine reviews, from real people, confirm that it’s a good environment.
- The academy isn’t centered around a single person.
- The school has a track record of competition success.
- The people are cool and the vibe checks out.
As a beginner you should pay most attention to figuring out if:
- The academy has a structured plan for people who are new to jiu jitsu.
- You will have to be training in a class with people of all levels (not ideal)
- There are hidden signup fees or uniform policies (great way to get charged up to $400 for no reason)
- Sparring is done safely (specific sparring in your first few weeks is a WAY better idea)
- There is a curriculum for your first 10-20 classes.
- You will have one instructor teaching you or several. How good are they?
Quality of Jiu Jitsu Near Me For Experienced People
If you have some previous jiu jitsu experience, then finding the best jiu jitsu near you should be a bit easier. You have at least something to compare your new academy to. You may see red flags at your current academy, maybe you hit your ceiling there or perhaps you’re just moving. Here are some tips for finding a place to train that’s better than you could even imagine.
Before setting out on the hunt for a new academy you need to think deeply about what you liked at your previous jiu jitsu school(s). What was the level of instruction like, what was the actual space like, was the vibe any good? You can use the bullet points above to help you on your quest.
The better you are at jiu jitsu, the better your training partners should be. If you’re the very best at your gym, you should be careful. It is very easy to live in a bubble and think that you’re too good to be beaten. Sometimes it takes a trip or a visiting champion to show you that you need an environment that can challenge you to grow.
Likewise, with instructors, make sure that they have the skill set to teach you new things. Here at Legion HQ, we employ a team of 12+ instructors with various World-class specialties just to avoid people having to go elsewhere for knowledge.
Compare your current academy to the new one and make the decision that is best for you.
DISTANCE: Jiu Jitsu Near Me, But How Near Me?
As you can tell by this point, there is a big difference in the quality of jiu jitsu schools. In the section below you will learn how the pros approach finding an academy when visiting a new city.
For now, it’s enough to know that just because an academy is close to you, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice. Let’s say you’re super passionate about learning basketball.
There’s a basketball court 2 minutes walking distance away where you can play with some retired B-leaguers for $10 bucks per session…
An obvious choice, right? Couldn’t be closer and it’s cheap too! However, Michael Jordan has an academy* 20 minutes away. Staffed with former pros and visited by current ones. All are professionally responsible for your basketball development. Would you drive?
Unlike this fantasy basketball scenario, this is an ACTUAL possibility with jiu jitsu. Legion for example is founded by one of the best American competitors of the last decade and staffed with professional competitor teachers.
That’s why according to our recent member survey, most people travel for an average of 20 minutes to get to the academy. Some of our members drive 45min to an hour 4-5 times a week.
*(Michael Jordan has dedicated his life and millions to teaching hobbyists now in this fantasy example).
Other things to look for after researching ‘jiu jitsu near me’
How clean is the academy?
Jiu jitsu is a close-contact sport, just like with wrestling or judo, there is a potential for skin infections like ringworm. Good academies have cleaning protocols to keep the academy clean. One thing you should look for when walking into the academy is the smell. If there’s not a big class of people actively sweating going on at that very moment, but the gym has a noticeable odor… it could probably use some more cleaning.
Feel free to ask about the cleaning protocol of the gym, if the person you ask gets all weird, defensive or has to think too long… it may be a red flag.
What do the reviews say?
A good gym will have at least some online reviews available for you to read. Look for Google Reviews, Yelp Reviews, Facebook Reviews or Nextdoor.
If the academy has problematic instructors, culture or contracts… word of disgruntled customers may find its way there.
Does the gym have accolades?
There are great instructors out there, that don’t have too much to show for in terms of competition results. For example, John Danaher, widely regarded as one of the top coaches in the game, has been prevented from competing altogether by some severe injuries.
There are ways beyond just competing to learn and communicate jiu jitsu knowledge, but in general, it is a good sign, if the academy and the instructors there have some competition achievements. Especially if you’re in a more remote area, where it’s a bit more common for dubious instructors to teach.