BJJ / Grappling Tips: How to choose a school / academy / gym?

Learning from Master Rickson Gracie as he demonstrated
the Rear Naked Choke on professor David Onuma.

"I want to learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I've looked in my area and found a few different options. How do I know if this or that jiujitsu academy is right for me?"

The question above is hardly an uncommon one and there are many ways it can be approached. Here's an excerpt from "Gracie Jiu-Jitsu" by grandmaster Helio Gracie that I hope might help:

"I always taught in a positive and constructive way, building the student's self-confidence and fine-tuning their techniques. I also kept a structured format and would continuously review and then gradually add new techniques that would build on the basic ones. Repetition is the key element in the development of a student's reflexes. In other words, it is the teacher's responsibility to make sure the student does it countless times and then some." p.12, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Helio Gracie, 2005. 

 So, all other things aside, the man famous for changing our art from it's Japanese origins to the leverage based one that we love and, more importantly, raising a generation or two of fighters, representatives and teachers of this art recommends that a true teacher of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu should:
  1. Teach in a positive and constructive way, building on your (the student) self confidence and fine-tune your technique
  2. Keep a structured format (i.e. curriculum) and constantly review your individual progress so as to add new techniques that would build on the basic ones. 
  3. Takes it as his or her responsibility to ensure you do countless repetitions of these techniques (and not just spar aimlessly)
Is your instructor doing all the above*? Are they consistently building your confidence and paying close attention to your growth and progress? Do they have a clearly outlined curriculum which you feel can lead you to your own personal goals**? Do they take it upon themselves to ensure you're working in every class / session to and beyond what you perceive your limits to be, constantly re-enforcing the value of details of the art of Jiu-Jitsu? If not, why are you paying them?

On the 4th of November 2012, Master Rickson Gracie told me: "You only pay for my time. The Jiu-Jitsu I share with you is priceless". 

I mention the exact date because, ever since then, this is how I treat all my interactions with Jiu-Jitsu. 

"The Jiu-Jitsu I share with you is priceless."

Anything less than that feels like cheating.

*Watch a lesson, participate in a week's worth of lessons and perhaps take a private with the instructor and you should be able to tell.
**A curriculum is not some secret scroll book. Every academy should be able to provide you with a copy of their curriculum if they have one. It's not a thorough book full of details (although new student's at the Ribiero Jiujitsu mecca University of Jiujitsu get a copy of Saulo's legendary book Jiujitsu University.) but rather a 2-3 page overview (per belt). If they don't have one, you have to ask yourself why.



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