So you’ve decided to take the first step and start training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, great job! But now you have the daunting task of choosing a gym to train at. Some may think that as long as you’re training, any gym will do. As that has some truth to it, for this being your first gym it will set the foundation for your BJJ journey. So the decision of where to start your training is actually a very important one.
I do not have all the answers, BUT here are at least some tips that I followed and some that I wish someone had told me when I was first looking to train BJJ.
First off you should ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of my training and why am I doing this?”. From thinking of starting an MMA career to just wanting another hobby there is a wide range of reasons to start training and each school has a slightly different attitudes and advantages. As you will find there are some centered around Kickboxing, or Fitness and Bjj is just more of a side class.
There are also some schools that offer BJJonly with maybe a fitness class here or there. Those are just a very small example of what you will find, and thats why I suggest really being honest with yourself about what YOUR reason for training is, and finding a gym that suits your needs.
Now that you know what you want, a big part is meeting the instructor. Now this is usually a black belt ,but can be anyone from a Blue Belt up. Which may seem odd. But since you’re just starting out you may quickly realize that a blue belt can be worlds ahead of you in the relm of BJJ. The real thing to look for in an instructor in my mind is the teaching style.
There are many ways to skin the cat, but not every way will work for you. You’ll find there is a plethora of different personalities and teaching styles out there ranging from the “Rex Qon Do” to the “Jiu Jitsu Yogi” and oh so many more. I should note though that you will very rarely ever meet an instructor who treats you like a Drill Seargent would and it is even more rare to find an intructor who is without a sense of humor. But each instructor may want you to act differently and will treat you differently.
Each instructor has their own way of teaching and I can’t stress enough how important it is to find someone who can teach you in a way you learn!
Third lets look at the facility itself and extra’s and perks that come a long with different schools. For the facility, above all look at the cleanliness of the mats themselves. Most schools you go to the building will be a bit minimalist and everyone forgets the trash now and again. But you don’t train in the locker room, or the garbage cans, you train on the Mats and if those aren’t well kept you will have problems from skin diseases to getting toes stuck/broken in torn mats.
I’ve seen some schools where the building apears to be falling apart, but the mats shine and vice versa! Also look at some other classes and amenities that may be offered, as once you start training Bjj you might become hungry for more! Maybe they offer a fitness class, kickboxing, or even yoga! I’ve noticed many people including myself, who after starting Bjj want to start doing other physical activities as well.
In summary, your best bet is to get an overall feel for the different schools in your area. Many will offer at least one free class, I suggest taking a class at every one in your area to get a good idea for what works for you.
Think about how you feel walking into the building, during the training sessions and how you feel after leaving. Look at the peer group that trains there as that will potentialy become your training partners. And above all keep an open mind, be respectful, and HAVE FUN!
Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride! See you on the mats!