“Why in Jiu-Jitsu to be a world champion most guys need to quit school but in other big sports they have to be in high school and college to be in the be in the league.”
Jiu-jitsu Times: Bjj is more similar to many individual Olympic sports than it would be to the major big league sports of soccer, football, basketball etc.
Athletes who train in their sport without state sponsorship or support for world level competition.
Not only must the athletes train very hard and long hours to compete at the world level, they must also find a way to finance their living expenses – no easy task!
Several top bjj competitors have been vocal about their discontent with the lack of financial compensation for entering and winning top tournaments (especially IBJJF).
This is one of the reasons that we see many top bjj competitors move to MMA.
Simply, MMA pays and competing in the Mundials does not.
To quote Keenan Cornelius “Jiu-jitsu skills don’t pay the bills!”
To further complicate the picture, there is no clear #1 governing body of brazilian jiu-jitsu in the same way there is in other sports.
Several organizations hold tournaments and have their own world titles, similar to the “alphabet soup” of boxing organizations and titles over the years.
If we look at the economics of bjj competitions, there simply is not a lot of big corporate sponsorship money or ticket sales that generates the money to pay the athletes.
We are seeing a promising trend where increasingly there is prize money in top level competition (ex. Eddie Bravo Invitational) and the bjj community hopes that this continues in an upward direction.
Sponsorship opportunities for individual amateur athletes are not great and not reliable.
In Olympic sports “carded” athletes who have national team status can receive a small stipend per month to support their training and living expenses.
That type of thing is a long way off for the jiu-jitsu hopeful!
The individual athlete who has the goal of winning a world title must train as a full time athlete.
Often, they must relocate to train with a top level team (like Atos or Alliance) to be in an environment required by a serious competitor.
Many supplement their income with teaching bjj classes or other part time jobs.
It is a tough road that requires tremendous personal sacrifice.
The young athlete who pursues the dream of winning the Mundials must ask themselves “What price am I willing to pay to have a shot at my dream?”