Reader Question: “Why is BJJ more expensive than other martial arts?”

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Team Ironside / Flickr Creative Commons

Reader questions are a great way for Jiu Jitsu Times to give back to the community that supports us.  We recently got an interesting question from one of our readers:

“Why is BJJ more expensive than other martial arts?”

This is not a simple question.  There are many reasons why BJJ is so expensive.

Perhaps the most important detail in this is that the path to black belt is long and difficult.  Whereas in other arts, black belt can be awarded in a couple of short years and is available to children, a BJJ black belt often takes upward of a decade even with regular training and competition.  For this reason, the time and money invested by your instructor to get to where they are today is very likely far more substantial than that invested by your neighborhood Taekwondo or Karate instructor.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is trendy, and the demand in many cases justifies the high price.  I know that in my region (Northeastern Ohio) black belts have only become common place within the past few years.  Up until that point most schools were run by brown belts or below.  Gradually the community started to blossom and in that process more competition emerged.

Yet another aspect of BJJ that makes it a high price commodity is the dedication required by an instructor to actually produce good practitioners.  Unlike with many other martial arts, a move cannot simply be shown and then practiced, but rather a good instructor needs to make their rounds and check each individual’s technique and in many cases feel that technique themselves.  Therefore the activity of teaching BJJ can be far more labor intensive than other arts.

Yet another aspect of this is that many BJJ instructors aspire to essentially be professional athletes.  I say this to mean that rather than hold “day jobs” they teach all day long, and thus make their living from their athletic pursuit.  Because prize money isn’t great in BJJ yet, instructors need to make their living somehow.  Even top level instructors very often draw a modest living from what they do, but they get to do what they love and live off of it so they live the dream.

If you really think BJJ is expensive, break down the cost per class if you were to attend every class available at your academy.  Chances are you’d only be paying a few dollars per class.  Then take into account the costs of doing business (rent, utilities, insurance, etc) and the cost of any support staff (instructors, front desk people etc) that may exist within the academy.  BJJ isn’t cheap, but it’s not that bad, and it’s totally worth it given the amazing contributions it makes to our lives.

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Emil Fischer is an active purple belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio (www.strongstyle.com). For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj/. Emil is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear (www.ponyclubgrapplinggear.com), The Original Amy Joy Donuts (www.amyjoydonuts.com mention Emil Fischer when visiting), Valor Fightwear (http://valorfightwearusa.com/ discount code COOKIES), Cleveland Cryo (www.clevelandcryo.net discount code EmilCryo,) Impact Mouthguards (www.impactmouthguards.com discount code EMILIMPACT) and Gladiator Soap (www.gladiatorsoap.com discount code EMIL.FISCHER), Hydrus (www.hydrusperformance.com discount code COOKIES) as well as a brand ambassador for Ludwig Van (www.ludwigvantheman.com discount code FAMILY).

6 COMMENTS

  1. Jiu Jitsu has been always expensive, and alot of things that the article says not justify why is expensive. Is expensive because the instructors want it. Because you can teach tottally free. I used to train judo and karate for free because my sensei likes to teach. The cost and dedication it depends the instructor or sensei.

  2. Absolutely no justification in this article for price. The reason its expensive is because talented Brazilians and now other nationalities think they will make a fast buck. Martial arts have always been the sports of the poor. Look at karate etc, the rebellion fighting styles of the poorest people. Bjj was used in the most dangerous towns to defend from street attackers. It should never be expensive.

  3. I don’t have a problem,with the price,but,I do question,the one year contract,at all Bjj schools,why contracts? Why not month to month or even half year contracts,I think contracts are a rip off,may be someone could shed some light on the subject.

    • Thanks Mauricio! I’ll address this in an article. But long story short: contracts serve 2 purposes, customer retention and habit forming

      • Contracts also serve as professional protection. In my humble opinion the reson BJJ is expensive is due to where it came from. Brazilians have a tough environment where many poor men are thugs and will rob the weathly. So the instructors (In Brazil) charged wht wealthy to learn to protect themselves. That tradition has carried over. I also believe it is the “Product” you invest in that is most important. The BJJ community works hard to not cheapen the standards set for us. So it is a hard, long, rewarding journey we are taking. But we know it works. I have told some of my students who have asked the cost question it simply comes down to this. You want a Mercedes or a Yugo.

  4. Nah. BJJ, like Krav Maga, is trendy right now. And it appeals to people who have plenty of disposable income. Judo and boxing gyms typically don’t charge nearly as much, even though the instructors have comparable experience by the time they open their own school.

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