Top 5 Jiu Jitsu Cities in the USA

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Outside of Brazil, the United States has become the place to be if you want to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The rise in popularity in BJJ all started with the Gracie Family and the first UFC back in 1993. Royce Gracie’s run in the first 5 UFC events served as infomercial for BJJ, since it showcased how a smaller, average look guy like Royce was able to defeat much larger and athletic monsters like Ken Shamrock, Kimo Leopoldo and Dan Severn with technique over pure brawn. The publicity generated by the Gracies and the UFC created business opportunities for Gracie family members and their students to spread BJJ all across the United States and the rest of the world. The migration of top level instructors to the United States during the 1990s and 2000s built the cities/metro areas listed below the top places to train in not only the good ole USA, but the world.

Los Angeles/Orange County: Brazilians love great weather and surfing so it makes sense that their top instructors would want to migrate to Southern California. Los Angeles is home to so many great academies and high level instructors. Los Angeles is also the home of the Mundials, NoGi Worlds, and a number of monthly tournaments that keeps BJJ practitioners very active. Some of the best and most iconic academies in Los Angeles include the Gracie Academy in Torrance, Gracie Barra HQ in Irvine, CheckMat HQ in Long Beach, Gracie Barra Northridge Romulo Barral,Art of Jiu-Jitsu in Costa Mesa, Jean Jacques Machado in Tarzana, Cobrinha’s in Los Angeles, 10th Planet HQ in Downtown Los Angeles, and Rickson/Kron Gracie’s in Culver City. There are also a number of schools affiliated with these academies scattered throughout the region. I know I am leaving out many great academies on this list, so please forgive me if I didn’t mention your academy.

The Long Beach Pyramid, located just outside Los Angeles is the home of the Mundials and has hosted ADCC, Masters Worlds, and NoGi Worlds.

San Diego: Like Los Angeles, San Diego offers great weather, surfing, food, and Jiu Jitsu. It is one of the major reasons why BJJ legends like Andre Galvao, Leticia Ribero, Saulo and Xande Ribero Royler Gracie, Dean Lister, Jeff Glover, Clark Gracie, Rodrigo Medeiros, Baret Yoshida, Fabio Santos, and Eduardo Telles set up shop in this great city. Academies such as Atos, University of Jiu Jitsu, and Gracie Humaita have attracted BJJ competitors from all over the world that want to train with the best and live in paradise. San Diego has become such a hot spot for BJJ tourism, a site called bjjhostels.com has popped up to provide housing for the tourists.

Andre Galvao teaching the kid’s class at Atos HQ in San Diego, California.

New York City: Renzo Gracie was the first BJJ instructor to make his mark in NYC back in the early 1990s. By being the first mover in the Big Apple, he has been able to build 3 large academies and a number of affiliates in the tri-state region led by top instructors including Matt Serra and Ricardo Almeida. However, Renzo is far from the only major player in town. Marcelo Garcia is arguably the greatest of all-time and has opened an academy that has drawn in some of the top BJJ competitors from around the world. Multiple time World Champion and accomplished MMA fighter Shaolin Ribeiro also runs a very successful academy in NYC and the scene is only getting hotter with the emergence of Unity BJJ led by Murilo Santana and featuring the Miyao Brothers.

Renzo Gracie and his team of Black Belts operate a number of schools throughout the New York City tri-state area.
Renzo Gracie and his team of Black Belts operate a number of schools throughout the New York City tri-state area.

San Francisco/San Jose: The San Francisco/San Jose market is ripe with top level coaching and competitors. Dot.com millionaires and techies have access to great academies and instructors including Caio Terra, Dave Camarillo, Ralph Gracie, Cesar Gracie, Kurt Osiander, Carley Gracie, Charles Gracie, Gumby Marques, and Romulo Melo to name a few. Many of the great instructors and teams in the Bay Area have roots with Ralph Gracie, who has spawned many affiliate locations and instructors such as Gumby Marques and Dave Camarillo who started their own schools.

Ralph Gracie Black Belt Kurt Osiander has been a mainstay in the Bay Area BJJ scene and serves as the head instructor at Ralph Gracie San Francisco.

Las Vegas: Las Vegas is the home of the UFC corporate office and considered the MMA capital of the world. A lot of top-level MMA fighters live and train in Las Vegas which creates a demand for high level BJJ instructors. Robert Drysdale and his Zenith team have their HQ and many affiliates around the Las Vegas area. There is also Syndicate MMA, where ADCC Champion Vinny Magalhaes coaches many UFC fighters. Sin City also is the home of Sergio Penha, multiple-time World Champion Fredson Paixao, and Cobrai Kai. The Fight Capital is also home to numerous IBJJF, NAGA, and other grappling tournaments that draws competitors in from around the country.

There were many other great BJJ cities considered for this list including Chicago, Washington DC, Miami, and Atlanta. Do you agree or disagree with this list? Please comment below.

 

21 COMMENTS

  1. Greenville SC is a secret gem. It has team Alliance and a state if the art 1.4 million dollar training facility. It is also right between two other great schools. It’s 2 hrs north of alliance HQ with Jacare. 1 1/2 hrs from Lucas lepri alliance in Charlotte NC, and the city has won multiple awards is right in the foothills of the blue ridge mountains and a few hours away from the beach. Lower cost of living than all of the other places listed and the city is very walk/bike able ( no California traffic). Also how can Atlanta be left off this list when alliance is arguably the best team in the world? Also the gym dues areUch less expensive making training accessible to anyone.

  2. Lets not forget Atlanta! Home of the CURRENT and defending 9 time World Champions in BJJ. Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti , Cobrinha, Lucas Lepri and now Leo Nogueira just to name a few professors. The title of the article was BJJ however the article itself started speaking of UFC/MMA. If you want to talk BJJ, Atlanta should be TOP on this list.

  3. No love for Houston? There’s Rillion Gracie academy, Gracie Barra with Draculino in Webster, Gold Team MMA with Jorge Patino and Charles Olivera, Leonardo Xavier at his school in Sugarland, and a newly opened Atos in Pasadena just to name the ones off top of my head.

  4. Dallas- Carlos Machado. Roger Machado. Travis lutter. No gi world champ Paul halme. Special forces black belt and world class competitor Alan Shebarro. Allen Mohler, jacare’s highest ranking American blackbelt. And a dozen or so blackbelts from the Machado lineage.

  5. Sacramento is sold up with great jiujitsu home of world champion Cassio Werneck he has list of black belts that all have successful bjj schools in the area !

  6. Tampa Bay area has some monsters. Robson Moura, Eduardo de Lima of Gracie Barra and his student AJ Agazarm, Rob Kahn and his student Matt Arroyo from Gracie Tampa, Ryan Deichert, Joey Best of Ybor City Jiu Jitsu, Marcio Cruz “Pe De Pano” and really tough competitors. Tampa Bay always has competitors in ADCC and other top level BJJ tournatments, as well as The Ultimate Fighter.

  7. Dear Sir/Madam,
    I am a Mixed Martial arts fighter from India since 2013. My Jiu Jistu is not too good so that why i want learn Jit Jistu from your ACADEMY. So Please Help me to improve my jiu jitsu skills. thank you

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