Choosing a BJJ School
Most reputable clubs will let you train once for free, so you can see how the class is taught, see the atmosphere of the club, and meet the instructor and the guys you will be training with. I STRONGLY recommend that you visit several schools before deciding on the club you would like to attend. You need to try and find the school where you fit in best, will have fun, and where your learning style will be best served.
Things to Look For:
Of course, what you look for in a school depends a lot on what your goals are. Different clubs focus on different things. Some are recreational sport clubs, some focus on MMA, some focus on no-gi, etc. But here are some things to consider before deciding on the right school for you.
Qualifications of the Instructor:
- Legitimate Rank: You are likely best served if your instructor has rank in a legitimate lineage. If you can not find out who they got their black belt from, or if the person that they claimed to be under doesn't seem to exist, this could be a warning sign. Also, if you ever want to teach someday, you will want to have legitimate credentials.
- Ability to Teach: Can the instructor effectively convey their knowledge to others? Some people are more doers than teachers, and you should consider this when choosing.
- Student's Skill and Competition Performance: How have this instructor's students done in competition? This is another indication of good teaching skill, and a good system.
- Instructor's Competition Record: I certainly would not say that a competition record is necessary for someone to be a great instructor, but in my opinion it is a good indication that the instructor is definitely legitimate. It also shows that the instructor can apply techniques against other high level guys.
Skill and Number of Quality Training Partners:
- The more skilled guys there are in a school, the faster your game will progress. Having many skilled training partners usually means you get to train against many different styles of play, which will help to greatly speed up your learning, and preparation for competition, if you intend to compete.
Atmosphere and Safety:
- It is very important, in my opinion, to find a school where you fit in, where the values and goals of the training match your own. This will allow you to enjoy your training much more. If you want to be an MMA fighter, you should probably train at a school that focuses their jiu-jitsu training on MMA. If you just want a workout, or you are interested in sport, self defense, or other aspects of Jiu-Jitsu, then find a club that focuses on these aspects.
- A good school should have clearly defined safety policies. If you are getting injured a lot, it is hard to progress, or enjoy the training.
- The mat area should be safe, and well constructed. Mats should be cleaned frequently.
Location and Price:
- You should try to find a school that fits you, as close as possible to your location. The easier it is for you to get to practice, the more likely it is that you will actually go. If you really want to do this sport, price will likely not be a major problem (since almost no schools in this area charge more than $150 per month), but be aware that some schools require contracts. I would advise you that if you sign a contract, be sure and ask them to add a clause that allows you to cancel if they change the instructor, location, or reduce the number of training opportunities.