What to look for when getting into BJJ?

#1
Talk to me about selecting a BJJ gym and/or trainer. I currently work as a Corrections Officer in a small county facility but am in the process of transitioning over to a city PD of 60 sworn serving roughly 60k citizens. Other than the defensive tactics training I received in the academy last year (which was the bare minimum required by the state) I have not had any training in DT/Grappling/Suspect Control. I have seen a lot of stuff on social media and the internet about how much of a benefit knowing BJJ has been to some officers when it comes to making arrests, defending themselves, etc, so I decided to get into it to improve my skills and confidence. What are things to look for? What should throw up flags? I have looked into this a little bit but assume I know nothing about it.
 

Grizzly

Regular Member
#2
Here are two good podcats from P&S about bjj:

Based on those and some other podcasts I started BJJ in January. Scott J. was helpful weeding through local gyms as well.

The high points for me were:
1. Has a black belt in the gym (our lead instructor was 2 months from black and was affiliated with a experienced black belt)
2. Understanding of my goals. I talked to the instructors for a while discussing that BJJ Gi tournaments weren't my goal bad guy control/self defense were primary. They were 100% on board with this. The lead guy does bjj work with the local police and they have a strong no-gi class so it fit very well.
3. Location was somewhere I could make regular classes with out destroying the rest of my life. Lets be honest if it is easier to go you are more likely to go.
 
#3
I’ll check those modcasts, thanks. I found a guy that’s close to me that says the instructor has done classes for .mil/leo but his website doesn’t say who or where he got his belt under. Planning on asking him about it when I contact him tomorrow.
 
#4
Almost all legit gyms will give you some type of free trial to check the place out. Some are a week, some will do up to 30 days. In those days things you want to look for:
1. Is the gym clean and do people wash their gi and gear?
2. Does the instructor roll train with students? Maybe not all the students but at least train on a regular basis. Some older instructors may be selective who they roll with, but they should be rolling still.
3. Can the Instructor clearly explain his/her lineage?
4. They don't dismiss Sport BJJ/Modern BJJ and they don't dismiss the Self-Defense/MMA component of BJJ. They should be able to talk, train, and understand all aspects of the Art.
5. Does the gym have an open door policy? The best gyms I have been around, and what I promote at my place, are open door. You regularly see them hosting high-level visitors and have visiting instructors in.
 
#5
^^^This is solid Information^^^
1- YEP...clean and no stinky dudes/ladies
2- If the instructor isn't live rolling, I wont train at that gym. I wont visit that gym...something is amiss if the person instructing isn't live rolling with students...especially if he/she is younger and healthy.
3- Lineage...its important if you are talking about a Black Belt or Brown...but there are some solid Purple belts starting programs that have a lot of knowledge and skill. Many of them prior combatives instructors or high level wrestlers. The ability to explain who or what affiliation granted you or awarded you a belt is paramount. (I also suggest doing some research on lineage as there are a few HIGH RANKED practitioners in my area that DONT ROLL with their STUDENTS and have never competed at their current belt level(Black). That is a big red flag.)
4- Valid Points. My gym only trains in the GI and from a sport/competition aspect. We have 3-5hrs of live rolling a week and 4-5hrs of instruction(not including the Kids class). - our kids class has some points towards self defense since they are little dudes/ladies.
5- Anyone should be welcome at the gym...period.
6- ENVIRONMENT...if you are looking for a place to call a HOME and not just pick up some knowledge and bounce...pay close attention to the atmosphere and the people who are regulars at the gym. Who are the core members of the gym and how do they interact with new people as well as their peers. This was paramount for me. I showed up just to work on my ground game(beyond the little wrestling I know) because I was going back into military LE and wanted to sharpen up...that was almost 4 years ago and I train 5 days week now.
7- Class availability - Fundamentals classes and advanced classes ... find out where you want to be and ask about open mats or training sessions were you can test yourself/current abilities with experienced grapplers...I have had several injuries from inexperienced grapplers(broken thumb, Broken nose, ligaments).
 
#6
I would add that training in a Gi is just as useful, arguably even more transferable to your real world stuff. *Sometimes* you might have to throw down with a guy not wearing any clothing, however tearing someone down by the collar of their jacket is just one example of a very real application of training in a Gi. If you can do both Gi/No Gi, then by all means. But if I had to pick one, I’d drop my no Gi instruction in a heartbeat. Just my $0.02
 
#8
It also wouldn't hurt you to do a search for any instructor (by name) that your considering over at bullshido.net to make sure that they aren't the subject of an investigation. You could also just ask around, but the crowd there is pretty rough, so I'd use the search function before making a post.
 
#9
Some excellent advice given already. I would echo that lineage is important! There are many charlatans out there with many false claims. And the instructor training with the students is super important as well!
 
#10
One more thing- training bjj can be notoriously tough on your back. So train hard but just be mindful about what your body is telling you because herniated disks are no fun.
 
#11
First, I want to acknowledge Jedi as the guy that inspired me to quit dithering and start my BJJ journey. I owe a debt of gratitude to him, he breaks it down very well.

2 questions-
-What is the name of the school you are considering?
-Who is the lead instructor?
 
#12
Sorry I dont have time to read all the above comments but here are my two cents:

-Theres nothing wrong with taking a short form course from the Shivworks group. Most are former LE and have a great working knowledge of the weapons based environment. It would give you a great frame work for future training.
-Check out Blue Line BJJ, Invictus LEO, and Blue Jitsu for referrals to local gyms.
-It couldnt hurt to look into MMA gyms as well.
-Dont forget to incorporate wrestling and striking if you dont train MMA.
-Dont worry if the gym only trains "sport" jiujitsu
 
#13
I'm a no-stripe blue, so I'm not exactly a BJJ expert, but I have trained at a few different schools. Here's my perspective to add to the points already made:

People talk about "environment" and it's very important. When I was younger, I trained at a couple meathead gyms where everyone rolled 120% all the time. That was fine when I was 20, but nowadays I have to pretend to be a serious adult and I can't go to meetings with a black eye and gi burn all over my face. The place where I'm at now has a legit instructor (Carlos Machado black belt) but the students are mostly 30+ and have kids and office jobs; their training goals and lifestyle align with mine so I'm very happy here. That said, if your goal is to compete in MMA, you may need to train somewhere where 20-year-old fighters are trying to take your head off.
 
#14
I'm a no-stripe blue, so I'm not exactly a BJJ expert, but I have trained at a few different schools. Here's my perspective to add to the points already made:

People talk about "environment" and it's very important. When I was younger, I trained at a couple meathead gyms where everyone rolled 120% all the time. That was fine when I was 20, but nowadays I have to pretend to be a serious adult and I can't go to meetings with a black eye and gi burn all over my face. The place where I'm at now has a legit instructor (Carlos Machado black belt) but the students are mostly 30+ and have kids and office jobs; their training goals and lifestyle align with mine so I'm very happy here. That said, if your goal is to compete in MMA, you may need to train somewhere where 20-year-old fighters are trying to take your head off.
Well said. Im a brown belt with over 10 years training plus some wrestling as well as BJJ. Your going to learn technique better in the 2nd type of school perlslacker mentioned. But your going to get tougher in the meathead gym and there is a lot to be said for that.
If you can find a school that is heavy on the wrestling, i recommend that if your body can handle it. For self defense, a good top game and takedown defense is imperative in my opinion. Anything is better then nothing though so if your older or dont have that type of school available take what you can get. At 49 years old, i find myself gravitating back to the gi and a lower impact style. Its not optimal but at my age its what is practical. Something is better then nothing after all.

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#15
I’ve been training BJJ for about 2 and half years and had minimal DT and Combative experience prior to starting.

I have found that training helped me in several aspects of my life. Keeps me in shape without getting bored, gives me confidence on the street dealing with uncooperative subjects and really aids in keeping a calm head. It’s also amazing to see how easy you can control people much stronger and bigger that have no BJJ background.

I think most the “what to look for” points have been stated. Find a gym with welcoming training partners, a legit professor, and a clean gym.

I alway tell people to just pick a place, time and day and go for it. Don’t get hung up on the little things preventing you from getting started.

Also, when you do start, don’t get discouraged or let your ego get in the way. You will get destroyed by people younger, older, smaller, weaker, men and women, and so on. Just set goals every time you train and stay in the fight!

Good luck on your journey!