One of the first questions any potential BJJ student will have is how much does jiu-jitsu cost? The obvious costs include membership and apparel. However the additional costs include competition and travel, as well as injuries and time. Many people don’t see the full spectrum of jiu-jitsu costs until they are deep in the BJJ life.
Time… Lots of Time…
Ask anyone with years on the mat and they’ll tell you that mat hours are the bottom line for getting better at jiu-jitsu. Many new players don’t understand the time investment required to progress. As such they train 1-2 hours a week, their cardio doesn’t improve, and they cannot consistently build upon the techniques shown in class. Additionally, bear in mind that in a 1-2 hour BJJ class, the individual time spent drilling is likely less than 15 minutes per player.
As such, racking up the minutes of mat time actually spent doing jiu-jitsu is an incredibly tedious process. I like to think there is a time limit of 3 days missing jiu-jitsu to build on a technique in order to effectively begin implementing it.
Furthermore, many coaches stick to the same technique or variations for a week, then move on. If you’re only there a day or two per week, you only see the technique once or twice. Your training partners saw 3 variations in no-gi and gi during that time. You may not get worse, but you won’t get better efficiency.
“…racking up the minutes of mat time actually spent doing jiu-jitsu is an incredibly tedious process”
The cost of a membership at a BJJ dojo can vary. Personally, I have paid anywhere between $40 and $150 dollars a month at various places I have trained. The cost of jiu-jitsu depends on the general cost of living in the area, the reputation of the instructor and school, and the proclivities of the owner in terms of pricing.
I would say in most areas you can expect to pay at least $80 dollars a month for quality BJJ instruction. Well-known instructors and big-name gyms can easily charge $250 or more per month. Newer gyms may have better deals as they build their teams.
“The cost of jiu-jitsu depends on the general cost of living in the area, the reputation of the instructor and school, and the proclivities of the owner in terms of pricing…”
Some places have arrangements with younger students where the student can mop or perform other needed duties at the gym in return for a reduced membership fee.
Other gyms may allow students who have represented them in competition extra training and or discounts given the athlete’s commitment to the sport and the team.
If you live in a decently populated American city, there are probably a good number of BJJ schools to choose from. My current school is 3.5 miles from my house, and it is only the 4th closest BJJ school to me. This can make the jiu-jitsu cost in the area more competitive for students.
Gi and Rashguard Costs
To begin gi jiu-jitsu, you need a gi and a mouthpiece. A good gi will run you anywhere from $80 for your basic cotton weave, to $300 custom-fitted luxury fabric gi.
Higher-end gis will likely be more comfortable and lightweight, but they do get pricey. I personally have been wearing a $90 Hypnotic Vortex Gi and an Elite rashguard and spats.
Competition and Travel
If you plan to compete in jiu-jitsu, expect to spend $100 to $150 dollars per competition, in addition to the cost of travel. Competing in the major BJJ tournaments such as Pans or Worlds can run you thousands of dollars depending on how far you live from the major competition hubs. Players who hope to be world champions will need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to compete around the globe.
Injuries and Medical Bills
An often overlooked jiu-jitsu cost is the lost time and medical bills associated with injuries. I have yet to meet a single person who has reached blue belt who has not suffered some level of injury. Talk to anyone with years on the mat and they’ve almost certainly had shoulder, neck, back, or knee problems from being on the mat.
Proper recovery, strength, and mobility work can reduce the cost of jiu-jitsu injuries. Nevertheless, expect to suffer at least one major injury in your career on the mats. You should probably have health insurance.
You should train anyways.
Despite the jiu-jitsu cost, I still strongly encourage you to pursue BJJ to the extent that you enjoy it and it benefits your life. As someone who has spent the past 4 years on the mats and invested tens of thousands into BJJ, I believe the jiu-jitsu benefits you will receive from training outweigh jiu-jitsu’s cost.
Because the lifestyle is highly demanding on your time and finances commitment (average direct monthly cost between $100-200 in a mid-cost city), deciding to pursue jiu-jitsu at all cost means you must be willing to sacrifice many other things people find valuable in life. At the end of the day, its gotta be worth it to you.