[EXPLAINED] 5 Reasons Why BJJ Is So Expensive

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The cost of starting Jiu-Jitsu can be quite challenging for newcomers with limited incomes.

I was really surprised when I first started, the monthly costs were far more than I’d ever paid for a hobby.

If the cost of learning Jiu-Jitsu is slightly out of your budget right now, then you can start learning BJJ online today

As with most hobbies, there is always going to be an initial level of investment to get started.

There’s good reason for these high costs though.

BJJ - The Gentle Art x
BJJ - The Gentle Art
The Reasons Why BJJ Can Be Expensive

  1. Monthly Membership Fees
  2. Private Lessons
  3. Upgrading and Replacing Equipment
  4. Health Insurance
  5. Tournament and Travel Costs

In most cases, the reason BJJ is so expensive is due to the relatively high membership fees you have to pay to a gym each month.

Below I’ve gone through each of these reasons in more detail, so you’ll know exactly what to expect when considering the costs around BJJ.

I’ve also explained why I believe Jiu-Jitsu is worth every cent. Let’s go!

What Is The Average Price For Jiu-Jitsu Classes?

The average price of Jiu-Jitsu classes in the US can range from $80 – $200 per month or $40 – $100 every two weeks. Prices can fluctuate depending on location and training frequency if you’re paying a per-class rate.

Most gyms will offer these 3 payment options to members:

  1. Individual Classes – Most academies will offer a per-class fee, these are not the same as private lessons.

    Paying for individual classes gives you access to a coach, teaching a few techniques to the group and then allowing for time to roll with multiple training partners.

    Paying for individual classes is great if you’re on a budget or if you’re a busy person and don’t want to pay for classes you won’t be attending.
  2. Class Bundles – Another great option for people who have limited time or funds, but would like to get some training every week.

    Many gyms will offer the option of purchasing X amount of classes per week or month at a set rate.

    This gives you the combined benefit of limiting the amount you spend on classes (usually cheaper than individual classes) but also allows you to create a predictable training schedule if you’re limited to only 2-3 lessons per week.
  3. Full Membership – Most practitioners who can afford to, will opt to sign up for full membership.

    This type of membership allows you to train as often as you wish, attending every class on offer.

    The cost of a full membership fee can seem quite intimidating.

    If you’re new to BJJ and can afford it, I highly recommend signing up for full membership at your gym.

    Not only does this support your coach and the academy, but it allows you to train as often as you’d like while keeping your monthly expenses on Jiu-Jitsu as predictable as possible.

Why Are BJJ Classes So Expensive?

Prices for classes will vary depending on a few factors, the most important factor being location. It’s quite typical to pay more for a BJJ membership in an area with a high population density.

When an academy has more membership applications than it can realistically handle, it might increase the fee as a way of filtering out those who aren’t serious about training.

Supply and demand also plays a big part in determining membership fees.

A BJJ academy that’s full but still receiving new membership applications might increase their fees because they know members would be willing to pay the higher rate.

Some gyms increase their membership fees until they find a healthy balance between new member applications and member retention – Who can blame them, it’s a business after all and it needs to be profitable.

Facility Costs That Influence Membership Fees

The larger the academy, the more expensive the running costs for the facility will be. If the academy is in a highly-populated area like New York City with premium retail rates, this will most certainly impact how much you pay on your BJJ membership.

I mentioned above that one of the key deciding factors for how much an academy will charge is based on its location.

This is not only because of population density and demand but is highly linked to the cost of running these facilities.

Think about it, the main thing an academy is selling is expertise and space.

To have a decent academy you need space for at least 4-6 rolling pairs, and this sort of space in any retail environment can be very expensive.

Not to mention liability insurance, utility costs, facility maintenance and the cost of keeping on a team of coaches and admin staff.

The Lineage Of Coaches In The Gym Influence Membership Fees

If your gym is a direct descendent of a well-known competitor or contains the name ‘Gracie’, you’re more likely to pay a higher monthly membership fee.

The culture of hierarchy is deeply embedded in BJJ, from the ground up.

Even the way we track progress in the art uses a belt ranking system.

Visit any gym in the world and they’ll have an origin story, including their lineage (usually displayed in portraits on gym walls).

This is not to say that other jiu jitsu gyms aren’t as good or are less capable of producing champions.

There are many academies out there producing world-class athletes, with new ones starting all the time.

Cost Of Private BJJ Lessons

The cost of private lessons can range anywhere from $30 – $200 or more per hour. The price is largely determined by the belt level and achievements of the coach. If the coach is a well known competitor, you’re more than likely to pay a higher hourly rate.

For those looking to progress substantially quicker or are looking to work on specific weaknesses, you have the option of purchasing private lessons from other experienced practitioners.

Private lessons would normally form a large part of the income made by a full-time BJJ practitioner.

Apart from teaching classes for all members at set times for their academy, full-time athletes will split their day up between training and private lessons.

Are Private Lessons Worth It?

Private BJJ lessons are absolutely worth the money if you’re looking to improve faster. They allow you to address very specific aspects of your game that work best for your natural strengths and body type.

The advantage of private lessons is the level of attention your coach is able to put into your game.

Regular classes are great for looking at broader techniques and concepts, as well as being able to roll with a variety of training partners.

These sorts of lessons can increase your monthly costs substantially.

So the vast majority of practitioners opt to only attend regular classes, which more conveniently fits into their weekly schedules as well.

Costs Of Upgrading Or Replacing BJJ Equipment

As with any sport or hobby there is going to be the added cost of repairing, upgrading or replacing your equipment.

We’re pretty fortunate in BJJ because the equipment costs can be kept quite low.

Don’t worry if you’re not in a position to splurge on gis or crazy rash guards.

You could get by with only one gi, ensuring you wash it after each class of course.

All you’ll need to do then is replace your gi each time you find it’s past its prime, you could probably do this every one or two years (my first gi is still going more than 2 years later).

For most of us, splurging on gis and rash guards is a bit of a guilty pleasure.

There’s nothing better than buying a fresh new gi, especially with all the amazing designs out on the market right now. More often than not, we’ll have far more kit than we actually need.

Do You Need Health Insurance For BJJ?

It’s always best to have health insurance when training BJJ. Injuries can prevent you from working and severely impact other areas of your life. It’s highly recommended to also check with your existing insurance company if you’re covered for injuries as a result of contact sports like jiu jitsu.

This is probably the least fun topic on this list.

No one likes to think about being injured while training – but in a sport where we’re literally training to hurt each other, injuries are a very real possibility.

No amount of ‘being careful’ or ‘tapping early’ is going to prevent the unknown, so it’s always better to be prepared.

Health insurance will always be a grudge purchase, but in this case I believe it to be absolutely necessary.

We all love to roll, but let’s remember that we have people in our lives who depend on us to be healthy.

BJJ Tournament Fees And Travel Costs

The cost for competing in a BJJ event can range widely. Expect to pay around $20-$50 for smaller tournaments and as much as $100+ for IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) sanctioned tournaments. For IBJJF tournaments you will also be required to pay the annual membership fee of around $40.

BJJ has been growing substantially over the last few years.

As a result, more and more tournaments have started sprouting up across the globe.

This is great because it accelerates the development of our great art, with new techniques and champions being discovered almost every month.

If you’re looking to compete, then you’ll definitely need to consider the costs surrounding tournaments.

Be ready for travel costs like transport and hotels, sometimes even internationally if you’re looking to compete at tournaments like IBJJF Worlds and Europeans.

Not to mention the pro circuit which includes ADCC, Polaris, and other promotions that regularly host international events.

Is BJJ Worth The Money?

If you can realistically afford to train without severely impacting other areas of your life, it’s definitely worth the money. The skills you’re able to transfer from the mats into your work and other areas of your life are priceless.

I’m a firm believer (and I’m not alone) that BJJ affects every aspect of your life.

It’s taught me lessons about myself and about dealing with other people that I could never have learned any other way.

I’ve heard many teammates talk about how they’ve grown as people because of jiu jitsu, allowing them to address their insecurities while remaining grounded.

BJJ can be expensive, but most academies have tried to provide various levels of access.

From paying for individual classes all the way up to paying for private lessons, there’s space for everyone in our beautiful art.

Great Advice If You Can’t Afford BJJ Classes

Sources

Photo by Jonathan Borba

IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation)

Tatami Fightwear

BJJ Eastern Europe

The Cost Guys

Chewjitsu