It seems like almost everything can be taught online these days.
University degrees, personal training, and so much more.
How far can you go teaching yourself BJJ online?
There are hours of free content on YouTube, and almost every recognizable BJJ coach and competitor has paid instructionals on BJJ Fanatics or Jiu Jiu X.
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Can You Learn BJJ Totally On Your Own?
Online classes are an option if you’re unable to attend a BJJ class or you simply have no one to train with.
Of course you won’t get ranked, as you don’t have an instructor.
Technically, how can you become well trained without sparring or being coached by a far more proficient BJJ artist?
It will be hard to tell, as you won’t have any real resistance to see if you’re any good at the technique.
Especially if you’re using a grappling dummy and practicing on your own.
I believe sparring is where you learn the majority of your BJJ.
Drilling can only do so much, and you need to see if this will work on a resisting opponent.
Whether you’re practicing BJJ as a sport or for self-defense.
The art is predicated on the fact that you’re using these techniques against a resisting opponent.
It could be in the street or on the tournament mat.
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What Online Resources Are Available?
The most notable online training for beginners is Gracie University Combative – beginners programs taught by Rener and Ryron Gracie.
The course costs $189.
It shows the 36 most commonly used techniques as used by the Gracie Family.
There’s a test that can be done over video, where you film yourself demonstrating the techniques, and if the instructor thinks you’re proficient, you earn your Gracie Combative belt.
This is a self-defense-based style of BJJ.
There’ll be a lot of clinches and keeping your opponent’s posture broken down and zero open guard work.
If you’re looking for a more sport-based BJJ as used in competitions, BJJ Fanatics has hundreds of instructionals by well-known coaches and BJJ athletes.
You won’t be reviewed if you’re doing the technique correctly, but many of these athletes will respond to Instagram DM’s if you have any questions.
To get the most out of your BJJ instructionals, watch them during class time and drill them a few times, and then test the technique in sparring.
This works well, and most up-and-coming competitors will do this alongside their normal training.
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Many high-level BJJ academies offer an extensive library of techniques, sparring, and competition offered by their teams.
For example, the two most popular are ATOS on-demand and AOJ plus.
They cost approximately $300 per year.
The services, however, don’t include any one-on-one time with any of the coaches.
It will however function very similar to a BJJ instructional.
You’ll regularly receive a catalog of updated techniques and have much more content than BJJ instructionals.
Included are sparring and competition footage of all their super high-level competitors.
So you get to see the techniques in action.
Why Do You Need To Spar?
It’s all good knowing the basic principles of a technique.
However, how would you fair in sparring or even a far more stressful situation like a competition or a self-defense situation when filled with adrenaline and no time to think things through, you’re mostly reacting on instinct.
Your rolling instinct is built up through hours of sparring.
Going out there with a plan of what you’re going to try through rolling and successfully executing the technique on a resisting opponent over and over, on progressively larger and higher-skilled training partners.
This will be a far more effective way of improving your BJJ than hours of drilling on a passive opponent or grappling dummy.
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There are plenty of options for watching matches online. It depends on if you’re willing to incur any costs or not.
The biggest provider of BJJ competition matches is FLOGrappling, which streams every major IBJJF event, gi and no-gi, and plenty of superfight organizations like WNO and Raw Grappling if you’re more into your sub-only ruleset.
This will set you back approximately $150 per year.
If you aren’t willing to incur any costs, the IBJJF has thousands of matches on its YouTube page, as well as individual matches featuring major competitors. The matches are uploaded regularly.
Why should you watch matches?
You’ll be able to see the techniques that work on the best competitors in the world, so you won’t need to focus on techniques that would only work on a white belt.
Another recommendation is to watch people of a similar body type and mentality to you.
If you’re extremely aggressive and strong, I suggest you watch Nick Rodriguez.
If you’re lanky and play a reactive game, watch Geo Martinez. If you watch BJJ frequently, you’ll find athletes who match your game and your build pretty quickly.
Nothing can replace in-person class training.
It’s going to be the most effective and fastest way of improving your BJJ.
You get to see what it’s like rolling with resistance.
You get feedback from your coaches and training partners on what you’re good at and what you need to improve.
Online resources can be used to further improve your BJJ knowledge and ability, by learning more techniques through watching instructionals.
As for learning BJJ solo and online-only, you’ll hit a plateau and won’t truly know how effective you are, until you start sparring.
Furthermore, the purpose of BJJ is to defend yourself against an attacker or an aggressive opponent, not to merely demonstrate a couple of techniques.
You need to strike a balance of in-person training, and using the resources online as a tool for improvement.
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I’m a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and I write about the latest in all things martial arts.