[EXPLAINED] How To Make Money In Jiu-Jitsu Without A Gym

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It’s inevitable, those who fall in love with Jiu-Jitsu want to know how they can do it full-time.

In this post, I’ll look at:

  1. How you can get a job in BJJ and how much you can make
  2. What prize money to expect as a competitor
  3. How you can find sponsors if you’re competing
  4. How to start coaching without a gym (as early as blue belt)

Let’s get into it!

ALSO READ: Ultimate Jiu-Jitsu Gi Buyers Guide

Can You Actually Make A Living With Jiu-Jitsu?

It’s definitely possible to make a living with Jiu-Jitsu.

Unfortunately, it’ll be difficult if you’re a beginner or a lower belt.

Most cash prizes and sponsorships are reserved for higher belts, so you’ll need to get creative with it.

Thankfully, there are other ways to earn money while training BJJ full-time.

Here Are My Best Jobs For BJJ

  1. Selling merch online
  2. Blogging and affiliate marketing
  3. Photography and digital art
  4. Selling courses and coaching beginners

Let’s be honest, no one wants to wait until they’re brown or black belt to start making money in Jiu-Jitsu.

In fact, coaching and competing aren’t good strategies for most people.

If you get injured or want to go on holiday, you stop making money.

So thinking outside the box is important for long-term success.

Photo by Grand Union BJJ

How Do You Get A Job In BJJ?

For this we’ll consider 3 types of jobs:

  1. Coaching
  2. Competing
  3. Related Jobs

The world of Jiu-Jitsu is growing every day, and with it the opportunities for making a living.

Coaching

You’ll need to be at least a blue belt to coach the kid’s class in most gyms. Speak to your coach and express your interest in coaching BJJ, they often need coaches. Alternatively, focus on competing and growing your following to sell more profitable private lessons and seminars.

The easiest way to get coaching work is to speak to your coach and get a resident coaching position.

You can then branch out into private lessons and eventually seminars.

Competing

Competing is the hardest path to making money in BJJ. You’re required to always be competing at least once or twice a month, relying on prize money and sponsorships for income. Unfortunately, if you’re injured your income source will dry up. Competing isn’t a very reliable way of making money in BJJ.

Like Gordon Ryan said, “competition is a great way to BUILD YOUR BRAND, but because grappling is a participant sport where most who watch are those who participate, most of your income will be from teaching”.

So always keep that in mind as you consider your future in Jiu-Jitsu.

The best jobs for training BJJ full-time are those related to Jiu-Jitsu but don’t require competing or rely on finding students. These include skills you’ve learned outside of Jiu-Jitsu, like photography, writing, and event management. Other related jobs include entrepreneurial work like blogging and YouTubing.

Finding a job that lets you train is great, finding one that encourages it is even better.

There are more opportunities to make money in BJJ than ever before.

ALSO READ: [Beginners Guide] How Long To Get A BJJ Blue Belt?

How Much Money Can You Make Doing BJJ?

Since you’re looking to have a career in BJJ, it’s best not to consider prize money in tournaments as income.

Sponsorships are slightly more reliable, but you still need to be competing for sponsors to be interested.

Here’s how much money you can make doing Jiu-Jitsu using reliable methods:

JobEst. Income
Part-time Coach
(3 classes per week)
$360/month
Full-time Coach$2,500/month
Gym Owner$2,916/month
Gym Owner
+ Private Lessons
$8,333/month
Event Photography
+ Videography
$3,238/month

These are good examples of the typical kinds of jobs you’d do in BJJ.

If you’re particularly entrepreneurial, I have a few really good alternatives that could earn you far more and still let you train full-time.

How Much Do Black Belt Jiu-Jitsu Coaches Get Paid?

Black belt coaches get paid for teaching classes, but the majority of their income is from private lessons. Depending on your experience and where you’re located, you could make as little as $50/hour and as much as $150/hour. On average, a black belt could earn $4,000/month or more teaching 2 privates a day alone.

Combining privates with a full-time coaching salary, a black belt could make a very attractive income:

ClassesPrivates @ $100/hourEst. Income
$2,500
per month
X$2,500
per month
X1 per day$2,000
per month
$2,500
per month
1 per day$5,500
per month
$2,500
per month
2 per day$6,500
per month

Again, these numbers may vary depending on:

  1. Where you live
  2. If you’re coaching classes full-time (for a salary)
  3. How much coaching experience you have
  4. How many private lessons you’re able to sell

In a bit, I’m going to show you how to get coaching students and grow your business easily.

I’m also going to show you how to coach students who don’t live near you.

How Much Do Top Jiu-Jitsu Fighters Make?

Unfortunately, most Jiu-Jitsu fighters don’t make much.

If you’re a competitor, your income will come from prize money and sponsorships. Jiu-Jitsu is still not at the level of other popular sports like golf or tennis, where athletes are paid millions for winning. In most cases, Jiu-Jitsu fighters make between $4,000 and $40,000 for a win. Depending on the tournament.

More and more tournaments are starting to pay winners.

But unless you’re winning every tournament, it won’t be enough for a living wage.

Does IBJJF Pay Winners?

The IBJJF offers between $4,000 and $7,000 in cash prizes to black belt world champions, depending on the number of entries in each weight category. The more entries, the larger the prize money. Black belt champions in the absolute division win a set $10,000 prize no matter how many competitors are entered.

How the IBJJF pay winners at Worlds:

Entries2-89-1617-3233+
All$4k$5k$6k$7k
Open Class$10k$10k$10k$10k

Remember, prize money is only given at black belt level (at the moment).

This was announced in 2019 by the IBJJF:

Since they’re the largest competition federation in the world, it’s a very promising move.

There are more tournaments offering cash prizes to champions every year.

Let’s take a look at the most popular ones.

List of Jiu-Jitsu Tournament Cash Prize

Keep in mind, cash prizes fluctuate a lot. Even from one event to another.

Here’s a list of estimated cash prize winnings from some of the largest professional Jiu-Jitsu tournaments:

TournamentEst. Cash Prize
ADCCSuperfight – $40,000
1st – $10,000
2nd – $5,000
3rd – $3,000
4th – $1,000
IBJJF Worlds$4,000 – $10,000
per champion
EBI
(aka CJJ or Combat Jiu-Jitsu)
$12,000
per win
Polaris$10,000
per champion
Fight 2 WinNegotiated
(similar to UFC)
Kasai Pro$20,000
per champion
UAEJJF
(Abu Dhabi World Pro)
$8,000 – $34,000
per champion

The prize money for some of these tournaments is great.

Unfortunately, you’re not always going to win. So you won’t always make money.

Competing is good for big paydays, but you need the income that’ll get you from one tournament to the next.

For many, this includes finding sponsorships.

How Do You Get Sponsored In Jiu-Jitsu?

Sponsors in Jiu-Jitsu don’t pay near what you’d expect from pro golf, for example.

You’ll need to find multiple sponsors that together would be enough for a living wage.

How To Be Considered For Sponsorship

You’ll need to:

  1. Be an active competitor
  2. Preferably dominant in your weight class
  3. Have an active and engaged following on social media
  4. Be willing to promote the sponsor’s products or services

When it comes to sponsors, the more engaged you are with your fans the better.

Most often sponsors will reach out to you if they think you’re right for their brand and your audience fits their target demographic.

But what if they don’t?

How To Find Sponsors In Jiu-Jitsu

There are two types of sponsorships:

  1. Celebrity Sponsorships
  2. Affiliate Sponsorships

Let’s break these down:

Celebrity Sponsorships

You guessed it. This is when brands pay you for being famous.

If you can grow a following like Gordon Ryan, brands will pay you just to be associated with your name.

They might even get you to model their gis.

This type of sponsorship takes the longest because you’ll need to cultivate a fanbase.

Or hope to grow one quickly by doing something memorable.

Like when Lachlan Giles mowed through Kaynan Duarte, Mahamed Aly, and Patrick Gaudio in the 2019 ADCC Absolute division for the bronze medal.

Affiliate Sponsorships

Affiliate sponsorship is the easiest to get because you don’t need a massive following.

In some cases, they’ll give you free things.

But in most, they’ll pay you an affiliate commission to sell their products.

They do this by giving you a coupon to share with your audience, this is the most common.

Or they’ll give you a special link to use on your social media which tracks purchases.

Like this Tatami link.

If you buy something after clicking that link, I’ll get a commission.

To get this kind of sponsor, look for a section on the brand’s website mentioning “Sponsorship” or “Affiliates”.

List of Top 10 BJJ Sponsors

Here’s a list of sponsors you can start reaching out to, offering celebrity and affiliate type sponsorships:

  1. Ronin Supply Company
  2. Novo Kimono
  3. Ground Fighter
  4. Elite
  5. Jotunn
  6. Bow & Arrow Kimonos
  7. Cult BJJ
  8. Hyperfly
  9. Tatami
  10. Hayabusa

Some of these brands will have requirements, so see their terms and conditions before contacting them.

Remember, sponsors will only keep paying for as long as you’re competing.

So use competition to grow your brand and your audience, and make your actual income by coaching.

[Step-by-Step] How To Coach BJJ Online Without A Gym

There are two ways you can coach online:

  1. Create and sell instructional videos
  2. Coach students using video

So let’s look at the first way:

Create and Sell Instructional Videos

First, you need to figure out who you want to target – beginners or more advanced students.

This will tell you what type of techniques you should be teaching.

Beginners want to know the fundamentals that help them survive and develop.

More advanced students will want more detailed techniques

Follow these steps to sell your own instructional videos online.

Step 1 – Record your techniques

You don’t have to get too technical with this part.

If you’ve got a really good camera and mic, that’s great! But you don’t need these to get started.

Use your phone to record yourself showing and explaining techniques.

Step 2 – Use a course platform to sell your technique videos

There are a few marketplaces to sell your instructional video course, like BJJ Fanatics or Jiu-Jitsu X.

Unfortunately, you need to be well-known for them to work with you, and you’ll need to share your profits.

I use Podia, the perfect platform for hosting and selling video-based courses.

You can upload your video to it, create sales pages, and sell your instructional courses to anyone in the world.

Click here to find out how to sell them.

Coach Students Using Video

You can coach BJJ using video in 2 ways:

  1. Live classes using video-conferencing (like Zoom)
  2. Video coaching using time-stamped comments

This is a relatively new one, and many people coaches are getting in on it.

Live classes using video-conferencing

You’ve probably used Zoom before, right?

Well, start using it for coaching students in their own homes.

Many people prefer training BJJ in the comfort of their own homes with their partners.

It can be more affordable for them than paying two membership fees at a BJJ gym.

RCRD has secure video-conferencing built in, and also records the session for you to share later on.

You can even create your own, restricted access groups (a great place to host your premium instructional videos).

ALSO READ: [Explained] 5 Reasons Why BJJ Is So Expensive

Video coaching using time-stamped comments

Something many people wish they could get, detailed technique coaching.

With RCRD, your students can record their roles (at home or gym) and share them with you.

Use the time-stamped comments to explain exactly what they should be looking for and which techniques work best.

What’s great about video coaching is it lasts forever.

Your students can see coaching they’ve received from months before, creating their own library of useful resources specific to them.

Sell Your BJJ Coaching and Instructional Videos

There are 3 main ways to sell your products and services online:

#1 Social media

Most of your customers will be following popular BJJ pages and groups.

Participate in those communities and provide free advice when people ask.

Try not to sell your instructionals, rather show them how much value you have to offer.

Some groups will let you promote occasionally, don’t take advantage of that kindness or you’ll be blocked permanently.

A good strategy I use is sharing useful articles and funny memes into these groups from my business page.

Pro Tip: Use your name for your business page. That way you’ll start growing your brand, which makes selling coaching easier in the future.

You can often draw followers across to your page if they enjoy what you share.

Where you can sell to them, because they expect you to.

Here are some of my favorite Facebook groups:

Strictly Fighters – Of course I’m going to recommend our group first. We’re a small group, but we’re growing. We talk about all things martial arts, including BJJ, boxing, MMA, self-defense, and everything in between.

BJJ Fanatics – A really active group of over 83,000 members, with plenty of pros getting involved. They’re open to the occasional promotional post, as long as you’re an active part of the community.

BJJ Everything – Another very active group, they have over 65,000 members. A very social group, be sure to sprinkle in a few good memes for a giggle between your promotional posts.

BJJ / Grappling / TALK – This group is slightly less moderated than the previous two, but the community of over 82,000 members does a good job of weeding out the spammers. So be sure to win the favor of the community before posting promotional stuff.

BJJ & JUDO MEMES – This group of over 25,000 members doesn’t allow promotional posts. But it’s a great place to find and share memes to attract members to your own page, where you can then sell them your instructional videos.

White Belt Mafia: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Again, try not to promote on this group. You’ll get blocked very quickly. Rather, share interesting articles and funny memes into this group to draw people over to your own page. They have over 8,500 members at the moment, and the moderators are pretty strict.

Free Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Skills And Drills – This is probably the most commercial group of them all. It’s all about sharing techniques, both free and paid. The 52,000+ members are expecting to see some promotional stuff in this group, but don’t overdo it.

These are some of my favorite groups, and the communities are great.

#2 YouTube

This is the most obvious marketing channel for your BJJ instructionals.

By recording short videos that focus on very specific techniques, you can show your depth of knowledge.

This gets your buyer interested, and you can sell your premium product to them.

Be sure to correctly Search Engine Optimise (SEO) your videos, so that people can find them easily.

Watch this video by Brian Dean to get started:

#3 Paid Ads

Another great option is using paid ads on Facebook, Google, Instagram, YouTube, and basically anywhere your students are hanging out.

Choose one of these to get started.

As a beginner, Facebook ads are a good place to start.

If you can optimize your ads to get $2 for every $1 that you spend, that’s a positive return on your investment and you can grow it.

Here’s a good video to start learning about Facebook ads:

He’s got an entire playlist on Facebook ads.

Conclusion

Remember, competing for prize money is great.

But it’s temporary and unreliable.

Rather use competition to grow your personal brand, which you can use to grow your coaching business.

READ MORE: [Beginners Guide] Use Video To Learn BJJ Faster Online

Sources

BJJ Tribes

Payscale

BJJ Heroes