You should feel comfortable
Joining a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team is a lot like finding a new set of friends or support system. The atmosphere should match your personal goals so you can get the most from your training. You will be challenging yourself in ways you have never expected and you will be spending a lot of time at the academy training, learning, and reaching new goals. So you definitely need to feel comfortable with your new teammates and coaches. Also, the relationships you make with your new BJJ family will be very fulfilling. These will be the people who share your same ideas of personal achievement and who help you along your journey.
If it feels like a place where won’t fit in, then you probably shouldn’t join. Each academy has its own feel and atmosphere, so make sure to visit a few training centers to find the right place for you. After all, you are making an investment of your time, energy, and money, so you need to be secure with your decision.
Proof of experience and expertise
To those true experts in the field of study, it is easy to spot the frauds, but for the new students, it is not that easy. There are a lot of academies out there who claim to be ‘experts’ in everything under the sun with multiple black belts in the ancient art of who-knows-what. Trust your instincts, if it seems like the coach is blowing smoke, then most likely he/she is full of hot air. A reliable coach or training center should have authentic references, honest reviews, certificates of validation, and a training lineage that is easily identified. Here are some questions you should ask when researching a potential academy:
- Who long have you been in business?
- Who are the BJJ coaches?
- What is their training history?
- What is their BJJ / training lineage? Who were their coaches and where are they located?
- Can you recommend any other jiu-jitsu training centers in town?
- Can you recommend any self-defense academies I should avoid?
Respected in the community
This is related to the last 3 question posted above. BJJ is a small enough community where other coaches and teammates will have interaction with other BJJ schools and coaches. Whether it is at BJJ tournament or jiu-jitsu seminar, interaction is inevitable. Even though they may be competing schools or gyms, most legitimate and honorable coaches will still be respected within their BJJ / MMA community for their dedication to the sport and their hard work.
The “any place I should avoid” question: Keep in mind, you need to make a choice that is right for you. So it is still important to visit the “avoided” BJJ academy to get your own assessment.
CLEAN! If looks like it is not being cleaned on a daily basis, then it is not! An organized and clean BJJ / MMA / boxing gym should be well kept and sanitized on a regular basis. This is one of the most important aspects of a training center, for various reasons. This is a preventative measure of which all coaches and teammates should be aware.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu / MMA / Boxing are all contact sports and come with a risk of injury. Getting hurt, bumps, bruises, and even a little bloody is expected, but getting seriously injured is never acceptable. Training Protocal explains the safety rules and regulations and ensures the security and continued physical health of all students, teammates, and coaches at the jiu-jitsu / BJJ / MMA / Boxing academy. It also spells out unacceptable behavior, gym etiquette, and submission standards of any individual who utilizes the facility. The training protocol should also clearly define the consequences for breaking the rules or injuring any teammate or coach.