3 Reasons BJJ Still Isn’t Main Stream In The U.S

I think the vast majority of jiu-jitsuka can agree that competitions are pretty dope. It is great to go out there and chase our goals and push ourselves to the limit.

However the haters do have one thing right: sport BJJ is not as popular as it could be.

But why is it that? Why is it that we can turn on ESPN and watch “competitive video gaming” and Crossfit, but not Jiu-Jitsu? Why do other countries air more BJJ and martial arts more than the U.S. despite the fact that jiu-jitsu is more popular here than elsewhere? What is holding sport BJJ back from coming to the front lines in America?

Hopefully I can give you some pretty fair answers to these questions.

  • Niche– Jiu-jitsu is very niche in that not everyone knows about it and not everyone can really participate. This is furthered by the complex rules that many people cannot understand. Anyone can watch video gaming or CrossFit and understand what is happening, but jiu-jitsu isn’t that easy to follow if you don’t train. Imagine trying to explain advantages or the berimbolo to the average American. It would be very challenging.
  • It’s Paced– Jiu-jitsu matches can be very exciting, but they can also be very slow and drawn out. Let’s face it, most people wouldn’t enjoy watching double guard pulls or one guy holding another in top side control for 8 min. I barley enjoy that and I train.
  • Funding– This is the biggest one. The funding just isn’t there. The UAE has done a lot, but there just isn’t anyone willing to pay to air BJJ in the U.S. Even pay-per-view events on cable would do wonders for the sport, but like I said , the community lacks funding. On top of that, the pay-per-view events that are streamed online are often pirated and placed on Facebook for free, undermining the potential growth of the sport.


To me, these 3 ideas are what is really holding BJJ back from becoming more popular and being aired on TV.

What other problems does BJJ face in becoming more mainstream in the U.S.? What would you do fix these issues ?


  1. I’d like to add “expensive” to that list. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one, if not the most expensive martial art to train in. I’ve been involved in the martial arts for almost 3 decades and yes the tuition of almost all martial arts schools has gone up, but jiu-jitsu leads the way. I’ve seen others say that if you truly love jiu-jitsu than you can give up on certain things (i.e. partying, shopping sprees, etc.), but even if you aren’t blowing your money away on other things that aren’t essential, sometimes jiu-jitsu training can still take a big bite out of your pocket book. In certain areas there’s no way most of the people would be able to afford it. That’s why any martial arts programs available to them are generally run through recreation centers or churches, because it’s cheaper and I don’t see very many if any jiu-jitsu classes offered that way. I understand that jiu-jitsu instructors have to pay for rent, utilities, insurance, etc. and still may an income. I understand that jiu-jitsu instructors are charging not only to pay their bills, but also what they think their knowledge might be worth, but unless you get guys like the late Oswaldo Fadda willing to teach in poorer areas for much less than I don’t see it becoming as popular as karate, tae kwon do (which can also be quite expensive in some places) or judo.

  2. Cost in time & money also, having a sparring partner that doesnt injure you is key. The garage gym only works year around in warmer climates. but in general, the sport isnt well defined to the public…what is it, why are grown men rolling around. who is winning..that can also be unclear. what are they trying to accomplish…the concepts of Mount, half mount, rear naked choke take a while to grasp (in my case, many months before I could wrap my head around what BJJ is about). BJJ is missing an elevator pitch: What is it? why do I need to learn it?
    If you cant state your value prop in a minute or less, that opportunity just passes by. the concept of a knockout vs a submission is unclear to the masses. Rickson Gracie needs to hire the best marketing companies & solve the messaging problem. A simplified marketing message can create excitement & wider adoption. Care must be taken not to pop the bubble by insisting on traditional training methods however as that could dampen the adoption rates. Reward innovation.

  3. Many people do not like the sport aspect of BJJ. In Judo for years they had to change the rules of their tournaments to make up for wrestlers and other martial artists coming in and winning their tournaments. If BJJ is turned into an Olympic sport it would see the same kind of changes. At 46 it’s very hard on my body, but I would like to see more combat Jiu-Jitsu out there then sport jiu jitsu at the same time though I really admire everyone that has the balls to get out there and compete! It also gets really expensive when you have a lot of family members going.


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