How To Convince Someone To Try BJJ (Without Scaring Them Off)

Photo Credit: Giulliana Fonseca Photography

I know, I know — Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the best, it’s for everyone, and if you’re not doing jiu-jitsu, you’re missing out on the greatest thing ever. Trust me, I’m absolutely that person who tries to recruit everyone from my old college friends to the coffee shop barista to come try a class, but there are ways to do this without making it seem like you’re trying to pull people into a cult. If you’re trying to increase your gym’s membership numbers or you just really, really want your significant other to start rolling, here are some tips:

Be active on social media.

I’m sure some of your friends get tired of all the BJJ posting you do, but there are plenty more who see you having fun with your friends, losing weight, and being passionate about something you love. If your goal really is to recruit people, don’t just focus on taking selfies in the gym or self-promotion for upcoming matches — show them the things that appeal to someone who’s unlikely to join just for the sake of learning a martial art. If you’ve lost weight through jiu-jitsu, post before/after photos. If you’ve met your best friends through jiu-jitsu, feature them in your posts. Don’t just spout off the cliche “Jiu-jitsu changed my life” — tell people how it did.

Make it a social activity.

This is obviously a lot harder when you’re trying to get your mailman to come to an open mat, but if you’re focused on getting someone you know reasonably well (like a coworker) to sign up, don’t just tell them a date and a time and say you hope they make it. Schedule it with them if they show interest, offer to drive them, and suggest meeting up for a drink afterward. It’s intimidating walking into a gym alone for the first time, and if you have a friend or acquaintance who knows that they’ll be walking in with you, it can help calm their nerves. Plus, they’ll be less likely to no-show if they know you’re expecting them to be there at a certain date and time.

Focus on their goals.

We could all make a PowerPoint presentation of all the benefits jiu-jitsu has to offer, but if you dump them all on your unsuspecting bartender, she’s going to get overwhelmed. Instead, zero in on why specifically your potential teammates might be interested in giving it a try. Your cousin in law enforcement who’s already in great shape probably won’t be lured in by what a great workout it is, but might be interested in how it could help him protect himself. Your roommate who struggles with confidence issues might best benefit from the self-esteem boost she’d get out of learning to choke someone twice her size. The better you know someone’s goals, the more likely you are to convince them that jiu-jitsu is what they need to achieve them.

Encourage them, but don’t pressure them.

Jiu-jitsu needs to be a positive experience from the get-go if you want your friends to show up, and that means you need to strike a balance between trying to convince them to come and not badgering them when they put it off for another week. If they say that they aren’t ready to try it out yet, let them know that you understand and that you’ll be there for them if they ever change their mind. Remember, you’re not a used car salesman — you’re someone who genuinely wants to share something amazing with the people around you.

Carry academy business cards with you.

Yes, even if you’re just a student. A conversation is easy enough to forget about, especially when you can’t even remember the name of the school your friend had mentioned. Having a physical business card that includes the name of the gym, the website, social media information, and contact info makes it much easier for people to do more research about what exactly it is you’re trying to rope them into. They might come across it in their wallet a month down the road and feel more open to showing up, and rather than having to rack their brains to figure out what you’d said, they can just look up the academy online and have all their questions answered.

Everyone is different, and what convinces one person to sign up forever may convince another person to not want to even hear the word “jiu-jitsu” ever again. But the next time you try to tell your server how great BJJ is through a mouthful of spaghetti, it doesn’t hurt to make it more likely that he’ll actually sign that waiver.

Featured photo by Giulliana Fonseca Photography


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