Curriculum Based Jiu-Jitsu Schools

Last week I made a blog post talking about the main differences between “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu” and “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”. Of the comments I received, many were in relation to the idea of having a curriculum. For whatever reason, many people seemed against it and I believe this is mainly due to a lack of understanding how a curriculum works in BJJ and how it is beneficial to the school. I wanted to take a little time to talk about what I have learned about curriculum BJJ through my association and the misconceptions some people have about it. Here are the main reasons I believe every academy should have a curriculum.

  1. Consistency– This is one of the only ways to ensure your students all learn the same basic moves from the start. In many academies it is simply hit and miss in order to build your game. If you miss a few days then it may be another few months before you see the class again or it could be longer if you are not present for that class. With a curriculum students can learn from the ground up and build on a common base.
  2. Simplicity– Having classes built on a curriculum can make it easier to create a scheduled plan and thus present a more professional class rather than diving into a topic and not necessarily knowing where the class may go.
  3. Student Retention And Gain– It may seem silly , but when a new student walks in or when a student may be confused it is helpful to show them a curriculum so that they know exactly what the plan going forward is and what they need to learn on any given week, month or day.

Now I want to talk about the common misconceptions about curriculum schools, because this seemed to be a big factor in the attitude people have toward the idea.

  • “They Are Cookie Cutters”– Some people believe that having a curriculum will make every student learn the same moves and thus have the same game. This is so far from the truth for many reasons. First, every student will still favor certain positions over others. Second, a curriculum is not just some short list of moves; there are plenty of styles involved. Last, the idea of a curriculum is more for the first two or three belts. Once you reach purple belt in these schools, you start building your own individual game and add all the other moves involved in BJJ.
  • The McDojo – Some have even gone as far as to say that these schools are McDojos. This is very far from the truth. In reality these school are more professional than most. These schools have a curriculum and in any other aspect of life ; we understand that a curriculum is the building block to success . So, why do people have the exact opposite opinion in the BJJ world?

I hope this has cleared up some of the questions and ideas about schools who have a basic curriculum. I want to re-state that the curriculum is build for the lower belts and as we get to purple, brown and black we learn more outside technique because we have already learned the curriculum well.  What are your thoughts on curriculum based schools?



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