The Small World of Jiu Jitsu

The biggest advantage of jiu jitsu is probably also its biggest weakness: how small it is on a grand scale.  By this I mean, many of the top athletes of the sport, and by “the top athletes” I mean many of the greatest of all time are as accessible to the general public as the average white belt.  Chances are if you train for any substantial period of time you’ll have an opportunity to roll with a legend.


This is also a huge disadvantage.  I know that many of the top auxiliary individuals in the sport (photographers, writers, artists etc) need to maintain day jobs; the money just isn’t what would be required to provide necessary sustenance.  Believe me when I say that writing for these sorts of blogs, and even for the major magazines is a labor of love.  The reality is we are very underground.

On the flipside of this, this means that our community is small enough to allow people to enjoy success that in other sports wouldn’t be able to.  For example, if I had strong and well developed opinions about basketball chances are I wouldn’t be able to have the sort of voice that I do in jiu jitsu, we are fortunate in that way.


Jiu Jitsu is still tiny.  In other sports, competitors make millions, if not tens of millions to compete, Jiu Jitsu stars who win the absolute at the ADCC, which is probably the biggest single cash prize payout available take home $40,000 (another $10,000 if they won their division), that’s 50,000 dollars, I don’t think Lebron James gets out of bed for such a paltry sum.

A decent portion of the money that can be made in jiu jitsu is in academy ownership, but that requires a certain level of business savvy that most people don’t have.  I’ve personally seen many academies not perform up to their potential because the owner simply didn’t have the wherewithal to understand good business.  It takes a special kind of person to devote the amount of time and effort it takes to become good at BJJ and that kind of person often doesn’t have an entrepreneurial spirit, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Do jiu jitsu because you love it, and you may be able to one day profit from it in some way.  That profit will likely not be financial but rather an intrinsic emotional profit from being able to hit a really sweet triangle arm bar.  Jiu jitsu gives us something money can’t buy, and for everything else keep your day job.


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