How To Make Sure You’re Friends Aren’t Tricked By A McDojo

I frequently look to reddit for inspiration, and recently came across an interesting post about helping someone select a gym that’s not a McDojo.

The post is as follows:

What would you tell someone to look for in a BJJ gym to make sure it’s not a McDojo? (self.bjj)

submitted 2 days ago * by BillMurraysTesticle

The question is to be asked before you buy a membership to a gym. For instance, my girlfriend’s brother wants to take up BJJ and be sure that he has the best experience possible. I’m not familiar with any schools in his area, but I was thinking about looking up the coach and their lineage and seeing how often/what tournaments their competitors are active in. It also made me consider what I should tell him to look out for when looking for a school. (He’s in Melbourne, FL if anyone wants to make a recommendation.)

TRUE McDojo’s are a rarity in the BJJ community, but finding a quality gym that is worth training at may be more difficult than you’d think.  Here are some outside-the-box points to look out for:

  1. If the head instructor touts medals in competition, look up the results of those competitions. If the instructor is bragging about a default medal, or if they tout a bronze medal in an IBJJF bracket in which they are the only bronze medalist, there’s a good chance that they are somewhat fraudulent (IBJJF brackets have 2 bronze medalists, if there is only one, they received it by default.)  It’s okay to be proud of competing, but if you use default medals to advertise your gym, you’re very likely a fraud.
  2. They have a hard policy against cross training, but there are no nearby affiliates. If you live in or around New York City and are a member of Renzo Gracie’s academy, I get it if your instructor frowns on cross training (I mean there are about a dozen options within half an hour of each other.)  However, if you’re in a town where your gym has no affiliates, you should be allowed to visit other gyms to get different looks. If you’re not, there’s a possibility that your professor doesn’t want you to see how bad you have it.
  3. The instructor won’t let you compete. Similar to number 2.  Competition is a way to figure out where you stand, it’s a way to field your technique, and develop stress inoculation.  If you’re not “allowed” to compete, there’s a strong likelihood that it’s because you train at a McDojo, and your professor doesn’t want to lose face by having their students lose in public.
  4. The instructors won’t roll. If someone has injuries, I understand them not rolling.  However, one phenomenon I’ve witnessed is instructors who avoid rolling simply out of fear of getting tapped out.  This breeds an unhealthy environment.  I’ve visited gyms where the instructor held a higher rank but wasn’t as athletic or competition minded as me, and the ones that still rolled with me in spite of that are definitely NOT McDojo type atmospheres.  The fact is, rolling aptitude is not necessarily a measure of one’s quality as an instructor, but ones willingness to roll is.
  5. Read online reviews. The jiu-jitsu community is a self policing, self protecting one.  No one wants a McDojo around, and people will do their best to expose any McDojo that they find out about.

Choosing the right place to train can be difficult.  I trained at 3 different academies before I found the place where I currently train. Not everywhere will be a good fit, even an academy that is not a McDojo.  But be careful, there is a lot of charlatanism in martial arts.



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