How Can You Tell If A BJJ Gym Is Real?

These days there are so many BJJ gyms that trying to decipher which are real and which are fake is no easy task. To ensure you find a legit Jiu Jitsu academy we will tell what to look out for.

How Can You Tell If A BJJ Gym Is A Real?

If a BJJ gym has produced successful competitors, is run by a black belt who was coached by a high-level BJJ instructor, has been operating for a number of years, and has a range of students from white to black then it is a real academy.

The easiest way to determine if a BJJ gym is real is to look at their competition record. If they have had success at a range of belt levels with a number of different athletes then the chance of them being a real BJJ gym is very high.

BJJ gyms will often showcase their competition success on their websites and social media pages. You can also message them and call them and ask them. Ideally, you are interested in their performance at larger competitions. You can also look up the results of different BJJ competitions and see how your school is doing.

You want to find a BJJ gym that knows how to coach all different types of students. You need to find a gym that can take a brand new white belt off the street and be willing to mold them into a high level BJJ practitioner.

There are real BJJ gyms but they aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to develop new students. They are happy to take your money and just go through the motions while they spend their time working on their skills or their senior students.

If you go to a gym and the white belts who have been for training 6 months plus are terrible and receive little to no personal instruction you should find another Jiu Jitsu academy.

Another way to determine if a BJJ gym is legit is to look at the instructor’s lineage and accolades. If the instructor is a long-time black belt who has won some big tournaments and received his black belt from another highly respected black belt then you have likely stumbled upon a real BJJ gym.

While individual success in BJJ is not the same as coaching ability they tend to be highly correlated. Coaching and competing are different skills but in BJJ you will find that all the top coaches are still high level practitioners themselves.

Even someone like John Danaher who is arguably the best NoGi coach, while he never competed in a BJJ competition his students who are world champion competitors are amazed by his skills during sparring.

By training at a Jiu Jitsu gym that is run by a skilled black belt you increase your chance of discovering a high level BJJ academy.

Another thing to look out for when trying to hunt down a legit Jiu Jitsu academy is the makeup of the students. If the academy is filled with a range of belts from white to black this a good sign.

In BJJ there are lots of gyms that specialize in a certain form of coaching. Some are great at developing white and blue belts but have no experience working with upper belts while other schools are great at taking young hungry purple belts to the next level.

Often talented blue and purple belts will leave these small gyms and move to bigger clubs after their coaches can no longer develop them and they run out of challenging training partners. To re-ignite their progression they head to famous clubs where there are plenty of upper belts to challenge them.

If you find a school that has a range of belts on the mat and these athletes are regularly successfully competing at all belt levels this shows that your gym can train you from white all the way to black belt. If you want to just train at one school your entire BJJ journey then this is an important element.

The time your BJJ gym has been open is also a good indicator on the realness of the academy. If your gym is brand new you are taking a leap off faith by signing up. It may be a great gym but the coach hasn’t had the opportunity to showcase his coaching skills and develop athletes yet.

It is much safer to train at a BJJ gym that has been open for 5 plus years where the coach has a number of students that he has developed from brand new white belts to tough and dangerous purple belts. This is evidence of his coaching ability.

By being open for a number of years it is also evidence that the BJJ gym is being run successfully. It shows that they are able to attract and retain enough students to keep the business profitable. With so much competition these days if a BJJ gym is not offering high-quality Jiu Jitsu training they will be driven out of the market especially if you live in a major metropolitan area.


With so many different Jiu Jitsu academies out there it is not easy for a new student to separate the bad from the good and find the right gym. However, if you look for a BJJ school that has a strong competition record at all belt levels, is run by a high level black belt with an impressive lineage, has been open for at least a few years, and has a range of students training from white belt to black belt then it is most likely real and legit.

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