Are you thinking of dedicating the next 10 years of your life to earning your BJJ black belt? If your goal is then to cash in on your prized new belt you may want to reconsider your choice! It is time to analyse the earnings of Jiu Jitsu black belts.
How Much Does A BJJ Black Belt Make?
Most black belts don’t earn any money and train for the love of the sport. The average black belt can earn between $50 to $200 an hour for private lessons and $50,000 to $150,000 a year running a gym. While famous black belts can charge $150 to $500 an hour and earn 100,000 to 400,000 a year owning a gym.
The vast majority of BJJ black belts are not professional practitioners. They do not earn any money from their black belts and typically work in a field completely unrelated to BJJ. They are simply hobbyists who love BJJ and continue to train in the martial art while keeping their income separate from the sport. Hobbyists make up 70% to 80% of black belts.
The next tier of Jiu Jitsu black belts are those who earn a part time income from the martial art. These are typically local black belts who boost their income by either teaching the occasional private lesson or filling in for their instructor and running a class.
These semi-pro black belts might make a couple of hundred to a thousands dollars a month from BJJ. They will usually charge $50 to $100 for a private lesson and may be paid $30 to $40 to run a class.
The bottom tier of professional BJJ black belts are those who make the majority of their money from Jiu Jitsu. These are typically local black belts who run average to poor performing academies and teach a decent amount of private lessons each month.
These local black belts can make $1000 to $3000 a month from a combination of gym memberships and private lessons. For these local black belts to increase their earnings they need to really develop their academies by growing membership and exploring different revenue streams outside of just monthly training fees.
Another group in the lower tier of professional BJJ black belts are struggling competitors who do not own an academy. These guys are very good at BJJ but they aren’t good enough to break into the elite of the sport and are unable to build a significant following.
These guys spend all of their time training and competing and are therefore forced to live off whatever earnings they can scrape from BJJ. Usually they are able to make $1000 to $2000 a month which comes from a combination of competition earnings, meager sponsorship deals and private lessons.
The middle level professional BJJ tier is made up of local black belts who own successful academies and famous but not superstar level BJJ athletes. Local black belts who run popular BJJ gyms can earn a lot of money.
Some gyms are making their owners $100,000 to $300,000 a year in profit. Running a successful BJJ gym is less about how skilled you are on the mats and more about your business knowledge.
BJJ academies that do well tend to have some things in common. They tend to have a large kids program and heavily market towards parents who are looking for a combination of cheap daycare and a fun hobby for their kid. They do not rely just on monthly membership fees to make money.
They successfully sell training gear, seminars, host competitions, charge for gradings and have lots of their students paying for private tuition. They also know how to get a lot of people through the doors while retaining a significant percentage of them.
You can get a rough idea about how much a BJJ gym is making by totalling the number of members multiplied by the monthly training fee plus estimated extras minus costs (estimated at 50% of revenue).
For example a gym with 100 members who are paying $150 per month in membership fees and then on average are spending $50 in extras (uniform, food, private lessons, gradings, seminars) each month minus costs (50% of revenue). This would equal $120,000 in profit and would be considered a successful and highly profitable gym.
Most gyms are not earning this much and some are earning even more. But you can quickly see how if a local black belt owns 2 successful gyms they can be earning above $200,000 a year. I would say most successful BJJ gyms are making their owners in the $40,000 to $120,000 range.
The other BJJ professionals who make up the middle tier are very good but not superstar BJJ athletes. These professional athletes can earn a comfortable living through competition earnings, sponsorship deals, instructional content and teaching private lessons.
Their name and accolades can allow them to charge $200 an hour for private lessons and if they are able to just find 5 clients who are willing to take 2 lessons a month with them they can earn $24,000 a year from 10 hours of teaching a month.
Then you add $500 to $1000 a month in sponsorship deals, maybe $500 to $1000 a month from selling instructional content, $10,000 to $20,000 a year in prize money and you can see how good but not elite BJJ athletes can make $50,000 to $70,000 a year and significantly more if they start taking their talents on the road and teaching seminars where they can earn upwards of $1000 per appearance.
The final tier of the BJJ black belt earners is the big name elite athletes who also typically run very successful gyms. Andre Galvao and Gordon Ryan are millionaires thanks to their BJJ black belts and their skill on the mats.
Andre Galvao has used his BJJ black belt to open one of the most successful academies in the world which has hundreds of paying members, turning Galvao into a very rich man.
Galvao has further increased his net worth by winning major BJJ prizes such as ADCC, teaching private lessons, selling training gear which he makes mandatory for all his students to wear and selling instructionals.
Gordon Ryan is probably the BJJ black belt with the highest earnings all while not owning a gym. Gordon earns between $300,000 to $500,000 a year.
This is thanks to his lucrative sponsorship deals, his pricey instructional content, cash prizes from winning major competitions (earned over 60k for his ADCC win), his prolific seminar schedule where he charges thousands for each appearance and his very expensive private lessons which will set you back $500 an hour.
Elite and famous BJJ black belts can make over $300,000 a year and quickly turn themselves into millionaires.