Step #1: Google the name of your city followed by BJJ for example “Depew BJJ” if you live in the Buffalo area. Take a list of all of the academies that come up. BJJ is short for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu remember.
Step #2: Check out their schedules and make sure that it works with your schedule, there’s no point in signing up if you can’t make any of the classes. There are many academies that offer noon/evening classes 6-7 days per week, the bigger their schedule, the more options you have, and the more likely it is you will be able to make it to class. Check back often, as schedules are subject to change (the more a school grows the more classes they’ll likely offer). Consider too you want to see your head instructor, so find out what classes he/she teaches and see if you can prioritize them as well. Some students really enjoy a more intimate brazilian jiu jitsu instruction/class, so if you find classes that are less populated maybe its the right one for you.
Step #3: Now is the tricky part, where you have to decipher information about each academy to find out which ones stand out and are worth checking out. Here are a few points you should look into, in no particular order:
– A clear and traceable lineage for the head instructor(You should verify this if possible). If they are an IBJJF certified black belt or/and IBJJF certified academy, then they are good as the IBJJF will verify their lineage prior to certifying them.
– Reviews, Reviews, Reviews. Going through reviews will give you valuable third party insight into what the public thinks about each academy which will help you make a decision about which academy would be the best fit for you or/and your children. Facebook, Google, and Yelp are great places to look at reviews.
– Certifications, for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) is the lead governing body for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu around the world. An instructor who is an IBJJF certified black belt must have their instructor sign off on all of their belts from blue to black belt. Also in the United States you must provide a criminal record check in order to register your academy under the IBJJF. In other words holding a black belt certification under the IBJJF is like having your RMT licence for massage therapy, you know it’s legit.
– Instructor’s background, have they competed before, what have they accomplished? Do a quick google search of their name and you should find their tournament results and certifications they have etc. If you want to be extra thorough, cross examine any accomplishments they claim to have on their website on google. If an instructor has competed in the past, you should be able to find the results as they are almost always posted online. An instructor doesn’t have to be a great competitor to be a good instructor but it’s a big bonus if they have a good competition resume especially if competing is one of your goals. Heres an example of what Professor Michael Katilus did at the 2012 Pans (photo featured), under Purple Belt Masters : http://static.ibjjfdb.com/Campeonato/000106/en-US/Results.pdf
– Competition team, most academies have at least a handful of students that compete. If you are interested in competing, look into the academies’ results in competitions and inquire about their competition team. Look up competition footage/highlight reels/matches of the head instructor and academy’s students on YouTube.
– Especially if you are looking to register your children, you should ask for all of the instructors’ current criminal record checks, many places have this posted at their academies or keep it on file in case people ask. You can email ahead if you feel awkward to inquire in person. An IBJJF certified black belt means they have begun the criminal record background clearance, so thats a big plus.
– Risk free trial, each academy should offer a free trial where you can come in and check it out risk free. Usually it’s a few classes or a week trial. Bonus points if they give you an introduction to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lesson for your first class.
-Pricing, the membership options should be simple and easy to understand. Bonus points if they have the pricing options on their website or for viewing when you walk in to their academy. If they beat around the bush about memberships or ask you to come in first, go elsewhere. If they have a lot of salesmen or sales directors, its a high pressure environment so be careful.