Recently, a number of people attending our BJJ Black Belt led and SBG qualified MMA classes have highlighted “Ju-Jitsu” schools in the local area claiming to offer Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This was extremely misleading in two specific cases we’ve seen. One MMA competitor who now competes for us had previously been spun a yarn of how one of the traditional ju jitsu schools was “essentially” a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. When he attended, he found people standing in lines throwing choreographed haymakers and the partner doing Chi-Sao blocks and various traditional takedowns against zero resistance. This is NOT Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Unalive patterns are not only ineffective and a waste of time, but highly dangerous as they can breed a false sense of security. The key is to watch the person feeding the technique, rather than the receiver.
The technique can start off slowly and with little resistance to begin with, but should quickly build in intensity until the feeder is fully resisting in freestyle sparring. The other school we came across has a traditional JJ instructor talking about street-based self defence, mentioning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on their website. However, watching a video of their class shows its the same traditional Ju-Jitsu as the other school formerly mentioned.
For newcomers to BJJ keen to train in the ‘real deal’, but with no comprehension of what a legitimate class should look like, there are a number of really obvious giveaways when it comes to finding a real BJJ club. The most obvious first clue is the spelling of “jiu-jitsu” with an “i” in the first word. People who have trained in traditional Japanese versions typically spell it without “ju-jitsu”. A second giveaway is the use of the word “combat” or “street” instead of Brazilian. This is so ropey instructors, often with high dan grades in traditional ju-jitsu can pass themselves off as authorities on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or ground fighting, often whilst also arguing that BJJ “doesn’t work on the street”. The double standards here betray their nonsensical standpoint. They are also the same people who argue they train “for the street” but there is no difference between what they show and the traditional Ju-Jitsu instructors – that’s because the only thing that has changed is the name.
Another way to tell is look at the name of the school. Do a quick ‘google’, and look for who heads up the school. What is their BJJ lineage? In the north-west, legitimate BJJ schools that I know of include (and apologies to who I miss but I will add you if you contact me) my own coaches’s SBG Mainline club which is the UK HQ of Straight Blast Gym, Gracie Barra, Mario Sukata / Gary Savage in Blackpool, Factory BJJ and Strategy BJJ in Stockport, Jason Tan in Liverpool, Next Generation, Andy Aspinall, etc. All of these establishments are authentic BJJ.
Ask the instructor what is their exact grading in BJJ – anybody with nothing to hide won’t be offended and they won’t avoid the question. If they are legitimate, they also won’t start talking about street fighting in my experience. They will have realized long ago that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when combined with real striking systems (like Boxing and Thaiboxing) and real wrestling (Judo, Sambo, Greco, and Free Style) is all you ever need for street defense and you learn it just by going and sparring.
The purpose of this article was purely to discriminate between schools run by traditional or combat / street Ju-Jitsu instructors who are completely unqualified to tell anyone how to defend themselves, let alone pretend to practice BJJ.
I hope this article has been useful in helping to identify legitimate BJJ schools. However, if you are still unsure, feel free to contact us and we will happily help you do this.