The Real Cost of Jiu-Jitsu: How Much Are Jiu-Jitsu Classes?

how much are jiu jitsu classes

Jiu-Jitsu: Ancient Art, Modern Application

If you’re even remotely interested in the world of mixed martial arts or fancy yourself a history buff, you’ve almost certainly heard of jiu-jitsu. Today an international phenomenon, jiu-jitsu has its origins in medieval Japan as a martial art once practiced exclusively by the region’s legendary warrior class – the samurai.

Whether for exercise, self-defense, or for competition, trainees around the world are picking up their white belts and seeking out their very first jiu-jitsu classes. But before starting a new hobby, many wonder how much a martial arts training actually costs.

The best answer to how much are jiu-jitsu classes is “well, it depends!” Before you sign up for unlimited classes, let’s take a look at the factors that affect the monthly costs behind a martial arts training.

The One Martial Art to Rule Them All…or to Create Two Totally Separate Schools?

Exercising in Jiu Jitsu class

On a misty morning in ancient Japan, two armies clash on what once was a beautiful, grassy green field of flowers. Two samurai face each other down, the sounds of battle fading away as they tighten their grips on their swords.

Their breath slows, each man is determined to be the victor today and bring honor to their clan and lord. Faster than the eye can see, swords clash once. Twice! Both samurai are evenly matched until one man closes too soon and finds his momentum used against him!

A quick twist of the body puts the unfortunate samurai off balance and suddenly he finds himself flying through the air. This grappling match continues for what feels like an eternity until one samurai emerges victorious, ready to scour the field once more for their next worthy opponent.

Jiu-jitsu originated in Japan in the 1600s, towards the end of the “Sengoku-Jidai” era or “the age of the country at war”. Japan’s longest-running civil war lasted decades and refined many of the weaponry, armor, combat styles, and heroic figures that are commonly associated with the samurai today.

Emerging during such a turbulent time in the history of Japan, it’s no surprise that jiu-jitsu was not originally intended to be a sport, it was very much a method of survival. Designed to be used by combatants wearing armor, the traditional study of jiu-jitsu is also a study of traditional Japanese wartime martial art.

For those more interested in self-defense and competition (and who don’t regularly walk around wearing samurai armor) Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an extremely popular variation that focuses more on defense and sport. It’s a competition martial art as opposed to one developed from the harsh realities of medieval warfare.

Japanese jiu-jitsu involves more throwing and joint manipulation – think about stopping your opponent from using their sword or dagger – whereas Brazilian jiu-jitsu is more focused on ground fighting and grappling.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu has an overall edge in popularity and therefore more gyms around the world will teach this version.

So, How Much Will This Cost?

Regardless of whether you’d like to study the Japanese or Brazilian martial art, your monthly costs willheavily depend on where you live, which gym you go to, and how far you need to travel to get there.

First, let’s look at what average jiu-jitsu classes cost. If you’re in New York, you can expect to pay between $150 to $250 per month, while a class in Florida will usually top out around $100 to $200 per month. Most gyms offer a free trial class or one free week so you can experience the classes and the gym culture before making a commitment.

Paying the monthly fee usually gets you an unlimited number of classes per week, so you can attend as many or as few as your schedule allows. The more you’re able to attend, the lower you effectively pay per class.

Think of it this way, if you live in New York and are paying $200 a month for your membership and you only attend one class each week, you would be paying $50 for a single class! That’s before any extra fees – like equipment or transportation costs – come into play!

Depending on your training goals, it probably makes the most financial sense to only sign up if you can attend more than one class each week. Unlimited training is great but you need to have flexibility in your schedule to get the most out of it.

If you can really commit the time to jiu-jitsu, some gyms will even offer an annual membership fee at a discounted price (usually equates to a month or two free) if you pay for an entire year upfront. This is the best option if you know that you want to study jiu-jitsu and you can commit to attending multiple classes each week.

There are even some gyms that offer more of an a-la-carte approach and will charge you a per-class rate. While this is geared to the busy working person, you’ll spend substantially more money over the long term if you go this route. It’s best to find a gym you like and go for either the monthly or annual membership option.

Lastly, you’ll also need to factor in transportation to the gym. If you own a car, you’ll want to calculate how much you’ll spend on gas. Or if you’re in a major city, you should factor in the cost of public transit.

What Equipment Will You Need?

Teaching Jiu-Jitsu Open Guard position

The good news is that thereisn’t much equipment that you need for jiu-jitsu. Traditional jiu-jitsu involves wearing a “gi” or uniform (think about the white or blue colored robes from karate movies) while “no-gi” classes only require a good pair of grappling shorts.

A gi can cost anywhere between $50 to $150, with ultra-premium gis going for more. Ask your gym for help in making your selection. Grappling shorts are a little different from regular gym shorts in that they allow less restricted movement. These shouldn’t be too expensive. Less than $50 will get you an excellent pair.

Lastly, you’ll need a belt. There is a prevalent myth surrounding Japanese martial arts that at one time, practitioners would only receive one belt, the white belt. You’d be given one by your gym when you started your training and over the years of practice, the belt would gather dirt and would slowly darken all the way to the iconic black belt.

Traditionally, the belt would never be washed because it was seen as “washing away your experience”. Thankfully, the origins of this myth are uncertain at best and today there are five belt levels each of which has a different color.

Your gym will provide each belt to you as you move through the ranks. Some gyms require a fee for the belts they provide. The price will vary based on your gym but usually the cost is about $20. Also, be sure to wash your belt between classes – we promise you’ll still remember your training!

Any other equipment is not strictly necessary to practice jiu-jitsu though it’s a good idea to have a few rash guards to put under your clothes as well as a mouthpiece. There’s no striking in jiu-jitsu but accidents do happen. It’s best to be prepared especially since rash guards and a mouthpiece are usually very inexpensive (think less than $20).

All in all your equipment should cost roughly $150 for gi classes or $75-100 for no-gi classes.

Private or Open Sessions?

Boys Practicing Jiu Jitsu

For a beginner, it might betempting to consider private training. You can work directly with a blackbelt and get personalized instructions. Private lesson costs will depend on which of the major cities you live in, but you can expect to pay around the average monthly membership cost per lesson with a private instructor!

A number of highly qualified instructors can trace their training lineage back to jiu-jitsu champions or notable practitioners. Lessons with these masters will be even more expensive.

The decision is up to you, but it’s likely that open sessions will offer more value for your money unless if you’re planning to train at the competition level. Otherwise, there isn’t much of an added benefit for the extra expense.

The majority of jiu-jitsu gyms are very welcoming places where you can learn a lot from working with a group of training partners near your skill level – mostly by making the same mistakes and learning how to fix them.

Wrapping it All Up

The most expensive part of jiu-jitsu will be the monthly or annual fitness membership rate. If you can commit to a year at a time, and the gym offers this option, you’ll save the most money by committing up-front. If not, we estimate the average monthly cost to be between $100 and $150.

Your gear may cost you a one-time expense of around $150, not including added transportation costs.

So, how much are jiu-jitsu classes going to cost you? For your first year, you’ll be looking at around $1350 to $1950. After that, you’ll only need to pay to replace any gear that gets worn out.

Jiu-jitsu can become a life-long hobby and is a great way to stay in shape, meet new friends, and learn effective self-defensive techniques. It also allows you to become part of a tradition that is centuries old.

Is it all worth it? We certainly think so.


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