1. Find a Jiu Jitsu school that is focused on members first and money second.
- Beware of schools that lock students into lengthy contracts with hefty cancellation fees. The focus in these situations is usually on making money, and not quality of training or satisfaction of members. If you're uncomfortable during the initial point of contact, or anytime during the sign up process, you'll probably be uncomfortable with the rest of your experience at that gym.
- Avoid being lured in by "free" services that aren't actually free, or the common bait and switch method of advertising so common in the gym and fitness industry. Ask questions. Are you being sold a monthly rate now that could possibly go up next month? Is that free month being advertised available to everyone, and with no strings attached?
- A school that puts students first should be interested in your past training experiences, what brought you to Jiu Jitsu, what your goals for Jiu Jitsu are, and if you're enjoying your time in their gym.
2. Make sure the instructor(s) have credentials that matter, and are traceable.
- Anyone can claim to be a "World Champion, but few actually are. The IBJJF World Championship is widely regarded by the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community as the only true World Championship. Despite that, many local tournaments market themselves as the (fill in the blank) World Championship, which gives people the ability to call themselves a "World Champion" even though they aren't. Ask questions. Does the instructor still compete, and if so in which tournaments? If they don't compete anymore, what were some of their noteable titles? They should be able to list their accomplishments, and they should be searchable as well. If an instructor or website claims something that can't be substantiated, it's cause for concern.
- Unfortunately anybody can open a Jiu Jitsu or Martial Arts school, so it's up to you to decide if you want to train under a legitimate instructor. The right decision only comes from asking questions and being informed on the differences between instructors in your area.
3. After making sure the instructor(s) is legitimate, find out what classes each instructor teach.
- Is the black belt advertised on the website the one who teaches classes, or does somebody else in the school do that?
- Find out if the Head Instructor has an active role in teaching classes. Do they teach daily? Weekly? These things make a difference when it comes to a proper and non watered down approach to learning Jiu Jitsu.
4. Will you be able to train with the black belt?
- A black belt instructor should be on the mats with their students every day and actually train with you to assess where improvement is needed.
- A black belt consistently not training with their students could signal various problems. They may be out of shape, scared of looking bad in front of students, or not as legitimate as they claim to be.
5. Do you feel comfortable in the environment?
- People often spend a great deal if time at their Jiu Jitsu academy, so you should feel comfortable in the environment. Does it appear to be kept clean? Is there seating for spectators? Do the mats appear clean and in tact?
- Observe the other students and whether they're helpful? Those students will be a great back up to the instructor and assist you in your learning process. If you feel comfortable around the staff AND the students, you've probably found yourself a good Jiu Jitsu school.