McDojo Jiu-Jitsu: the evolution of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the U.S.?

Several articles have been written about the “McDojo” phenomenon and how it is making the art of jiu-jitsu steer off its traditional path into a commercial highway. I use the term “commercial highway” because of the motivation and increasing momentum behind certain groups towards obtaining monetary gains. There are no objections to making a living within the sport, but when making “quick money” becomes your top reason for learning jiu-jitsu, this has an impact on student’s ability to apply techniques, perform adequate in competitions and conceptually understand the martial art so that others entering the sport appreciate its’ many intricacies.

Some of the common comments that have been associated with a “McDojo” have been about belt promotions being awarded too soon, academies not having a clear jiu-jitsu lineage and professors not offering in-depth understanding of a technique (e.g. counter to the counter move). Others have commented that once a school reaches a certain size in any particular region, it raises eyebrows in terms of how much “jiu-jitsu” is being taught versus how much revenues are being received. The creation of various schools under a single name is not an automatic qualifier for the term “McDojo”. To some in the jiu-jitsu community, what makes a large organization a qualifier for “McDojo” status is in the ‘”add on” fees associated with special trainings, seminars and restriction to compete in specific tournaments or federations. Some have even predicted that, very soon, jiu-jitsu will be offering “free 3 months” offer as a way of bringing paying prospects into academies.

The increasing growth of the jiu-jitsu sport is making many think of the monetary gains. On the other side of the coin, there is much thought that needs to be placed into making sure that the core of jiu-jitsu is maintained and honored by professors who have spent years understanding the art form. Expansion of a jiu-jitsu dojo is not the problem if the professors take time to ensure that all practices, techniques and team philosophy are consistently referenced. Testing of belt levels has been one way schools ensure that students walk out with a better sense of the sport. Others have argued that belt testing may be appropriate for the hobbyist who frequents a jiu-jitsu school for health and fitness purposes. For the jiu-jitsu competitor, application of strategies and techniques in tournaments is the only measure of growth in the art.

By: Santiago “Santi” Z. (

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