Former Alliance BJJ Instructor Exposes The McDojo Franchise Model of Jiu-Jitsu: ‘It’s Like McDonalds’

Former Alliance BJJ Instructor Exposes The McDojo Franchise Model of Jiu-Jitsu: ‘It’s Like McDonalds’

Jiu-Jitsu is a fast growing martial art/sport. You have Jiu-Jitsu schools in most major cities in almost all continents.

For a BJJ academy to be considered legitimate (under IBJJF), and to advance in rank, the instructor has to be under the guidance of a BJJ black belt or a second degree (at least) BJJ black belt. It takes a third degree black belt to able to promote to black belt.

Nowadays, there are big schools or associations with hundreds of affiliates all over the world. The biggest ones are: Gracie Barra, Alliance, Checkmat, Brasa, Atos, Carlson Gracie etc…(In no particular order).

These Are The Biggest Jiu-Jitsu Associations in The World

What are the benefits of affiliating with a big name school or association? Is it worth it? Will it attract more students? What do you get? What are the pros and cons?

Adam Childs – Black Belt under Fabio Gurgel recently decided to leave the Alliance Jiu-Jitsu association after many years working as the International Manager for Alliance Worldwide and running a Alliance Franchise/Affiliated Academy in Australia.

In this video, he exposed the true nature of BJJ franchises.

He stated:

“They make you sell their Gis and the margins are so small that it’s not even worth it. ”

“Alliance is more of an affiliate model but Gracie Barra has a real franchise system where they provide you with everything. It’s just like McDonalds.”

He said that the Alliance name doesn’t make difference for new students:

“In all these years, I only had 1 student that came because of Alliance and he eventually quit.”

“The straw that broke the camel’s back, was when they called me to tell me that they wee increasing the prices and then it didn’t make sense.”

So what are the pros and cons of joining a BJJ affiliation and/or franchise?


  • Prestige– In the Jiu-Jitsu world, Gracie Barra, Checkmat, Atos etc are brand names. They may not mean much for non BJJ practitioners but for most BJJ folk they are synonymous with success in competition and business and for quality of instruction. When competing in international competitions the affiliate will be carrying the name of the association, thus being recognized as part of an elite and recognized team.
  • Exposure – As a member of a major BJJ association your school will have increased media exposure, ads in magazines which will enhance the reputation and bring attention to the school.
  • International network – As a member of an International Association you and your students will be able to train in all other Schools under that same banner.
  • Seminars – You and your students will have the benefit of gaining knowledge from various black belts formed under the association.
  • Instructional Support – The instructor will have access to instructional training materials and curriculum. Affiliates may also request to have a custom tailored training program based on their current schedule, goals and level of students.
  • Association camps, tournaments, instructors only events, belt promotions, etc.


  • Cost- Not all associations are run the same way. Some are not so organized and centralized and are laid back when it comes to using the name and image. Some are highly organized and are demanding towards their affiliates. There can be a fixed monthly payment for all schools under the associations or 10% of monthly revenue. Seminars need to be scheduled at least 2 times a year and are not cheap.
  • Lack of identity/originality/ control– When you are under an association (again depending on which association) your school may have to carry the name of the association together with the name of the area where you are located. There may be some general rules and guidelines which have to be enforced in all schools so it makes for lack of originality.
  • Mandatory or required for students to only wear the Association Gi– Some of the bigger academies produce their own branded Gis and require all students to only wear their Gis. For example, Alliance leader Fabio Gurgel,from his facebook, that from 2015 anounced that all Alliance members will be obligated to wear the Alliance Gi:“Starting January 2015, it will be mandatory for all Official Alliance academies to use the Official Alliance kimono in order to keep up with the new sponsor Keiko Sport and KVRA.”  Some other big academies, such as Gracie Barra, require for their members to wear the official academy Gi.