Photo: Marlon Le Tho, Rxwdy Vision
Whenever people find out that I have traveled to a lot of countries and visited different gyms around the world, they often ask me …
“What is my gym’s level like compared to other BJJ gyms around the world?”
You might have asked this question to people visiting your gym from other countries.
Or you might have entertained that thought at least.
The question may sound innocent, and my answer to it is simple enough, but it is worth considering for a bit.
Because ultimately it’s about what BJJ can give you at each stage of your progress.
My answer is based on my own personal experience, and I haven’t been to every BJJ gym in every country. The scale is much smaller than that.
Still, having visited about 40 countries with BJJ gyms over last 6 years, I believe my personal experience is … well, not that bad.
And my answer is this:
Your gym is just like any other gym around the world more or less as far as regular practitioners are concerned.
There are exceptions, but blue belts in Vietnam just do as well as blue belts in Serbia or in Australia. Or even in Brazil (though my experience in Brazil is rather limited). The same goes to other belts.
In other words, if you receive your belts from a legit instructor, it’s very likely the case that you do well as a regular BJJ practitioner no matter where you go.
What about the exceptions I mentioned above?
I think two major exceptions are as follows:
No matter where you go, usually there are people who a) have physical abilities that aid their BJJ skills, and/or b) are dedicated to the art (i.e. practice more than others). These people may be much better than regular practitioners. You probably have a teammate like that in your gym as well.
If you compare regular practitioners with practitioners from exceptionally competitive gyms or exceptionally competitive groups, then that may not be a fair comparison. For example, I spent about 4 months training at PSLPB, going to their competition training sessions. This is an environment where exceptional practitioners mentioned in the previous one get together from all over Brazil. So, again, there’s a difference between regular BJJ practitioners and such competitive practitioners.
All in all, though, as long as you have an instructor or two who can guide you in your BJJ journey, your training environment is most likely to be sufficient in preparing you to be good enough as a blue belt and further.
And if you are keen on improving your gym’s overall level, I believe it’s a good idea to keep in mind that it’s a long term game and that helping your teammates become better is one of the great ways to create a better team.
When your teammates become better, you will have better training partners. And there will be a positive spiral that helps everyone involved.
Written by Masafumi Matsumoto