What Does Post-Virus Life Look Like For a BJJ Academy in China?

What Does Post-Virus Life Look Like For a BJJ Academy in China?

Fighting off Covid 19 in Guangzhou, China.

My name is Julien i am the head instructor of Aranha Jiujitsu in Guangzhou China the close neighboring province of Hubei Wuhan, pandemic epicenter where it all started.

Mid January, a devastating news hit the Chinese mainland, spreading gradually worldwide. up to now the BJJ World community is on standby facing uncertainty that is hard to forecast. Living from Jiujitsu in China since 2011, here’s my story to tell.

Since 2011 I’ve been working on developing BJJ throughout China. The reason I write this message is to tell the BJJ community that from the perspective of our gyms, things are starting to improve and members are coming back progressively. Obviously this statement comes with precaution but those are the first signs and signals we receive from the people tend to be positive.

This Covid corona, you name it… has had a huge effect on our lives, activity and almost no one has been spared. This event has personally had a big harmful impact on our activity as we had to shut down three of the 4 gyms we had with our partners, loosing a ridiculous amount of money investment, two to three months rent deposits and all our time and efforts spent building the academies.

After 4 years of great memories in our main academy (Crossfighter academy) we had to separate ourselves from it due to the unbearable charges of the rent, leaving behind a 600 sqm2 facility(BJJ-MMA-CROSSFIT), coaches, an atmosphere and souvenirs built overtime…after 2 months of lockdown, it’s just all over.

Usual cash flow stops, no more trainings, bills to pay, lockdown, boredom, frustration, anger…everything stops and seems desperately negative. At first we thought it would last a few days, a few weeks to the most…. Here we are since mid January living this infernal global pandemic. Worst part is we saw it advancing but had no way to push it back.

The academy before Corona

However thanks to good timing, and proper decision making with my wife, we decided to find a new place and start all over again. Having lost pretty much all our income and being dead broke, we managed to borrow some money and find a smaller place in an even better location.

My wife who is a purple belt and mother of our two daughters was on her own and managed to set the transition between the old gym mats removal – new gym construction, without me being physically there due to being lock-downed in Europe since Mid february. In less than three weeks our new gym popped up and we are ready to welcome our team back. So good job and big thumbs up to her …

Previous to abandoning the main gym, we shared the space with a crossfit section, not that we didn’t benefit from each other but having a gym 100 % of our own now and no partner sharing/obligations involved is one of the positive new benefits that we can also experience. New start for them too on their side and we hope to stay in contact for we can continue to help each other out in time if needed.

Clearing out the academy in April 2020

But things are slowly starting again, most important is we feel a great enthusiasm of people coming back to train and roll like a family being separated and now reunited. We of course implemented strict sanitization rules in our facility with temperature check, mandatory cleaning of hands and feet prior to stepping on and off the fighting area, disinfected mats. Hygiene will now be a gold standard to respect so we push ourselves to communicate on that topic the best possible way. It’s undeniable : an obsessed clean gym is now paramount to maintain and attract people to train.

Unfortunately, for the kids class, government in China hasn’t authorized the activity so we will stay on hold for that but meanwhile prepare their new season programs.

Even though this lockdown has left scars, it has brought positive things to light: more than ever, we realize how much Internet is part of our lives, even being far apart, staying connected and even training through ZOOM. Training with a dummy revealed also that new ways of collective training could even start to exist if groups had to be reduced.

Training at the new academy May 11th 2020

On a personal aspect, just to name a few I discovered from my friend (Danny Pla) his online videos breakdown (if you understand French check it out : Logitsu youtube channel). I also learned online through interest in diaphragmatic breathing techniques for Bjj (Miles Lukas ; San Diego Black Belt)

Mind-blowing Training mindset discussions with Jon Thomas and listening to online podcasts with other big names, things I wouldn’t normally suspect of being fun to do yet beneficial at the same time.

In regard to this theme : Staying connected to its members, Online BJJ courses websites have probably witnessed an exponential increase in their activity. in this actual war to survive, It’s become a vital asset to complement and make ends meet. Sad to say as well it will also probably be one of the reasons why some gyms survived and some didn’t… in all the negative, there is a positive, just like when being dominated and tapped…it’s a lesson learned, a self-reflection on what happened, and room for new improvements. Conclusion : As a coach and gym manager I believe that new technologies, social medias and online courses are going to occupy even more predominant role in the future development for BJJ. For the moment, because distance management is difficult for our sport practice, the best we can do is respect hygiene protocols for gym environment, hands feet and no more dirty smelling kimonos. Stay tuned for that lol…
Final words from my lock-downed couch and computer screen To all the BJJ community out there in the struggle, good luck and most important stay safe, positive and united as the fight for new BJJ era still goes on..


Aranha Jiujitsu China Head instructor
Black belt 1st degree under Yan Cabral

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