Jiu jitsu saves lives, but it doesn’t do it for free. It’s an expensive recreation, with tuition alone ranging from $1,400 to $3,000 a year. If you include the cost of equipment, transportation, tournaments, visits to the doctor, etc… you may find that the financial burden of practicing jiu jitsu causes more problems than the sport itself can cure. So here are six ways to help make jiu jitsu more affordable.
1. Find a flat-rate school.
Jiu jitsu’s popularity, and subsequent availability, are fairly new. It was common for schools to adopt pricing schedules similar to those of other martial arts. That is, you would be given several different options where your tuition would be based on the number of classes you intended on taking (with the “unlimited availability” option always made to look the most appealing). These options were also coupled with a contract that would lock you into a definite number of payments.
But this trend is slowly changing. The cost of training at local gyms is dropping, and many school owners have reconsidered the idea of contractually obligating their members; they’re starting to understand that new members are more easily had without the burden of a contract or the limitations of a pricing schedule.
If you’re in the Tri-state area, you should be looking for a school that charges somewhere around $140 per month without a contract.
2. Pay up front.
So maybe you can’t find a school with a low monthly rate and no contract. But you love jiu jitsu so much that you have to be able to train every day. You can always do what I do and pay up front. I’ll use my school as an example. It offers a 10% discount on all tuition payed in six or twelve moth increments, which is the equivalant of one and two free months respectively. Over the period of a year, I’ll have only payed for ten months of training.
Of course, not everyone has that kind of money to put up all at once. I understand that. But if you do, and you’re committed to playing the sport, then why not commit yourself to saving that extra bit of money?
3. Find efficient transportation.
If your school isn’t within walking distance, you’ll be adding the cost of transportation to your list of jiu jitsu expenditures. This isn’t necessarily an easy fix. If you drive to class, you’ll have to consider the cost of gas and the mileage you put on your car. But you have no control over gas prices, OPEC won’t return your calls, and your spouse won’t let you sell the minivan for a Prius.
If you drive to class, the closer the commute the better.
I commute into Manhattan every day from New Jersey to take classes. I initially took the bus, which ran me $247 for twenty round trips. If I train five days a week, that’s nearly $3000 more a year I would pay. For me, that’s untenable. Luckily there’s a train station not but a fifteen minute walk from where I live. The cost of a monthly train pass is $184, with the added benefit of being able to use it multiple times a day.
I save myself $63 a month, or $756 a year, just by walking the extra few minutes to the train station.
4. Buy equipment on sale or clearance.
Make this your mantra: I don’t need fancy stuff. This will help you. Because once you’ve been swallowed by the inscrutable world of jiu jitsu, you’ll feel like you need all the best gear to sweat in. Unfortunately, all the best gear will put you into debt up to your eyeballs. This doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself now and then. But with a high-end pair of board shorts costing around $70, and Shoyoroll charging whatever number comes into their head on any given day, you’ll be looking for alternatives soon enough.
If you’re patient and persistent, you can find quality gis, rashguards, and board shorts in the clearance section of many online retailers, and usually with free shipping and returns to boot. The things you find may look more like chaff than wheat. But you’re trying to toss around and strangle other sweaty people, not win a beauty pageant. I, myself, like the high-end gear. But my reality dictates that old, cheap t-shirts and wrestling shorts have to make it into the rotation.
5. Take care of your gear.
This really isn’t a mystery. If you’re kind to your uniforms, they should last for a good long while. And the longer they last, the less money you’ll have to throw at new ones.
If you’re training regularly, it’s important that you own more than one gi. A single uniform won’t last long if it’s made to endure the rigors of training and washing every day. Like paying for your tuition up front, the initial investment in multiple gis will ultimately save you money.
Wash your gear as instructed. Pretty much eveything you grapple in will be washed in cold water and hang-dried. Wash everything in a front loader if available. Don’t put bleach on anything, ever. Wash spandex seperately from items with Velcro.
The interwebs is brimming with “how to care for your gear” articles. Read them all.
To a business owner, the next best thing to making money is not having to spend any. If you’ve got some skill to offer in lieu of tuition payments, you may want to consider using it. You’ll have to do a cost benefit analysis, of course.
For example: If you’re an accountant, it may not be much work for you to add your instructor’s return to the yearly pile. But it may save him both money and aggravation. So you make a square trade and put yourself in the owner’s good graces (if that’s worth anything). But if your skill is in designing airplanes, you should just stick with options one through five.