Can You Make Money in Jiu Jitsu Tournaments? [Explained]

Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art born in Japan, has become a global sensation. As the sport’s popularity grows, so do the aspirations of many practitioners to make a living from it. In this article, we’ll explore the potential financial opportunities in the world of Jiu-Jitsu and address some of the questions you might have about turning your passion for Jiu-Jitsu into a lucrative career.

How Much Money Can You Make in Jiu-Jitsu Tournaments?

The financial prospects in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments can vary significantly. It largely depends on the tournament’s prestige and the level of competition.

The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), one of the most prestigious events in the sport, did not offer cash prizes to competitors in their tournaments until 2019 when IBJJF, being criticized, finally announced cash prizes for their black belt winners. Now, IBJJF offers substantial prize money. In contrast, local and regional tournaments might have more modest rewards.

For instance, here are the top 10 adult female & male IBJJF rankings for 2022/2023 with cash prizes:

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What is the Prize Money for the World IBJJF Jiu Jitsu Championship?

Adult Female Black Overall (Gi)
RankNameCash Prize
1Gabrieli Pessanha$15,000
2Melissa Stricker$4,000
3Mayssa Bastos$1,000
4Anna Rodrigues
5Jessica Caroline
6Larissa Dias
7Amanda Magda
8Maria Malyjasiak
9Luciana Mota
10Sábatha Laís
Adult Male Black Overall (Gi)
RankNameCash Prize
1Fellipe Andrew$15,000
2Tainan Dalpra$4,000
3Erich Munis$1,000
4Nicholas Meregali
5Victor Hugo
6Kaynan Duarte
7Gabriel Oliveira
8Pablo Lavaselli
9Rider Zuchi
10Gustavo Batista

IBJJF prize money

In the IBJJF tournament, when there are 2-8 competitors in a division, the champion will receive a prize of $4,000. However, if the number of competitors rises to 9-16, the cash reward increases to $5,000. In cases where there are 9 to 16 competitors, the prize is $6,000; for 17 to 32 competitors, it increases to $7,000. This payment structure remains consistent regardless of whether you secure victory in a male or female bracket. However, it’s worth noting that women’s divisions typically have fewer participants.

For champions in the absolute weight division, they will be awarded a consistent $10,000 prize, regardless of the number of participants.

WNO prize money

Another popular BJJ tournament, WNO Championship by Flograppling, as per the details provided on the 2021 WNO Championship website, the tournament boasted a prize pool exceeding $250,000.

The competitor who secured the 3rd position was contending for a prize of $7,500, the ultimate champion walked away with $30,000, and the 2nd place finisher earned $15,000.

If you’re consistently successful at high-profile tournaments, you can earn substantial sums. However, winning isn’t easy, and only a select few achieve this level of financial success.

Table: Prize Money in Prominent Jiu-Jitsu Tournaments

TournamentPrize Money (varies by division)
IBJJF World ChampionshipSignificant prizes for top finishers up to $10,000
Flograppling Who’s Number One (WNO) ChampionshipAttractive prizes for champions up to around $15,000

Please note that this table provides a general idea, and the actual prize money can vary from year to year.

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Are There Sponsorship Opportunities in Jiu-Jitsu?

Sponsorship is a crucial avenue for Jiu-Jitsu practitioners to supplement their income. Companies in the Jiu-Jitsu industry often sponsor athletes in exchange for promotion and representation. Sponsorship deals may cover training expenses, travel costs, and even a monthly stipend. To attract sponsors, you need not only to be a talented competitor but also actively engage with your community and build a personal brand.

Here are only some names in BJJ and brands who have or have had sponsorship relations:

  • BJJ black belt Claire North and the Combat Corner brand
  • 4th Degree Black Belt Xande Ribeiro and the Fuji Sports brands
  • BJJ black belt Chris Wojcik and the Martial Paradise brand
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What Are the Costs of Competing in Jiu-Jitsu Tournaments?

While Jiu-Jitsu tournaments offer financial rewards, they also come with expenses. These include training fees, coaching fees, travel and accommodation costs, and tournament registration fees. Competing at the highest level can be financially draining, so it’s essential to consider these costs when pursuing a career in Jiu-Jitsu.

These event fees for tournaments can range from $50 to $100 or more.

Make Money in Jiu Jitsu Tournaments
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How to Make Jiu Jitsu a Career: Is It Realistic?

Turning Jiu-Jitsu into a full-time career is a challenging endeavor. The uncertainty of tournament earnings and the need for supplemental income through coaching, seminars, and sponsorships can make it difficult to rely solely on competition winnings. Many successful Jiu-Jitsu athletes also teach classes, both in-person and online, to make a living.

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How Do Jiu-Jitsu Athletes Monetize Their Skills?

  1. Teaching Jiu-Jitsu: Many successful practitioners open their own Jiu-Jitsu academies or teach classes at established gyms. Teaching can provide a stable income and a sense of fulfillment.
  2. Online Content Creation: Creating video tutorials, online courses, and written guides can be a lucrative source of income. Sharing your knowledge and skills with a global audience can lead to substantial earnings.
  3. Seminars and Workshops: Hosting seminars and workshops in different locations can help you connect with your fan base and increase your income.
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Successful Jiu-Jitsu Athletes’ Income Sources

Some well-known Jiu-Jitsu athletes have established diverse income streams. For example, they may have successful YouTube channels, popular instructional websites, or merchandise lines. It’s essential to build a personal brand to attract these opportunities.

One of the best-known examples is the popular BJJ Fanatics platform and one of its founders Bernardo Faria. BJJ Fanatics has also a very successful YouTube channel with over 830,000 subscribers.

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The Importance of Building Your Personal Brand in Jiu-Jitsu

A strong personal brand can lead to various financial opportunities. Building a brand means engaging with your audience, sharing your journey, and providing valuable content. It’s a long-term investment that can pay off in the form of sponsorships, teaching opportunities, and merchandise sales.

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Jiu-Jitsu Instruction and Coaching: A Path to Income

Becoming an instructor or coach is a common choice for Jiu-Jitsu practitioners looking for a stable income. As you progress in your journey and gain experience, your expertise becomes an asset that others are willing to pay for.

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Jiu-Jitsu Equipment and Merchandise Sales

Selling merchandise or gear related to Jiu-Jitsu is another way to generate income. You can design your own clothing line, create custom Jiu-Jitsu equipment, or collaborate with established brands to release co-branded merchandise.

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Grants and Scholarships for Jiu-Jitsu Athletes

While scholarships and grants may not be common in Jiu-Jitsu, some organizations and foundations offer financial support to athletes with exceptional promise. Research available opportunities and apply for any that align with your goals.

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Tax Implications for Earnings in Jiu-Jitsu

It’s crucial to understand the tax implications of your earnings in Jiu-Jitsu. Depending on your income sources, you may need to file as a self-employed individual, report sponsorship deals, or account for income from teaching and merchandise sales. Consulting with a tax professional is advisable to ensure compliance with tax laws.

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Should I Do Jiu Jitsu Tournaments?

Before diving into the financial aspects, it’s crucial to decide whether Jiu-Jitsu tournaments are the right path for you. Tournaments require dedication, time, and resources. Consider your commitment level, your current skill set, and your willingness to endure the rigors of competition. If you’re passionate about Jiu-Jitsu and willing to put in the effort, tournaments can be a rewarding experience, both personally and financially.

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How Much Do BJJ Sponsors Pay?

Sponsorships are a valuable source of income for Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. The amount sponsors pay can vary widely, depending on factors like your skill level, competition success, and personal brand. Established practitioners often receive financial support, free gear, and travel assistance from sponsors. The key is to build your reputation, engage with the Jiu-Jitsu community, and seek out sponsorships that align with your values and goals.

Here are some thoughts and information people shared on BJJ Reddit:

Key Points
A representative of shared that the company sponsors Owen Livsey and Ju Scardone, providing them with complimentary supplements. In general, supplement companies tend to experience notably low return on investment (ROI) when partnering with BJJ athletes, typically resulting in the provision of free supplements as compensation. However, for some of the company’s sponsored bodybuilders, monthly salaries can reach up to £5,000.
Typically, BJJ sponsorships don’t pay much unless you’re an elite athlete.
Most often, sponsors provide discounts on their apparel, and it’s rare to make money unless you’re exceptional.
Even if you’re really good, sponsors usually offer gear, and salaries are uncommon.
Some sponsorships provide about three Gis per year.
At the lower levels, sponsorships may offer free gear or cover tournament entry fees.
Sponsorships for lower-level athletes may include free gear and partial coverage of competition fees.
Athletes can receive free gear from sponsors, and it’s essentially free marketing for the sponsor.
Sponsors may send or give gear to athletes who can review it and make posts for them.
The brand “ZION” could be perceived as “ZIAN” due to its logo design.
The company may not ship to Australia.
Questions about the SEO strategy of the website.
Mention of a gi sponsor paying someone $4,000 per month.

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Is There Money in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

While there is potential to make money in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it’s essential to understand that it’s a competitive field. The top athletes with consistent victories and strong personal brands can achieve financial success. However, not everyone reaches this level. Success in Jiu-Jitsu often requires diversifying income sources beyond tournament winnings, such as teaching, coaching, and creating online content.

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Craig Jones on How to Make Money in Jiu Jitsu

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How to Make Money with Jiu-Jitsu

Making money with Jiu-Jitsu involves a multi-faceted approach:

  1. Tournament Earnings: Competing in high-profile tournaments like the IBJJF World Championship and the Flograppling WNO Championship can be a significant source of income.
  2. Sponsorships: Attracting sponsors through your achievements and community engagement can provide financial support.
  3. Teaching and Coaching: Becoming an instructor or coach can provide a stable income while sharing your expertise.
  4. Online Content Creation: Creating tutorials, courses, and engaging with the Jiu-Jitsu community online can lead to income through subscriptions, ads, and merchandise sales.
  5. Merchandise Sales: Developing your merchandise line, such as clothing and gear, can be a lucrative venture.
  6. Building a Personal Brand: Cultivating a strong personal brand can open doors to various financial opportunities.
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Jiu-Jitsu Athletes Who Have Achieved Financial Success

To inspire your Jiu-Jitsu journey, here are just a few one of the most well-known stories of individuals who have transformed their passion into a profitable career:

  • Gordon Ryan: A prominent figure in the Jiu-Jitsu world, Ryan has leveraged his skills and online presence to secure sponsorships and create instructional content.
  • Andre Galvao: Galvao, a decorated Jiu-Jitsu athlete, founded his academy and has established a successful personal brand.
  • Keenan Cornelius: Cornelius has gained recognition through his teaching, online content, and merchandise sales.

In conclusion, while making a comfortable living solely from Jiu-Jitsu tournaments is challenging and not guaranteed, it is possible through a combination of competition winnings, sponsorships, and diversifying your income streams. To maximize your chances of success, invest in building your personal brand, engage with your community, and explore various avenues to monetize your Jiu-Jitsu skills.

For more information and resources, you can refer to authoritative sources like IBJJF and Flograppling. These platforms provide valuable insights into the Jiu-Jitsu world, including tournament information, athlete profiles, and training resources.

Remember, success in Jiu-Jitsu, as in any career, requires dedication, hard work, and adaptability. It’s not an easy path, but for those who truly love the sport, the journey can be immensely rewarding. Good luck on your quest to make money in Jiu-Jitsu!

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