I’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 7 years and I’ve seen that student attrition in BJJ and other Martial Arts programs usually occurs between the white belt and a student’s second or third belts. This means that programs are constantly influx with new white belts coming to the gym, while only a few students make it to blue belt, even fewer to purple, and even fewer still to brown and the elusive black belt.

Since there are a ton of benefits to retaining your school’s advanced students, it’s time to consider a new pricing structure to encourage these students to continue their training. This can be done by instituting a diminishing tier payment structure, which would reduce the monthly cost of training as a student progresses through belt rankings. Doing this would also create some other great outcomes for the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Martial Arts in general.

Here’s my reasoning for this type of model:

1.) Schools are always going to have a lot more white belts than any other belt color. So the base of the gym’s income will come from their tuition.

2.) There are a lot of gyms out there that are promoting students to higher belt ranks because they feel it will keep them in their programs longer. While this is sometimes the outcome, it is a problem in the BJJ community because it waters down the talent pool. With a tiered pricing structure, instructors will be incentivized to only give belts out if students truly earn them through persistent work and acquired knowledge.

3.) Students will have more incentive to work harder and stay in a program longer, and schools will have a higher attendance rate.

Overall this is a win. Gyms would maintain a standard of actual talent for belt ranks, students at the lower levels would show up more to achieve the next belt, and attendance and energy in the academy would increase. Finally, the larger Jiu Jitsu community would move away from the concerning trend of accepting a watered down level of talent across the board. Which in turn would reinvigorate all of the Martial Arts community and create an even greater interest in the sport.


We’ve worked with thousands of successful MMA gyms since 2006. During this time, we’ve compiled the best advice we’ve heard from gym owners on how to retain students. Get your copy of our guide, 4 Essential Strategies for Student Retention to access these tips today.

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