INTRODUCTION: A little about where I am coming from, I have needed an outlet to discuss this for weeks. I was a student in a Gracie Combatives Certified Training Center when I started training in BJJ. I left this school on good terms, I feel the instructor cared about the students learning the material, the environment was friendly, and every student would try to help each other. The instructor was and still is a Blue Belt. I met 3 guys from the same school I used to attend in my division at a local competition that I was friendly with while awaiting our names to be called to the mat. I won 4 gold medals in this competition Gi and No Gi, weight class and absolute. Although I won, some people were a challenge, but I completely dominated the 3 from the Gracie Combatives Program. 1 of these guys has become a face book friend of mine and we have hung out a few times. He has a crazy sense of reality when it comes to BJJ. Now to introduce the review. GRACIE ACADEMY ONLINE Ryron Gracie and Rener Gracie have developed an online program. You sign up at their website. Learn moves that you can purchase from the curriculum. After purchasing all the moves in a set curriculum for the given belt level you are allowed to submit a video demonstrating that you can execute the moves in a pre-determined way, and it will be graded, for an additional fee of course. Then you receive a certified blue belt, congrats! GRACIE COMBATIVES INSTRUCTORSHIP COURSE: The school offers a Gracie Combatives Instructor Course. You enroll in a seminar style course for a very high fee. You are required to fly to their main academy or wherever they are hosting the instructorship course and find a place to stay, this is not included in the course fee. The course length is something like 1 week. I am writing from memory so the time frame may be a little off on this but it is close enough and even if its 2 weeks long, its irrelevant. After the instructor course is complete you are then given a blue belt, and if you are an instructor of a school in another martial arts discipline you now qualify to apply to have your school become a Certified Gracie Training Center. Now everyone who is trained by one of these instructors in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is under the prestigious umbrella of the Gracie Family Lineage. CERTIFIED COMBATIVES TRAINING CENTERS Now Instructors that have their school certified offer the combatives program and curriculum. This consists of something like 26 moves. You must take 2 or 3 lessons in each move, then complete a reflex development transition class where you try to understand how these moves connect with each other. Your instructor can record a test and submit it for approval by the Gracie Academy in Torrance, CA and receive your Blue Belt. This process can take a few weeks to a few months, this depends on the schedule of training and the instructor being willing to test you and submit it. THE POSITIVE: I will address the benefits I can appreciate in this program before I attack it... -Structured Curriculum, Structure is rare in the teaching of BJJ. -Benefit to the instructor: Standardized Foundation, schools teach the basics but rarely is it organized, the benefit may be for the instructor to know what each student has in his/her arsenal. The End of My Positive Feedback THE NEGATIVE: MY MAIN POINTS AND OPINIONS First and foremost the curriculum is clear that White Belts DO NOT ROLL. Your question might be “But they receive a Blue Belt and have never rolled in class?” Answer: Yes, If they roll its with friends outside of class. I think this is because it is ineffective Jiu-Jitsu and the more you roll the more you’ll realize this but that’s just my opinion. -In my experience the students are convinced that the Gracie Combatives program is the best method to learn effective "street ready" Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I understand all schools use the “My style is best” approach to student retention. It’s just part of the martial arts business tradition but I think this approach only works when the students are performing at an equal level compared to other schools of the same art. I personally do not feel the students in the Gracie Combatives Program are at the same level as students compared to any or most other BJJ schools . -This process grants a blue belt to people very fast. Even if an instructor prolongs the process, the extent of knowledge is 26 moves give or take, if you are following the white to blue curriculum. I will not address this programs masters cycle (blue to black) curriculum, it is a JOKE to think this is possible. but I will use strong language to provide a formula in which to help you understand it. It does not seem to make sense that a person can become a certified instructor in a week, receive a Blue Belt, then teach a curriculum to a large quantity of students and require them to spend more time acquiring skills that the so called “instructor” doesn’t understand himself. FORMULA: (Gracie Combatives * Marketing Hype) Devided by (Lack of skill * 10 per belt) = Inefficient Jiu-Jitsu to the power of 10 per belt. This means when you reach a belt in the Gracie Combatives Program people from real Jiu-Jitsu schools will be progressively 10 times better at that same level. Black Belt will be the exception, you will not be comparable. Blue Belt = 10x better Purple Belt= 20x better Brown Belt= 30x better This means that if you follow this program in my opinion a Gracie Academy Certified Training Center’s new Brown Belt will be of equal value to a normal BJJ school’s Blue Belt. MY ANALYSIS OF THE ONLINE SYSTEM -The online combatives system is definitely a profit motivated initiative aimed towards obtaining a large quantity of students, without providing the quality of in person instruction. Unlike online academic colleges providing schooling where you would essentially hear a lecture, or PowerPoint, complete reading and writing assignments for the course, and ask the teacher question can be done in a face to face class or by online correspondence. Everyone who practices BJJ has used sites like YouTube to look up moves. This is a good tool for students in Jiu-Jitsu schools but it should only be supplemental to in class instruction. The development of the physical precision needed in BJJ needs to be monitored by a well trained instructor who pays attention to details, where you are subject to correction and minor tweaks according to limitations some students may have. This is basically giving a blue belt for clocking hours watching YouTube style instruction, this is a horrible tradition to start. It leads people to believe they have a skill or credential that they do not really have. Much like a for profit technical college like ITT Tech, ECPI, etc... Where they advertise you can get your bachelors (blue belt) in a much shorter time than anywhere else. The only catch is no one else will recognize it (you will be much like a 1 stripe white belt if attending a normal BJJ school) and you will not be competitive in the job market (unless you were a talented wrestler before this, you will be completely dominated in any Jiu-Jitsu tournament at Blue Belt level, even in white belt divisions you will not perform to well against the 3 and 4 stripers). That’s my analogy on the online Gracie Combatives. IN SUMMARY The Gracie Academy Online and Certified Training Centers are a Joke. I believe it is a profit motivated agenda that does not promote the art in its fullest form. I am sure that many people have commented on this but I wanted my turn. I probably didn’t cover my opinion as well as I like but I am at work and started to feel rushed. Please flame me on anything that wasn’t clear or that you disagree with. My last words can be considered food for the soul. Lets provide a small piece of an answer the age old question: HOW DO YOU SPOT A BJJ McDOJO? - If your BJJ instructor is a BLUE BELT you might be in a McDOJO. - If your instructor can not promote your belt color on his own you might be at a McDojo. - If your head instructor is a Purple Belt, you might be at a McDojo. - If any of the above is true and you pay more than $50 a month. You might be at a McDojo.