Get The Ultimate Guide To Modern Jiu Jitsu Sponsorships

Here are the ins and outs that I’ve learned over 8+ years of been sponsored by some of the top brands in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

  • What exactly sponsor brands are looking for in their athletes.
  • How to navigate the sponsorship landscape.
  • What exactly do you get from sponsor companies.
  • What do sponsor companies want from you.
  • Finding the right sponsors.
  • Marketing your own brand.

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Networking in Jiu Jitsu

Networking in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most underutilized benefits of training with such a diverse group.

The normal clientele of a Jiu Jitsu academy can consists of: doctors, lawyers, businessmen, etc. All willing to lend you a hand.

Looking for a new job? Hit up your Jiu Jitsu network to see if anyone is hiring.

Need a good accountant? Ask around the academy to see if someone has a great one on speed dial.

The same can be said about acquiring a sponsorship.

Often, your best bet will be your immediate circle of instructor(s) and training partners. If you’re lucky, someone that you know might be in contact with the owner of company looking to sponsor.

Having an “in” is a big advantage in getting sponsored.

Knowing someone who is already sponsored by a company that you are interested in can make a big difference.

Even if you haven’t quite made a name for yourself or you haven’t been picked up by major Jiu Jitsu news networks and streaming sites like flowgrappling.

Having someone vouch for you as a reference for your skill and ability. Can be a game changer.

Many of the sponsorships that I’ve landed have been through my relationship with a third party. Either an instructor that was already sponsored or a friend that put me in contact with someone of influence with a sponsoring company.

But what if you’re in a position where you don’t know anyone?

Then you’ll have to hustle.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

One lesson that Jiu Jitsu teaches us all is how to persevere through tough times and situations.

If you want something bad enough. You will find a way.

Step outside of your comfort zone

I know the average Jiu Jitsu athlete believes that winning on the mat is all they need to do In order to be successful. Sure there are some outliers that do exactly this.

However, you have to realize that they are the exception, and not the rule.

If you look at many of the top competitors and athletes in our sport.

Yes, their techniques are great, and they win big tournaments.

But they’re also more than that.

They are people that you look up to.

They are people you want to emulate.

They are people that you want to hangout with outside of the academy.

They have that “it” factor and that is exactly what sponsors, professional grappling events, and academies are looking for.

Even if you aren’t where you want to be now in your Jiu jitsu career. You should always be looking ahead and have an idea of what goals you want to achieve.

Personality

I’ve talked a lot about personality before but it’s so important that I have to keep bringing it up.

You need to have some personality if you want people to follow you and companies to sponsor you. Your personality is what keeps people interested in you and wanting more. As much as you want the support of a brand. You need to realize that you are your own brand.

Style of Jiu Jitsu

I hate to say this but your style is important.

No, not the way you dress off of the mats.

But the actual techniques that you use. Your style of Jiu Jitsu.

Winning is important. But also how you win is important.

If your game is to win on advantages or by stalling. There’s a good chance that most sponsors will overlook you and I’m sure most academies will pass on hosting you for a seminar.

I’m not saying that you should change your style to be more marketable.

But realize that a lot of success is based on how people perceive you and your style of Jiu Jitsu.

Is your style super reliant on physical attributes like power and conditioning or is it more based on technique and timing?

Do you have a style that others would like to emulate?

Networking

Networking in Jiu Jitsu is no different than networking in any other type of business or community.

It can mean forming new (business) relationships or strengthening old ones.

Sharing information on techniques, business opportunities.

And everything in between.

It’s what you make of it that counts.

If you want to stay ahead of the new cutting edge techniques.

Or if you want to learn about a new event looking for athletes.

Or you’re interested in academies looking for instructors.

You’re going to have to network and make those connections so that you can get access to that inside knowledge

Reaching out

Make an effort to network not only with the people and companies that you want to sponsor you but everyone else as well.

Tournaments
Seminars
Fundraisers
Open mats
Belt graduations

Are all great opportunities to expand your Jiu Jitsu network.

Network with other athletes.

Network with the tournament staff.

Network with academy owners

Network with fans.

Hell, even network with your haters.

The Jiu Jitsu community is so small and intimate that you never know when an opportunity will reveal itself. That’s why you have to continually keep putting yourself out there. Keep competing. Keep posting on social media. Keep networking and building relationships.

Personality and Social Media

Now more than ever, social media is a tool that allows you to promote yourself directly to sponsor companies, your fans, and the larger Jiu Jitsu community.

Being good on the mat is no longer enough.

If you’re not regularly posting on social media and building your own “brand” then you’re doing yourself a big disservice.

Winning and competing are only parts of the equation. It’s what happens afterwards that’s important. When your fame starts to spread, and being able to translate that success into sponsorships, private lessons, seminars, product creation, etc.

In the past, your accolades alone would speak for themselves.

But now you have to actively work to stay relevant and in the public eye. You see this with many of the top competitors today. They’re investing hours every week in crafting their posts and videos. In addition to their training.

Even if you don’t compete or have aspirations of being a world champion. It’s important to realize that you have something to offer. Maybe your unique experience will relate better to the average Jiu Jitsu practitioner or maybe you have great insight into a particular topic that people want to hear your opinion on.

Whatever the case, there really are no rules. There is no wrong or right way to go about handling your social media. It’s something that you will have to cultivate consistently and try to bring value to your fans.

By building up your brand and gaining more followers. You become more attractive to sponsor companies, professional events, and the major Jiu Jitsu news sites. And from there it grows upon itself much like a snowball rolling down a mountain covered in snow. It might start off small and take a lot of time, but it has the potential to grow into something much more.

From a business perspective. If I were choosing between two athletes with similar competition resumes to represent my company. It makes more logical sense to pick the athlete with the bigger, higher quality social media following. That athlete is going to have more influence over his fans. Who are more likely to buy when that athlete endorses my product.

So don’t wait for sponsors to come looking for you. It’s much better to be proactive and start putting in the work now building your follower count and a large portfolio of content. Eventually, sponsor companies will see you rising up and decide to keep their eyes on you or they might even make you an offer to join their sponsor program.

“If you build it, they will come”

Personality Sells

I won’t lie. You do need to have some personality if you want people to follow you. It doesn’t matter the platform. You’re going to have to interact with people.

People like someone that they can relate to.

Someone that they look up to.

Someone that they could hang out with after training.

That means that if you’re extremely socially awkward. You have to be even more social and outgoing. Being cordial in communication and not coming off like an asshole.

I’ve seen this so often that I have to include this. Just because you’re good at Jiu Jitsu doesn’t mean that you can treat people poorly. Especially, your fans (online and offline).

Controversy Sells

If you’re on social media now, you know that there are two major schools of thought on promoting yourself online.

One is more old school. Let your results speak for themselves.

The other has existed forever but it comes in and out of style. This is the outlook that you see with younger athletes, where they make a scene by calling out more well known (and credentialed) competitors in order to promote themselves through that competitors fans and followers.

It doesn’t even matter if they compete against each other or not. More people become interested in the challenging athlete and begin to follow them in order to keep watching their antics and to see what they will do next.

I can’t deny that controversy does sell, but whatever you say or post online. Just know that you should be prepared to back it up. If you call someone out and they accept your challenge. You’re going to have to go through with the match.

The more success in tournaments that you achieve.

The more well known you become.

The more followers you get on social media.

The faster you will gain access to high profile events, sponsorships, and seminars.

Putting in work

Being sponsored isn’t just about getting free gear, doing cool interviews, and being on magazines. At the end of the day, you are promoting a company and its brand.

I’m sure you have seen sponsored athletes on Facebook. Commonly, you will see them posting on social media plugging a coupon code or special hashtag. Notifying all their followers and friends on sales and discounts from their sponsor company.

In fact, many sponsors will require that you post on social media with their hashtag at least once a week. Wear their gear in all of your photos and most competition events.

Next major consumer holiday, just keep an eye out for the onslaught of athlete posts pushing their discounts.

Again, the more followers you have. The more influence you’ll have in getting your fans to purchase from your sponsor. For example, If you have 100,000 followers you could be potentially driving tens of thousands of dollars worth of sales. Just from one post.

Now think about all the different ways that you could monetize your social media following.

Crazy right?

The game is always changing. But if you take just one thing from this post it should be that you have so much potential now.

It might take a while to find your outlet and your target demographic. But once you do, your imagination is your limit.