Do you have a BJJ Resume?

I’ve written about sponsorships in Jiu Jitsu before in Modern Sponsorships but I feel that this is a topic that a lot of people in the Jiu Jitsu community are really interested in.

Not only is it a popular topic but as Jiu Jitsu continues to grow there will be a need for more professionalism throughout the entire sport.

When young athletes approach me for tips on how to land a sponsor the first thing I ask them is if they have a Jiu Jitsu resume. Usually they have no clue what I’m talking about, so I have to explain what a Jiu Jitsu resume is and why they need one.

You don’t need a Jiu Jitsu resume to land a sponsor but it will definitely help in the long run.

What’s is a Jiu Jitsu resume?

In its simplest form, it is a recording of your competition success over time and has a number of other uses.

Unlike a traditional resume, where employees create a resume in order to secure employment. Jiu Jitsu resumes work a little bit differently. While they can be used to obtain teaching and other martial art business positions, they are more flexible and useful.

Have you ever seen a flyer or image for a seminar listing the instructor’s main accomplishments?

Here on this flyer for a seminar for my friend Adam we see an example of a Jiu Jitsu resume listed below all the other important details
Here on this flyer for a seminar for my friend Adam we see an example of a Jiu Jitsu resume listed below all the other important event details

 

Even world champions like Lucas Lepri still list out their major accomplishments.
Even world champions like Lucas Lepri still list out their major accomplishments.

Yeah, that’s another example of a Jiu Jitsu resume.

In the past, the tournament record keeping was not as cutting edge as the tournaments today where they keep track of your performance and rank you amongst your peers by the use of point systems.

Even now, there really is no way as of yet to aggregate all of the results from every tournament. Although websites like BJJ Heroes does make a good attempt at keeping track of the major tournaments results and the black belt athletes that participate in them. But the performance of lower belt athletes and competitions outside of the major tournaments are not accounted for often.

So that means that it will be up to you to keep track of your own records. Luckily it’s pretty easy.

Who needs a Jiu Jitsu Resume?

You would think that only aspiring and professional Jiu Jitsu athletes would need a Jiu Jitsu resume, but I believe that everyone should have a one.

If you are competing you will need to have a Jiu Jitsu resume.

If you have plans of teaching Jiu Jitsu or applying to positions looking for instructors you will need a Jiu Jitsu resume.

It’s as simple as that.

No only does it serve as a record of your past success. It’s also a valuable tool in showing yourself off as a great candidate for sponsorship, employment, etc. Especially, for younger athletes just entering the scene.

If you haven’t quite had the chance to make your name known. Having a Jiu Jitsu resume will be a great first introduction to showcase your skills and talents.

And as you progress, and get to the point that you are doing seminars. You will need that Jiu Jitsu resume to help promote and market yourself. People might not know who you are at first, but they will know the significance of many of the tournaments that you hopefully won or placed in. Even guys that have won multiple world titles still list their accomplishments. So it’s best to keep an accurate account of everything that you’ve done.

Even if your goals don’t include having a sponsor or doing seminars. Having a Jiu Jitsu resume is a good idea because it not only serves as a measure of the success that you’ve had overtime but also your progress.

I don’t look at my own Jiu Jitsu resume often, but when I do I’m able to look back in time to see my progress from a white belt competing in my local NAGA teen division all the way to my current achievements in the black belt division in many tournaments around the world.

Why do you need one?

I mentioned it before in the above section but a Jiu Jitsu resume is not just a resume. It has many uses:

  • Marketing Seminars
  • Landing Sponsors
  • Applying for Jiu Jitsu Teaching Positions
  • Record of your Tournament Success

How to set one up?

There are two main types of Jiu Jitsu resumes. One simple and easy to put together, and the second which is a lot more detailed.

Simple Resume

The simple Jiu Jitsu Resume is just that. It chronologically list your tournament wins from least current to current.

The basic layout of the simple Jiu Jitsu resume lists the tournament name, belt division, weight class, and placement of all the tournaments that you have competed in to date.

Tournament Name

I’ve seen a few different layouts, but the most common and the one that I use list the name of the tournament or if it’s a part of a larger organization, I will list the name of the organization first and then the specific tournament name.

Ex. IBJJF Pan Championship versus Pan Championship

Belt Division

After you’ve listed the tournament name, next up is listing your belt division. This is an important part that many athletes purposely leave off in order to make themselves look better but can come off as a red flag for anyone with any knowledge of the tournament circuit.

For example listing that you are a Pan champion while if true, is not as prestigious when you did so in the white belt division. I even suggest that black belts should list out their belt divisions so that there are no questions. This also serves to spotlight anyone who just mentions the tournament but not which division that they placed in, and automatically makes me want to look deeper into their background.

Weight Class

The weight class is pretty self explanatory. Most tournaments use predefined names for their weight classes such as feather weight, light weight, ultra heavyweight, etc. While others will just list out the weight in kilograms or less commonly pounds.

Placement

Only list tournaments that you’ve placed in. Some athletes will only list whether they were the champion or vice-champion, but I usually stick to the traditional 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place numbering convention.

Miscellaneous

I would also include any tournaments outside of adult level divisions. So if you’ve placed in a masters or juvenile division it is better to be more detailed in your listing than to leave anything to the imagination. Again, any discrepancies in your Jiu Jitsu resume can come off as a red flag and could potentially keep you from getting sponsored or landing that highly valued teaching position.

Be accurate

I can’t stress enough how important it is that your Jiu Jitsu resume is an accurate representation of yourself and your success. Only include tournaments that you’ve placed in and exactly in which divisions. Anything outside of that can come off as suspicious and is not good if you are going around teaching seminars or applying for instructor positions where you will be responsible for an academy and it’s students.

You see this happen a lot with those fake black belts that pop up ever so often. You might be able to fool a few unsuspecting students and even instructors, but eventually you will get found out. That is one thing that I really like about Jiu Jitsu. If someone comes off as sketchy or can’t support their claims as far as their lineage, who they trained under, the tournaments that they supposedly won. You can be sure that someone will notice and let it be known throughout the Jiu Jitsu community.

Keep it updated

Once you have the base format and all of your updated tournament information listed in a google document or a word doc all the hard work is done. Any new tournaments can be added at your leisure or whenever it pops in your head. In fact, I probably open my Jiu Jitsu resume 2-3 times a year to update it. Which only takes a few minutes.

I think the hardest part will be listing earlier tournaments and making sure that you don’t overlook anything. Especially if you’ve been competing for a long time but haven’t kept any records. That might take some investigating on your part.

Detailed Resume

A detailed Jiu Jitsu resume will probably only be useful for those looking to apply for Jiu Jitsu instructor positions. In this regard it is very similar to a traditional resume in the U.S.

It’s focus is less about your competition success, although I would include any major titles. It’s more about your teaching experience and other credentials.

Conclusion

I believe everyone should have a Jiu Jitsu resume if you plan on competing, getting sponsored or teaching Jiu Jitsu.

Not only will it serve as a great introduction as to who you are and what you’ve done, but it will also allow you to keep track of your progress and show where you came from. Because no one else will do it for you.

 

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Modern Sponsorships

I was recently introduced to a newer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brand called Enois. Founded by David Telfer who trains out of Robot Fight and Fitness in Santa Monica.

I already have a long running relationship with a well know brand but I was happy to promote some athletes that I knew would be great brand ambassadors.

Between contacting all the athletes, writing recommendation letters, and trying to gauge their interest in being sponsored.

I realized that there was a lot of confusion as far as what they would get, what all they had to do, etc.

Modern sponsorships in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a confusing topic.

Everyone wants to be sponsored.

But not a lot of people know how it works. Not many athletes have written about it for whatever reasons.

When most people think of sponsorships they often relate it to the huge endorsement deals that athletes in the popular sports get.

Sports such as football, baseball, and basketball here in the U.S. Soccer(football) for my international folks.

While Jiu Jitsu sponsorships are not quite as lucrative. I can assure you that the top guys in our sport are making bank.

There are a lot of different types of sponsorships. Many that I will talk about later in this post.

I just want you to remember that the guys/girls getting sponsored are not all athletes that compete every weekend or placed at the big tournaments.

Some own schools.

Some work full-time.

Some have a large social media following and are always posting on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.

I think I will write a post detailing what I’ve done to get sponsored and maintain my relationships with my sponsors over the years but for now let’s focus on the different types of sponsors.

Types of Sponsorships

Most sponsorships can be broken down into 2 or 3 different groups with lots of overlap. Within the different types there are also different tiers. These tiers are determined by the level of the athletes.

Lower tier athletes are generally lower belts (often blue belts and purple belts) competitors or non-competitors. Not well known or only known locally.

Middle tier athletes can be any level but are generally brown belts and black belts. More well known. Probably have a highlight video or two. Somewhat known throughout the Jiu Jitsu community.

Higher tier athletes are high level competitors. Often appearing on magazines and other branding. They need no introduction. They are widely known throughout the Jiu Jitsu community.

  • Lower Tier – Gear
  • Middle Tier – Gear, Tournament Entry
  • Higher Tier – Gear, Tournament Entry, Monetary Compensation

Gear Sponsorship

This is the first level of sponsorship that most competitors will receive.

In fact my very first sponsor was exactly like this. I won’t mention the name of the brand. But they managed to supply me with the defective gear that they probably weren’t able to sale.

I didn’t stay sponsored by them for long.

Gear sponsorships generally involve the exchange of clothing or training gear in return for advertisement at local events, tournaments and online.

The biggest brands have mastered this really well. All they have to do is release a few different items every year and people will proudly purchase without much selling.

The gear package can include everything from t-shirts, rash guards, kimonos,belts, hats, etc.

Usually there is no exchange of money, especially for lower belts and lesser known athletes.

Luckily many of the popular brands don’t have a stipulation on you selling your gear once you receive it.

I know a lot of competitors that never take their sponsored gear out of the plastic wrapping. Instead choosing to sell to the highest bidder. Usually for a large profit.

While others might only wear their sponsored items for tournaments and then sell their stuff later to pay their rent or for tickets to the next competition.

The more well known you become.

The more followers you have on social media.

The more success in tournaments that you achieve. The faster you will move up on the sponsorship ladder.

I’m sure you have seen a few lower tiered athletes on Facebook. While they are technically sponsored they also have to put in more work. Usually by posting on social media a few times a week. Plugging coupon codes and notifying all their followers and friends sales.

For example many sponsors will require that you post on social media with the sponsors hashtag at least once a week. Wear their gear at all competitions. Wear their gear for certain events. And even train in their gear.

Everyone has to start somewhere.

Entry Fee Sponsorship

As you move up in sponsorship level. The more you receive from sponsors. More perks, more gear, more connections.

Once you get to the point that your sponsor is covering or reimbursing you for tournament entry fees. Then you are are already near the top of most Jiu Jitsu athletes.

I have entry fee coverage listed as a middle tier level of sponsorship for very active and successful competitors.

But it’s still a large step in the right direction.

Think about it for a second.

You are getting paid to compete. Paid!

Most people fork over their hard earned money for tournaments without the hope of prizes or rewards.

Up and coming athletes on this level can have anywhere between one or two of their tournament registration fees covered.

Again the more well known. The more popular. The more marketable you are. The more tournaments you can possibly have covered.

This is big with sponsors because you will be able to compete more frequently. Promoting their brand to even more potential new customers.

This is true now with the different video streaming companies. They are able to reach tens of thousands of customers.

This is great for sales.

Especially when their athletes do well while wearing their gear.

Most sponsorships are the same when it comes to covering the entrance fee to tournaments.

This system generally works on a reimbursement scale. So the athlete might have to pay for the tournament(s) out of pocket initially. Then later be reimbursed either a few weeks after the tournament or towards the end of their competition season.

There might be some stipulations on what tournaments and the number of tournaments that the sponsor will cover.

For instance, most of the big companies will only cover the major tournaments. Such as IBJJF, Abu Dhabi Pro, etc.

While some of the smaller companies might cover only local tournaments.

You will know before hand what types of companies that your sponsor will cover. If you sign an agreement. It will be clearly outlined for you.

Monetary Sponsor

Monetary sponsorships are the highest tier level of sponsorships in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The athletes at this level are often full-time brown belts and black belts competitors that make their living through Jiu Jitsu.

Many of the top competitors for big name brands receive monetary sponsorships. Especially if you see them on magazine ads and other marketing items all the time.

This form of sponsorships can take on many different forms depending on the success of the athlete.

Their fan base.

Their ability to draw customers.

Their story.

All of these determine how much a sponsor is willing to pay you.

This is why some sponsor brands might have one or two star athletes. They know these guys have huge followings. Which means more sales when they win.

Monetary sponsorships can include: monthly stipends, tournament fee coverage, win bonuses, kimonos, clothing, custom branding like an athlete specific design.

Monetary sponsorships can be further divided into two tiers. Higher and lower tiers.

Lower Tier

On the lower tier of monetary sponsorships is the win bonus. At this level the athletes only receive compensation if they win or place at major tournaments like pans and worlds.

The amount of compensation is predetermined but can range anywhere between a few hundred dollars to a few thousands dollars.

Outside of this, lower tiered athletes often will not receive any other form of direct compensation.

Higher Tier

Higher tiered monetary sponsorships are a whole other level. This is where you will find many of the top guys. The multiple time world champions and the most marketable athletes in our sport.

At this level athletes are getting paid relatively large sums of money just for endorsing a particular company.  Usually in the form of a monthly stipend. Sometimes including a generous win bonus option.

The monthly stipends amounts very largely.

I know of some guys that make a few hundred dollars a month from their sponsors.

I’ve heard of some top guys that make a few thousand dollars a month just from sponsors alone.

Enough to cover their living expenses so that they can dedicate themselves completely to their training.

A small part of difference could be a world title or absolute title. But I think a lot of athletes underestimate just how much their personality and their story affects how much sponsors will shell out for you.

I’ve covered a lot in this post. But this is really important stuff. Especially for newer athletes that want to make competitive Jiu Jitsu their career.

I mentioned a few times how a lot of what you get through your sponsor will be predetermined.

That’s because most serious sponsors will have you sign an agreement. As in legally binding agreement.

While there are ways around an agreement. If you do sign one you are committing your image. Your personal brand. To the use and benefit of the sponsoring company.

These agreements can often last from one year to multiple years.

If nothing else I hope this post helps inform and empower current and future athletes like you to understand what goes behind being sponsored.

Is it cool to be sponsored?

Yes. Depending on the brand.

If you like the sponsor company and everything check outs. Meaning you are happy with the terms. I say go for it!

But if you don’t believe in the brand or are just going along with them so that they will sponsor you. I say it’s better to turn down their offer. It will be in the best interest for both parties. You will leave yourself open for a company that is a better fit and you will be a lot happier.