How many people practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or grappling globally?
Hello! Thanks for your question about the number of people who practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). As a student of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ), I found it extremely interesting! The most useful sources I found to answer your question are finalstepmarketing.com and Jiujitsutimes.com. The short version is that there are 2,945,240 people practicing BJJ and the average person practicing BJJ is a 30 year old, blue belt, male who has been training for 3.5 years and trains 6 hours per week. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
There was very little information on the demographics of BJJ. Most of the information I found was people discussing their guesses on forum websites. I did not believe these to be creditable sources so I did not use them. However, I did find an academic paper that included some well researched information. It was mostly North American based but it also included demographic information on people in South Korea who do BJJ.
The number of people who practice BJJ was also challenging to find. There is no database on the specific number of people who train BJJ. I did, however, find specific information on the number of BJJ black belts and how many people who train are expected to make it to each rank. I also included some numbers for GJJ as it is another grappling sport, very similar to BJJ, but is not Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.
The first study was a survey of 727 BJJ students, most of who were from North America. Because it was a voluntary study of people who practice BJJ done over the internet, there was a leaning towards people who were higher ranks.
General Demographics, focused in North America:
Average age by belt:
- Black: 35
Average Training Hours per week by belt:
Most Common Profile:
30 year old, blue belt, male who has been training for 3.5 years and trains 6 hours per week.
Demographics, focused in South Korea:
-17 and under: 1.6%
-over 45: 1.6%
Frequency of Training:
-1-2 times per week: 28.8% -3-4 times per week: 51.1%
-5-7 times per week: 20.1%
NUMBER OF STUDENTS:
In BJJ there are 2,658 black belts according to the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. It is estimated that only 1% of blue belts make it to black belts which means that there are approximately 265,900 blue belts and since only 10% of white belts typically make it to blue belts, there are 2,659,000 white belts. We also need to consider brown and purple belts but since there is no data on the dropout rate for these belts this is hard to estimate.
GJJ posts there belt rankings on there website and based on the difference between the number of purple belts (790) and the number of blue belts (15,624), we can calculate that only 5% of blue belts make it to purple belts. Then we can do the same thing between purple and brown belts (261) to find that 33% of purple belts make it to brown belts. Because these two martial arts are so similar with such close styles of belts, we can follow the same principle (the percentage difference between two belts) to arrive at the most accurate method of calculating the transition from blue to brown belts. There are 265,900 blue belts, leading to the conclusion that there are likely 13,295 purple belts and 4387 brown belts.
Combining these calculations, this brings our total number to 2,945,240 people practicing BJJ. This number is expected to be a little high as all of the white belts who drop out before moving to the next rank are not doing it at the same time but as this information is not possible to triangulate in an accurate way, it is the closest we are able to come up with any precision.
GJJ is another form of grappling like BJJ that uses very similar apparel. Because of this, I also triangulated the number of people practicing GJJ. Based on the GJJ website there are 342 black belts, 261 brown belts, 790 purple belts, 15,624 blue belts, and considering that only 10% of white belts make it to blue belts, 156,240 white belts totaling 173,257 people practicing GJJ. And over 3,000,000 people practicing either BJJ or GJJ.
To wrap it up, there are 2,945,240 people practicing BJJ and the average person practicing BJJ is a 30 year old, blue belt, male who has been training for 3.5 years and trains 6 hours per week. Thanks for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help with anything else!