BJJ Poll: Should It Be Acceptable to Wear More Than One BJJ Team or Academy’s Patch on Your Gi?

by Caleb on August 6, 2011

The idea for this week’s poll question comes to us from one of our listeners on the other side of the Atlantic:

I am one of your UK listeners. I started training a couple of months back and recently to supplement my training i have joined a gracie ju jitsu club too. I asked the gracie instructor if I
could get a patch to go alongside my other patch as i am at both clubs and his advice was to check with my other instructor…

I hoped things would not be so political. In your experience do you think its ok. I would have liked to have thought there would be more harmony between clubs. Basically could you phrase this into a poll for me so i can see what your other 599,999 listeners think on the matter :)

What do you think family? On the one hand, you might say, “Well of course, any body should be free to put whatever they want on the gi. They own it!” But others consider the real estate on one’s gi to be pretty sovereign territory belonging to the school; one would never see an athlete wear the jersey of one team and the shorts of another team at the same time.

Let’s say the listener who wrote this in is not considering the option of wearing a different gi to each school. If there’s only one gi, and he goes to both jiu-jitsu schools, should he be able to wear patches for both? Let us know what you think!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Franck LOUIS-MARIE August 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I think it is feasible when both academies are from the same lineage , LIke gracie Humaita/Rickson Gracie , Humaita / Ribeiro jiujitsu etc… but personally I don’t really care about politics …

Sean August 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I moved to a new city and joined a new academy, unaffiliated with my original school. I competed in a tournament and wore the one good competition gi I own, which has a patch from my original school. I wasn’t going to buy a brand new competition gi, and also wasn’t inclined to rip the old patch off. I see no problem having patches from both academies in this case.

Anders August 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm

This is one of the aspects of BJJ that irritates me most. As it’s still very early on in it’s life-span so many coaches around the world are only 2 or 3 degrees separated from the founders and are still deeply tied into the inter- and intra-familial feuds which have been developing over so many years. There’s a reluctance or ignorance to treat students like what they are: paying customers. Those of us who are a relatively new to the sport are less likely to be career martial artists who sought out BJJ and made the pilgrimages to the extant academies in the 80s and 90s; we’re mostly people who have chosen BJJ as a hobby, maybe instead of a gym membership or because the BJJ school was closer to our homes/office than any other kind of academy.

There’s an unfortunate expectation that a student will arrange their personal and professional lives around BJJ and not vice-versa. A student who due to work or family commitments finds it’s not feasible to attend their original academy might find one which is more convenient, but then is ostracised by their original coach and many of their “friends”. God forbid that you want to try another school prior to committing to leaving your current one – the fear of creating hostilities between academies is such that most won’t allow you to attend even a trial session until you have wholly cut ties with your previous academy. The behaviour is downright cultish and unpleasant. Some schools treat their students as unpaid labour for odd jobs around the academy, and when fees for training are as high as they are, there’s really no excuse for that because the academy should be able to easily afford professional tradesmen, cleaners and the like.

I’m concerned that I’ll shortly find myself in a situation where circumstances in my work and home like mean it’s just no longer viable to train at the academy where I started several years ago due to changes in work location and the limited timetable available at this school. I’ve seen what has happened to other students who have left in terms of the treatment that they receive, how it is viewed as a personal betrayal by many in the academy. But this academy is where I’ve spent 3 years learning a martial art and sport that I love and I want to be able to show my heritage on my uniform. And if that offends the folks who created the art, so be it. As I look forward to the day when we can cast off the accumulated baggage from BJJ’s past and move on to make it a more professional and open environment for those who currently and may wish to train.

Simco August 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Could be awkward if both schools are in the same area but if you loved your team and then move, there’s no reason not to represent the people who made you what you are even though you’re somewhere new, now.

Steven August 8, 2011 at 9:42 am

Hi guys….. It is actually me that asked the question. I train at two clubs in two different counties so miles apart from each other. Basically I should be able to wear both as its not like I am anyones property.

Peters August 8, 2011 at 10:57 am

I think it’s totally acceptable. I travel for a living and the first thing I check prior to my arrival is where is the nearest bjj school. If there is one, I make arrangements to attend and usually become friends with the instructors and students afterwards. I gain so much knowledge training with different instuctors and students that they help create my bjj game. In doing so, I try to get a patch of the schools I attend and put it on my gi to represent my not only my bjj travels but where I’ve gained bjj knowledge.
However, I have a competition Gi that I only use for competition loaded with my current schools patches….sort of to show my alliance to my school during competition, but my other GI’s are free to express my bjj culture.

Rod August 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I think it’s perfectly acceptable to wear more than one patch. I pay to go to the academy. If there are rules against this they should let you know on the front side. If they didn’t inform you on the front side, to bad for them. If they change the terms or add additional terms to the contract, then you have the option to proceed under the new contract or leave without adverse consequences.

I see paying my jiu-jitsu instructor just like I pay for guitar lessons for my child. I pay for a service. Period. If I had to dress my child in a particular uniform for him to attend, they should tell me on the front side. This question is reflective of the unprofessional nature of most jiu-jitsu schools.

Make no mistake about it. School owners are service providers and we are customers. I wouldn’t continue to pay for bad service from the dry cleaners. I wouldn’t pay for bad service from a jiu-jitsu school either.

Rod August 9, 2011 at 3:49 pm

…and I agree with “Anders” about odd jobs. If my instructor expects me do jobs around the academy, then I expect a refund of part of my tuition.

Steve Kaiser August 10, 2011 at 3:32 am

I think it shows a lot of respect. Ask any world champion and he will recite his history of schools and coaches. The lineage of how we all got to where we are is important. The only way i would not wear a patch is if i thought the school was disrepectful or some such.

Franck LOUIS-MARIE August 10, 2011 at 10:48 am

the Idea of service sounds odd to me , when you train in a Academy you create a bond with your team mates and instructors , you pay of course but what you get in exchange is much more than a service ….I trained under a Gracie with whom I had very good relationship , but decided to change to Alliance … the change was a difficult decision for me and my instructor , so today wearing 2 patches on my gi will be kind of ackward …. in respect and understanding to my instructors sensibility … it is a sensitive balance , of course you are free to wear whatever you want , but you have also to respect rules and regulations of the academy that you joined.

Jay August 10, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I could see if the two schools are competitors (competitors in the sense of business not competition). Then you are basically advertising for their competitor instead of promoting their academy.

Nathan August 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I believe it all depends on attitude, and what you plan to do with the Gi.

If you want to compete, I think it’s completely within the rights of the school to insists that you wear that school’s patch, and only that school’s patch. People that go to multiple schools have to decide who’s flag they will compete under. This is where things get, rightfully sensative.

However, if you don’t compete I can’t see any issues with putting whatever you want on your Gi. On my training only Gi I put all sorts of stuff. Will/Machado patch, Captain America patch, Salvation Army Shield patch, New Zealand flag patch, and of course a Fightworks Podcast patch.

It also strongly depends on how your academy runs. Some run more like a traditional martial arts school. Some run like a sports club. Some run like a family. Some have elements of a bunch of different stuff.

My academy is relaxed on patches.

Franck LOUIS-MARIE August 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Go point on the Competition gi Nathan.

Liam August 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

I think you can have any and as many patches as you want on your training gi’s. Who cares? I even have a couple of patches from the “Nightmare before Christmas” on one gi.

On your competition outfit, however, it’s different. IMO, you should wear the patch of the team you compete or belong to. For example, Eddie Kone (Royler Gracie black belt and head of EKBJJ) is a friend of mine and I often wear his rash guards and gi patches when training, but not when I compete, as I am not part of his team/organisation.

Pikelet November 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm

NO WAY!! BJJ is extremely tribal and even if they don’t say anything up front, your classmates will be offended by you wearing another clubs patch while training regularly with them. They will not trust you and you will find that the guys who were helping you before are now more intent on kicking your arse! I find the tribal nature of BJJ a little distasteful, but this is the reality. Like someone else said just buy another Gi! Especially coming up to competitions, you will be ostracised! 1 Gi = 1 club patch! For your own health!!
Ps. I’m a bit late I know, the guy who originally posed this question is probably dead now, if he decided to go with the ‘two patches’ idea that is.

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