I would like to know how many people practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu around the world.
There's no way of knowing the total number of BJJ practitioners worldwide, because it's a really broad question. The only way I know of for getting the exact amount is to call up each and every BJJ school on the planet and ask them for a head count, including teachers and students. Then you total that up.
There will be error even in that, though, because there are many groups of BJJ practitioners that practice out of their garages or in parks. Lots of colleges and universities now have BJJ clubs. Many high schools even have BJJ clubs. And BJJ groups operate in lots of other unconventional places like dance schools, yoga places, the YMCA, Taekwondo schools, Jewish Community Centers, churches, etc. They're not going to show up in the Yellow Pages or even on the web. Finding them all is an almost impossible challenge.
If you accept that you'll never have 100% accuracy, and that this is inherently going to be an estimate, then you're fine.
But that's still a lot of work.
A better way of estimating this is to figure out how many schools are in a big city, like Los Angeles. Then call up a random sampling of them and ask them for how many people they have. Take the average and multiply that by how many schools there are in total.
That gives you an estimate of how many BJJ practitioners there are in total in Los Angeles. To extrapolate this to the entire country, we need to first figure out the "per capita" rate of BJJ practitioners.
Los Angeles has 13 million people living in it, depending on the area you're looking at. So if you know how many people in total are practicing BJJ in Los Angeles, then you just divide that by 13 million people total to get the per capita rate of BJJ practitioners.
Let's say there are 13,000 BJJ practitioners in total in Los Angeles. Then the per capita rate of BJJ practitioners is 13,000 divided by 13,000,000. This would give a per capita rate of 0.001.
If you know the U.S. population is 324,000,000 people, then you multiply that by 0.001 to get a total of 324,000 people doing BJJ in the U.S. alone. (Again, totally made-up number, don't use for real!)
This is just for the U.S. Now you have to do the same thing for each of the other countries in the world. Each country will have a different per capita rate.
Of course, this is full of statistical and methodological problems which increases the margin of error. In our example above, we just looked at Los Angeles. Los Angeles may or may not be representative of all other cities in the U.S. Other cities may have a different per capita rate of BJJ practitioners.
So you can repeat this analysis by sampling other big and small cities and averaging them to reduce the error.
And instead of analyzing all countries in the world, you could take a similar approach that we took for cities. You would just take a random sampling of different countries and find the average.
The more cities and countries you analyze, the smaller your margin of error becomes, but the more effort you're going to put into it.
I don't have any definitive numbers for you. I just wanted to describe how I would go about it if I were you. It can be done by one person in a fairly short period of time, if you accept that you have a good amount of error in the calculation. If all you want is a ballpark estimate, then you're fine.
Hope that helps.
A 1997 article on the number of martial arts practitioners in Brazil claimed that there were 100,000 BJJ practitioners:
- Jiu-jitsu - 100,000
- Tae Kwon Do - 150,000
- Kung Fu - 330,000
- Karate - 1,000,000
- Judo - 2,000,000
A 2012 article on the top ten sports in Brazil quoted Judo at number 9 with 2.2 million practitioners, and running at number 10 with 2.1 million practitioners.
Since Jiu-Jitsu was not among the top 10 (and assuming the number of practitioners had increased since 1997) the 2012 figure would have been between 100,000 and 2.1 million.
A survey from 2013 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics reported the number of Jiu-jitsu practitioners at 1.3% of respondents, approximately 2.5 million scaled to the total population:
Esta pesquisa envolveu 8.902 entrevistas com brasileiros de várias idades e regiões, e o Jiu-Jitsu foi citado como esporte de 1,3% dos brasileiros – algo em torno de 2,5 milhões de praticantes.
The following site claims that there are almost 200,000 practitioners in the major cities of Brazil:
Sem dúvida, o Jiu-Jitsu é o esporte individual que mais cresce no país, com quase 200.000 praticantes em 13.000 salas de ensino, considerando somente as grandes capitais - Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, São Paulo, Fortaleza, Recife e Brasília.
The following site claims that as of 2018 BJJ has grown in popularity to become the sport with the second largest number of practitioners in Brazil (after football):
En la actualidad se le considera uno de los deportes del mundo con mayor crecimiento y en Brasil es el segundo deporte, detrás del fútbol, con mayor número de practicantes.
A late 2018 survey by the Brazilian Ministry of Health reported that almost 5 million Brazilians practise some form of combat sport (note this includes capoeira, muay thai, judo etc):
Pesquisa divulgada no fim de 2018, pelo Ministério da Saúde, indica que os esportes de combate estão de fato em alta... De acordo com a pesquisa do governo, cerca de 5 milhões de brasileiros praticam lutas hoje.
The following marketing analysis from 2015 quotes the number of students at the then 1,400 Gracie academies in the US at 35,000, and claims it is the 4th most popular sport in the US after football, baseball and basketball among young adult men:
The number of Gracie academies in the U.S. has doubled to about 1,400 since 2006, and there is at least one in every state, according to Rener Gracie. More than half of the network’s 35,000 students are middle-aged; of these, a third are white-collar professionals. In Chicago, at least 20 schools, including five Gracie-affiliates, offer instruction.
Experts credit BJJ’s popularity to the rise of mixed martial arts, which is now the number four most popular sport in the U.S. among the coveted demographic of men, ages 18 to 34; it trails only football, baseball and basketball, according to research by Scarborough Sports Marketing in New York. The annual pay-per-view audience for the UFC first exceeded boxing and professional wrestling in 2006, and two years ago, the promotion signed a lucrative seven-year deal with Fox for cable and broadcast rights.
- Market Research, BJJ Industry (finalstepmarketing.com)
The IBJJF page contains the following footnote:
The information herein is made available to the public by the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) and simply lists academies that are certified by the IBJJF. To be a certified academy simply means that:The academy has a head professor who is a member of IBJJF with the rank of black belt and that the academy’s students are able to participate in IBJJF events. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided,the IBJJF assumes no responsibility therefore.
In 2008 BJJ became a school-curriculum sport in the UAE (much like Judo in Japan). In 2013 the number of students was over 20,000, and by 2016 the number of students had almost quadrupled to over 76,000:
In 2008, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) adopted the sport of Jiu-Jitsu in the curriculum of public schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region. This initiative was initially implemented in 14 schools, but the overwhelming success was way beyond expectations, prompting the initiative to be expanded to 46 schools in 2012. The number of schools that have adopted the Jiu-Jitsu program in the emirate surpassed 130 in 2016, with over 76,000 students participating.
There is also the following blog's 2011 estimation based on a sample of 30 UK clubs:
The range of values I arrived at was from a minimum of 2,048 to a maximum of 3,206 practitioners. [...]
To put it differently, out of every 100,000 people randomly selected in the UK you should meet no more than 3-5 people who do BJJ once per week.