Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the UK has grown exponentially over the past 15 years, there have been hotbeds around the UK. The obvious ones come quickly to mind, London, Liverpool and Manchester to name a couple, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Nottingham now must be considered. The Nottingham BJJ scene is one of the fastest growing in the country. Nottingham Jiu Jitsu can be seen through up and coming out clubs as well as established ones such as Gracie Barra Nottingham, Spirit Dojo, Nottingham MMA and Hardy Wallhead MMA. We will take a look into the offerings of each club and key info relating to the club. When in Nottingham next, make sure to check out a club and get a feel for the Nottingham jiu jitsu scene.
Gracie Barra Nottingham
One of the premier gyms in the UK, Gracie Barra Nottingham is run by BJJ legend Victor Estima, world NoGi champion and multiple time World Gi Medalist. The Nottingham BJJ scene has benefited from the presence of such legends of the sport. When Victor and his brother, Braulio (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend and world champion) moved to the UK to teach Jiu Jitsu, Braulio would settle in Birmingham while Victor would move to Nottingham, it can be said Victor is one of the main reasons why Nottingham BJJ has been so successful. Many top athletes have come out of his academy including Oliver Lovell, Vanessa English and Sean Coates, all medalists at major competitions and who are great representatives of Nottingham BJJ.
The academy itself encompasses 400 square meters across two floors with two large matted areas using the best matting available. The facility also boasts changing rooms with showers, a family changing room, pro shop for all your equipment needs, and a large sitting area with high quality coffee machine.
The timetable is especially diverse with multiple classes on offer, there are adult mixed classes, from Fundamentals, All Levels to Advanced training. If one truly falls in love with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu they can enter the Black Belt Program, an advanced training program.There are multiple kids classes across the ages.Nottingham BJJ is not without a Ladies only class, Gracie Barra Nottingham was one of the first to offer this type of program in the local scene. Gracie Barra gyms aso offer a programme called ‘Barra Fit’ This class is a Jiu-Jitsu inspired workout that promotes weight loss while increasing your overall fitness. A great way for Jiu Jitsu players to complement their regular training schedule.
The main coaches are Victor Estima himself and Sean Coates who is the head of Kids Programme, himself being a highly accomplished competitor being a 7 times British Open champion and 3 time world medalist.
Any Jiu Jitsu Nottingham article cannot be complete without Nottingham MMA. The origins of this academy are rooted with Nottingham's famous MMA stars, Dan Hardy, Jimmy Wallhead and Paul Daley. Those athletes began at Nottingham MMA’s original academy, formally known as Bushido MMA. The current coach Paul Lukowski took over the gym in around 2014 he decided to re-brand and re-locate as he quickly outgrew the old venue. Paul is an established Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who is a multiple super fight veteran, competing on shows such as Grapplefest. Paul Lukowski has also many students who have competed at some of the premier NoGi Grappling competitions themselves, the most well known to come out of Nottingham MMA is Shane Curtis who has competed on shows such as Pantheon, Grapplefest and recently took part in Polaris Invitationals Uk Grand Prix where he took on the UK Grappling Giant Bradley Hill in an losing effort but to make it on that stage is an accomplishment. Shane is certainly the type of competitor which makes the Nottingham BJJ scene notable.
The timetable runs Monday to Saturday, there is grappling everyday either gi or nogi. For those interested in other styles the gym also offers wrestling classes and MMA. The Academy is also pretty central in Nottingham City centre so it's pretty easy to get to via public transport with only short walks from major transit hubs.
Spirit Dojo Legacy
The official training facility of Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley, The Spirit Dojo was operated from the YMCA but as the club grew it became apparent moving to its own exclusive location was the only way to go. The club is affiliate with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu superteam Alliance Jiu Jitsu, the brazilian Jiu Jitsu programme is run by Alliance Black Belt Lee Bown who is also the coach of the Nottingham MMA legend Paul Daley, a UFC and Bellator Veteran and also a recently promoted Black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Lee Bown also runs the MMA side of the academy alongside Paul Daley.
Being an MMA academy at heart, there are other programmes which run alongside the BJJ programme, you can choose to attend the MMA programme or Kickboxing and Striking classes. While not as big a timetable as other academies, the Spirit Dojo offers an amazing year deal, where it costs £250 for a full year unlimited training, an amazing offer which works out at only £20 a month ! Despite being an MMA focused academy, the gym is open to expanding its knowledge regularly having high level grappling competitors from outside the gym come in to teach seminars. Names such as the ‘Raspberry Ape’ Dan Strauss and the ‘Yorkshire Gripper’ Lloyd Cooper are being brought in to teach their own styles and techniques to broaden the horizon and skills of the students at the spirit dojo.
Hardy Wallhead MMA
An article on Nottingham BJJ wouldn't be complete without Hardy Wallhead MMA. Run by two Nottingham MMA legends in UFC veterans Dan ‘the outlaw’ Hardy and ‘Judo’ Jimmy Wallhead.
The Academy offers Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Gi), NoGi Grappling, wrestling and MMA.
The gym also has a kids programme, Little Ninjas and Mini Outlaws MMA. If grappling doesn't take your fancy there are Striking Classes and ‘Pads and bags’ classes along with fitness based classes. Jimmy Wallhead is the head coach who oversees the MMA Classes focusing on the pro team at Hardy Wallhead MMA as well as passing on his knowledge and experience through the classes and amateur programs here at the gym.
There are other coaches such as Ollie Richardson who provides physical performance coaching, he also oversees and coaches the fitness and strength & conditioning components of the schedule. After a 15 year career as a performance coach with Team Rough House, England Rugby, Leicester Tigers, Queensland Reds and in the professional Japanese leagues, Ollie now manages the program at Hardy Wallhead MMA.
The BJJ side of the academy is run by black belt Joe Taylor who has been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the best part of a decade. Schooled and mentored from day one by Braulio Estima black belt; Kevin Webb. He has competed and medalled in both Gi and NoGi competitions throughout his time in the sport.
While of course this list is not exhaustive, these are four of the top Nottingham BJJ academies. Keep your eye out for similar articles on the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu scene in the UK and other places around the world. Wishing you all the best out there on the mats!
-Team Progress Jiu Jitsu