Featured affiliated academy: Black Dog BJJ, Wigan

BJJ Wigan

Where is the gym located?
Wigan, UK

How many people train there?
Currently 12

Is the gym growing – if so by how many new members each month or year?
Slowly but surely yes! We only opened in November in a new town with zero students!

What are the highest and lowest belt grades training?
Highest is purple, lowest is a fresh white belt.

When did Black Dog BJJ, Wigan open?
Mid November ’23.

Some facts about you:

Name: Alex Riley
Age: 34
Belt: Purple
Profession: Human Factors Engineer
Years in BJJ: 6
Other martial arts: I’ve dabbled for years in Japanese Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, and a little Catch Wrestling prior to BJJ
Currently living in: Standish, UK
Originally from: Atherton, UK

Please tell us the story of how your gym came into existence
Myself and my friend (and coach at Black Dog) Oly were both members of another large affiliation gym in another town. I coached and Oly was a friend and student. I was moving to another town, I also have a daughter on the way so I wanted to train closer home. There were a number of issues with the old gym (Jiu Jitsu politics and other issues) that personally clashed with my beliefs (that I share with BJJ Globetrotters) and also were making me not enjoy my Jiu Jitsu (to the point I almost quit).

So myself and Oly decided to set up a small club so we could continue to train and teach in an open and inclusive community with zero politics and most importantly ENJOY JIU JITSU AGAIN!

Tell us about the people that train in the gym – who are they?
We only have a small membership so far but already have a great mix of people! Ages range from 19-54. We have members who are young lads who look like they could be great competitors if they choose to go that route, and others just enjoy learning, rolling, and meeting new people through jiu jitsu! We’re proud that almost all of our students are completely new to Jiu Jitsu, with no previous experience. They’re learning quickly and we’ve had the chance to bring them into the world of BJJ Globetrotters straight away! A few have already enquired about coming on camps with myself and Oly this year.

Why do they train in Black Dog BJJ, Wigan?
Some have jobs that require physical contact so they initially came to us with self defence in mind, but now have fallen in love with the enjoyment of the sport! Others have come to us wanting to know the “secrets’ or “invisible jiu jitsu” but again once they start training and rolling they learn to enjoy the process rather than just the destination!

What are some of the challenges of running a BJJ gym in general, and in your area specifically?
There are definitely a lot of challenges! As a new gym, it’s really just getting the word out there! We don’t have the finances of bigger affiliate gyms to advertise to everyone. Plus myself and Oly both have day jobs so managing that and trying to run a gym can be exhausting but fun.

How do you see the future for BJJ in your area?
There are some very good gyms in the surrounding areas, plus we have a very strong Catch Wrestling pedigree in Wigan so in my opinion the future is bright. Plus with the success of our local UFC champion Tom Aspinall, Jiu Jitsu is in the spotlight. I’m hoping more people are inspired by him and come and give Jiu Jitsu a try, whether that be at Black Dog or anywhere else. It would just be great if more people got into Jiu Jitsu!

What’s the best thing about Black Dog BJJ, Wigan?
We have a lot of fun, don’t take ourselves too seriously (as anyone who’s met us at camps know!), and we’re approachable and have a friendly atmosphere, so anyone can walk in and train.

What would you recommend Globetrotters to see in your area apart from the inside of your gym?
Some people in the BJJ Globetrotters Facebook group may have seen my sarcastic recommendations before! But there are some great areas of natural beauty to go on hikes all around Wigan. The club itself is nestled in the Haigh Estate (a woodland estate near Haigh Hall, originally dating back before the 12th century).


Thanks for sharing! If you’d like to visit Black Dog BJJ, Wigan you can contact them here.