At the beginning of 2023, I went to Ethiopia for 3 months. Of course, I didn’t want to stop training Jiu-Jitsu. I tried to find a way to train BJJ in Ethiopia. So, I looked online to see whether I could find a BJJ Gym to train in. I only found one in the whole country: Kao BJJ in Addis Ababa.

I didn’t know what to expect. It was my first time going to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym outside of Europe. So I took a cab and went there.

I got a bit lost, but after some searching, I found their BJJ Gym within “Juventus Club” – a small complex of different sports activities, such as football (soccer, for the Americans under us…) and tennis).

And I’m so grateful I went – they have a lot of dedicated and driven athletes. Plus, they have one of the nicest atmospheres I ever witnessed.

A picture taken within Kao BJJ in Ethiopia. It's a group picture with me and the other BJJ practitioners
The Kao BJJ Gang!!

Training Schedule, Location & Pricing

They train 4x a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. You can check out their schedule on their Instagram site.

They offer both Gi and No-Gi training. But I didn’t have my Gi, so it’s okay to come without a Gi if you don’t have one.

They are located right behind Meskel Square, in Juventus Club. I got a bit lost getting there, but if you get lost, ask the locals about “Juventus Club.” They usually know. Once in Juventus Club, go through until the very end of the complex – there you find their Gym.

And if you take a cab (Feres or Ride are the cab companies in Ethiopia – similar to Uber), tell them to drive you to Meskel Square.

The pricing of this Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gym is not high if you are used to European or American prices. For exact prices, either contact them on Instagram or Facebook or text Yared (the head coach) directly at his number: +251 92 217 1985.

When I trained there, I discovered that a blue belt training under Kao opened up his own Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Gym in Hawassa, Ethiopia! So I also went and visited them too.

This Gym is much smaller but equally as nice. If you want his contact, contact me or ask the guys in Addis about him.

My Experience at Kao BJJ

I can not speak highly enough of that Gym. They take their training seriously. Their head coach was an American black belt called Colin. Unfortunately, he is not there anymore, so now, the head coach is a purple belt called Yared.

Yared is highly skilled, and he knows how to teach. Even though he knew I would be there for a limited time, he took his time for me. He gave me attention and was super friendly. You can truly feel he’s passionate about what he’s doing.

The Gym is packed during the weekdays. The Gym is rather small, but there’s enough space for everybody.

Their team consists of a great mix of white and blue belts. And from what I saw, the blue belts are legit. They could easily compete with the blue belts in Europe.

I felt welcome there at all times. They were very supportive and welcoming, and I loved training with them. I cannot wait to go back.

The Background of Kao BJJ

The head coach, Yared, has a Judo background and got involved in BJJ (Idk how, good question you should ask him…) He was a blue belt when he started Kao BJJ in Ethiopia.

Then Colin, the American black belt, took over most of the training. Under him, Yared got promoted to a purple belt.

They started small, but more and more people became interested over the years. I also saw some non-ethiopians training there.

Now, they have many great members—many new white belts, some established white belts, and many blue belts.

Now, they are recognized as one of the best BJJ Gyms in East Africa, with many great athletes training there.

The Future of BJJ in Ethiopia

Kao BJJ’s goal is to make Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu more accessible in Africa. They are at the forefront of promoting this beautiful martial art. They are the only ones training BJJ in Ethiopia and want to expand.

They are also cooperating with BJJ Gyms in neighboring African countries. They participate in East African competitions and are heavily involved in the BJJ community.

Their intention is beautiful, and I’m sure they’ll have great success. From what I saw, the future of BJJ in Ethiopia is bright.

Final Words

So, as you can see, I’m a fan. Ethiopia is not easy to navigate at the beginning. I was in a foreign country, which was a lot to process.

But once I went to Kao, things became easier. I met great people, got a lot of guidance and support, and had a great time there.

So, if you’re considering visiting a BJJ Gym in Ethiopia, please do. They are open to everybody and have a great atmosphere.

And if you have any questions, please reach out; I’m happy to help!!

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