BJJ / Grappling coaches & Instructors: How Emotional Should They Be?

This Saturday saw one of our Lab Rats (cause we're called the Labs, get it?) Mike Woodhall submit his opponent at an amateur MMA event called "Battle in The Bay". Here is a video of the fight.

Of course, all of us at the Labs - Fighting Fit Manchester were very happy and proud of Mike's hard work in the months that lead up to the fight and, naturally, his conclusive finish to the fight. Here is a picture of him receiving his trophy alongside our head coach and the Labs founder Martyn Cahill.

Lil-Mike was very proud of his "Weirdest Ear Growth" Trophy!

Someone read my mind and commented on how excited Martyn looks in the picture (sarc) and it made me think. He's usually pretty mellow and has an even mood. You don't get major fluctuations in our coach's mood and demeanour, which I've always seen as a great thing. Jiu Jitsu is hard as it is and the last thing you want to worry about is what mood you're going to find your instructor in.

How emotionally involved is you BJJ coach / instructor? We've all heard stories or even witnessed first hand sports coaches who were a little (or a lot) too involved and invested in the performance of their athletes, shouting a mix of instructions with obscenities from the sidelines. I've also seen some coaches deep in conversation with a friend while their athletes were on the mats busting their chops, unguided and unsupported. It makes you grateful for the happy middle ground. Martyn works hard with us and for us, and he's always very proud of all the hard work we put in, irrespective of the final results. The first time I competed under the Labs banner, I felt liberated from the outcome and focused on the experience and learning from it. A very enjoyable feeling that I completely attribute to the great team of people, including Martyn.

How about you? What's your BJJ coach like? How does that make you feel and how does it reflect on your performance and general outlook on training BJJ and competing?

Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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slideyfoot said...

One of the reasons I admire Roger Gracie is that he is always calm, humble and quiet. Doesn't matter if he just won the Worlds, he still keeps his cool.

It might be because I've grown up in the UK, where stoicism tends to be a virtue, but I don't feel all that comfortable around very emotional people, or somebody who shouts a lot. I definitely wouldn't like it in a coach.

The Part Time Grappler said...

While I agree with your comments on how a calm, humble and quiet coach is admirable (my favourite kind!) I don't think this geographically restricted. I have seen english players thoroughly enjoying mat-side rage and shouting by their instructor and I've also seen very calm and methodical brazilian instructors getting full appreciation from their students.

Personally, I want a coach who is exactly that, my coach. Someone who is there for me. If I need the loud encouragement from the side, or if I need the calm instructions (s)he knows the job and delivers it well. My old karate sensei was exactly that and Martyn is exactly that. Who knows what kind of coaches we will make one day :)

A.D. McClish said...

Haha, nice picture chart. I would not do well with a coach that yelled at me. Some people get motivated by that. I would probably cry. I admire a coach that doesn't need to yell to get people's attention or earn respect.

The Part Time Grappler said...

I'm with you Allie. I need a calm coach and aspire to be one.

I must clarify that I wasn't necessarily referring to coaches who swear AT their athletes, but rather to coaches who become so involved that they start swearing (at athletes, refs, themselves, opponents, crowds...etc.). When someone is competing, there is enough pressure already and to feel that you are letting another person down (or perhaps a team) doesn't help at all.

Stephanie said...

Great post!

I think I have seen extreme opposites in coaching, in the coach's of my competitors.

I have had a girl I just lost to walk off the mat, and start making out with her coach. No lie. I've had a girl get called stupid by her coach after losing, and I had a coach so overly involved in his coaching, and so close to our match that he literally reached over to stop my leg from triangling his student. He didn't... and he stopped himself almost as quickly as he'd reached over. Clearly, he was very much in the heat of the moment.

I've also had one of my competition's coaches get loud, and in the face of the ref after his student lost. Which resulted in an over time for us.. and over time that I lost... after just been named the victor.

Anyway, all of that to say... I love my coach. He is always very calm, and clear when he speaks no matter how dire the situation is... which is exactly what I need when I start to panic. And he hugs me the same way when I win or lose. And even though, I've seen coaches bully refs into getting their way, I would much rather my coach and I lose gracefully, than make a stink so large that the poor ref folds just to get them to shut their mouths even if it turned my loss into a win.

... and sorry for my epically long comment.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thanks Stephanie. I think it's part of what we love about the arts. I feel the effects of BJJ and MA is general spread to the rest of my life and how I act and react. Jiu Jitsu gives me a better way to live and view life and I like surrounding myself with people who share that view.

Someone who bitches and bickers over a ref, not exactly my ideal :)