BJJ / Grappling instructors: How well do you know your instructor?

Something I remember fondly from management training, which I think can translate well into the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (and sports and martial arts in general) is the importance of building relations with those you work (or in this case, 'rassle) with. Not sure what I mean? Have a look at these questions:

How did your BJJ instructor/coach become an instructor? Some are born within BJJ (or Gracie Jiu Jitsu) while others have BJJ thrust upon them. Where did your instructor learn BJJ? Who taught him or her how to deliver it and teach it to beginners? What is your instructor's main objective with the club / gym / academy? Did he compete much? Was/Is he into the whole BJJ competition scene?

What are your BJJ instructors good at? What's their grappling speciality? What do they consider to be their self-confessed weakness or at least area of development on the mat? Are they creative teachers or does every session feel like a copy of the previous one (at least they are consistent!) ? Do they focus on positions (maintenance and escapes), transitions (sweeps and back takes) or submissions (armlocks, leg locks, chokes) in their own game? Are they balanced in their approach or perhaps more inclined towards gi, no gi or even MMA? What about when they teach beginners?

What is their BJJ teaching / coaching style? Do they prefer to talk you thru grappling techniques vs show you? Or do they perhaps prefer to let you give it a go and discover the little details thru isolated movement drills? How do they respond to questions? Do they make the athletes try to arrive at the solution or do they provide it straight away? How to the BJJ students at the academy respond to this teaching / coaching style?

What is their life off the mats like? Are they full time instructors? Do they also have to battle with the hard work of owning the gym too? Do they have a job, studies or perhaps other hobbies? Do they study other martial arts?

Of course, none of the above is absolutly essential, but it deepens the connection you have with your instructor and the community (the gym / academy) as a whole and should shed some light on the grappling too. If you notice that a certain newbie to BJJ doesn't seem to "get" a technique when instructor A shows it (visual demonstration), but you know that instructor B has a more suitable teaching style (verbal or kinetic) then you could recommend they ask them or even book them for a private session.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and all martial arts (and to a certain extent all sports) are about building personal relations with people and understanding who we are. Otherwise we might as well just join a gym.


Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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