BJJ / Grappling and the Art of Coaching

Hi. I'm Royce Gracie. In my corner I have Royler, Rickson and Relson Gracie.
Who did you bring?
This Sunday, I'll be teaching the first of 4 "Introduction to NoGi grappling" semi-privates at Fighting Fit Manchester. The curriculum for this will focus entirely on approaching the submission grappling game with a focus on how to start, dominate and flow without a gi to grab on. My aim is to remove grapplers' hesitation and eliminate as much wasted motion as possible, which obviously requires a tailor made curriculum if we're to achieve that in four hours.

While I was writing the curriculum for these sessions, it struck me that coaching and teaching are in essence Change Management, something I studied in depth at university. A good, BJJ / Grappling or really any, coach will analyse his client’s current situation, break down driving and restraining forces and develop a Change Management plan.

The thing is, change is a fascinating subject. Now matter how much someone says they want to change (and they may well be sincere!) they will resist the change to some degree or another! The coach’s tireless job is to manage that change at a pace that suits the athlete, and not the other way around.

The 5 styles of coaching my "Social Marketing" course covered were:
  1. Directive coaching: Tell them what to do! It’s fast but can ignore other people’s views or feelings. This is most suitable for sideline coaching e.g. at competitions
  2. Expert coaching: The scientific 1-2-3 approach. This is technical problem solving by those in the know. (Typical for seminars or even BJJ DVDs)
  3. Negotiating coaching: The give and take. Someone with user-relevant expertise is brought in to negotiate the terms and conditions back and fro. This is a relatively fast approach unless met with massive resistance (Private sessions, anyone!)
  4. Educative coaching: Let me educate you on why you should change. Let me sell the benefits to you is relatively slow and involves more research but commitment is high. Most people who walk into a BJJ / Grappling / MMA school nowadays is not looking to be convinced. They come because the interest is already there. The only scenario I can think of this is in the early days when Rorion et al had to convince people off the efficiency and effectiveness of Jiu Jitsu.
  5. Participative coaching: This is again a very slow and the change can be to complex to actually manage but with more opportunities for individual and organisational learning. This is ideal for when a democratic group is training without an expert or chosen leader and are finding things out for themselves in a healthy, alive environment. A lot of enquiry method here!

Clearly you can see that all types are viable, so this takes us down to the question: What is a good coach?

It's someone who knows what to be and when to be it. Coaches need to be adaptable to both the individual and situation in front them and the player needs to understand and actually appreciate that.
We're not all created the same.

That would really suck!



Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

Proudly sponsored by Predator Fightwear: Built for the kill and Brutal TShirt: Made By Grapplers For Fighters

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