While most jiu-jitsu lessons are taught in a group setting, many coaches and athletes also offer private lessons for students who want one-on-one instruction to improve their game. You might have the opportunity to take a lesson from one of your favorite competitors who happens to be in the area for a tournament or seminars, or you could opt to take a private from one of your regular coaches.
Paying for a coach’s time one-on-one is going to be more expensive than paying a drop-in fee for a group class or open mat somewhere, so before you spend your hard-earned cash on a lesson that isn’t going to stick, make sure you follow these tips to get the most out of your private BJJ lessons.
1. Find a coach that suits your goals.
If you’re going to spend money on a private, make sure the person teaching it is right for what you want to learn. Do they specialize in the techniques you want to learn? Does their teaching style mesh with their learning style? Just because someone is a black belt doesn’t mean they’re the best person to teach you what you want to know, and in fact, there are plenty of brown and even purple belts who may be a better fit for you than the big-name athlete who’s in town for a seminar. A private lesson is an investment in your jiu-jitsu, and you should take one (or many) from someone who would best benefit you in your journey.
2. Plan ahead.
Show up prepared. You’ll get more out of your lesson if you don’t have to spend the first few minutes pondering what you want to work on. Arrive with two or three ideas in mind — if you come with just one technique you want to improve, it may turn out to be an easy fix. It’s better to need multiple privates to work on multiple techniques than to waste half of one private trying to figure out what you want to do. It’s okay if you don’t know a specific technique you want to work on, also. A good instructor will work with you if you tell them, for example, that you keep getting submitted from side control or want to improve your top game. Having a general idea of what you need help with is much better than walking in and being unable to offer more than a shrug when you’re asked what you’d like to work on.
3. Figure out your learning style.
Many private lessons are done one-on-one, which is great for kinesthetic learners, but sometimes not so great for visual learners. Before you book a private, ask yourself if it would be beneficial for you to have another teammate there with you so you can watch the technique being demonstrated. While some instructors do charge full price when two students attend a class, others offer a discount for each participant, or they may even let one student participate for free if they’re just there to be an uke. If that isn’t possible, ask if you could film portions of the lesson so you can see how the technique is done before you do it yourself.
4. Do your homework.
Don’t let the work end just because you’re out of the gym. Take notes on what you learned, watch related videos to supplement your lesson, and, if you can, find time to drill what you practiced. This is another reason why filming parts of your lesson can be greatly beneficial — you can rewatch what you learned later to help cement the techniques and concepts into your brain. Review your study materials, whatever they may be, before your next jiu-jitsu class so they’re fresh in your mind before your next rolls.
5. Implement what you learn into your jiu-jitsu goals.
Don’t spend time and money learning guard-passing in a private lesson only to stick to playing guard for the next month. The more you practice what you learn, the easier it’ll get over time. As with any technique or lesson, what you learn isn’t going to stick right away so set a goal for yourself to center your rolls around what you’re taught in your private lesson(s). For example, if your private focused on armbars, make armbars the focus of your rolls in class or open mat as well.
Private lessons can be one of the best investments you can make in your jiu-jitsu journey, so make sure you’re not squandering the opportunity to get personalized recommendations for your BJJ game. By putting a little more effort in, you can ensure that what you’re taught in your one-on-one time with a coach can serve you on the mats for the rest of your life.