Long Term Teacher-Student Relationships in BJJ with Ricardo Almeida and Tom DeBlass

Teacher and student at a recent belt promotion ceremony. Photo courtesy of Tom DeBlass

Jiu Jitsu Times is honored to feature an exclusive conversation between BJJ and MMA legend Ricardo Almeida and his student Professor Tom DeBlass on the topic of long term student-teacher relationships and how to foster them.  A student of Master Renzo Gracie, Ricardo Almeida has now been training and developing students like Professor DeBlass for over 20 years.  Professor Tom DeBlass, an accomplished grappling competitor and former MMA fighter is also Garry Tonon’s primary instructor, who is also Gordon Ryan’s primary instructor.  It’s clear to see that the grappling apples are not falling far from the Master Renzo tree.  Take a listen to what these two legends have to say about relationships.

Professor Almeida’s key points:

Two Way StreetBoth the instructor and the student must be 100% committed to the relationship.  Instructors must put their egos aside and build up their students.

On the Mats–The foundation of the BJJ instructor’s relationship with his/her students must begin on the mats.  Everyone must be committed to train and train often.  Mat time is just as much about building the relationship with your instructor as it is building your repertoire of BJJ “moves.”

Students Who Quit–Professor Almeida says that he’s never seen a student who after quitting BJJ is better off six months from now.  If you do quit for any length of time and for whatever reason, do not waste time thinking about if you should come back.  Just come back.  Your instructor will be excited.

Take Responsibility for Your Students’ Mindset–Set a great example.  Support your students when they lose and when they win.  By doing this you will teach them how to think and help inspire future leaders.

Teachers and students with Tom DeBlass, Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida--photo courtesy of Tom DeBlass
Teachers and students with Tom DeBlass, Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida–photo courtesy of Tom DeBlass

Professor DeBlass’ key points:

Always BE a Student–As an instructor, always be learning.

Remember You are Not the Only Student–Respect the needs of your instructor.  Don’t expect anything of your instructor than the bare essentials.  Lights on, mats clean and good instruction.  Don’t look for special treatment.  Work hard and earn their respect.

Sometimes You Shouldn’t Have a Voice–It’s easy in today’s day and age to criticize every little thing we see that we may not agree with.  If you have a concern, it’s best to talk directly to your instructor.  Facing things we find unpleasant and problem solving makes us stronger individuals and isn’t that what BJJ is all about?

What Would Your Instructor Think–It’s beneficial to sometimes ask yourself, What would my Instructor think?  It helps us look at actions and challenges from a different perspective.  It’s good to have someone to answer to.

Give Your Instructor Leeway–They are working very hard to create a great environment for many, many students.  Look for the positive and good in everything.  This is a relationship that will have it’s ups and downs.

Please check out Professor Almeida’s Academies and Association at Ricardo Almeida Association.

You can also check out Professor DeBlass’ Academy at Ocean County BJJ.

And coming this June 11th, both Professors Almeida and DeBlass will be competing at the ADCC US Nationals in Charleston, West Virginia.

Info can be found at the following site:  ADCC US Nationals 2016


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