Reader Question: How do you know if you’re qualified to teach?

At the Jiu-Jitsu Times, we are given immense reach within the jiu-jitsu community. For this reason, anytime I am given a question that hasn’t yet been explored, I take great pleasure in approaching it and offering it my two cents as long as I feel qualified to answer it.  If you ever have a question, please feel free to reach out to my colleagues and me, and we will do our best to help you.

One of my readers sent me an interesting question:

“How does one know they are qualified enough to do a seminar? Someone who is highly active in competition, former competitor, etc. is there an age limit before one should consider doing seminars.”

I will do my best to answer this question from my experience.

I guess I’ll take a step back. A seminar is nothing more than a prolonged class, so lets replace the expression “do a seminar” with “teach”!  How do people know they are qualified to teach?

The only way to be qualified to teach is to be able to answer most of the questions a student would ask about the techniques you are teaching.  One should only cover areas in which one is proficient.  Competition experience is a great way to establish whether or not you are in fact proficient in techniques that you think you are.

I’ve seen people who can’t pass the guard try to teach newcomers how to pass the guard.  I’ve seen guys who can’t hit an arm bar or a triangle from closed guard try to show people how to do that.  Focus on your strengths if you are ever in a position to teach.

I am not much of a judoka or a wrestler, so when I am asked by someone about takedowns, I show them how I like to pull guard.  I can explain the basic mechanics of a double leg takedown, but I’ll defer to others who are better qualified to teach those moves rather than instill bad habits in someone less knowledgeable than I am.

A key element of all of this is that in order to teach–whether it be one-on-one with the new white belt in the room, or a seminar–you have to have something of value to offer the other person.  Don’t insert gaps into another person’s game.

Another key element to teaching is knowing how to convey your knowledge to others.  I’ve had opportunities to learn from some of the best practitioners in the world.  I can honestly say that some of the worst instructors were also top-level competitors. Knowledge and ability do not necessarily translate to the ability to bestow that ability upon another person.

On the other hand, I’ve seen non-competitors whose ability to convey knowledge is amazing.

I guess what it comes down to is: if you want to teach either classes or seminars, you should possess something from which other people can benefit and know how to give that something to other people.  If you happen to be a high-level competitor, that can add to your mystique and desirability as an instructor.

Anyone can teach you something if you pay close enough attention, but if you want to teach other people you should figure out what you have to offer them and refine your ability to convey that information.

I hope this helps!  In the comments I hope to see some knowledge from people who have actually taught seminars.  I look forward to reading them.


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