Teaching Vs Learning BJJ

A friend of mine has expressed his desire to quit his unsatisfying office job and start teaching jiu-jitsu full time at an MMA gym. Currently,. he teaches two classes per week and really enjoys it.

He asked me what I thought about him teaching BJJ full time. I have been teaching BJJ as a main source of income for a few years and had some perspective for him.

Things change in the way you experience jiu-jitsu. My friend is an active competitor and most of his sessions in a training week are as a student. That means that he gets to concentrate on developing his own jiu-jitsu.

As a serious student of BJJ, you can roll as much as you like with your favorite training partners. You can drill and develop whatever parts of your game that you want. If you wish to do nothing but berimbolo for a month, you are free to berimbolo to your heart’s content. Training is something that you get to do, not something that you have to do.

However, when you assume the responsibility of being an instructor, things must change.

It is no longer about what is best for your training; it is about what is best for the students. While you may want to perfect your advanced De la Riva sweeps, that is not what is best for the first-year students. They need to be drilling their escapes and basic guard passes. So the personal training goals of the instructor must be compromised for the best interests of the students.

By spending more of your time on the students progress, your own personal game starts to suffer. You can’t just show up to the academy and roll at a fast pace with the top guys. You likely lose some of your timing. You also need to train more often with your lower-level students and your sharpness in rolling diminishes compared to when you could focus on rolling only with other advanced belts.

But as unlikely as it sounds, you actually learn more about the basic techniques when you teach! How is this so?

Lets say you are teaching the triangle choke from guard. You break the move down to five steps to demonstrate to the students. However, when the students go to drill the move, you see five different errors. Now you must analyze what a black belt does (often unconsciously) and be able to communicate it to the students. Before, you may have seen the triangle choke as having five main steps. Now you have added five important details to that same move and deepened your understanding of it.

There is a tradeoff in losing some of your sharpness, timing, and ability to work on your own jiu-jitsu game and learning more about the basic techniques of jiu-jitsu by teaching beginners.

Perhaps the very best part of teaching is the satisfaction you get when you see a student pull off a move in rolling. They look up at the coach and you caught them doing something right! A thumbs up between you to recognize their small success and another person addicted to BJJ!

Read also: 3 Tips On Learning From Your Training


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