Instructors are instructors…they’re professional, they teach, they’ll give you attention and hope for the best. Jiu jitsu instructors are no different…they teach, they’ll give attention and like any other teacher, they’ll get frustrated at times. We are after all, human. While I’m absolutely in love with jitz and love being around my students, sometimes I’m just not in the mood to roll, teach or learn. That being said, I asked 10 different jitz instructors from different clubs and different skill levels to tell me things that they normally wouldn’t tell their students (or teachers). While no disrespect intended on my beloved art, and on the promise of anonymity, here are the top-10 things your jiu jitsu instructor won’t tell you:
#11 WHEN WE SAY “TRUST THE TECHNIQUE”, WE MEAN IT
We know it feels weird. We know the positions are odd and that sometimes you feel a choke isn’t in correctly, but when we tell you to trust the technique instead of your feelings, listen to us.
#10 WE DON’T CARE THAT YOU TOOK KARATE FOR “X” YEARS
When you first walk into a club looking to take BJJ, we’ll normally ask if you have any experience…what we’re really looking for is if you have any grappling experience. Karate, Tae-kwon-do, Jeet-kune-do…we don’t really care, and we really don’t want to sit and listen about your karate tournaments, just get on the mat and let’s start.
#9 WE DON’T LIKE TEACHING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER
We don’t like teaching armbars over and over, and especially don’t like teaching side control hundreds upon thousands of times. But like anything you want to be good at, it’s necessary, so please don’t complain that you aren’t learning anything. We know its repetitive and kind of boring, but we also know that it needs to be perfect. Plus, we are working on ours at the same time, not just teaching it.
#8 YOU HAVE TO PAY YOUR DUES
We paid ours, and you’re going to as well. We fought tournaments, we roll every class, and we did thousands of positional drills. All this came with multiple injuries, hundreds of hours as the “choking dummy” and gallons of sweat, blood and mat-burn ointment. So no, we aren’t “good”, we are the product of thousands of ass-kickings, and you will be too.
#7 GOING FAST AND HARD MAKES US ANGRY
BJJ is about finesse, combinations and going with the flow. We understand that up until a certain level your body isn’t trained to relax when it’s in a physical battle. But we also know when you can relax and just don’t want to, and that causes injuries. So when you decide to go hard, we decide to hold onto submissions a little longer and a little harder until you get the point.
#6 WE LOVE QUESTIONS
I’ll admit that this one is mine…I absolutely love questions and I ask a ton of questions. If you ask questions, I know that you’re paying attention. I also know that you want to know why something works and why it doesn’t. If you ask questions you’re automatically one of my favorites.
#5 MOST OF US DON’T GET PAID AND HAVE CAREERS
Unless they’re the gym owner, head instructor or Master, your instructor probably gets very little compensation if any. We train because we love to train. We have regular day jobs, families and every day problems like everyone else. So using your jitz buddies to gripe about life is a great release and great place to get your stresses out for the day so you can go home in a good mood to your family. But when it’s closing time, don’t forget that we have families we want to see too…we’ll talk tomorrow.
#4 DON’T PRACTICE WHAT ISN’T BEING TAUGHT
We can’t stand when we are going over a technique we’ve gone over hundreds of times (see #9), and while we are teaching, people are talking or working on a move that is completely different. Don’t forget that every class has new people and it’s distracting and disrespectful to them while they’re trying to learn…after all, they’re paying a lot of money to learn what’s going on. Not to mention it makes the gym look amateurish.
#3 STOP HELPING (UNLESS YOU’RE ASKED)
We’ve all had that “Aha!” moment, where a technique clicks and you finally got a hold of it. We are absolutely happy and proud that you’ve got it…but unless you’re given permission by the instructor to teach, don’t teach. The understanding is that we are only permitted to teach techniques that we have a firm grasp on. For example, we can teach a kimura for short people, tall people, muscular and scrawny. We can show you the leg position for each body type to make the technique more effective and different positions from where it can be applied. If someone says it’s not working for them, we can see what’s wrong and fix it….can you?
#2 IF YOU ACT LIKE A BADASS, WE’LL SHOW YOU YOU’RE NOT
Cockiness and arrogance destroys gyms…it takes away our “family” environment, and it’s a surefire way to get everyone gunning for you. You won’t see or hear about it, but sometimes a mother will bring their out of control teenager in and say its an “outlet for his anger”. The second someone shows him to the gi’s and gets him stretching, she’ll turn around and ask us to teach him a lesson…and we do.
…oh, and bullies. If we find out you’re using what you learn to bully kids at school, we’ll throw you into the shark tank.
#1 WE’RE LEARNING WHILE WE’RE TEACHING
No, we don’t know everything for every situation, that’s why your instructors have instructors. The more experienced your teacher, the more situations they’ve been in, and the more they’ll know. We know enough to teach, and in doing so, will discover little things that we didn’t know before. After class, we’ll ask our teachers what to do in that situation and practice it to no end just so we have that knowledge.