Picking a good place for yourself to practice is almost as important as deciding to do bjj as a bad choice can seriously hinder your journey.
There’s many different factors you should be considering when picking a gym. The main ones being:
- Who is the main instructor and how does he relate to others?
- What’s his jiu-jitsu level like? How legitimate is his lineage?
- How does the instructor treat the students ?
A very important aspect of the experience is learning in an environment that will make you feel good because no healthy rational individual wants to spend time in a hostile environment that fosters bad feelings.
In fact being treated well by the instructor and the students ranks maybe even higher than skill level. To reach a belt level a huge number of mat hours is required meaning it’s increasingly important you spend your time in a way that you’ll be able to enjoy yourself.
Making bjj a chore cannot help you and will in fact cause you to either reduce the amount of training you’re doing or quit altogether.
Bernardo Faria agrees: “The most important part in picking the right school for you is to pay attention to the teacher, in terms of how he is”
Of course then we get to the 2nd factor – how good his bjj is. Nowadays we often encounter questionable personalities such as fake black belts, people who self promoted or came through the ranks in some controversial way.
One thing to consider is the steepness of the learning curve. Many times if you feel your bjj has gotten stale it’s not a matter of the instruction you’ve been receiving. For many practitioners the knowledge comes through breakthroughs that follow some pretty stale plateau periods. This is why it’s very important to stick with the art and be persistent.
One good way to monitor growth in an objective way is to compete.
Important thing to consider are outside sources. At a certain point it’s upto you to work on personally advancing your style. This means finding a competitor similar in constitution and preferences and analyzing what they’re doing and how you can integrate it all or parts of it into your own game.
An aspect that shouldn’t be disregarded is actually asking your instructor. Asking for both direction in which you’re improving as well as general questions is important. One sign of an instructor that might not be the best is reluctance to engage students by answering questions. Now remember, as a very wide field it’s quite understandable your teacher isn’t a master of everything but just the will to engage should tell you enough.
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