Sharing knowledge, advice and technical details is certainly one of the things that helps everyone along the way. However, that being said, giving advice is not always the best of things, even though you may have the best intentions with you. Let’s have a look at a couple of things you should consider when it comes to giving advice.
Your technical expertise. A very important thing to consider is that a wrong advice can lead to wrong reflexes and automatisms for the person taking the advice. That being said, make sure that you really know what you are talking about before giving advice. This is usually the case for white belts who show each other moves. While they might have the best intentions, usually they will, at best, show a move in its simplest form without any technical details. At worst, they will show a really wrong version of the move that will make the one learning it get bad habits and expose himself to other techniques. In this case, the best course of action is to ask higher belts for some advice regarding the technique. Most of them are quite happy to help. So make sure, whenever giving advice, regardless of belt, that you really know what you’re talking about and you’re not giving wrong advice.
Your relation with that person. Take into account your personal relationship with the person you’re thinking of giving advice. If you are not in the best relations with that person, giving advice to that person might make him think you are being condescending on him. If you are friends, that should not be a problem (assuming the other points mentioned in this article are considered as well).
Belt levels. Be careful about giving advice to higher belts. This one depends a lot on the gym and atmosphere at the gym a lot. Generally it’s ok at higher belt levels and less ok at lower belt leves. In some gyms it’s seen as being disrespectful but it depends on a case by case basis as well. Avoid doing this as a white belt unless you really have good expertise in one area (eg Black Belt Judoka coming and giving advice on takedown game, wrestlers, etc).
Figure 2. Belts exist for a reason. It would not be very smart to give advice to a black belt if you are a white belt.
Skill gap between you and your partner. We all have that person in the gym who gets strangled every 2 minutes but gives advice on how to perform the choke better. You DON’T want to be that person. Before giving advice, consider the skill gap between the two of you. Do you tap him out often? Do you barely get to tap him out? Does he tap you out a couple of times each rounds? Consider this before thinking of giving advice. One exception could be made here if we consider weight classes. A blue belt and really strong ultra heavy will probably give a purple belt lightweight / middleweight some serious trouble perhaps even tapping him, but chances are that strength and weight is playing a lot into the outcome. That being said the purple belt can probably still help the blue belt with a lot of technical details.
Figure 3. You might want to reconsider giving advice to someone who keeps subbing you with chokes every minute.
Your partner might not want advice. You have to remember puzzle / problem solving is one of the big joys of Jiu Jitsu. There are persons who enjoy doing that by themselves, getting stuck with techniques and trying to figure out the solution on their own. That might still be the case after he gets tapped out 30 times with the same technique. If you know your partner is that type of person, refrain from giving advice unless he asks.
An easier way to go about this is to just ask your partner if he needs some help figuring out that position, technique, etc. If he accepts, go on and share your details and technical knowledge and help him start countering your technique. That’s why we’re all at the gym, to learn. If he rejects, just continue to spar or whatever you were doing.
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