What Should Your Relationship Be With Your BJJ Instructor

What Should Your Relationship Be With Your BJJ Instructor

Photo by Zoran Milich Photography

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create,” said Jana Kingsford.
Maybe you found this little piece of wisdom buried among dozens of quotes while scrolling
through your Facebook timeline. But it has a singular depth of meaning when applied to Jiu Jitsu.
As a BJJ beginner, you’re probably still learning to tie your pants correctly, or even perfect “the
shrimp” (hip mobility on the ground) during your drills. However, a very important fundamental
to being a BJJ student, is understanding your boundaries within your relationship with your

Avoid​ ​Getting​ ​Too​ ​Personal:

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that your coach is your teacher. Would you go up
to your 11th grade chemistry teacher and talk about how you chugged 3 liters of beer on
Saturday night, and ended up passed out in your neighbor’s yard? I hope not… Your coach must
be regarded with a high level of respect and professionalism — the same authority reserved for all
of the teachers in your life. You must keep in mind that you are in Jiu Jitsu to learn a discipline
and an art. Getting too personal with your coach should be avoided, unless he or she approaches
you in a less formal setting first. Trust, loyalty, and dedication are all attributes that should be
consistently built when you are a student of Jiu-Jitsu.

Being​ ​Mindful:

But just what does it mean to have a good relationship with your coach? It’s not just about
respect. Building a good relationship is about being mindful of the group as a whole. Listening to
your peers, lending a hand when necessary, and exchanging proper etiquette is a must for
teamwork as well. Getting too personal with your peers during class time is also disrespectful to
the instructor and to the team as a whole. If a problem does arise with another student, you must
approach your coach with it instead of taking matters into your own hands. Are you arriving on
time? Being an attentive student? Are you practicing safely and to the best of your abilities? You
can’t expect your coach to think highly of you if you come to class sporadically, and only put
forth a small percentage of effort. As Jim Rohn puts it, “you can’t hire someone else to do your
push-ups for you.”

There​ ​is​ ​an​ ​Art​ ​in​ ​Silence:

The biggest turn off in any martial art is the idea that you are undefeatable. Being humble,
listening, and having an open mind are very important qualities to succeed in all sports, not to
mention life in general. For instance, when I first started BJJ, I struggled with trying to complete
the warm-up drills. Everyone in my class had much more experience, and could do drills very
fast. I was still trying to figure out how to do a front roll… When I approached my coach, he
took me aside and showed me step by step. Even though I felt that my body could never move in
the way he showed me, I tried the drills to the best of my abilities. And I kept trying. I would
stay after practice or arrive early to master the drills. Eventually, I became so good at them, that
the drills became my favorite part of training. I trusted my coach and stayed determined, because
practice makes perfect, right?

The​ ​Truth​ ​Will​ ​Set​ ​You​ ​Free:

Honesty is also another major factor in building the groundwork to the relationship with your
coach. Say you’re having a really bad day, and your performance at training is a quarter of what
it usually is. Letting your coach know things are not going so well will help him or her
understand you better. Being vocal with your instructor is highly important for success in any

Perhaps there will come a point when you and your coach can discuss family matters, or maybe
even get together to watch a fight. But like building a house, if the foundation isn’t strong
enough, it will eventually collapse. Some days will be weaker, some discouraging, and some
painful (stretch!), but as long as you keep a positive attitude and open mind, staying honest with
yourself and your coach, everything will gradually fall into place.

Written by Hannah Milic

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