If you’ve been training for a month, or even a few years, you may have questioned whether you should participate in group or private lessons. The quick answer to that question would ideally be both. The article, below, will illuminate how we arrived at that answer.
The main advantage of group lessons is that they provide you the option to work with a wide variety of people. In Jiu-Jitsu, the more varied people you train with, the better. However, during group lessons, the teaching may not be completely tailored to your needs. Instead, you are being taught the same general things as the other students. Your lessons could also be sequential in nature, meaning that one follows and depends on the other. If taking the alphabet as an example, you need to have lesson “P” before lesson “R”. Imagine you’ve never had “P”, nor anything prior to “R”. You may walk into class, and your instructor may be in the midst of teaching lesson “R”, and you don’t have any prerequisites to draw from. In a group setting, there is little you can do. You will eventually learn the lesson you missed, but you may not have the context in which that technique gets used, because you don’t know what comes before it. For this reason, a group class may not be to your advantage. This is particularly annoying for white belts, who often feel very lost in BJJ and attend class after class where they get submitted over and over again. But in the end, this may also be a good thing because it puts them on the path to learning offense.
You can’t learn to do a flying armbar unless you know how to do an armbar. You can’t do exotic chokes, unless you know how to do collar chokes. You can’t be learning to do flip guard passes before you learn to do a basic guard pass. You get the gist? If you’re taking a private class, your instructor should be teaching you in a particular order, so you can get the most out of your time on the mat.
An ideal setup is to have at least one private class a week, along with three to four group classes. However, not everyone has the time for that. Budget can also be another problem, because private sessions often cost significantly more than group sessions. And in group sessions, you either keep up with what’s being taught, or you don’t. Taking private sessions in BJJ is like having a tutor: They help you fix holes in your individual game. For advanced belts, they help you fortify your technique, by specifically helping you to perfect certain moves.
Private sessions are also good because they provide individual attention from the instructor, and offer flexible scheduling and even location. They also help you make up for missed classes, and equip you with a customized curriculum.
If you can’t do the private lessons, then by all means attend the group classes. They provide you a good training session, however you might have to take some more responsibility in terms of what you’re learning, and how you are learning it.
If you can afford to take a few private lessons, don’t hesitate. If not, don’t stress yourself out because you don’t really need them. If you catch your coach, or any peer of a high belt rank with some free time, take them to the side, and ask them to show you how to execute or sharpen a particular technique. They’ll be more than happy to show you. There are tons and tons of students who don’t take private lessons but still remain very successful in BJJ. One way or another, you will get to where you need to be, even if you take a more roundabout journey.
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