Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Teach Sooner Than Later

A common excuse not to teach is because you don’t think you’re good enough to teach. It’s true, you may not be that good, either at jiu-jitsu or teaching or both.

But that’s okay. You’ll get better over time. Recently, someone told me he got a chance to teach a group class, and he loved it, but won’t want to do it more often until he’s a purple belt. There are reasons to wait that long, but also reasons not to.

Obviously, a purple belt will be more skilled than a blue belt. More importantly, a purple belt will have gone through some plateaus, and hopefully has also had times when they realized something they thought was right was actually wrong. Remember, it’s the intermediate that is the most stubborn and opinionated. That conviction, or irrational confidence, can be an attribute for teaching, as you’ll have presence and appear right, even if you’re off by a little.

But teach sooner so you gain experience teaching. So by the time you’re a purple belt, you’ll have those extra reps.

There are problems with blue belt teachers. I started at a school with a blue belt instructor. Would it have been better if I started with a black belt? That depends. Not all black belts are good at teaching. So, the instruction I received was received well, but it wasn’t perfect technique. With a black belt, maybe it would’ve been perfect (of course, nothing is perfect), but maybe he wouldn’t be as good a transferring the knowledge. Anyway, in either case, you need to back to basics regularly.

And I started teaching as a blue belt. I made mistakes while teaching. But I’m a much better teacher now because I’ve been teaching for so long and now I’ve got those mistakes out of the way.

If you start sharing the art, you get better. Spend time preparing for the lesson. Don’t pretend to be John Danaher. And be honest when you’re stuck. If you don’t know something, say, “I don’t know.”

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