Teaching in BJJ: What are your methods?

Well I can officially mark teaching a Kid’s and Adult BJJ class off my bucket list.  Thanks to work and summer classes my presence is waning with the kids class but for the past few months especially I was a regular staple and got to lead a few classes.  The kids are fun and refreshing.  I stressed some but luckily I recalled enough basics to get through the relatively short class.

The adult class was another story. Josh, Shannon, & Jimmy were in Brazil and several of the upper belts were out due to work or life.Which left me.  Poop.  At this point the idea of teaching has its pros & cons.

Pros:  I feel like I can help much in noticing minor details that could significantly help a teammate’s game.  I know it seems ridiculous but there is also the small bit of acknowledgement of “hey she kinda knows a little something something” which is nice as well.  I was really excited to lead adult class because although I know I have some major holes in my game I decided to show techniques that I felt the most comeptent with, spider guard.

I had to work that day so the guys led their warm up and I started with a few tweaks on the scissor sweep, a spider guard sweep, ways to break pants grips off spider guard, and most importantly ways to pass spider guard.  The guys seemed to have a good time and several, nearly all had never tried the sweep I showed so that was a new experience.  I found some pretty interesting perspectives on teaching in bjj as well as some fun and interesting ideas being implemented.


too much to post. really good opinions.

From Tap or Die – “Just recently, in class, we started playing a game called “Switch.” It’s where you start training with your partner and when you instructor yells “Switch!” you take the position that your training partner is in and he or she takes yours. So, if we were training and I had you in mount and “switch” was called, we’d trade positions; I’d be on bottom and my training partner would have the mount.”


From Matt Henderson:  “Generally, after a technique is demonstrated in class, the students pair off to practice. We made a slight modification to this protocol, in that before pairing off, each student applies the technique to either the professor, or one of the other high-ranking (e.g. brown belt) students. I believe this is one of the most important teaching elements we’ve introduced.

Only a high-level practitioner can detect small problems with position, weight distribution, sequence and technique. And it’s these small details that lead to bad habits, and ultimately ineffective application of technique.

We found this teaching modification to be tremendously beneficial! On many occasions, students had that light-bulb “Ah ha!” moment, expressing something like, “I’d never realized I was making that small weight distribution mistake.”

Only after students had performed the techniques on the teacher (or another high-level student) were they then allowed to pair off and practice together.”


From Grapplearts: “Anyone who trains has heard the phrase “leave your ego at the door” at some point. The ego check is extremely important. Many times it’s mentioned in the context of “don’t be a douche bag,” meaning don’t hurt someone else or yourself because of your fear of losing face. Everyone has an ego flare up from time to time, if you had no ego you would just lay there like a Buddhist on fire, and get beat up. The key is to find the balance between the desire to win and the desire to improve.

When you are training don’t think about winning and losing all the time. Sometimes it’s good to roll like it’s a competition but if you’re always trying to win it only serves a short-term goal of “winning” that next roll. It’s a greater tool to put yourself in positions where you will likely lose. This is the most difficult thing to do and why most people don’t do it.

Try different things. If you are always using your A-Game your A-Game will start to suck. People will figure it out and you won’t have anything else for them. Don’t always pull guard or play from the top. Don’t always go for your bread and butter moves, mix it up.

The positions or submissions that you don’t call bread and butter should be drilled until you can classify them as such. This leads into the next key part of jiu jitsu idealism.”



“When I started my school I was a purple belt. , about 1-year-old purple belt with some championships under my belt.  Nevertheless I had many  that resisted learning from me because I was not a “BLACK BELT”.  Now and days I am a brown belt with higher credentials as a teacher and athlete  than most black belts in the country, and now and again I still hear the nonsense but he  not a “BLACK BELT”. I don’t say this to brag but to illustrate how clueless people can be about the topic at hand.  Nevertheless that did not stop me from believing in the encouragement my instructors gave me( Example 1-):Julius Park mentor and instructor  successfully has built and empire at Crazy 88 BJJ in Baltimore, MD a school he started also as a purple belt. Example 2-) Mentor and instructor Lloyd Irvin started his school as a blue belt and if you havent heard of him you probably living under a rock ;) ).

How did I deal with this annoyance?

I COULD CARE LESS. I went on building my White Belts and eventually they became White Belt Champions , then Blue Belts and Blue Belts Champions, Blue Belt International Champions and now school Coaches. I am also very proud to say I have an amazing coaches.”

Instructors and Coaches Bible- 25 Tips for Successful Teaching


  1. Remember everyone’s name
  2. Call fellow Instructors Coach.
  3. Address your students as sir  or mam.if they come up to you and say hey,  correct them nicely : “No sir its Coach _____”.
  4. When the student is doing good in class call them by their last name.
  5. Proper match-ups in grappling matches
  6. Identify everybody in class
  7. If there is any problem with a student pulling aside and fix the problem.(I’m here to help you)
  8. Remember school founded to help everybody improve
  9. Do not leave a mess after, clean the school, so its clean when you start.
  10. Say “Ouss” after every technique and get the students pumped for drilling
  11. On top of that  say : “All right guys on 3. One, Two, Three Clap.  This  gets the students more involved in the class and pumped for training.
  12. Other techniques: “When I say GOT IT you say GOT IT and I say  GOOD!  GOT IT! GOT IT! GOOD.”Another way to get them more involved.
  13. Be “Exciting” on the beginning of CLASS. “Today I will teach the best class of my life”
  14. A.B.P ( Always Be Promoting) the news at school (competition results, events).Tell students about announcements in the school in the beginning of every class.
  15. Be friendly!
  16. Are you asking the students questions, keep them awake keep them engaged. Ask question around class to make sure they are paying attention to the details of the technique.
  17. When someone asks you how is your day  say : “I am having a fantastic day!” Always remain enthusiastic, positive because it rubs off on your students and pre-frames a great class. Awesome day never a bad day or a long day.
  18. No cursing
  19. Beware of non verbal communication :Words are 7% ,Tone of voice is 38% , Body language is 55% of how humans communicate. Therefore Smile  A LOT!
  20. Facial expressions are most important
  21. Use hand motions. i.e “tom Cruise in a Few Good Men”
  22. When explaining technique give a history. This is my favorite technique, or i used this technique when I ____.
  23. SPOTLIGHT.Pick a student and say “everybody stop and watch______. he/she is doing this perfect.  give them a 123 clap. Make sure to give honest PRAISE.
  24. Don’t ever praise falsely. Your word is everything to your students.
  25. Incorporate games with class
5 Responses to “Teaching in BJJ: What are your methods?”
  1. gold price says:

    This week Abmar shows a very slick variation on a traditional spider guard sweep that doesn’t work well for a lot of people. The sweep ends with a nice modified arm bar.

  2. I am glad you enjoyed that writeup. It is very true. I would appreciate it if you included a link to the site (http://www.bjjengineer.com )somewhere in the section. I will update my site in the near future!

  3. zegrappler says:

    hard to empty the tea cup of pride or hubris. and even higher belts can be reticent to admit a deficiency in their game that a lower belt might naturally be skilled at or has an advantage in coming from another grappling style.

  4. gold account says:

    This week Abmar shows a very slick variation on a traditional spider guard sweep that doesn’t work well for a lot of people. The sweep ends with a nice modified arm bar.

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