Teaching in BJJ and Removing Assumptions

Admittedly over the past couple of months I have been mainly teaching classes with more advanced students: we separate our gi classes into people who are super beginner and those who are more advanced and just due to scheduling conflicts I haven’t been able to assist in the beginner class, so the by the time they get to my world they are people who have been doing jiu jitsu for a couple of months, and while they have their struggles, by and large they sort of have a base understanding of certain principles and we build off of those.

I’m teaching that beginner class this week while we have some people out to go compete in Master Worlds, and if nothing else it’s very much a reminder that some of the things you think of as second nature after a while. How for some people not only is elbow escaping (or shrimping as some people call it) not something their body naturally does, but that even sometimes they know their right from left.

It’s a reminder that sometimes you need to stop and make sure that everyone is on the same page. It’s a bit like when you are telling your friend a story, but you never told them who the story was about, you just started using all the pronouns and expected your friend to understand exactly who and what you were talking about….and they just kind of stare at you blankly. Other people, particularly at my job do this to me all the time, actually. That’s when I will stare at the person and say, “I want you to repeat that entire story, but don’t use ANY pronouns. Go.”

Sometimes when we -higher ranks that is- are teaching, we know that people don’t have the same level of teaching, occasionally the erroneous assumption that people will know certain things will creep in without us noticing. Of course a white belt would understand why this guard is important! Of course they would know to turn left instead of right…and so on.

While it’s just human nature and there’s certainly no malice behind it, at the same time teachers need to be aware of those assumptions while on the mat, and do what they can to correct them. While some do have a bit of natural body awareness, more often than not people literally don’t know what they don’t know, with white belts having the biggest blind spot of them all. It’s our responsibility as higher ranks to expand their horizons bit by bit, showing them what’s possible and what’s necessary as they begin to learn the ropes of jiu jitsu. And the more we share that knowledge, really the better we all become: the newer student becomes more well versed in jiu jitsu, and the more experienced student understands the potential struggle that another future student could also have. There are also benefits of being the teacher instead of the student, but that’s for another time.

Have a great day everyone!

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Filed under bjj, jiu jitsu, women's bjj

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