Your BJJ Growth Is In Your Own Hands (And Why Your Coach Is Not Responsible For It)

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Do you sometimes have a feeling that your BJJ coach “is not doing enough for you”? Or maybe, that he even doesn’t like you? Or… that he perhaps favors your peers who are constantly competing, and spreading the glory of your gym? Or maybe that he is responsible that you don’t know that full triangle choke sequence yet?

These are very important questions to consider, with our heads sober, so that we can come up with the right conclusions. The things are not neither black nor white, they are usually grey in such cases.

But one thing is certain: if some form of dissatisfaction is constantly building inside of you regarding your coach, over and over again as the months pass by, there is a very high probability that one day you will just quit your BJJ journey. Which would have been the ultimate loss that could happen.

Lets take a more balanced approach. First of all, the fact is: if we put everything in our coach’s hands, we deprive ourselves of the power and our own success in the sport that we love. Do we want to give all this power to just one person?

Look at all the different aspects of your BJJ learning:

  • your coach’s instructions during the regular class
  • drilling during regular class
  • sparring during regular class
  • instructional videos and Youtube
  • attending seminars of other coaches and of other schools
  • open mats
  • competitions
  • private lessons
  • drilling in two, out of regular class, with a person of trust

Now, try to estimate your coach’s share in these 9 aspects of BJJ learning. If you live in a small city, the percentage can be higher, but nevertheless, it’s still nowhere near where you thought it was! He is certainly one of the key figures in your development, but nowhere near the role that people usually think he has. He is not God, and he is not your Boss. His influence is just one of the components of your personal BJJ puzzle, one facet. And if he doesn’t come up to your expectations, you can boost some other facets (aforementioned) of your BJJ progress, and make up for it – instead of becoming more and more frustrated, and thus preparing yourself to quit BJJ.

The coach can be busy with other students, he can go through some difficult period and therefore not be focused enough on you. But the most important thing is that he creates a good atmosphere in the club. That is the only thing that is irreplaceable.

Of course, it is important that he also gives good quality instruction, because – after all – we pay for it. But much more valuable is the atmosphere he creates during training sessions, and if the ratio goes in favor of opposing the quality of teaching, it is always better to choose such a coach. We can compensate for the technique in this or that way (actually that is recommended, to research and to drill out of the coach’s teaching spectrum), but we can not avoid or change the bad atmosphere in the club.

If that is the case, run like hell and search immediately for another academy, because this problem is insurmountable. It will eventually force you to quit BJJ. Simply because you will not have enough willpower that is needed to train, nor to move to another club and start building up connections again. Especially in the BJJ world, there is also this famous stigma being called “creonte” for those who change academies. But that would be the topic of some other article.

It is extremely important to take responsibility for your own BJJ progress, to look at your coach as just one component of your success, for which card we can not put the whole stake. As we have already mentioned, we also have our drilling partners (who can have even more knowledge in some particular areas of BJJ than our coach), open mats, seminars of higher belts, visits of other gyms during our travels, exceptionally quality video lessons and tutorials nowadays, and also an option of drilling alone.

As the brown belt Lucas Walker says, “No one can make you great. It is your responsibility to navigate your journey and become the best version of yourself.”

I completely agree with this. Of course, the true coach and the quality academy will lead to excellent results, but also – within the same academy and under the same coach, the results of some practitioners differ drastically. Most of our BJJ development is in our own hands. We can not give this power to anyone outside us! We must not give this power to anyone outside of us!

Let’s accept our responsibility so that we truly become the best version of ourselves that is possible.