White Belt to Black Belt

“A Black Belt is a White Belt Who Never Gave Up”

Teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 10 years and having the pleasure to work and train with so many great students over the years. Retention of students and maintaining interest in this martial art is a hurdle that instructors and more importantly school owners are faced with no matter their location, student base, or facilities.
Reaching the black belt is no easy task, it takes years of focused practice, sometimes injuries and often times life is the biggest obstacle keeping students from moving on to the next level. I have been lucky enough to work with some of the best instructors in the world and a few things that I think set them apart from the rest of us is their approach to the martial arts, it is more than what they teach but how they teach.
Great instructors can teach to any skill level
They know how to motivate
They emphasize the importance of jiu jitsu

Great instructors can teach to any skill level

An instructor that can teach a new student right off the streets with no knowledge of martial arts, and then teach advanced students is worth their weight in gold. This means that they have a solid understanding of fundamental techniques but also have a base in more modern techniques as well. Also realize that an instructor’s ability has a lot to do with their personality and their natural level of patience. I’ve seen many world class competitors try to teach to a room of white belts and it’s not pretty. From my own experience, it’s best to remind yourself that you were once a white belt and someone had to have a lot of patience to help you out, so it is important to do the same for others.

They know how to motivate

If you want to make it to black belt, or want your students to one day become black belts, it is really important to keep motivating them. I’m not saying give out belts every 1-2 years to keep students interested, but to motivate your students to try new techniques, work on their weaknesses or improve on an undeveloped skill (for instance takedowns).
Many students will get burned out along the way and it’s best to remind them that no matter what life throws their way, they will need to continue on their journey because it never really stops. Even at black belt, there are skills and techniques left to master because jiu jitsu is constantly evolving. So keep motivating your students to compete, or if they don’t like competing they can still train hard in the academy.

They emphasize the importance of Jiu Jitsu

One of my favorite online writers, Sam Yang, wrote that as martial arts instructors we have to do what we teach. If jiu jitsu has played an important role in your life, as I’m sure it has, then you are the best representation of the importance of jiu jitsu in the lives of your students and training partners. Again everyone goes through ups and downs during their training. There was a time when I was completely burned out on competing so I decided to take a break that lasted almost 2 years. After this time away I decided that I missed training hard for competitions and traveling, so when I was ready to come back I was able to pick right back where I left off.
If you are able to convey your love of jiu jitsu and how important it is to your students then it will also grow to be important to them as well.

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