One of the wonderful things about training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is that there is an endless amount of methods and variations for just about every technique. The near infinite ways to train and practice gives rise to multiple perspectives that are never right nor wrong. Throughout our journeys, we will encounter more advice than we can remember and more ways to perform techniques than our brains can compute. Given that infinitude of training possibilities, we must always be conscientious of the advice we give and receive.
Giving advice and feedback is one of the best ways to grow our art. You will also find that jiu-jitsu practitioners as a whole are some of the kindest and most giving individuals there are compared to other sports; their enthusiasm to share knowledge is largely unmatched. Most feedback is good and welcomed, but it is possible to give bad feedback that either relates to poor technique or form that can hinder one’s progress. The same can be said about receiving feedback. Just because someone is giving advice does not mean that it is good advice. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for giving and receiving training advice.
Assume All Feedback is Meant to be Constructive
You need to trust that your coaches and peers are there to help you. If you are unable to trust in your own immediate jiu-jitsu community, then you need to take a good hard look at the school you have chosen and assess if it is the right one for you. Most coaches aim to help their students. Take any and all feedback as an opportunity to improve your jiu-jitsu. Keep an open mind and try out the feedback. If it works, great. If not, continue to develop other methods to an effective jiu-jitsu practice. Feedback and training advice is exactly that: it is meant to help and not hinder. If you feel like your instructors’ training advice is thwarting your advancement, you might be at the wrong place. Assess appropriately.
Note: Sometimes there can be communication barriers that make feedback seem as if it’s malicious or cold, but language barriers aside, feedback should be meant to promote growth and not discourage it. If you and your instructors’ first spoken language is different than yours, keep this in mind as it may be more challenging to interpret the message given
Give Advice for Free
Jiu-jitsu is a discipline of service to your community. If you are an athlete, don’t withhold advice because you want to be better than your peers. If you are a coach, do not withhold because you want to cash in on some private lessons. Keeping your jiu-jitsu knowledge a secret is a disservice to those around you and those before you that share their knowledge with you. Always pay it forward and give advice without the expectation of anything in return. The better those around you become, the better you will become. Everything else you seek will follow.
Consult Your Coaches Before Giving Advice if You Are Unsure
This is especially true if you are of lower rank. While it is fantastic to give advice to your lower-ranked peers, be
mindful of your limitations and if you are not entirely familiar with a certain subject, address those limitations when giving advice. Also, please flag down an instructor or higher ranked student to ask for feedback about the advice you wish to give. Giving bad advice can do more harm than good, so if you are not competent in a certain area, do not wing it.
Step Above Your Rank
While it is great to give advice and help others, always remember that the word of your instructors at your school is priority. In other words, your professors’ advice is first and foremost and therefore should not be devalued by your own opinions or practices. If your professor gives you or a training partner advice and you do not agree with it, it is best to speak with them privately and offer your thoughts in the form of a question. Good instructors will either be receptive to a new perspective or will show you why you raise some good points but ultimately, why they teach a certain topic the way they do. Jiu-jitsu is an ever-growing, ever-evolving art that will continuously have many ways of doing a certain task; however, rank should always be respected.
Be Upset When Receiving Feedback You Disagree With
You know what they say about opinions: “Everyone has one”. The same is true about feedback or training advice. Throughout your journey, you will be given countless pieces of advice on how to do this, that, and any other thing. If you do not agree with something, do not be angry or frustrated. Again, in jiu-jitsu, there are an exponential amount of variations for every technique so always take someone’s feedback simply as a different perspective on what you are already doing. Adapt it if it is useful but do not worry about discarding the advice if it is not. Always challenge yourself to try things from a different viewpoint.
Give Advice That is Malicious or Harmful
Whether you know it or not, some advice can be harmful to your training partners and your community. Some
techniques can be dangerous to practice if you are not entirely familiar with them like the “scissor takedown” [Kani Basami] or jumping guillotines. Passing along certain techniques to someone with even less experience than you can be a big risk for your training partners. Certain techniques warrant a great degree of experience, information, and caution, and teaching them without proper education must be avoided. There have been far too many jiu-jitsu ending injuries due to negligent or malicious practice of techniques. Practice safely and be mindful of techniques that can potentially threaten someone’s ability to train. If you have any questions about the techniques you are teaching, consult your instructors. Train safely and allow everyone, including yourself, the ability to train jiu-jitsu for the long-term safety.