What Makes a Good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Instructor

What Makes a good BJJ Instructor

What Makes A Good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor?

Is a good instructor a good competitor, someone who has won many high level competitions? Someone with a huge academy or the one with the “highest rank”?
There are all kinds of different instructors but which would make an effective teacher? What characteristics and values would they possess? Here are a couple of things that you should look for when looking for a new academy at which to train or looking for a new instructor to train under:

Their Conditioning

When you go to a new academy, what is it that you are looking for or want to see? You’re trying to find someone who is inspirational whom you would like to train under, right? When you walk into a new academy, just because the person you are shaking hands with doesn’t have huge biceps and 6 pack abs popping out of their shirt doesn’t mean they aren’t a good instructor, or that they don’t know how to teach self defense. That doesn’t mean an instructor shouldn’t look that way – appearances can be deceiving – but their personal appearance is going to be your first impression.
I personally would not want to train with someone that looks out of shape or looks like they would get tired after a few laps around the mat. You take on some of the qualities of those you train with, so be careful when you are choosing and make sure the person you are going to be training under is someone whom you can look up to.

Open Mindedness

In martial arts there is no “style”- there are just different scenarios in which people are found fighting. For example, BJJ is a form of fighting on the ground. It is not a complete martial art in itself. An instructor that understands this is a great one because they will also incorporate techniques from wrestling, judo, and other martial arts, as well as train you in striking. This will push you to become a better martial artist and provide you with a complete arsenal. This is a great quality to look for in your instructor because incorporating different styles into your BJJ will only enhance your game and better you as a martial artist overall.

If you walk into a gym and they tell you that BJJ is all you need in order to beat an opponent, walk in the other direction. All different styles of martial arts have their strengths and weaknesses, so in learning multiple techniques you can close the gaps of weakness in your game. But if you are one of those people who insist on just doing BJJ, go right ahead, but when you get hit with a wrestling move or judo throw and you don’t know how to react to it…you will know why you should incorporate multiple styles into your BJJ game.


Put simply, teachers can only teach what they know. So with that said, make sure your instructor is actually experienced in BJJ or has a good grasp of BJJ. If you are at a school where the Instructor is a blue belt you may want to reconsider your options and decide whether or not they will be the best instructor for you. I’m not saying one should automatically judge an instructor by their belt, just make sure they know their stuff and that they are not merely someone who has a couple more months of experience than you.

Communication Skills

Being a good BJJ practitioner/competitor doesn’t mean you’re a good teacher. A good instructor should be able to help their students understand what they need to do in order for a technique to work as well as being able to encourage their students. Every student in an academy has a different learning style and a good instructor should be able to adapt to each style in order to boost their productivity and the overall effectiveness of their BJJ game. A school that has an instructor who knows how to encourage, teach, and inspire is an AMAZING instructor and should not be taken for granted.


A good instructor should have humility. When you walk into an academy and you see an environment where there is trash talking, bad mouthing about other schools, or if people look down at you because you came from another school to seek more knowledge, you should be aware that these are definitely telltale signs that you need to walk in the other direction. Schools that are closed-minded are not a good environment in which to train. An academy’s environment can give you an idea about what the instructor’s values and characteristics are.

So these are just some things to look out for when looking for a new school at which to train and the characteristics/values you should look for in the instructor of that school. I wish you the best of luck in finding the best BJJ instructor for you! If you would like we would love to hear some of your experiences with your instructors to add to the list of what makes a good BJJ instructor.

Just remember – regardless of what belt or who you meet you can always learn something from them, no matter how small the detail. BJJ is an art form in which every individual expresses themselves in a different way, so take all the knowledge you can from others in your BJJ ventures!
When you choose the right academy it becomes a home and the people in the academy become family.
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Until next post!

Brandon Groce

Brandon Groce

Cofounder at RONIN
Creating design without limits. DC/Maryland Artist & graphic designer at RONIN http://joinRONIN.com. A BJJ practitioner. Tech Entrepreneur.
Brandon Groce
Brandon Groce

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