Your most important decision as a beginner in BJJ is choosing who to learn from.
I chose wrong when I started, and wasted pretty much 2 years on ridiculous techniques from a bonkers YouTube channel. Fortunately, you have many more great instructors to choose from now than I did back then. In this post I share who are the best BJJ instructors for you to follow to get better quicker.
*Note: these are the top 7 best BJJ instructors, but don’t pin me on the exact order of this list.
Also read: Top 10 Best BJJ Instructionals Ranked (2022)
1. Lachlan Giles – Mr. Structure
Lachlan Giles is my probably favorite BJJ instructor. He explains techniques very clearly, and he has good details about all positions. His YouTube channel is great and his instructionals are even better.
What Lachlan does better than anyone else is structure your learning. On Submeta he has shorter beginner courses that lead into more in depth advanced courses. That’s something I call layered learning, I think it’s very underrated and nobody else offers it (everyone else only offer advanced courses right away).
2. Craig Jones – Your Favorite teacher
Craig Jones’ unique quality is that he’s funny. He’s literally the only funny person in BJJ.
You may not think that makes him a great teacher, but you’re wrong. Do you remember your favorite teacher in high school? Probably your favorite teacher did 2 things very well:
- Give you quality content
- Keep you interested with a little entertainment value (excitement, jokes, etc.)
So does Craig Jones. His content and details are amazing, and he’s so much easier to watch because he makes a joke once per 10 minutes. It keeps you interested. (At least if you’re a simple human like me.)
3. Gordon Ryan – Mr. Details
Gordon Ryan is the best grappler of all time and it shows in his instructionals. He has more and better details than anyone else, because he’s better than everyone else.
So if you only want the best quality jiu jitsu content, Gordon Ryan is the best BJJ instructor. But keep in mind that your learning also depends on things like structure and staying interested. For me, Gordon Ryan instructionals take months to complete, because he shares so many details about everything. I’d prefer it if he broke it down a bit more to what you should start with, and what you can learn later.
But I should stress: he’s got fantastic content. I learn so much from him. Many of his sections start with ‘this is how people normally teach it, and here’s why that’s completely wrong’ – and he give me big ‘Aha’ moments with that very often.
4. John Danaher – The university Lecturer
John Danaher is a great instructor. He knows a lot about every position in BJJ. However, he talks a lot, quite slowly and he’s been known to repeat himself. His videos are lectures: potentially very interesting, but they can feel like homework.
I only buy John Danaher instructionals about topics that I know very little about. Because John will explain everything. Which is good if you don’t know anything. But it can be annoying if you already know most of the things he’s saying.
For example, I bought his leg lock instructional back when I didn’t know anything about leg locks, and I found every minute fascinating. And I bought instructional about takedowns, I skipped the parts that I knew already, and I got a lot from that dvd too.
If I can choose, I usually prefer to buy Gordon’s instructionals instead of John’s, because they’re shorter (and Gordon’s are already very long).
5. Jon Thomas – The mathematician
John Thomas is a great teacher about gi guards, guard retention and training mindsets. His YouTube channel is full of long form videos that are like mini instructionals. What I really like is that he always breaks down positions very systematically into different scenario’s. He studied math in university and I think it shows in how he approaches jiu jitsu.
6. Chewjitsu – The BJJ lifestyle Guru
I’m forever grateful to Chewjitsu because Chewy made a special video for me in 2016 when I was still a white belt. It’s one of the earliest videos he did on his channel. You can watch it below (I’m ‘his buddy Max’ :)).
Chewy explained his mindset, which is not relaxed, not aggressive, but instead focussed on yourself and the beauty of your art. The answer didn’t immediately help me at the time, but it’s exactly the attitude that I adopted over the years.
So follow this guy for all your questions about BJJ philosophy and lifestyle!
7. Ryan Hall – The Philosophy Professor
I studied philosophy in university and Ryan Hall is exactly like all my philosophy teachers. Before he shows any techniques, he defines and redefines terms that we normally take for granted (like he redefines ‘distance control’ to ‘distance management’, those sort of things). He also does thought experiments, asks rhetorical questions and makes analogies between different martial arts and life.
I love this teaching style, many people do, but some people hate it (which I also understand). I recently watched his instructional about the modern guard, and he literally doesn’t show a technique for the first 3 hours. Hate it or love it!
p.s. for those of you that didn’t know, Ryan Hall was a BJJ world champion long before he entered the UFC.
I think the above instructors are the most important ones, but I want to shout out a few others.
Dominique Bell makes great videos on instagram, and he’s also a judo black belt so you can follow him for takedowns.
Shintaro higashi is by far my favorite channel about takedowns though. He’s a judoka, but he explains the principle behind judo, which apply to BJJ as well.
Mikey Musumeci is fantastic for detailed instructionals. His Berimbolo series is over 32 hours. He breaks down positions very systematically though, which makes them easier to learn.
Keenan Cornelius is a great all round teacher who specializes in lapel guards. Beware of his titles though, as they can be a little click baity at times.
Paul Schreiner is a BJJ instructor that seems to be popular among people on Reddit, but I don’t really get why. I watched his instructionals and he’s certainly friendly, but I don’t find his content very well structured. It has a little bit of random video disorder.