I’ve heard a lot of people ask: what belt can teach BJJ? Assuming that, when you get that belt, you’re all of a sudden qualified to be a BJJ instructor. Or, that until you get a certain belt, you can never be qualified to teach.
I don’t think so.
What makes a good BJJ teacher?
There’s a lot more that goes into being a good BJJ teacher than what belt you have. Among other things, being a good BJJ instructor requires the following:
- The instructor must be able to explain the technique in a way that makes sense to the student.
- A good BJJ teacher must be able to help you improve.
- The instructor must be able to effectively demonstrate the technique.
- A good BJJ instructor has patience and understanding.
- The instructor must also be able to motivate the students.
- A good BJJ instructor should also be able to train with his or her students at the same time.
- The instructor must also be able to correct his or her students when they are making mistakes.
- The BJJ instructor must also be able to teach the students the techniques that they will use in competition.
- The instructor must also be able to teach the students the techniques that they will use on the street so that they will be able to protect themselves.
- The instructor should teach BJJ lifestyle related things, such as strength and conditioning, stretching, injuries, nutrition and supplements, and mindset.
Because a BJJ teacher needs to be so multi-faceted, all instructors will have their own strengths and weaknesses.
That’s why it’s usually better if you have multiple instructors or at least multiple people at your gym that you can learn from.
Can you learn BJJ from a purple belt?
I’m sure some of you are thinking ‘What the hell! When I started learning BJJ my instructor was a blue belt…’ and that’s true.
But it’s also true that you were learning from a different generation of BJJ.
The truth is that there are many more BJJ black belts now than there were in the early 2000s. That means there are a lot more high level black belts teaching at any one time.
It also means there are a lot more high level black belts who have experience competing and have been through the process of learning the art, growing as a competitor and then teaching.
So if you’re looking for a black belt to learn BJJ from, I’d say you’re lucky to have so many options now.
If you’re looking for a purple belt to learn BJJ from, I’d say you’re still lucky to have a choice of people to learn from.
Just be careful.
There are many high-level purple belts who have earned their rank on the competition mat, but who haven’t learned how to teach.
Can a blue belt teach BJJ?
Yes, blue belts that have been doing BJJ for a while can teach BJJ.
Will they teach you everything perfectly? No.
But, as long as they know something that you don’t, they can teach it to you.
Therefore, a blue belt can most definitely teach a white belt a lot of things about BJJ.
Moreover, a blue belt can most likely teach at least some things to a purple belt, provided that the blue belt is particularly good at these things.
Personally, I encourage blue belts to teach techniques because they’ll also learn a lot from it themselves.
And, if they’re ever going to be really good BJJ teachers, it’s better if they start teaching early.
Does a BJJ instructor need certification?
Generally no, a BJJ instructor does not need certification.
One notable exception to this is that Gracie University instructors do need to get a certification to be a teacher at a certified training center.
My personal experience with learning BJJ from blue belts
When I started training Jiu-Jitsu my first, second and third teachers were all blue belts.
That’s because I live in the Netherlands and we don’t have a ton of black belts here.
I learnt a lot from these teachers because they were still much better than me.
Of course I don’t know how good I would have been now if my first teachers were black belts.
But I do know this: whenever I’m at a seminar with world-class blackbelts I usually don’t get more out of it than a regular training session at my own gym.
That’s because I’m not good enough yet to absorb all the details that these world class blackbelts have learnt.
Most of their teaching goes over my head anyway.
There are some exceptions to this and some sminars that have helped me out a lot.
But generally speaking, my own coaches can teach me just as much still as well as world class black belts.
So personally I don’t stress about not having black belt coaches even now (my coaches are currently brown belts).
Conclusion: What Belt can teach BJJ?
It’s not about the belt. It’s about how good of a teacher your instructor is, and there’s a lot more that goes into that than just knowing BJJ techniques.
Look for an instructor that’s a good explainer, friendly, patient, and that creates a positive learning environment in the gym.
If you want a shortcut for judging how good a teacher someone is, ask how long they have been teaching BJJ (it’s not perfect but it’s the best shortcut available).