My journey in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has never been more fulfilling. I do not hold IBJJF or ADCC titles (second place twice was my best accomplishment in tournaments). I do not travel the world hosting seminars, and I do not own a gym, and, like most people, I pay to train. Yet, there are only a couple of things that bring me more joy than to show up at the dojo five days a week.
If your passion for BJJ has dwindled, you might want to hear from a guy who, ten years ago, donated his Gis to friends and vowed to never step foot on the mat again. I let a serious back injury and two major tragedies kill my passion for the gentle art. Now, pushing 40, I have more energy, bravado, and commitment than when I started in my early 20’s… and it shows.
Much to my surprise, white and blue belts now come to me for counsel and encouragement. It started about a year and a half ago when my professor, Regis Lebre, asked me to consider teaching his fundamentals program at Gracie Humaitá in La Mesa, CA. We both knew that competition was not my thing. I agreed hesitantly, but pursuing the path of teaching BJJ was the fifth best decision I made in my life. (Comment below and I’ll tell you my first four best decisions in life).
If you’re a senior blue belt, you should discuss career paths with your BJJ professor (many BJJ professors expect you to start assisting with classes by purple belt). On another post I’ll share clues on how to determine whether or not teaching is for you. For now, I want you to consider the possibility of inspiring others in your team. I’m not talking about pulling white belts to the side after class to show them the newest move you saw on YouTube. I mean really taking the time to study every aspect of BJJ, learning the history of our sport, honoring the legacy of the Gracie family, studying Brazilian culture and even learning Portuguese (for example, why we use words like “boa,” “creonte” and “casca grossa”) in order to be the encourager in your team. You’ll discover the joy of encouragement and take your journey through the gentle art to the next level. Others will want to follow you (the true test of leadership is to look behind you to see if anyone is following).
Preparing to teach will force you to know the moves, to ask questions, and to seek knowledge from the best. Perhaps your BJJ school has a growing kids program and the professor needs a hand on the mat. Ask him how you can help, and let me know what happens. I’ll finish with a quote from William Arthur Ward:
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.