I started Jiu Jitsu at 13, and by age 15 I was already helping my teacher “Jacaré” in class. I couldn’t have had better schooling in order to become a teacher, and it was there I learned the crucial points of a good Jiu Jitsu class.
Jacaré was the best, and by his side I was able to learn how to teach a class that was serious and at the same time relaxed, which meant the student was encouraged to challenge himself without ever feeling obligated to do more than he could. I learned how to take care of the learning environment so that everyone there could benefit.
Never putting someone over another has always made the mood in our academy very respectful and friendly. Although I had this opportunity with Jacaré, learning to teach is not and never has been an easy task. I realized this clearly when I decided to write the Alliance Teaching Method. I had written and rewritten it several times and to this day even after applying it for more than 15 years, we still make adjustments.
Transcribing all aspects of our school to paper was a difficult job, but it was perhaps the most important one for building our team. In this text, I want to show you 5 points that I think are crucial for a good class. I hope that it can help those of you who are teachers, to teach better – and for those of you who are students, know how to identify a good class.
- THE APPOINTMENT
The class begins before it actually starts. The teacher needs to prepare the class and to arrive early. Being late is unacceptable in my opinion and shows a lack of respect for the student who is trying to learn from you. When you arrive on time and start class on time, students also do so, and this organization makes life easier for everyone.
A clean kimono and proper language are also two other essential attributes of a good teacher. Avoid using too much slang or bad language, and always be impeccable in your hygiene.
2. THE CLASS
The beginning of the class will vary according to the class level. For example, a beginner’s class needs to do a more formal warm-up, where the student can learn the basics like forward/backwards rolls, hip escapes, technical stand-ups ets – movements that serve as set-ups for the technique to come.
An advanced class, however, can start warming up with technical drills that prepare the body for training. Conventional warm-ups which have been used for many years where people often do gymnastic moves, but in my opinion, they have lost their place and meaning. Although, eventually they can be used as a way to vary the warm-ups, and this variation is important.
The choice of the technique is vital to the success of the class and should preferably be part of a syllabus, although we know that this is not always the norm in our market. I do however believe that we should change this. Not having a program puts the teacher into a common pitfall where he always teaches what he finds easy, and not what the student should learn. The technique should always be chosen based on the degree of understanding of the class and never on what the teacher would like to teach. The student must understand what the teacher is talking about. Understanding is the key to student engagement with learning. What makes a good class? a class that the student understands.
Analyzing the class from the student’s perspective is an art, it’s rare to see and it’s a skill present only in good teachers.
4. THE EXPLANATION
After choosing the technical sequence, then comes the moment to make yourself understood. A calm and confident explanation tends to be better understood by the student. Do not make your explanation too long and detailed. This is a very common mistake in young teachers in an attempt to show how much they know- exaggerating the details, making the explanation really confusing. In this case – less is more. Identify the crucial points of the technique and focus on them. (If it takes you more than 3 minutes to explain a technique, your students will not understand half of what you said). Beware of analogies. Explaining a technique using examples or comparisons can often be interesting but be wary that things are not misinterpreted.
5. THE TRAINING
In the final part of the class comes the famous “rolling”. There are many types of workouts, ranging from time, intensity, objective and so on. Always try to vary the training – set up groups, alternate time, practice specific situations; sometimes you can have long interval times but ultimately make it different and fun. Choose pairs so the students can experience different kinds of training that helps them evolve, but all the while protecting them so they don’t get injured.
Finally, teaching good Jiu Jitsu requires constant dedication to your own training and learning. You want to be constantly striving to bring new and more efficient things to your students.
I hope I have helped a little with these tips so that our Jiu Jitsu can improve together in quality, with the goal of attracting more practitioners to the sport so we can impact more and more lives.