BJJ Poll: Which is More Important to You in Selecting a Place to Train BJJ: Instructor Skill Level or Personality

In towns where there are more than one Brazilian jiu-jitsu academy, consumers have a choice to make. Assuming things like price and distance is not an issue, I was wondering what’s more important to the average BJJ person: the skill level of their instructor or how well they get along with their instructor. Sometimes you find a school lead by someone who is really great at BJJ, but maybe they’re not run by someone whose personality you really enjoy. Other times the opposite may be true: the instructor is not top of the line when it comes to technique or maybe instruction, but you get along really well with him or her. Which do you pick?

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

11 Replies to “BJJ Poll: Which is More Important to You in Selecting a Place to Train BJJ: Instructor Skill Level or Personality”

  1. I would say the instructor personality, especially if he is a good pedagogue , and knows how to shape someone’s jiujitsu from the bottom up , the amount of technique for me is important of course but secondary , the most important to me is the ability to teach and to supervise and form a group, the personality of an instructor has a great impact on students , and is unique …as far as technique goes you can find that everywhere … I would rather have an exceptional teacher that inspires me than a guy full of technique and doesn’t know how to teach.
    that poll is interesting because i have been thinking about that topic since yesterday.
    happy new years to you guys !!!! .

  2. This is a false dichotomy.

    If the person running the school can’t teach, it doesn’t matter how good their skills are; they are non-transferrable.

    If the person running the school can teach but knows nothing, it doesn’t matter how well they can teach; they know nothing.

    If the person running the school has a great personality but is very low-level, you’ll only learn low-level techniques.

    Personally, I’m out in BFE so I don’t get much in the way of either option. So, when I get the opportunity, the choice is simply who’s available? I do try to go find technical experts, but I’ve met too many technical experts who are terrible teachers (just look on YouTube). I’ve also met excellent teachers who tried to teach something they don’t know and it’s worse than useless.

    I guess it boils down to the answer of *both.*

  3. very true Loren… one needs to have both to run an academy….I use to have a great sensei back in France when I was doing kendo , he was japanese..he wasn’t the “buddy ” type of person at all, very discreet and reserve man …but the level of his instruction was beyond everything I have experience in my life up to this day …great pedagogue and absolute knowledge of the art … and you could really feel that you got better after each class…

  4. The instructor’s personality matters a lot. Their personality influences the rest of us. I just left an academy where the instructor had the personality of a “dead fish” and a lot of the students acted the same way. He also had an overbearing manner and his control issues sent me running for the exit. When I mentioned it to him, politely, he blamed it all on me instead of considering if I had a point.

    I practice BJJ for fun. I’m not trying to be a world champ, MMA superstar or beat someone up on the street so a cool instructor means everything to me.

  5. Personality, hands down. No matter how technically proficient the instructor may be at teaching, if they happen to be a total dick, then I’m not going to want to train at their school.

    Of course, if the instructor is an awesome person but has pretty limited BJJ knowledge, then I’m probably not going to be keen to train there either. However, if the only option was either them or the aforementioned excellent teacher who happens to be a total dick, I’d still go with awesome person.

    I might feel differently if I was higher level, but I’m only a blue belt, and a pretty crappy one at that. So I feel that I can learn from most instructors, as there are still many gaps in my game. If I was a good purple or brown belt, then I would presumably need to look more carefully into the instructor’s teaching ability in order to progress.

    To put in yet another proviso, the other huge factor in progression is the quality of your training partners. So I would imagine that you could still develop at a school with a low-level instructor but excellent training partners (e.g., helpful, mature, technical etc).

  6. mutual prosperity , an important value in Judo should be the same in jiujitsu… good Training partners , absolutely important …I remember hearing on a previous show that Braulio Estima’s first instructor was a blue belt … I imagine as a blue belt one can be pretty busy just working on basics and drilling moves 100’s of times without necessarily having access to high level instructions … on top of having a great instructor the way we teach ourselves is also essential …

  7. I think it’s a combination. In general I’m more interested in the guy who’s better technically(especially if he’s able to teach well, regardless of him being a dick) over a less skilled super nice guy. However if the gap in technical skill was fairly small than I could see myself choosing the nicer guy, I might even choose the less skilled guy even with a large skill disparity if the more skilled instructor is a total douchebag.

    With that said this is often a false choice often the higher level guys are known as being good guys. I’ve trained with/learned from a number of people who have competed at the very highest level(Jeff Glover, Jean Jacques Machado, Murillo Bustamante, Romulo Barral) and they’ve all been excellent people and instructors.

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