Mark, the head instructor of West Side Jiu Jitsu and a brown belt directly under Master Sauer, asked if I’d be willing to teach an adult gi class every Monday night. I agreed, and yesterday I taught my first class as a regular instructor for the club. At the time of writing this post, I’m a blue belt and have been training for about 3 years.
To a lot of people, it might seem a bit premature for a blue belt to be teaching classes. For example, in this poll from the Fightworks Podcast, the vast majority of students were taught by black belt instructors, while only 2% of respondents were taught by blue belts. In BJJ, the ranking system goes:
White belt < Blue Belt < Purple Belt < Brown Belt < Black Belt < Black/Red Belt
I was awarded my blue belt after about 2 years of training, which is somewhere in the average span of time it takes to achieve it. As a comparison, to attain the rank of black belt it usually takes between 10 and 15 years of consistent training.
But what makes somebody qualified to teach?
Certainly, experience is a major factor. Experienced practitioners understand the detailed mechanics of each technique; they know why the techniques work, and more importantly, how to fix them when they don’t. Personality is also incredibly important. Being able to connect with students on a personal level enriches the club atmosphere – nobody likes to learn from an antisocial hard ass. Finally, I think a passion for the art is crucial. Instructors that pour their heart and soul into their lessons are able to inspire students to continue through the inevitable ups and downs that come with training.
As a blue belt, I know I have a long way to go on the path to black belt – and I’ve even heard world class competitors like Saulo Ribeiro say that black belt was just the beginning of their understanding of jiu jitsu. But I think with an attention to detail, a willingness to continue learning, and a continued passion for the art, even blue belt instructors have a lot to offer.