Published: March 8, 2020

My philosophy behind developing students, training with lower belts, lighter people and the importance of training with kids!!!!

Today’s blog is inspired by the piece written by my awesome friend, Mike Palladino, a couple of weeks ago named “Are you training WITH your partners or AGAINST them?”. In this thoughtfully written text, Mike goes over the importance of training WITH vs training AGAINST your fellow teammates. You should definitely read it.

In the same note, my blog today explores the surface of my philosophy behind developing students, training with lower belts, lighter people and the importance of training with kids.

As a black belt and instructor, I often hear from white belt students that they were only able to do the move on me because I let them do so. My answer is simple: “It’s true! I let you do it!”. Then I follow to explain that when I train with white and blue belts I will allow them to do everything on me, as long as they have the move right. I truly believe that my job is to develop my students and help them reach their full potential. By tapping them out 10 times in a round I’m not doing them any favors. As long as they do the move correctly (following reasonable steps) I won’t stop them from passing my guard, sweep or submit me. In fact, I will force some situations that will prompt them to think on a move I’m trying to lead them to do. They don’t need me to be the guy giving them hard rolls, they already have their other teammates to do that for them. I’ll offer resistance and force them to troubleshoot, but that’s it.

For the “almost purple”, purple & brown belts the philosophy is different: I will try to explore every single hole they have in their games and give them hard rolls as often as possible (I often call this ‘tough love’ lol). When training with and developing these guys, they will need to earn their positions.

So, how does that can be applied to the different levels? How can I get the most out of my training, help my teammates and help ensure everyone is growing?

I believe that, in normal circumstances one should follow these principles:

1- When rolling with a lower belt, one should prioritize defense and help one’s training partner by leading the way so they can explore their techniques. Training with lower belts is also an opportunity to introduce new techniques to one’s tool box;

2- When rolling with same or higher levels, one should focus on his own strengths and explore the other person’s weaknesses. In my opinion, that’s the best way to help each other;

3- When rolling with someone lighter/smaller than you, one should try to act as they were the same size/weight/strength. The other variables – skill level, belt rank etc – mentioned before should also be taken in consideration and applied here.

I just want to be clear that I’m not considering competition-type of training here.

Now, do you have a hard time slowing down? Do you struggle to be “nice” to the lower belts and/or smaller people? When was the last time you trained with kids? Yes, with kids! Training with kids helps you understand how to use your body in a way where you’re neither “playing dead” nor crushing your teammate “just because” you could. Training with kids can be very entertaining, as kids don’t follow the same mental rules/processes as us adults. Kids will challenge your abilities and bend some of the rules you believe so strictly.

At American Martial Art Academy, we encourage the instructors to train with the kids as often as possible and on Saturdays, our open mat is open to kids & adults. Everybody mixed working towards one goal: PROGRESS!!!

As usual, my hope is that these blogs can help your Jiu-Jitsu journey become more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Stay healthy & have a great week on the mats!!!!

Published: March 8, 2020

Categories: BJJ, Kids BJJ