A Good Coach Makes all the Difference


The camaraderie among teammates bolsters the experience, the image of a school makes walking in the door easier, and a million other things all take their place among our happiness in Jiu-Jitsu. Despite many things, both personal and external, there is one over-arching factor that makes, or breaks most experiences… Your Coaches.

The difference between an incredible journey along the road of Jiu-Jitsu and a horrible one often comes down to a few people. This may seem obvious, but the amount of people stuck in ill-run schools gives evidence to the contrary. Jiu-Jitsu could easily turn from a beautiful experience to a dark road of self-doubt depending on the people running the academy.

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Luckily, with the rise of so many great schools and the constant seeking out of frauds; the waters have become less choppy and far easier to navigate. Unfortunately, it still happens, a student joins an academy and the lure of our great art keeps them enthralled, but only for so long. They end up quitting because of abuse, bad coaching, or just simply a toxic environment. The culture stops them from reaching their full potential.

For 99% of us winning world titles isn’t why we started, or why we stay, the process of it all is the reward. A coach who can’t make the process of learning Jiu-Jitsu enjoyable, while delivering you noticeable results, isn’t worth the trouble. I guess personal experience is the only thing I have to go off, and I’ve had a lot of good, some bad.

I can’t believe how lucky I was to find Katharo Training Center, the level of instructors is amazing! Before finding Katharo I had a fair share of toxic coaches. I always loved Jiu-Jitsu but going to class before Professor Steve was a battle of wills. When you finally find the right fit for you it’s like breathing air after minutes of drowning.

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A school can be easily judged by the instructor at the top, but you also have to take a hard look at the entire coaching staff. Professor Steve has a vast knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu and really makes learning interesting, but he has also filled the academy with incredible coaches for every skill level of practitioner. I now look forward to going to class every day, and you shouldn’t have an experience that’s anything less.

If you have great coaches, don’t take it for granted and know how truly lucky you are to be guided well down the path. If you aren’t sure about the people leading, take a good hard look. Don’t let your journey be stopped short or soured by bad coaches. I know it’s easier said than done but the truth is obvious when you look for it.

If you’re unsure, here is a quick checklist of things to avoid:

  • The school won’t let you go to other open mats, feels their techniques are highly guarded secrets

  • Teachers are abusive and belittling

  • Overly aggressive students are allowed to run rampant

  • The school is always dirty

  • The community isn’t tight knit

  • Unclear lineage of the head instructor, don’t be fooled by fake blackbelts

  • An instructor hitting on the female students gets creepy real fast…

  • If instructors are scared to roll, beware. They should be able to practice what they preach

If you need help in looking for a school feel free to reach out to us here at JJOTG for suggestions. With members all over the world we would be more than happy to point you in the right direction if you feel a little overwhelmed by it all.

If you’re in the Tennessee area and looking for a great school, check out Coach John and Riss over at Dogwood BJJ. In seconds you will be able to feel their infectious love for BJJ and their willingness to help.


I’m going to get a little mushy here and use this platform to express my gratitude to all the Katharo coaches, thank you for always being amazing! Professor Steve and all the coaches at Katharo have such a unique view on Jiu-Jitsu and truly loves to pass the knowledge onto their students.

I guess the most important thing for us all is to enjoy our unique experience. Finding the right coaches makes all the difference.