I’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for quite a while now, and I’ve found that there are two kinds of coaches out there: The coach that wants to help you learn HIS game and the coach that wants to you learn YOUR game. It’s not always apparent with which kind of coach you are working and both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Chances are if you are training with a coach whose game is relatively famous (think the Miyao brothers or Eddie Bravo) you are there to learn the game specific to the way your coach plays it. Given that jiu jitsu is still a fairly young sport, we have the opportunity to train with well known competitors, and those well known competitors are going to show their students what they have paid to learn: how they do their own game.
Generally, once an individual starts progressing in their technical acumen they begin to determine what exactly they like to do. Are you a guard puller? Do you prefer takedowns? What kinds of guard do you like to play, what is your passing style? The list of variables is almost infinite, and once you’ve determined what you like to do you would be well advised in getting really good at those aspects of the game.
For a while I trained with coaches who wanted me to play their game, and as a result my abilities were somewhat stagnant, but I currently train with a coach who wants to help me get better at MY game, in spite of my game being completely different from his. The results of this are interesting.
For starters, not every class is one that caters to what I’m looking to work on. This is just a reality of training with a coach whose game is different from yours. Embrace those opportunities as chances to get good at areas of the game with which you would otherwise never be acquainted.
There are also a lot of interesting ways that different games can mesh into each other. For example: if you are a guard puller and you train with a takedown artist, they may be able to help you make your guard pull more dangerous by teaching you to off balance your opponent before pulling guard.
I personally prefer working with a coach who is intent upon making me better at MY game, rather than trying to teach me theirs. But what if the head coach of your gym isn’t like that? What if they only teach things they personally prefer to do? This is not necessarily an intractable situation.
For starters, many teams have more than one person who is qualified to teach. See if you can find someone more advanced in their game who plays a similar game to yours, or who is willing to help you get better at your game. Also if you mix your game into your drilling routine you can actually improve your own game. Differences don’t necessarily have to drive a wedge between you and your training environment.
So does your coach try to teach you his or her game? Or do they strive to help you get better at doing jiu jitsu the way you like to do jiu jitsu?