Teaching – I Feel Like I Suck At It

Long story, but the result is that I was teaching last night. I feel like I still suck at teaching.

When I’m 1-on-1 with someone I can tailor the lesson/details to their experience and questions. I can feel them perform the technique so I can know what they need to tighten up and help advise with that in mind. I can also elaborate on more points progressively based on what they need to work on.

When I’m in front of a mixed group – ranging in experience from first week to four-stripe blue belt – I just don’t even know where to start. If I show the technique with too many details, won’t the new students be overwhelmed? If I show the technique without enough details, is it really worth the advanced students time? I feel like for most of the students, I didn’t provide enough details. I realized after class a ton of information I should have shared with them, but didn’t – for example, why you turn the leg you do for S-mount and how to use it to keep pressure.

When doing warm-ups, I tried to help one of the students learn them, but I flubbed it. He was able to do what I had described, but my description was clearly lacking. Andrew and Todd helped out by explaining what they think of. The amalgam of explanations wasn’t perfect, but at least he was able to do a couple of correct repetitions before we moved on to the next exercise. I think my solution will be to just do that kind of a warm-up solely for experienced students, and if it’s a mixed group instead jump into technique reps, then do a situational flow drill to address the need to warm-up before we roll.

I think I’d be fine to teach with someone more experienced to be there to fill in the details about what to show. I’m always fine showing a variation in class. I just don’t think I have the confidence or experience yet for teaching on my own.



3 thoughts on “Teaching – I Feel Like I Suck At It

  1. Yeah, impostor syndrome is really common. It’s also really common for people to show way too much detail when teaching. That’s something I have to constantly stop myself from doing: detail just goes over people’s heads, they start to drift off, etc..

    It’s best IMO to pare it down as far as you possibly can, getting down to no more than four or five easy to follow details. You can always add the detail back in during drilling, as you walk around.

    Chris Haueter did that perfectly last week at the Globetrotter camp. I couldn’t remember everything he showed during one section, but I remember the four words he said. Just keeping those words in mind, I’m still able to drill the same thing now a week later, which I suspect is going to be true for a long time.

    • Thanks for the advice. Next time I’ll try to limit it to 4-5 steps and spend some time with each group to make sure they have the details they need.

  2. While probably being less experienced than you, some BJJ politics and a subsequent club split have led to me teaching on a somewhat regular basis – even moreso now that my Judo club has become more interested in BJJ.

    Personally, I prefer to stress basic principles in simple terms – as a framework – then add details to that framework so more advanced people have something to work with too, and make the standard tour to do more of the same. I’ll enlist one of the more experienced attendees to assist if need be. Simple all in all, but it seems to work well.

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