The White Belt “Coach”
As higher belts, we see this ALL the time – white belts coaching other white belts from the sidelines. Maybe it’s during class during live training, during open mat, or even before class when there’s a lot of time to kill and they see their teammates drilling a technique that they think they know. When this happens, we do one of two things: roll our eyes and ignore it or actually interrupt them and tell them to stop. Most of the times we ignore it, as this is just one of those “white belt things” that happen. However, as higher belts, we are accountable for our training partners – not just helping them become better, but teaching them the proper etiquette to help set them up for a more successful future in Jiu-Jitsu.
Here’s why white belts shouldn’t coach from the sidelines:
White belts are white belts. At this stage in their Jiu-Jitsu, they are just learning how to survive. Meaning they are learning techniques so that they are able to recognize positions, submissions, and transitions that are imminent when they roll. Since BJJ is a foreign language to them at this point, many of the techniques that they learn, when repeated, are either incorrect or missing key details. It’s like the blind leading the blind, people.
Stripes on a white belt don’t always indicate skill level. I hate to break it to you, but just because you may have 2 or 3 stripes and aren’t at the end of the line up anymore doesn’t mean that you are better than anyone. You may have a little more technical knowledge but if you refer to the above, a white belt is still a white belt and you are 99% likely to be missing key details or mix up techniques when trying to regurgitate it or “teach” it to another white belt or anyone for that matter.
Even if you think you’re right, you’re probably wrong. See the above? Notice a trend? Chances are, if you are a white belt, usually your instructor or a coach is not too far away (and when I mean not too far away, I mean like within TWO feet of you)… so leave the teaching and correcting to someone who actually knows what they are talking about.
White belts, when you are sitting on the sidelines watching your teammates spar, you should be watching and observing what is happening rather than trying to “prove” that you know things. Also, if you are sitting on the sidelines while everyone else spars, it probably means you went balls to the wall in your first couple of rounds and needed a break. While you catch your breath on the side, you should be trying to lower your heart rate rather than run your mouth.
OR if it’s before class and you want to drill, ask a higher belt*. They will keep you accountable by drilling the correct moves and fixing your mistakes. While sometimes it may be intimidating, ALWAYS ask for help from a higher belt if you know something is not right or doesn’t feel right. It will help you improve faster than listening to a clan of white belts of varying ranks.
If you make it past this stage annoying stage, much like the “terrible twos” or the teenage years, you’ll look back and laugh at yourself or cringe when you watch other white belts and realize you used to make the same mistakes too.
*Don’t get this mistaken by asking a higher belt to roll though… that is a big NO NO.