In the few years that I have been training I have noticed that there are a few different types of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach. I have also noticed that the different type of coach is not just a BJJ thing but something you will experienced if you have trained in any sport for a significant amount of time. In terms of BJJ I have found from travelling and training at different schools that there are certain areas of Jiu-Jitsu that each coach will approach differently.
Every gym will profess to having safety standards but the enforcement of these standards will differ depending on the head coach of the gym . In general I have only ever experienced a dangerous training environment once in my lifetime. Some coaches are happy to let beginners spar in the first session while other coaches like to ensure beginners go through a number of sessions and vetting before the coach gives the go ahead. Other coaches insist on lengthy warm ups and will insist on protective mouth pieces and will have detailed disclaimers that must be carefully read and signed before you approach the mat.
This usually depends on the coaches background and lineage. Some coaches can be very traditional and . I think respect is very important in any competitive sparring environments but too many rules on conduct relating to the color of your belt can be frustrating and can put many students off. Excessive bowing and excessive acquiescing to higher grades is not conducive to a healthy environment and is something I tried to avoid when looking for somewhere to train. However I will always be mindful of rules and be very careful to observe protocol in the gym that I am training in.
Level of detail
The devil is in the detail. There is no doubt that the small details are often the difference in completing that sweep or finishing off a submission. However there is little point in hearing somebody speak or watching someone demonstrate a technique for 30 minutes while you sit on the mat and get cold. I find that in order to perfect a technique you need to start take in as much knowledge in a short period and then try it for yourself before returning to the coach with questions to help refine your technique.
In short, detail is great but it has to be combined with lots of practice.
Focus on competition
Some coaches will have a heavy focus on competition. They will teach positions with competition in mind and will encourage their students to compete as regularly as possible. Sparring at gyms like this will reflect this competition ethos and rolling will often be tough and at a higher level than hobbyist players may be used to.
Relation to other disciplines
Many Jiu-Jitsu coaches have a background in other martial arts such as Judo, MMA, Thai Boxing, or wrestling and may only have dedicated themselves to BJJ at a later stage in their martial arts life. If your coach is a wrestler there may be a greater focus on stand up and takedowns whereas if your coach is a Judoka you may have learned lots of wristlocks and trips.
It is great training in other gyms like this as it is a chance to see a different side to grappling and there is always something you can take home with you. I am sure there are lot’s more if I think about it. Let me know what you have spotted in your own travels!