What Is a Jiu Jitsu Teacher Called?

Jiu Jitsu teacher in front of students

Jiu Jitsu is a self-defense style fighting form that originated from Japanese judo.

It was developed in Brazil by the Gracie family and eventually became a worldwide phenomenon.

There are many benefits to learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. But in order to learn Jiu Jitsu, you first need to find a teacher.

What is a Jiu Jitsu teacher called? Master, Coach, Professor, and sometimes Sensei or Sifu are all terms used when speaking to a Jiu Jitsu instructor. Exactly which one you use depends on your teacher’s preference. It also depends on their experience level and field of expertise within the art.

Fighting rank, experience, and location can all influence what an instructor may want to be called.

Keep reading to find out what you should be calling your Jiu Jitsu teacher.

Names Your Instructor May Use

When it comes to learning Jiu Jitsu the first thing you’ll want to do is find a teacher.

Depending on what kind of class you take, your teacher may have a preferred name or honorific they like to be addressed with.

This manner of address can vary from teacher to teacher and may carry a slightly different meaning for each person. 

Master Is a Common Name Used For Older Or Influential Instructors.

A “master,” according to the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation, is a person who has achieved the rank of seventh-degree black belt.

To reach this point, a person must study and contribute to the sport of Jiu Jitsu for at least 31 years after gaining their black belt.

Once they gain their seventh-degree they are rewarded with a black and red striped belt called the coral belt.

Coach Can Be Used By Any Instructor Who Is Qualified To Teach.

The title of “coach” tends to be used when the teacher puts more focus on competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, not just learning it.

A coach can be any belt rank starting at purple or higher. Often a coach is still putting emphasis on their own training and not just the training of others.

It’s possible when training with a coach that you may end up fighting together or against each other in tournaments.

Professor Pays Homage To Jiu Jitsu’s Place Of Origin.

In Portuguese, the word for teacher is “professor.” As BJJ originated in Brazil, where Portuguese is the main language, it makes sense that that would be commonly used when referring to a teacher of the sport. 

Professor is probably the most common way to refer to any Jiu Jitsu teacher with a black belt that has a red bar.

Sometimes you’ll see black belts with white bars, these black belts have chosen to not teach and you do not need to address them as professors.

Sensei Or Sifu Could Also Be Used Should The Instructor Want To.

Sensei is the Japanese word for a teacher and sifu is the Japanese word for a grandmaster.

While Brazilian Jiu Jitsu does not come from Japan, it is based on a Japanese martial art called judo.

Any instructors who ask to be called sensei or sifu are likely to have this connection in mind when they tell their students to use these honorifics. 

Some Instructors Choose To Simply Use Their Own Name Or Nickname.

The most common name a Jiu Jitsu instructor will go by is simply their own name. Because Jiu Jitsu is a fairly new martial art, there aren’t many traditions associated with it.

Because of this, BJJ is a fairly laid back martial art. Since most people who learn Jiu Jitsu as a hobby and don’t plan on ever competing or pursuing the difficult higher ranks, the instructors tend to be fairly laid back as well.

Why The Name Is Important.

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the name an instructor chooses to use can indicate what kind of teacher they are.

Teachers who use names that might indicate their rank, they may use a more formal teaching method. Instructors who use less formal names or nicknames probably use less formal teaching methods. 

This is important to know when you’re a student looking for a teacher.

Different people respond to different training methods and finding a teacher who uses the best training method for you is important when learning a new skill.

The name that an instructor uses is also a way for the student to show their teacher respect.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, like many martial arts, is about more than fighting. Jiu Jitsu also teaches a lot about respect. 

When a student uses their teacher’s preferred name they are showing their teacher respect and, in turn, the teacher should show respect to the student by doing their best to teach them Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

How To Find a Good Jiu Jitsu Teacher

The best way to find a Jiu Jitsu teacher is to start online. Look at what’s local and check for reviews and ratings.

Other people’s experiences can give you an idea of whether or not the teaching style is right for you. 

Once you pick a few possible teachers, give them a call to see if they have any openings in their classes and to ask any questions you might have about the school.

Most good teachers will offer a free class for people who want to try out the class. If they do not offer a free class ask if you can at least observe a class to get an idea of what it’s like.

If they won’t allow you to participate or observe a class before paying, they probably aren’t a good option.

Once you settle on a school and a teacher, go to the BJJ school and see how it feels.

Your potential instructor should make you feel welcome and be happy to address any discomfort or concerns you may have.

Once you observe or participate in a class you’ll hopefully get a good feel for whether or not you will enjoy the classes and if your money will be well spent.

You’ll know when you have found the right school because you’ll want to go back as soon as you leave.

How One Becomes a Jiu Jitsu Teacher.

In order to teach Jiu Jitsu, a person has to learn Jiu Jitsu. To officially qualify to teach BJJ, one must have earned at least three belts.

Once a person has earned their white belt, blue belt, and purple belt, they are qualified to begin teaching lower ranking students.

An instructor that holds a purple belt can only teach students below that belt. If they want to teach more advanced students, they need to advance in the ranking themselves first.

Once a person has achieved the proper rank to start teaching it is recommended that they get certified by an official Jiu Jitsu organization.

The certification process generally involves training for new instructors to ensure they’re ready to teach others. This process can vary depending on what organization they use to do it but generally involves tests on both knowledge and ability.

After a person is certified they are ready to begin teaching. At this point, they’ll either join an existing school or try to open their own.

If they choose to open their own academy it is recommended that the instructor register the school with an organization, such as the international Brazilian Jiu Jitsu federation, in order to allow their students to be able to compete in tournaments hosted by the organization. 

Wrapping It Up

There are many names for a Jiu Jitsu teacher and which name they choose to use for themselves is entirely up to them.

Whether the name they choose denotes their rank, teaching style, or is just a nickname they like doesn’t matter.

What matters is that they and their students show respect to one another and one way for the students to do this is to use the appropriate name for their instructor.


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