Professor, Master, Coach? What is the Proper Way to Address Your BJJ Instructor

Professor, Master, Coach? What is the Proper Way to Address Your BJJ Instructor

1. Introduction

When it comes to mixed martial arts, various titles are used to show respect and honor for the trainer. In Brazilian jiu-jitsu to give respect to the expertise many terms or titles are used for intense; Master, Coach Professor, Sensei, and practitioner can also use the first name of the instructor. These respectful titles are often used to show reverence for the trainer who has high expertise. It also depicts the cultural norms and hierarchy of an academy or gym.

2. Martial Arts Instructors

Martial arts are the traditions of combat art that are being practiced for several reasons which include physical, and mental well-being, spiritual development, entertainment, law enforcement, and as a cultural heritage. It is a codified system of norms and traditions that is practiced by various people.

There are distinct martial arts with various techniques and styles, and each of them comes with its unique methods and philosophies. The dexterity is introduced by an individual who is an expert in that particular skill. They give guidance and train the learners in combat techniques, for self-defense and recreation.

The instructor makes an engaging schedule to create variety and provide an atmosphere where students feel comfortable, respected, and supported. A good instructor makes students more capable of achieving their full potential and accomplishing their goals. The individual is called a master or a teacher. In different martial arts, the instructor can be called by various names.

In popular arts such as karate or taekwondo the instructor or trainer is called with the names as ‘master’ or ‘sensei’.The titles are used to give respect while addressing a senior or highly skilled martial artist. These titles are honorific which means that the title is used to distinguish the person as a revered in a gym or academy. 

3. How to Address Your Instructor in BJJ

In Brazilian martial arts, the learner calls the trainee a ‘professor’. Typically a black belt instructor is addressed in this respectful way. The titles are also used to reflect the culture and lineage of the academy.

The use of the title can vary on the specific academy or gym. In some of the formal structures, the titles are used as Coach and Professor. The other academies allow the learners to address in a casual way they use the term like Sensei or simply take the first name of the instructor.

It is a vital element to know how to address the Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor correctly. To learn any martial art high-value manners, and respect are the mandatory factors. This article will explore the various titles and the role of jiu-jitsu instructors while training BJJ students. 

3.1. Master

The title ‘Master’ and Grand Masters are usually reserved for the most experienced trainers or instructors, the renowned coral belt or red belt holders. The grapplers who had dedicated their lives to practicing and studying jiu-jitsu are referred to as ‘Masters’. The masters have attained a great degree of proficiency and knowledge. The founder and head instructor of Kioto Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Master Franciso Mansor is termed a ‘ Master’ by his learners. He is a red belt under Helio Gracie . This is the tradition and heritage of Brazilian jiu-jitsu that the Word Master is conferred upon highly skilled and accomplished instructors.

3.2. Coach

Certain levels of rank are achieved with talent and skills. According to the levels of the instructor, they are termed with the suitable title. A grappler must have effective coaching skills. A BJJ coach must have inspirational and motivational behavior that can help the students acquire the skills. The title ‘Coach’ refers to the brown belt instructor. For instance, in AOJ Academy the title coach is used for the brown and black belt instructors. It shows the systematic approach that is used in the art of jiu-jitsu. The other terms are reserved for the higher rank instructors.

3.3. Professor

At several BJJ academies , the instructors are called ‘Professors’. The origin of Brazilian jiu-jitsu reflects the art and reverence of the instructors. The word ‘Professor’ honors the prestigious status of an instructor, and is formally used for the black belts.

In Portuguese the word professor means teacher, this title is most commonly used by most of the BJJ gyms. In AOJ academy students formally refer to their instructors as Professors. It is important to contemplate that the title professor is used in jiu-jitsu but in other martial arts the term holds significant differences. This is because every art has a specific set of rules and ranks. In Brazilian martial arts, the title professor is reserved for the most preferred and highly skilled instructors. It might vary from academies to gyms according to their respective culture. 

3.4. Sensei

Various titles are being used by the students that are dependent on the cultural heritage and lineage of the gym. In BJJ some students use the term ‘Sensei’ to address the instructor. This title is frequently used in other martial arts disciplines as well such as taekwondo and karate.

Although, in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the term ‘Sensei’ is not used as a formal title. It is noticeable that the title sensei is not specifically used in BJJ but is a part of other martial arts to refer to a teacher or a trainer. 

3.5. Using the First Name

There are formal ways to refer to the instructor in BJJ. In a casual setting, most of the students refer to the instructor by the first name despite being more formal. The formal titles include words like professor, coach, or master as described above. In the world of traditional martial arts Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a comparatively less formal art that emphasizes a supported, accessible, and relaxed environment.

This is also the reason for the popularity of BJJ it emphasizes giving a more unpretentious environment to the students. They can frankly call on their instructors with their first names. This is a common practice in community-oriented academies which shows a close relationship between a teacher and students.

It is a major point to note that the use of formal terms such as ‘Master’ and ‘Professor’ are not demoralized in jiu-jitsu. This is not practiced in other martial arts schools. Students can simply use the above-mentioned terms to show respect to the instructors or may use the casual term like a coach or call them by their name.

4. Guideline to Address Your Instructor

Federação de Jiu-Jitsu do Estado do Rio de Janeiro is the official certifying organization in Brazil, that gives the certifications to the instructors, professors, and masters. Remember not all belts are certified to teach. It takes almost 6 to 15 years to achieve a black belt. You should check how other students of your BJJ gym call the instructor, you can call the same way. 

5. Conclusion

The use of the title may vary depending on the ranking belt levels or the BJJ academy. The titles or terms are used to regard the instructor's rank and expertise in the field of martial arts. It is worth noting that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a less formal art as compared to other traditional martial arts. It is a general practice of a student to call the instructor with their first name.

However, there is no certain rule set to call the Brazilian martial arts instructor. It has been recommended to follow the BJJ academy policies to address the instructor. Mainly, to show respect and etiquette; address the BJJ instructor with the proper term. 

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