Should White Belts Give Advice?

People have opinions about everything. Jiu jitsu is no exception.

At least the people on BJJ Twitter are far more reasonable and nicer than MMA Twitter. Go see for yourself. You would think people with no fighting experience wouldn’t get so upset about the intricacies of a pay per view bought. I try and stay away from MMA twitter. But I do like interacting with folks from BJJ twitter. At least that group of people share photos of themselves at the gym rolling and sparring, proof that they aren’t arm-chair martial artists.

I recently asked Twitter if BJJ white belts should give advice to other white belts. I got a bunch of replies and they span from Yes to No. And people kept it cordial.

So let’s dive in and see what these jiu jitsu’ers had to say about the question…Should white belts give advice in technique if asked by another white belt?

“You probably want to be careful with that. Maybe end your sentence with “but check with Coach”. 98% of the time that I overhear a white belt advising another student, I cringe. But then again, it’s often the worst students who are the quickest to give advice.”

“This is like the blind leading the blind”

“If it’s the modern day white belt who spends hours a day studying Jiu-Jitsu instructionals from BJJ Fanatics… the answer is hell yes. You’d be shocked at the breath of knowledge of some white belts out there.”

“If they are offering something they understand clearly and the advice is sound… Why not? I believe as a teammate, if your partner is doing something wrong or missing a detail you do know, you should tell them. It’s about collaboration and not ego.”

“If its something basic sure but if its anything complex id say no more often than not they mess up a fundamental part of it”

“Proby depends on experience n technique. I had my first comp after only 3 months of training as a white belt. Naturally newer people would ask for advice when we were paired in training. If it’s basics like grips or fundamentals then go for it I think!”

“Depends on the white belt. Big difference between 6 weeks in and a couple of yrs in. I’d like to think when I was a 4 stripe white belt 3 yrs in I had something to offer in supporting newbies. That said I’d help them with the more fundemental/basic stuff not advanced techniques.”

“As a white belt I do a lot of tip giving. And then we talk to the coach to approve it. We may not have much knowledge. But we also have eyes.”

“Only if said white belt is absolutely sure they understand the technique fully.”

“Well we had few whitebelts who had brown- or blackbelts in judo also. Sure as hell asked them tips for stand up grappling”

“Sure why not. If that person has mastery of the technique. I think people focus too much on what a belt is as opposed to what makes sense from the move. Don’t focus on a belt but focus on proficiency.”

“Nope.”

“I’m a white belt, and I’ll only give advice on what we’re drilling in the moment, and repeat exactly what my Coach has instructed. Even still, I don’t shy away from asking my Coach about specifics, more details. We’re hear to learn, so I soak up as much information as I can.”

“I give feedback on what I feel (is it tight, does it feel off balance) by saying and showing, but the only time I talk about technique is to say “I think the instructor said…” I also talk myself through every move out loud when I’m first learning. Guess I’m pretty annoying.”

I think it depends on the situation. If we drill armbars for example it is ok for one student to help another if they figured out something the other student didnt (like in any school class). But I don’t like when a white belt goes in and try to correct people during sparring.

“Nope white belts coaching white belts is like boiling pizza”

“From a submission and form perspective i wouldnt.
But if someone is spazzing out and you tell them to relax a little, it can only help them (and prevent you from getting hurt in the meantime)”

“Yes, if they know how to do it with their eyes closed against an unwilling opponent. Maybe, if they kind of know it and say ‘but check with [INSERT instructor / higher rank here] to make sure.’ No, if your spider-sense tells you they’re full of shit. Trust your spider-sense.”

Some great input there. Thanks to those who responded!

So what do I think?

Well as a three stripe white belt myself, I have given advice to other white belts when they ask for it. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I no gi sparred with a new member. After the roll he asked, “So how was that, did I do anything illegal, or do you have any feedback for me?”

I said he had natural athletic ability and he instinctively did some positive movements. I mentioned that he shouldn’t make a habit of sticking his arms out and pushing his opponent when he is mounted, as a higher belt would have put him in an arm bar. He said thanks and we fisted bumped.

White belts have eyes and ears and for the most part listen to their head instructors. I think it’s okay for white belts to give advice to white belts, but to make a habit of referring any detailed technical questions to a higher belt or instructor. Also, in general, white belts should not give advice to higher belts on bjj technique. But, if that white belt is a D1 wrestler, or a black belt in judo, I would definitely hear what they had to say about grappling stand-up.

What do you think, should white belts give advice? Let me know!

And see you out on the mats!

Also here is an audio recording of my thoughts about white belts giving advice…

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