"Show me another person in jiujitsu that would make it to the finals and give both titles to his students —> living legend, true champion." Romulo Barral's student Edwin Najmi, about the 2016 Europeans
If you've been practicing Jiu Jitsu for any amount of time, you probably have heard of at least a few of the greatest moments of the sport. The list may vary from place to place, but there are several items that are unanimous:
Jacaré, with a broken arm, finishing the fight against Roger to become the 2004 World's Absolute champion;
Vinny Magalhaes and his unbreakable arm against Werdum for the ADCC 2011 Gold, or maybe Buchecha giving up the gold medal at the 2018 World's so his injured friend Leandro Lo could become the champion. We could talk about great moments forever, but these are just a few everybody agrees on.
Athletes should always be honored since they are the ones always putting it on the line,
but we can't forget the coaches. Professors have also been protagonists of many spectacular moments in the history of our sport. Who doesn't remember Rodrigo Cavaca closing out the World's 2013 with his pupil Marcos "Buchecha" Almeida, or Romulo Barral in 2016 closing out 2 European finals with his students Pena and Arges?
I still can't watch Finfou handing Fernando Terere his Black Belt back without tearing up.
The reality is that the lives of professors and students are often deeply intertwined. But is there an objective standard of what that relationship should be? Is there something we can all agree upon, that all Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Professors should aim to be in the lives of their students? Can students objectively know what they should be to their professors? Is that relationship supposed to transcend the mats?
We see beautiful, and not so beautiful stories of that relationship every day and while we can praise or condemn certain attitudes, the truth is that the Professor x pupil relationship varies a lot from place to place.
In some schools, rolling or even talking to professor is the hardest thing in the world. Some professors are readily available for anything technique related but would prefer to stay away from any "off the mats" matter. Still, some Senseis will share their wisdom with their students on anything they can, on and off the mats, firmly holding the belief that Martial Arts should and do transcend the mats. Many in our community believe that the development of sharp, dangerous, and often lethal techniques should never be divorced from moral instruction. After all, if you teach a student a choke, wouldn't it be wise to make sure he or she understands that you expect them to never gratuitously choke anybody out because it is evil? Once your conduct makes you a role model, it is impossible to not permeate other aspects of your students' lives.
When we take a closer look, it seems that the Jiu Jitsu professor will, whether they like it or not, produce more than practitioners or athletes, but citizens. The only question that remains is what kind of citizens we are producing both for today and tomorrow.
Who are your role models on the mats? How does he or she lead their students? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.