Can You Teach Yourself Jiu-Jitsu? The Truth About Self Taught BJJ

Can you teach yourself jiu-jitsu?

In some places in the world, it can be very difficult to find a good Brazilian jiu-jitsu school. Heck and even if you can find one it is not cheap and often people have a hard time making it work with their schedule. If they only provide evening classes this might not work for someone who works nights. This gets many people wondering if you can teach yourself jiu-jitsu? 

You can learn some jiu-jitsu by yourself but in reality, you need a teacher who can make sure you are executing techniques properly. Of course, there are many concepts in BJJ that can be self-taught through books and online courses.

But without a proper instructor, you could be doing many things incorrectly which could be at the very least ineffective and at the worst dangerous. 

If you were hoping to be able to teach yourself jiu-jitsu this is probably not the answer that you would like to hear. But don’t lose hope just yet as there is probably something you can do to still be able to learn BJJ even if it is hard to make it to class. We will discuss some options later but first, let us discuss why you need a BJJ instructor. 

The Truth About Self Taught Jiu-Jitsu

There are many reasons that you probably don’t want to try and teach yourself jiu-jitsu. Like with any skill you can of course learn many concepts by yourself. But trying to learn BJJ without a teacher is not the best idea.

Jiu-jitsu is a complicated martial art that has many details that probably will go unnoticed without proper instruction. You can, of course, learn a lot on your own but simply watching videos without any experience might just cause you to learn bad habits.

Anyone who has access to a BJJ school who wants to learn the art should sign up for classes from a qualified instructor. I understand that it might be too expensive or hard to make it to classes. But if you don’t have a coach who can help you learn then you won’t even know if you are executing techniques properly. 

Trying to teach yourself jiu-jitsu without ever having a teacher is almost never a good idea. A good coach will help you understand the concepts of jiu-jitsu in a safe environment. 

After you have been training under a good teacher for some time, teaching yourself jiu-jitsu through online programs and books becomes much easier. This is because you will have a solid foundation of the basic concepts of BJJ. 

Can You Teach Yourself Jiu-Jitsu Through Instructionals?

Hey, we are in the internet age now aren’t we? Not only can you buy online BJJ instructionals today, but you can also even go to college. I feel old just saying this, I realize that people have been going to college online for a long time now. 

My point is that you can learn just about anything online these days right? Would teaching yourself jiu-jitsu through online programs be any different? Well, the answer would be both yes and no. Of course, you can learn jiu-jitsu online but you still need to put what you learn to the test. 

Not only do you need a teacher who can help make sure you are executing the details properly, but you also need training partners who you can roll with. You can watch instructionals until you are blue in the face but if you are not actually getting out there and trying the techniques out on real people then you are never really learning them. 

What matters is that you can actually execute the techniques that you are learning through online courses and youtube videos. But as long as you are attending classes and getting rounds in with other practitioners then, of course, you can learn a lot of jiu-jitsu by yourself through online instructionals. 

The thing is you need to actually take what you learn from the course and start executing the techniques in real life. That said, instructionals can be a great way to learn jiu-jitsu during your free time. It can also help you stay up to speed if you can’t make it to class as often as you would like because of scheduling. 

So basically what I am trying to say is that online instructional are a great way to get in some extra BJJ instruction but they are not a replacement for going to class and actually practicing jiu-jitsu with real people. Jiu-jitsu can never be completely self-taught. 

How To Learn Jiu-Jitsu By Yourself

Now that you understand that I do not think it is a good idea to be completely self-taught in jiu-jitsu, let’s talk about some ways you can learn by yourself in an effective way. First off I am assuming that you are either new to jiu-jitsu or have not yet started. The reason I know this is that if you were already more experienced then you would already know that you need a good teacher and real training partners to get good at jiu-jitsu. 

That being said, the first thing I would suggest ( after joining a gym ) is purchasing BJJ instructionals that are designed for your skill level. You don’t need to be learning the latest flashy BJJ techniques you see on youtube shorts and TikTok.

Instead, you need to be focusing on creating a good foundation of BJJ. You can check out my top BJJ instructional for white belts here. You should be focusing on mastering a few techniques from each of the major BJJ positions. 

It is better to truly master a handful of techniques than to try and learn too much at once and really learn nothing. Here is a list of a few things you should look to master in BJJ before trying to learn every technique in the book.

To help you choose the right course to learn online I have created a complete BJJ instructional guide! So check it out before spending your hard-earned money on just any instructional.

What White Belts Should Be Focusing On First

  • Master a handful of guard passes and half guard passes 
  • 1-2 guard breaks
  • 2-4 takedowns
  • A few escapes from side control, knee on belly, mount, and back mount
  • 1-3 submissions from side control, knee on belly, bottom guard, half guard, mount, and back mount
  • A few sweeps from guard and half guard

If you are going to try and learn some BJJ by yourself focus on the basics. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much information. A good instructional to get started with would be the foundations of Brazilian jiu-jitsu by Bernardo Faria. Make a list of techniques to fit the plan above and watch those techniques over and over. Then find training partners and start implementing what you have learned. 


Joshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a BJJ purple belt who lives in Austin, Texas. Joshua loves all forms of grappling and when he is off the mats he is likely spending time with his wife and son.

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