The Professor

The Professor


In recent times, a trend arose in the MMA and Jiu-jitsu world, about the title of the “Professor”. A trend more common in MMA circles amongst Strikers, wrestlers, and NoGi grapplers, as opposed to a more traditional setting of a Jiu-Jitsu Dojo. However, I have seen discussions on the subject involving all practitioners of our beloved grappling art.

Some practitioners resolved that the title of “Professor” is too much to most black belts, and proudly write in their comments that they always call their instructor by name. Others insist that the title “professor” denotes someone with a higher level, such as a red belt maybe, and new black belts shouldn’t be called more than “instructors” or “coaches”.

What many seem to miss here, is the fact that BJJ is not an American martial art, nor its titles are spoken in the American language. Just like we call a Judo instructor by his Japanese title “Sensei”, a BJJ instructor is called by his Portuguese title “Professor”.

In English we have this difference of meanings because, usually, in primary school, the one instructing the children is a “teacher”; and “Professor” is the one instructing in College, or universities. However, we don’t make such distinction in Portuguese, and the word “professor” in Portuguese simply means “teacher”. Therefore, every black belt BJJ practitioner who is the teacher of a group, and often instructs, is called “Professor”. Black belts that don’t teach, and simply compete and train, should not have the title.

So we see, that not all black belts will be called “Professor”, but the ones who have earned the title according to their job within the school ranks, should never be called by their names during class, as this is a sign of disrespect. As long as you look up to your Professor as someone who has plenty to add to your game, someone you can listen to, you will keep improving. The moment, he is no longer “professor”, but a classmate, then there’s not much more in it for you. When you call your Professor by name, that’s just what he becomes, your classmate.

In future posts we will touch on some etiquette we should have upon entering our DoJo, and towards our training partners and our Professors and instructors. Today I wanted to clear up the misconception that “Professor” is too big a title for certain black belts because they haven’t been at the rank for enough time, or whatever other excuses people are making in their internet forums.

Remember, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art, a traditional one, which demands discipline, respect, Hierarchy, and humility. What sets us apart is the effectiveness of our techniques both in sport and real life scenarios.

See you on the mats. OSS

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