Private Lessons or Group Classes: The Best Way To Learn Bjj?

I had a brand new student to bjj (How new? I had to demonstrate how to tie the white belt!) who started taking private classes as his introduction to jiu-jitsu. Most students start with group classes and have the occasional private lesson. Some students never take private lessons.

This student had the time and resources to book a block of private lessons.

If you have the finances, is taking all private lessons the fastest way to get good at jiu-jitsu? So what is the best way to learn bjj?
read also:  The ‘Secret’ To Getting Better At BJJ

Each type of session has its learning strengths for the student

Private Lessons:

  • Allow the student to focus on exactly what that individual student needs to know at their stage of development;
  •  The instructor can adjust the rate at which new techniques are introduced if the student is a faster / slower learner;
  • A more advanced student will be able to focus more on their personal bjj game each session;
  • The amount of NEW information that the student gets each class is maximized;
  • The training time is most convenient for the student’s schedule.


Group Classes

  • Allows for more technique drilling time. Even if the student has been shown the perfect technique, they still need time to drill it for repetitions
  • Rolling with students their own level. Rolling with a black belt instructor is a different experience than training with other beginners.
  • The opportunity to work with different body sizes and types, different styles of game is important
  • You get to meet more people and make friends in the academy

The answer is a combination of BOTH is best for optimal progress.


The student gets the maximum amount of technical instruction in a short period of time. But even if Manny Pacquaio is your boxing coach, you still need to spend the time jabbing the bag for thousands of reps to burn the muscle memory.

In rolling you are trying to bridge the gap between having learned a technique and being able to actually USE it in live training against a fully resisting opponent. Rolling with your black belt instructor is very different from rolling with another beginner student.

The fellow white belt is going to make mistakes – that the black belt does not – that allow the beginner some success to work their new techniques. Having some success executing your new techniques is a great motivator to continue your training in jiu-jitsu.

Therefore, rolling will multiple different partners in group classes is very important!

My advice to the new private student is to learn in the privates and then apply it in the group classes for the best possible combination of private and group class benefits.

read also: 5 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Bjj

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ