Cohesive Coaching

While speaking to the coaching team the other day, I had to formalise my ideas on how working with other coaches should be done, to show respect and cohesion between different coaches with different styles and experience.

Having coached with the other black belts on this blog, we have an informal system of working together that works well for us. This is my view on the process and etiquette.


First and foremost, one coach is responsible for the class. It is their class, and what they say goes. When it comes to the plan for the class, they will set this. If there is remuneration involved, this is the coach being paid for the class. They are the lead on everything in this class, including the responsibility for everyone’s safety.

Note that this may not necessarily be the highest graded coach in Jiu Jitsu, but even if it is a blue belt running a class with black belt students, it is still their class to run and control as they see fit, and they accord the associated respect.

On the same note, if a coach is rostered on to teach a class, the class is theirs to teach, and it should not be taken over by a higher graded coach who happens to be there, unless the rostered coach wants them to.


If the coach running the class has the time and inclination in the class, they may invite others to share their own ideas on a position, or a solution to the problem at hand.  They may not do this if they have time constraints, or have a particular path they are building to, and don’t want to be distracted on a tangent. Note that they are inviting this input, not having someone in the class saying “That’s wrong”, or “That’s not how I do it”, or detailing technique without prompting.

A prime example of collaboration is a workshop style class with multiple coaches. There will be a theme and one coach will lead the class, but typically at the conclusion of each technique, they may invite others to contribute their variations on the technique, or alternate solutions to the problem at hand.


A typical example of delegation, is having a small number of students in the class without a basic skill, and the lead coach may delegate another coach to take them aside to teach them the skill independent of the other students, so as to not hold the students with the skill back.

In the case of delegation, the lead coach has given the task to another coach so they can fully focus on the other students. If the lead coach has the trust in the other coach to delegate the task to the coach, they should allow them to teach their own way, and not to manage the other coaches process of teaching.

Uninvited Input

Some times when I’m in a class run by the other coaches, and there is a point or technique that I think is particularly relevant, but the coach is not inviting input, I will wait until a quiet period when the class is working on technique, and then quietly put my idea to the lead coach. If they reject my idea, then it is not for me to push to have it accepted, it is up to me to accept their decision and let them run their class in their own manner. Conversely, I have also been asked to mention the point or to demonstrate the technique at the next opportunity.


If I see another coach doing something I think needs correction or feedback, I would typically wait until after the class to go through in detail what I thought the issues were and discuss it with the coach. The exception to this, would be if what I saw was unsafe for the participants, in this case I would work to address the issue immediately.

One exception I can think of to this is coaching the coach. When students start their coaching career, they need feedback to grow and improve as a coach. The junior coach should have a plan for the class that we would discuss in advance, then we would typically talk through particular corrections or feedback in a quiet period, or after the class.

SA (Situational Awareness), personal safety, planning, paranoia and the mine field of socially acceptable conflict preparedness Part 2…

Condition Yellow: Relaxed Awareness

So yellow, should be our general day to day level of awareness, in this condition we are being cognisant of what is going on around us, we are relaxed and alerts we are always aware and prepared to escalate to Orange as required.

It is the state that we have accepted that a threat may exist somewhere, but we aren’t sure where, we have no specific point of focus, but we are alert and aware to any possibility, we are ready but not actively preparing, we are in our passive mode.

As we proceed through the day we pay attention to the oncoming person,we see the group of people conversing in a tight group at the petrol station, we are aware of the man in the carpark as we walk to our car. We see the late model Holden, sitting at the side of the road, with a man in the driver’s seat…. You get the idea

But most of all some of our awareness is dedicated outwards, not focused entirely on our internal thoughts, problems, stresses, distractions… some may be, but we retain a modicum of awareness externally, we are making mental notes and we recongise and accept that something sinister may happen today, but we don’t know what it is.

Condition Orange: Focused Awareness

So, if Yellow is our passive SA, the transition to Orange is an active ping.

We have encountered something that has triggered our attention, we have decided that some threat warrants further focus and our SA narrows. While we still want to maintain peripheral awareness, we have identified a potential threat, we now have a specific point of focus…

For example, we are in a bottle shop and a man in one of the aisles slips his hands into his pockets…. We have noticed this and focus more on this man and his actions… we have just switched from yellow to orange. Or as we leave the shopping centre walking towards our car we notice a man leaning on a street light close to our vehicle, possibly in a positing where we will have to walk in close proximity to him, same, yellow to orange.

This transition doesn’t have to be a person, as we walk down a street on a dark night we notice an alleyway running off to the right up ahead, we move further to the left to afford better angular view down the alley and allow more distance between us and the mouth… condition orange, our focus is now directed at something that deserves more attention.

Determining the intent.

It is Orange where we will start to take some evasive action to determine the intent of our potential threat. We cross the road to see what they do, we move to a different location in the bar and observe. If driving we make an unscheduled turn, or possible turn without indicating, all of which are to observe the reaction.

No reaction, they continue on their merry way, orange back to yellow… some response that further heightens our suspicion… possible orange to red.

Contingencies and our trigger

It is also Orange that we expose our mental trigger and commence to make contingency plans. Thinks of it like one of those switches with the red flip guard on them, as we commence our evasive maneuvers, or our intent tests, we are also flipping the guard off the switch, but in this case the switch is our kinetic trigger the point where we act, swiftly, with determination and without hesitation.

We are also formulating tactical contingencies, “If he does x , then I can do Y”. I have these tactical options open to me, the battlespace affords me these opportunities, I can use that furniture as a barrier, I can use that improvised weapon, I have those escape routes, etc.

If we never end up flipping the switch or engaging the trigger, because the threat dissipates, you then deescalate to yellow.

Remember, most predators want to have the element of surprise.

Your being aware of them and them realising that suddenly makes you a harder target and they may seek easier prey.

Part 3, condition Red….