Mentor vs Cornerman: What are the major differences between these roles?

For example:

  • Trust level
  • Confidence in advice given
  • Formal vs informal relationship
  • Things you talk about

And is your cornerman only useful for combat sports or do you rely on him (or her) to give advice / listen to problems that you have in other areas of your life?


2 Answers 2


There is a judo version of this question about the difference between a sensei (mentor) and coach (cornerman). The United States Judo Federation has a long answer to this question that considers the cultural history and etymology of these words, what functions they perform, and how the roles may overlap, but basically comes to the conclusion that the difference is about winning in sports. The concept of a coach or cornerman is sport-based, while other terms for instructors are not.

If you are basically interested in sport, find an instructor who specializes in sport (a coach or cornerman). If you have interests beyond sport (learning to teach, health, life advice, etc.), find an instructor who does not focus exclusively on sport. Winning in sport is a specialization with its own skill set.

In reality, you have to choose from among the instructors you have available, and the spectrum of available skills and strengths does not separate into neat categories. As with any relationship, you have to work out with the other party what the parameters of yours will be.

  • 1
    I'd like to emphasise that one can hardly be a good coach without also being a mentor in martial arts. It's not exactly like American Football with tactics from a draw board so that you have to get your student to be able to act highly independent, and high levels involve a lot of 1on1 training which necessarily involves psychological and general life support. Commented May 24, 2020 at 19:44
  • @PhilipKlöcking Coaches can produce athletes who win while being despicable life influences. Kayla Harrison (judo Olympic gold medalist) won national championships under a coach later convicted for sexual abuse. She speaks out on this issue. College wrestling in the US had medical staff who abused athletes while coaches did nothing..
    – mattm
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 3:20

Mentors talk about the question. Cornermen answer the question and solve the problem. Thank you for making that so clear. I prefer a cornerman.

  • 2
    Mentors teach you how to answer the question for yourself.
    – slugster
    Commented May 23, 2020 at 1:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.