You have taken the plunge and started training BJJ, but what are those unwritten rules that you really need to be aware of? I have come up with 10 jiu jitsu etiquette rules every bjj newbie should know. This is not an exhaustive list, but if you take notice of it you won’t be going far wrong.
1 – Don’t walk on the mats in your shoes or flip flops.
The gym mats are expensive things and anything caught in your shoes could potentially rip or tear them. This then leads to the inevitability that it will need replacing as the tear grows and gets worse, this would not make you popular with your coach. The other side of this is all the nasty stuff that ends up on the sidewalk potentially is on the soles of your shoes. You walk on the mat in your shoes, nasty stuff transfers to the mat, which we then train on.
2 – Do wear flip flops or shoes when you go to the toilet.
Accidents and splashes do happen guys, what you don’t want to do is walk through the result of the accident. Then walking it back in onto the mat. It is not a pleasant thought that I may end up with my face in this. Oh and remember to always wash your hands afterwards.
3 – If you have any cuts tape them up.
You may end up using duct tape so it sticks, but your training partners will mind this far less than you bleeding onto them. Especially if they have a white gi.
4 – Don’t forget to cut your nails.
It’s so easy to scrape or claw someone when your nails are only a little bit long, with all the grips and escapes going on. Plus these annoying little cuts seem to take forever to heal up properly. AND you have to tape them up every time you train to protect and stop them bleeding.
5 – Wash your uniform after every use.
Getting your face stuck in the stinky armpit of an unwashed gi or rash guard is really nasty. You will not get people rushing to partner you if you don’t wash your stuff. Plus there is the potential for skin infections for you and your partner from the growing bacteria.
6 – Now your gi is clean, keep yourself clean too.
This is just really basic hygiene. No one wants to roll with a stinky person even in a clean gi, it is really off putting.
7 – Turn up to class on time.
Real life can sometimes get in the way and this is understood. But showing up consistently late will get noticed. And stop skipping warmups. It shows a lack of respect for your coach and your training partners.
8 – Don’t try and teach someone a technique.
You’re a newbie even if you think you know what you are doing, the reality is you probably don’t know enough. Show respect to your coach and the higher belts and leave the teaching to them. If you and your partner want to work out the problems of technique between you, that’s fine. Personally I would still check with my coach to make sure:
a) it is a problem and not just me and
b) so I am not potentially over complicating what could be a simple answer.
Teaching BJJ is much, much different than learning. If you find yourself on the other side of the coin, we have a list of 10 tips for improving your teaching style.
9 – Be aware of using strength over technique.
When you start free rolling this isn’t about getting the tap it’s about the learning. Just because you are bigger or stronger than your partner, don’t think you are the next prodigy if you just lay on your partner and start cranking on their arm or neck. Yes you will probably get the tap, but have you really learnt how to apply that technique against a resisting opponent?
10 – Finally but still a very important one: don’t train while sick.
If you are sick don’t train. Having the flu or a cold is rubbish, mainly because it does affect your training. But pushing through and turning up to train is not going to do you any favours. No one there wants to catch your bugs. Plus if you are bad enough your coach may just send you home anyway. Do yourself a favour, stay home recover and watch some instructionals or Game of Thrones instead.
If you’re injured, that’s a different situation completely. There are ways to train BJJ while injured that can keep you involved and safe at the same time.
Most of these are probably common sense, but you would be surprised the number of times people will ignore or forget them. If you show respect you will get it back and a lot of these are about respecting your coach, your gym and your training partners.