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Jiu Jitsu Etiquette and Unspoken Rules

Jiu Jitsu Etiquette, Unspoken Rules, and Things That Probably Annoy Your Teammates

Although it’s not fair to expect you to just know these things, the fact of the matter is that at some point people DO expect you to know these unspoken rules.  Here’s a list of some of the most important things that you may not have heard yet.

Here at Aces, we PRIDE ourselves on teaching and giving people the knowledge to live an empowered life. A part of this means understanding respect so that you can train with your teammates in harmony.  

1. Move over and reset if you get too close to upper belts while rolling or drilling.

The rule is that if you’re a white belt, you move when you bump into (or get close to) colored belts on the mats. Also, NO MATTER your belt color, you move when you bump into (or get close to) a higher ranking teammate or your instructor.  If either member of the pair you bump into is a higher rank, then you move.  Respect the hierarchy.  Later on, others will move for you. ☺

NOTE: If both pairs are the same rank, then be courteous and one of you please move over.  Moving over is not about anyone looking down on you; it’s just being respectful. ☺  You will notice as you continue in BJJ that higher belts barely think twice about moving for others as it becomes an ingrained part of rolling.


2. Know your place in the grand scheme of things.  You’re a student.  You’re not a coach or instructor.

Spend your rolling time rolling, not “instructing” your partner especially if he/she outranks you.  It’s condescending to someone with more experience and they likely know more than you.  They may even be trying something new.  They’re in “the lab” after all, and they can’t get anything done with your yapping.  If your partner is really new (or you have LOTS more experience), feel free to help your partner out if they’re clearly struggling, though.  You can also opt to treat the roll as “catch and release” where you get to submissions, but let them go and transition to something else in an effort to not demoralize your partner while working on your submission chains.  Talking is not always required.

The point is just don’t spend valuable rolling time trying to coach someone who has more experience than you.  You probably don’t know what you’re talking about and even if you do, it’s not appropriate.  If you are a coach/instructor or higher belt, of course help out when needed 🙂


3.Take a shower.  Brush your teeth.  Clip your nails.  Tie back your long hair.  Wash your gi after EVERY use.  If you train a lot, BUY more gis.

No one likes rolling with smelly people.  Please, RESPECT everyone and keep your body odor and gi funk in check.  Also, no one likes fighting with your hair and trying to avoid pulling it out.  No one likes having permanent scars from your fingernails and toenails. If you don’t take care of your partner’s, people will avoid you.  No one wants to roll with the smelly kid.

NOTE: Don’t come to the gym with skin diseases: ringworm, yeast/Candida, Staph infection, athlete’s foot, shingles, etc.  Keep your cooties to yourself!  The same applies if you have a cold, the flu, strep throat. Stay home until you’re better.


4. White belt coaching… Please, just stop.

White belts, please do not coach from the sidelines during rolling, even to other similarly ranked or lower ranked white belts.  When you do that you’re saying “I know more than you…”  NEWSFLASH– you don’t know much in the grand scheme of things.  You’re just being condescending and rude to your peers when you do this.  Give people a chance to make their own moves.

Instead, quietly watch and imagine what you would do in the situation you’re watching.  Then remember to do that next time you’re on the mats.  We know you’re trying to be helpful, but save it for later on when you have more experience and people actually want to hear what you’re saying.


5. Taking up needed mat space to talk with your friends and/or not being aware of your surroundings.

Every inch of mat space is precious and your teammates would like to utilize the jiu jitsu space for jiu jitsu.  This is particularly important on crowded days with lots of people on the mats.  If you’re done for the day and want to chat, move to the outermost part of the mat (away from the action) or go chat in the non-mat, hang out space at your gym.  If people are getting close to you during their rolls or drills, take that as your notice to move your conversation off the mats.

In the same manner, please be aware of your surroundings.  It’s called “mat awareness” and you need to work on this skill if it doesn’t come naturally.  If you (and your partner) are constantly bumping into others during rolls or drills, then…

Want to learn more about mat awareness?? Be sure to catch Part 2 of this article next week!!


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