Rules are good. While others may see rules as a way to hinder freedom, they liberate us from chaos… or at least make training a harmonious environment for everyone. There are simple points of BJJ etiquette to consider. As future successful martial artists, your growth in the art of Jiu-Jitsu requires etiquette. For training to be fun for others, we must all be sure that we are making the training experience pleasant for everyone. I was speaking to one of the black belts who has been in the business of running dojos, and the subject of Gym etiquette came about. This inspired me to write this article!
#1 – Hygiene
Grappling with someone who doesn’t take much care of themselves can be an unpleasant experience. I am not saying it is a definite “bad experience”, however it is a possibility. Some people have high tolerance for “scents,” but others do not. This also applies to those who may fail to wash their gis regularly. Personally, it’s an unpleasant experience grinding it with someone who may have an opportunity to improve on the aspect of hygiene.
Have multiple sets of training gis. It’s a small investment. And gis (with the right quality can last for years)… remember to wash them regularly. Sports deodorants do wonders. Find the brand that works for you.
#2 Checking for Injuries
So you just submitted your opponent and you feel you are on top of the world! Great! Now, your sparring partner is complaining about a strain on his neck or on his shoulders. It is only proper to check if he is “ok.” As a newbie, you have yet to develop muscle sense (a term I coined for being able to know if excessive force was exerted). So checking on your sparring partner if he is hurt (especially if he doesn’t look that well) is a good practice to observe.
Best Practice: communicate constantly, especially if both of you are just starting out. Know everyone’s limits. Learn verbal and nonverbal taps.
#3 Asking for a Drill Partner
One of my peeves is whenever a fighter approaches me while I am resting or training, and instructs me to just lie down so he can do his drills on me! Some fighters do this even without checking if I am willing to be a drill dummy. More so, when a drill partner is a “drill hog,” i.e. someone who just wants to do drills 80% of the time.
Best Practice: set expectations about the drills and ask politely! Remember, if you guys are on an open mat session, pretty much it is everyone is in their own time! Tell your would-be partner that you need to practice on a submission, and you need his help. You must also let him know that you are willing to take turns!
#3 Sharing of Personal Items
Rubbing Alcohol, foot powder, body powder and even boxing gloves. Guys, seriously. These are personal items. It would be best if you will invest a bit of your hard earned money and get your own. Should you need to ask for those, ask permission. It is only proper.
#4 Sweaty Floors…
Alright. This is a tricky topic to discuss. There are those who sweat more than others. And nothing ruins a good BJJ session than stepping on sweat-drenched mats. Also it is a possible hazard for other students. I’ve seen students slip because of sweaty floors. And not all mats are made the same. Some absorb sweat, while some keeps sweat on the surface.
#5 – Celebrate success
There will be students who will get ahead of you in their growth. It’s fine. You will grow in your own time in BJJ. It is only good to celebrate their success. Remember: you are in this journey together. It is only right to celebrate their success. I am sure if this is to happen to you, they will be cheer for you as well.
#6 – Appreciation goes a long way
Never forget to say thank you. If you coach gives you extra time in coaching you, then thank him. Thank your sparring partner for helping you out. Thank the person in reception for addressing your training needs. I believe this is more of a way to improve your training experience.
A gentle Jiu-Jitsu reminder for everyone!=)
Nilo Valle Chinilla