Correct Etiquette In A Jiu-Jitsu School

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Correct Etiquette In A Jiu-Jitsu School


Prof Dave, Prof Fernando, Prof Jack, and I have been training in Jiu-Jitsu for years (well, decades, to be exact) and there are many things we’ve learned in our years training Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Today, the focus of this post will be the proper “etiquette” everyone needs to have in order to make it an enjoyable experience training for them and their training partners.

Granted, some of us have higher/lower tolerances for each thing named below, but suffice to say, if you adhere to them, there should be absolutely no chance of you running afoul of any of your training partners!

Acknowledgement Of Very Close Contact

Jiu-Jitsu participants not only engage in a “contact” art, they engage in a close contact art.

There’s absolutely no way around it.

There are going to be instances where someone is not only “inside your bubble,” so to speak, but they’ll be inside your bubble and all “up in your stuff.”

I know, sounds so pleasing, right?

Well, that’s what this post is for, to make a few suggestions for some adjustments/changes in our tendencies to make something inherently unpleasant, a total non-issue (I can’t say it’ll ever be pleasant, though you may be weird like that).

Many of us “old-timers” think these are all common knowledge, but they really aren’t. Some of them will strike a chord with you, others have never crossed your mind.

First and foremost, it goes without saying, before stepping onto the mats, make sure you take off all jewelry (better yet, leave them at home or in the car), which can cause some nasty scratches and if you have long hair, have it tied/braided/covered up. The last thing anyone wants is to inadvertently grab your hair and end up with a handful in their hands while causing you some significant pain. In reality, even though Jiu-Jitsu is often seen as a “combat” art, no one really wants to hurt anyone in class and there is genuine concern for training partners who get hurt.

  1. If you’re seen as relatively strong vs your training partner(s), “handicap” yourself to give your opponent a fighting chance. No one likes constantly being smashed and likewise, you always smashing an individual is no fun. Even a cat will give a mouse a chance to run away “to make things interesting” ;-).
  2. If you’re seen as technically superior vs your training partner(s), see #1
  3. When your faces are in close proximity to each other and you’re particularly exhausted, DON’T be exhaling into your partner’s face! No one wants to have no choice but to breathe in someone else’s CO2 or worse, CO2 that is not unscented. Simple solution, turn your head away and breathe in another direction.
  4. Always come to class/training sessions with a clean, fresh, and dry uniform (gi, gi pants, belt, rash guard, or t-shirt). Do NOT simply hang it over a chair to dry it out immediately after use so you can use it again without actually laundering it. ALWAYS wash your gi as immediately as feasibly possible. Letting your gi dry on its own before washing all that grossness out will allow the bacteria and stinky stuff to multiply and be in your uniform permanently over time. Bacteria love nothing more than dirty, wet environments from which to multiply. You can tell your uniform is “shot” when as soon as your body heats up in the first few minutes of training, it smells of something other than laundry detergent, which leads to #5…
  5. Never keep a gi for too long. Rotate your gis regularly. Toss old gis in the trash. Really. Once they begin to stink when you begin to sweat, they’re trash. And no, washing them in vinegar doesn’t help; it only makes your gi smell like vinegar. My recommendation, buy several of them. They don’t have to be the expensive bamboo or hemp ones, regular cotton ones will do just fine. Don’t just use one gi three times a week for a year (especially if you’re a “heavy sweater”). You’ll become the studio’s “stinky guy” no one wants to train with.
  6. If you don’t usually wear a t-shirt under your gi, it’s your responsibility to always be sure your gi opening is always closed, and your belt always secured (every time you stop rolling, tie your belt). If you do wear a t-shirt, that doesn’t give you an excuse to smother your partner with a sweat-soaked t-shirt, either. If your t-shirt/rash guard smells “at first sweat,” just like your gi, it’s done. Toss it and get a new one.
  7. If you’re sick, please stay at home. If you absolutely need to be at the academy, sit off to the side and just watch. Leave your gi at home so you’re not tempted to suit up and get everyone else sick.
  8. Ladies – do NOT wear makeup! I’ve seen several instances where a woman’s bronzer (I think that’s what it’s called) stained her partner’s white gi. Really, ladies, there is absolutely no reason to wear makeup to class. If you already have it on before class, simply wash it off before coming to class.
  9. We all want to smell good (and want our partners to smell pleasant, as well), so if you do an activity prior to class that requires physical activity, be kind and shower before class. I know that you’re going to get all sweaty and stinky when you’re training, but the close contact of jiu-jitsu requires the utmost in courtesy for your fellow training partners.
  10. Do not apply cologne or perfume before coming to class! What smells great to you may smell less than great to your training partner(s), who definitely don’t want to drive home to their significant other smelling like you (“Honey, I thought you said you were at jiu-jitsu?”) and having some ‘splaining to do.
  11. If you have an open wound, or an outbreak of staph, MRSA, or ringworm, stay off the mats and get yourself checked out. The staph, MRSA, and ringworm can spread like wildfire in an environment like a jiu-jitsu studio.
  12. Some of us sweat profusely. It is our responsibility to try not drip sweat on our partners’ faces. Getting someone else’s sweat dripping into your mouth, eyes, or nostrils is just gross, lol! If you are a “dripper,” take a moment to at least wipe your face on your sleeve before putting your head above your partner’s face.
  13. Clean mats are absolutely essential for a good experience for all training. If you’re one who tends to come in early before the others, or tends to stay late, consider using the extra time to take the liberty to sweep off and mop the mats (with an antibacterial solution, of course).
  14. Lastly (for now) always bring footwear you can wear in every part of the studio that is not that mat room. Do NOT walk around the studio (especially in the restrooms) barefooted and then plan to step onto the mats. Our faces all get put onto that mat!

And there you have it. It may seem like a lot to remember at first, but after you experience the wrong end of any of them (you probably have already by now), you’ll have an appreciation for others being aware of their tendencies, as well!

Happy Training!

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