While jiu-jitsu is hailed often as an ego-killer, there are still plenty of people who step onto the mats with plenty of ego to spare. The result can be cringey or embarrassing (for them or their teammates), and at its worst, these pride problems can result in injuries among training partners.
If you do these things during jiu-jitsu practice, it’s time to stop and reevaluate your attitude and actions before you find yourself without a single willing rolling partner:
1. “I was going light on you that time.”
Look, whether you were or weren’t, this is like going on a date and telling your romantic interest, “You’re not nearly as hot as the people I normally go out with.” It’s a weird way to try to boost your ego, and ultimately, it just makes you look super insecure. If you really were going light and got caught in a submission, who cares? It happens to the best of us, especially when we aren’t training like we’re competing. If you weren’t going light and had been giving it your best before getting smashed, give your partner props, then slap hands and go again. There’s no reason to put your training partner down — it doesn’t make you look as tough as you think it does.
2. Celebrating after a tap in the gym
People have differing opinions on what is and isn’t “too much” when it comes to post-victory celebrations in competition, but just about everyone is on the same page when it comes to post-tap celebrations in practice. Pretty much everyone you train with knows the awesome feeling of submitting someone for the first time or getting a tap on someone who normally crushes you, and no one would shame you for feeling excited about such a milestone. But leaping to your feet and whooping or ripping your gi top open will just give everyone around you second-hand embarrassment and mark you as someone who takes practice way too seriously. Keep the joy inside your mind, brag about it to a friend later if you really need to, but don’t ever treat your teammates like opponents.
3. Going 110% on someone way lighter or less experienced than you
There’s a difference between going “easy” on someone and adjusting your technique to make it a fair fight. If you’re 200lbs and your training partner is 115lbs, you don’t need to knee-on-belly them into the next dimension to hold them down. If you’re a purple belt training with a two-month white belt, heel hooking them every five seconds because they don’t know how to defend it yet isn’t helping either of you progress. This isn’t to say that you should “let” these physically or technically disadvantaged teammates beat you — just don’t be obnoxious about how easy it is to crush them. Give them a challenge while using the opportunity to work the weaker aspects of your own game.
4. Giving someone “advice” after they tap you out
Whether it’s the classic “That was more of a crank than a choke” or more detailed advice about how they secured that armbar on you, just don’t say it. They tapped you out, and you’re not going to save face by downplaying their submission and telling them how it could have been better. They’ll see right through your attempt to save your ego, and your patronizing attitude might start to cost you rolling partners.
5. Hurting training partners for the sake of hurting them
There’s a difference between using pain to open up submission attempts (for example, using a bicep slicer to make someone stop defending an armbar) and using pain just to be a jerk. Inexplicably, lots of BJJ practitioners have stories about their own teammates deliberately cranking or holding onto submissions for too long or doing things like rubbing the sleeve of their gi back and forth over their face to cause gi burn. If you hate one of your teammates that much that you want to actually hurt them when you train, just don’t roll with them. If you do this to all of your teammates, maybe it’s time to take a step back from training entirely until you can stop trying to injure the people who are trying to help you improve.