5 Pet Peeves In BJJ

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The longer I train the more I laugh at all the things I use to do. I’m not referring to moves, but rather the general behavior. When a new white belt steps on the mat ; they usually have no idea what they are getting themselves into and as a result end up doing a lot of things that can be deemed annoying to the more veteran students. Every academy needs white belts and they really are the most important people in the gym, but someone needs to tell them the things that just are not acceptable or not beneficial to them in the academy, so here they are !


  1. Finger Grabbing– Please for the love of god just grab my wrist. Grabbing fingers is annoying and will lead to injuries really fast. In BJJ we end up with enough finger injuries, we don’t need our fingers being broken by any newbies.
  2. Over Defending– while yes having a good defense is great and important, you have to actually play Jiu-Jitsu in order to learn. When a big new white belt comes in and just curls up or lays and prays, it will sometimes keep them from getting submitted as fast, but it really halts your own progress.
  3. Bathroom Issues– Please keep some shoes on in the bathroom.. this shouldn’t need to be said, but bathrooms are dirty and we don’t need that to be tracked onto the mats. Also please don’t leave your partner hanging 3 times a class to go use the restroom. We all do it, but try to get it done before class begins.
  4. Strong Man Syndrome– To the big guys who come in and try to muscle everyone around, please stop. Not only could you potentially hurt someone, but we could hurt you…bad. I often find myself simply letting go of submissions on these guys just because if I extend anymore something will probably break. I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but you will be tapped out by people smaller and weaker. Leave your ego at the door.
  5. The Talker– While I don’t mind talking during training or rolling; you should keep it to a minimum in general. Nobody comes to class purely to talk. We all want to train the moves and learn. Also related, please stop asking “what if” questions about every move. While it is good to be curious and to try and learn, there are always going to be other moves and counters. Take it one day at a time and you will eventually piece the puzzle together.


What other habits do new students have that tend to be pet peeves?


  1. Over defending? I disagree completely. If you can’t break through my defense then I win and you need to work on your attacks.

    • That is completely the wrong mentality, this is training, this is not a real fight nor is it you looking to simulate a fight. This is also for new or early white belts, not some seasoned purple belt, if someone with experience in the art is looking to play pure defense, then that’s their prerogative, most likely they will be getting attacked.

      The idea of a higher belt playing bottom for a new white belt is more of being polite and more or less “a gift” to the new white belt, but after easily getting submitted two or three times they look at it as some sort of trick and the bottom is superior, until they have a more experienced player on top. They then learn lesson one, the top is generally better in a fight. Then they get into a conundrum of “now what.”

      I can think of one white belt who is about 3 months of experience I roll with about 2-3 times weekly and his method is almost complete disengagement. I pull guard as the higher belt, either locking up a closed guard or playing an open guard. If it’s closed, he will violently bear paw swing at any grips I slowly establish so he can recognize what happens, which is annoying and potentially dangerous to me, but it is what it is. If it’s open, he will try to run around me.

      The hope is the more lessons he takes, the more options he has, and realizes his current methods are wrong.

      Again, this is for training, we are there to learn, or should be. The one thing that will not make you better at jiu-jitsu is disengaging, if you do not want to get better at jiu-jitsu at a jiu-jitsu academy, I suggest taking up distance running.

      • Hey chad, the article specifically states this is for white belts, not upper belts who already know the game. Obviously defense is key in Jiu Jitsu, but I was referring more to what you talked about at the end of your comment..disengagement . Thanks – Kris


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