Competing? Make Sure You’re Following These Five Rules Of BJJ Competition Etiquette

I’ve made the argument many times that when one competes, their focus should be entirely upon victory, and I stand behind this.  However, there are some rules of etiquette for competition that we are all well advised to follow.

Here are my top five rules for etiquette at competition that everyone should follow to ensure the best possible competition experience:

  1. When you’re not on the mat wear shoes.  This may sound like a silly thing to have to put on a list like this, but at just about every competition I attend I see some idiot walking around barefoot.  When you walk around barefoot your feet collect whatever dirt may be on the floor.  That means that if someone steeped in dog poop and tracked a trace of that in you now have that on your feet, and when you step on the mat you transfer that to the mat, which then transfers to my face.  Don’t do it!  I bring sandals or flip flops with me to competitions to avoid walking around barefoot; you can always just throw your shoes back on.  Don’t walk around barefoot.
  2. Always show respect before and after a match.  I don’t care if your opponent blatantly tried to gouge your eyes; after the match is over, shake their hand and stay on the mat until the decision has been announced (someone’s hand has been raised.)  It’s rude to walk off the mat before the hand raise.  Remember, there may be people at the event experiencing jiu-jitsu for the first time ever, people considering getting into the sport.  If they see you make an ass of yourself, it may turn them off enough to not try it out.  We are out there representing ourselves but also our teams, and our sport.
  3. Respect the referee.  This doesn’t mean you can’t protest calls, nor does it mean you can’t disagree with the referee. However, you should always respect the refs.  When they say “Stop,” stop.  When they pause the action to reset the match because you’re going out of bounds, respect that as well.  The referee is on the mat to keep competitors safe and to render decisions on outcomes of matches. Their job is very important.  If you have a grievance with a decision, air that grievance in a respectful manner.
  4. Get out of the way.  This works on a few levels.  For starters: be mindful of people who might be recording matches and try not to block their view.  If you linger in the area between the barricade and the mat, you may be blocking the view of coaches trying to deliver crucial instructions to their competitors.  Being in the way is a surprisingly common error people make at competition. Be mindful of your surroundings and what people are doing so that you aren’t a barrier to people being able to see/record/coach matches.
  5. Join your opponents on the podium, even if you lost.  Very often I see people leave before medals are handed out because they are unhappy with the outcome.  This makes the person standing above them look like they are receiving a default medal, which isn’t fair.  I wrote an article a while back about this, but the bottom line is that win, lose, or draw make sure to give your opponents the respect of stepping onto the podium with them.

These are my five rules for competition etiquette, what rules do you feel should be added to this list?  Or do you disagree with any off these?


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