A Few Items of BJJ Etiquette

Coach Foster addresses a seminar audience in Seaside, Oregon.--photo courtesy of Caryn Brooks.

Any subculture has its own norms and code of conduct.

Many of these unwritten rules of the academy may not be obvious to newer students. They are unlikely to be posted on the academy wall.

Here are a few reminders to assist newer students in avoiding a BJJ faux pas and offending the sensibilities of your training partners and instructor.

Don’t talk while the instructor is teaching technique.

I understand that you just had the perfect “that’s what she said” joke lined up, but hold onto it while the instructor is teaching the technique. It is a matter of basic respect for the instructor and the other students who are trying to concentrate.

Drill the technique until the instructor calls stop.

Some students perform four or five repetitions of the move and then sit on the mat chatting and waiting for the next move. It takes more than a mere five reps to effectively drill a technique into your muscle memory.

Already mastered this technique? Drill it on your weak side. Make the most of your training time!

If you smell bad…

I had a training partner whose rash guard smelled like salad dressing. It badly needed a soak in bleach or vinegar to kill the malodorous bacteria.

This is the number one complaint of training partners. If you aren’t sure if your gi or rash guard smells, ask a friend for a second opinion sniff.

Stay on topic.

I know you saw the most awesome move in the entire history of jiu-jitsu, but wait until the end of class. Drill what the instructor showed.

I was at a seminar with Roy Harris one time and he was showing a Kimura. Instead of drilling the move, I was playing with a variation with my partner. When Mr. Harris came to our end of the mat, I said, “I am having a problem with this move.” Mr. Harris startled me by answering “No you aren’t. I see you practicing something different.”


I nodded my head. He was right. “Point taken,” I said sheepishly. He later punctuated the lesson by submitting me with the variation that I was fooling around with.

Unless you are an expert and have achieved supreme mastery of the move, do not digress from what the instructor is showing in class that day.

Read also on Jiu-Jitsu Times: Injuries: An Ounce Of Prevention


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