Training in a safe, mutually respectful environment is crucial to progressing

A lot of martial arts (BJJ included) gym websites post their schedules, tuition fees, directions to the gym and “about the instructor” sections.

What they don’t tell you about is Mat Etiquette.  BJJ often tends to be the least formal of martial arts.  There is rarely any bowing/clapping or formal ceremony.  But make no mistake, there are some guidelines you should follow.

The etiquette is about being a decent human being with common sense.  On and Off the Mat.

Below I have listed out a few helpful suggestions that may help to make your BJJ training experience more successful.

1.) Be on time, if not early for class.  This is a big one for every instructor I have ever had.  Your instructor’s time is valuable.  When you are late, you show a lack of respect for him/her.  You also show a lack of respect for your teammates/training partners.  When you are on time/early, you show respect for the art, your instructor and everyone at the gym.  You say to them with your actions “I am serious about my BJJ journey.”  I guarantee you, you will be respected for it.  It might not be vocalized, but it will be recognized.

If you are going to be late (life does happen) give your instructor short call/text/email to notify him/her.  It’s just plain good manners.  Besides, how would YOU feel, if your INSTRUCTOR was late?

2.) Be clean.  Take a shower before you train.  Or at least wipe your sweat off with a towel/bring a fresh gi/training uniform to each class.  Noone wants a skin infection.  I assure you, you do not want my funk on you.  And I don’t want yours either.  (A personal note here: You are going to be in someone’s personal space for the next few hours.  Please. Use. Mouthwash/Gum/Mints.)  See the Hygiene Article!

3.) Keep it quiet during instruction.  Seriously, you can’t learn without listening.  And you can’t listen if you are talking during instruction.  Try to keep questions on topic and relevant to the instruction, but also at a minimum.

4.) Be a GREAT training partner.  It takes time to learn to be a great training partner.  But setting a goal for yourself to be a great training partner starts you off on the right path.  Be polite and try to provide the “sweet spot” for resistance during drills.  Not full resistance, not flopping around like a fish.  Somewhere in between.  Respect your partner, and you will be respected.  Fact.

A side note here, your training partner’s safety is as important as your own.  Be slow and controlled with your training partner(s).

5.) When you roll, roll with respect first, intensity second.  Rolling is NOT a fist fight.  It’s not a battleground or a proving ground.  It’s a workshop for you and your training partner.  Respect one another and work hard, but with CONTROL.  Do yourself a favor and find out the “Leg Lock” rules at the gym.  You don’t want to KNEEBAH, when it’s not acceptable to do.

6.)  Do whatever your instructor asks you to do.  Whether you want to do it or not.  Seriously, your instructor has developed a plan to build you up.  He/She knows best and have probably been at it for at least 10 years or so.  Do as you’re asked.  Keep the complaints/excuses off the mat and out of the gym.  They will not benefit you.

However, if you have a physcial limitation (in my case a fused ankle), make your instructor/training partners aware and work around it.  Chances are you’ll surprise yourself by overcoming and adapting.

These are just a few examples of BJJ Gym Etiquette.  The key theme here is respect.  For yourself, for your instructor, gym and training partners.  You have to be respectful to be respected.