BJJ Academy Etiquette & Unwritten Rules

BJJ Academy Etiquette & Unwritten Rules


By Guillaume (Gile) Huni, BJJ black belt and head instructor of Kimura Academy in Belgrade, Serbia.

Each BJJ academy has their own set of specific rules. Some schools require students to face the wall while tying their belts or lower belts are not allowed to ask higher belts to roll. Here are some general unwritten rules and guidelines, in order to maintain a positive environment in a BJJ academy.


1.Take care of your training partners. Do not crank submissions . Always show respect to your instructors, training partners, and fellow human beings. Do not seek to harm fellow students physically. When applying a submission, for example an arm lock, once you have the arm extended do not crank the arm at the end. Slowly adjust the hold and wait for the tap. You have already done 99% of the job. If your technique is tight, there is no reason to be rough.

2. NEVER walk on the mats in your street shoes. The mat is where we roll, so it always has to stay clean. In the same way, when stepping off the mat (to go to the toilet), do not walk outside with bare feet. Wear sandals or shoes.

3. Clean Gi at all times, Cut your fingernails and toenails/ General good hygiene If you can, try to clean your Gi after each class or buy an extra Gi if you train often. Cutting toe nails is important for you (you can bend a toe nail) and for your training partners (scratching).

4. Don’t brag about/ celebrate tapping an opponent out during training. It’s a great way to make enemies at the gym. If you catch somebody, you catch somebody. No big deal. You haven’t won anything and nobody cares if you taped Henri the 40 year old accountant who has 2 mortgages, and 2 kids… Also some guys have ups and downs. Some can be tired that night, some could have been taking it easy etc.. So don’t make too much out of it. Just train hard, drill hard and have fun!

5. Be An Example For Lower Belts. You’re Never Too Good To Drill the Day’s Technique Like The Others. Sometimes, when professor shows a simple or basic technique, some higher belts will skip drilling. They may think that this technique was done a hundred times before. What they don’t understand is that drilling simple techniques over and over again is what will make your game improve. Look at Judokas, they drill countless times basic throws to build up muscle memory.
In BJJ, there is always a detail that you may have missed that makes the whole difference in the technique. That’s why, however good you are, don’t be lazy, when the professor shows a technique, you should be an example for the lower belts and drill just like all the others. We can always learn something new about a basic technique.

6. If you come in late, always salute the instructor(s) and all other black belts present.

7. If you are too tired to roll, still try to roll but just defend. We only have a short time for live rolling, so you have to make the most out of it.  If you feel gassed out and don’t feel like you can take on a roll right away, take it anyway, but spend your time conserving your energy and work on your defense. It’s better than just sitting on the sidelines.

8. Do not talk while the instructor is showing a technique.

9. Don’t stop drilling a technique until the instructor tells you to stop.

10. Do not leave the mat during class without the instructor’s permission.

11. If you have the flu or a cold please stay home and rest. You will infect the whole academy.

12. If you have ringworm, please don’t come training. Stay home and treat it. Ringworm is highly contagious. You will infect your training partners.

13. Learn to properly fall during takedowns in sparring. If you start the roll standing, chances are that you will taken down. When your opponent lifts you in the air for the throw, the stiffer you are, the harder and more painful the fall. You need to relax your body when in mid air. Never hold out your arm to defend a throw. That’s a sure way to fracture your arm.

14. Always try to use more technique than brute strength at all times.

15. Work on your weaknesses in training. Don’t always use your ‘A Game’. Training is not a competition. It’s a lab for improving, testing new things.


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