No one likes being the new guy, but everybody started from the bottom (pardon the pun). For anyone wishing to try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) for the first time, there are certain practices and etiquettes which should be adhered to.
As with all martial arts training, there will always be nerves when making that first step through the door of the gym or dojo. Having a grasp of some rudimentary pointers will invariably help those first-day nerves settle a little.
Below are some simple but effective tips which are designed to give the beginner a simple grasp of the expectations which trainers and members alike will respect and expect when making your first foray into the world of BJJ.
Keep Good Time Keeping
It is absolutely essential that you aim to arrive at least 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time for the class. While sometimes tardiness can be unavoidable, frequent lateness is disruptive for all. People also respect someone who turns up on time and is solid and reliable.
Remember to Warm Up Properly
This is key for loosening up and preventing injury. Many people skip this part and later regret it when they get injured. This is especially important for those of us at a more mature age!
Practice Good Hygiene
It is of upmost importance that, as you will be in close contact with other members, you shower and arrive at class as clean as possible. Cutting toenails is also very important. Just ask Mike Winklejohn, the premier MMA trainer of the Jackson-Wink gym, who partially lost his sight due to a student making contact with his eye during a training session. If you are wearing a Gi or simply a rash guard and shorts, make sure that they are washed.
Respect Coaches and Other Members
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts in general A lack of respect for anyone on the mats, be it an instructor or another white belt, will immediately draw heat you do not want. The same goes for knowing when to tap and when to ask questions.
Always slap hands, be humble and bump prior to rolling. Thank your opponent when done. Anything less is considered bad manners and is extremely frowned upon.
Be Disciplined with Drills, Dedication and Focus:
Ensure your attention is 100% to drills and that you are not floating in and out of the gym every few weeks. Focus in jiu jitsu is integral, so attempting to distract other members if your attention span is slipping is a definite no-no as a beginner. Communicating with your partner is also considered good practice.
Avoid Erratic Movements While Rolling
While BJJ is a contact sport, while you are learning to roll you should avoid pointless movements and throwing limbs around which could potentially strike your partner. This common-practice among beginners is considered an annoyance, and could be potentially dangerous should you inadvertently hurt your training partner.
Understand the Point of Drills
Drills allow members to simulate a scenario built upon a particular position under a certain amount of resistance. If told to apply a particular amount of resistance, do not exceed what you have been told to do. This completely negates the point of the drill and can be detrimental to your partner’s development on the mat.
Ensure You Are Healthy Before Entering Class
Colds, fevers or infections are viral and can completely wipe out the gym if passed around. If you are feeling unwell, consult your instructor first to assess if you are fit to train. Rolling while ill not only harms others around you, but can be detrimental to your own health.
Never Hold Your Submission After Your Partner Taps
This should be obvious and is possibly the most important rule of all. Want to piss off your teammates and draw negative attention to yourself? No, you don’t. Use your head and always obey the instructor’s commands and respect when your training partner taps.