Jiu-Jitsu Etiquette

Just like all other sports, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Etiquette needs to be observed. Here is what you need to keep in mind. I’ll do this in order of ‘good advice’ to ‘essential’.

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Greet every partner with a smile & handshake

If you don’t know your training partner, take a quick second to introduce yourself and get their name. If this the second or third time someone has gotten your name and not remembered it, don’t worry about it. A Jiu Jitsu mat is a terrible place to play the name game. You have probably forgotten a name or two as well.

Use the proper title for your instructor

Jiu-Jitsu EtiquetteWatch what the other students do. Most places I have been to don’t require that you refer to instructor as sifu, or teacher but use some tact and see what the others do. Most schools have Brazilian roots and Brazilians are a pretty informal group of people. On special occasions, the higher ups may call each other ‘Professor’ or ‘Maestro’.

Clean Gi & Clean body

Come to class with the gi totally clean. Jiu-Jitsu mats are not always the cleanest places. They are often home to pathogens and bacteria. Gis can pick up mat diseases. So do your part and clean your gi directly after every practice. Same goes for your body. This shouldn’t have to be said but shower after every BJJ class. Trim your nails as well. Nails can slice and cut your training partners. Pretty standard stuff here.

Mind the Rule book

This is a big one. If you are a white belt, don’t go into practice matches and start slamming and striking. If you’re new to BJJ and it is still not clear on the rules start here

  • Don’t strike
  • Don’t slam
  • No eye gouges
  • No hair pulling
  • Don’t grab and bend the individual fingers

Never take your opponents actions as personal

This is the big one. Never take your training partners moves as personal. Even if they are offending this rule, do not play into this downward spiral. This is a difficult point as we are in a very close quarters martial art. There is a very fine point to clarify here, so pay close attention. I am not fighting another human being. I am in contest against my practice partners ‘game’. Jiu Jitsu is a series of offensive or defensive moves against an opponent taking similar action against me. I may like or not like this person. But during the Jiu Jitsu live training session, it is not relevant what my personal feelings are about that person. Master this distinction and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will be a lot more manageable.

Show Respect

Jiu-Jitsu EtiquetteOne of the best things about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the show of respect. There is an air of mutual reverence that is infectious. You don’t see this level of good behavior in other areas of life. This shocked me when I first joined. One would think that a BJJ gym consists of a bunch of anti social, maladjusted men giving each other the stink eye. We watch people use disrespect as a tool to harvest respect. This only works in situations where people cannot measure others. In the BJJ school the hierarchy is clear. Black belts have the rank and the ability to back it up. The senior belts show respect to everyone regardless of belt and rank. They do this because their journey has been stained with hardship and humility. Anyone can make a claim that he/she is the best, but they will be expected to back it up. The best route to take is smile and be friendly  with all of your practice partners. Thank them for the roll they just participated in with you and always remember that if you are disrespectful on the mat you are not getting the essence of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Leave the ego at the door

Jiu-Jitsu EtiquetteYou cannot develop your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game and maintain a bloated ego at the same time. Big egos in the dojo just read like mental problems. Don’t be that guy. One would think big egos would be super useful in a thing like Jiu JItsu but they aren’t. In fact, after a couple minutes of live mat time the people in the class will have a great understanding of who you are and your abilities. If you walk into a new mat room with an air of superiority they will throw their Alphas at you and quietly celebrate when you get tapped. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is very revealing that way. So again, leave the ego at the door.


At Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s center is a martial arts system for dealing with larger, stronger opponents. All the other stuff like the ‘tough guy’ acts, disrespect, big egos and bad hygiene have nothing to do with BJJ. They are distractions. Do your best to stay away from the above examples and you should do great.

See you on the mat & Keep it Gentlemen.

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