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BJJ etiquette: 9 rules you should know

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is complicated, and not just because of the techniques you learn in class. Students who sign up to our Gracie Academy can sometimes be overwhelmed by the rules and etiquette expected of martial arts practitioners. 

Fear not: Jiu-Jitsu etiquette can be mystifying at first, but easy to remember once you know them.

If you’re new to BJJ, or thinking of signing up, these set of tips are for you. Some rules may sound obvious, but that doesn’t necessarily stop some people from occasionally breaking them. Wise words sometimes bear repeating!

If you’re completely uninitiated, BJJ is a martial art and self-defence system that predominantly takes place on the ground. It completely eschews striking, and focuses entirely on grappling. Learn more about it here.

gracie miranda brazilian jiu jitsu grand opening

Wash your gi after each use: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a fantastic full-body workout. That means you can expect to sweat – a lot. There’s nothing wrong with that, and eventually you’ll learn to love the exhaustion of hard training. But it’s of vital importance to your fellow training partners that you wash your gi after every class.

There are few things worse than rolling a training partner with a stinky, unwashed gi. 

Move away from higher belts while rolling: This is Jiu-Jitsu etiquette 101. When it comes time to roll, always defer to higher belts. If you and your training partner are white belts and you’re about to roll into blue belts, it’s your responsibility to move. Same if you’re two blue belts rolling into a purple, and so on.

Greet everyone when you step on the mats: Martial arts are all about trust. That’s especially true of Jiu-Jitsu, since it involves more involved sparring than any other art. When you arrive at class, it’s considered good etiquette to greet everyone on the mats. That can be a simple handshake or fist bump. 

Obviously, if you’re running late you don’t want to stop class to say hi to everyone. But greeting everyone as you step on the mats helps cultivate the familiarity that makes rolling a training exercise. 

Speaking of running late: If you’re late to class make sure you wait outside the mats to be called in by the instructor. 

Make sure your fingernails are cut: A lot of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu revolves around grips. You’re constantly trying to grab your opponents hands, elbows, necks and collars. Long fingernails make it easy to accidentally cut your opponent’s skin. We don’t like long fingernails.

Don’t grab people’s fingers: On the topic of grips, this is an important rule. If you’re being choked, you’ll naturally be grabbing for whatever reprieve you can catch. But know that gripping individual digits is not allowed.

Finger grips are legal if you’re holding three or more fingers, but it’s illegal and dangerous to grab individual fingers. 

Feet hygiene is important: The mats are only as clean as the feet that step on it. Shoes, sandals and thongs are never to be worn on the mats. Make sure you keep footwear outside the mat area. Put them on if you go to the bathroom or into the change rooms so that your feet are clean when you return to training.

Be careful with leglocks and wristlocks: This is unofficial Jiu-Jitsu etiquette, but etiquette nonetheless. Leg and wristlocks become regular features of training for higher belts. Wristlocks become available only at blue belt, and all leglocks outside of the straight footlock are reserved for brown belts up. 

If you’re a white belt working on your leg game, make sure your partner knows and is comfortable with it. And again – straight foot locks only. When wristlocks do open up to you, use them with care. Wrists are relatively brittle. 

Don’t slam your opponent or stack their neck: There are certain situations where these defensive options are attractive, especially for newcomers. If you’re stuck in someone’s guard, it almost seems logical to try and slam your way out of it. If you’re caught in a triangle, you’ll be tempted to stack your opponent’s neck to get out of it. Avoid both.

Jiu-Jitsu training is all about safety. We take care of our training partners. Use technique to get out of positions, not brute strength. Never risk your opponent’s neck or back.

Bow to Master Helio Gracie’s portrait when you enter the mats: Oss!

If you’re in the Sutherland Shire and are interested in martial arts classes, come into Gracie Miranda for a free trial class.