20 Unwritten Rules of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu You Need to Know

Don’t take another class until you’ve mastered these unwritten rules.

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a storied martial art with many traditions that extend back to the art’s very foundation. As a new student, it can be hard to know what’s expected of you when you enter your school, but don’t worry, just keep these tips in mind and you’ll fit right in:

1. Always use appropriate titles

Your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor is a skilled practitioner of a martial art, and as such is one of the most dangerous men or women alive. When you fail to call them “Professor” or “Master” this really hurts their feelings and makes it so that no Jiu-Jitsu instruction could reasonably be expected to take place.

2. Bow when getting on or off the mats

Every martial arts school is haunted by dangerous ghosts bound by no rules other than civility. When you bow onto and off of the mats, you render the mat ghosts harmless and live to roll another day.

3. Line-up for class in order of coaching preference

One of the most confusing things for a new Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu student is knowing where to stand when their coach has students line up before or after class. Tradition says that you should always line up by your coach’s personal feelings for you, with the favorite students front and center and students your coach doesn’t like kept out of sight at the ends or in the back.

4. Never wear shoes on the mat

There’s nothing more important than keeping the mats clean, because dirty mats can lead to nasty infections for anyone who rolls that day. That’s why you should always take your shoes off as soon as you enter the gym, and leave them off as you head to the locker room, bathroom and then class. You can pick them back up on your way out the door.

5. Only wear your home gym’s gear

Many students think it’s okay to purchase their own gear online or second hand, giving excuses like “gis are expensive” and “my gym’s gear don’t fit my body type” but this is WRONG! Any advanced practitioner knows that the techniques you are taught in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu only work if the clothes you are wearing have your instructor’s logos on them.

6. No smiling on the mats

Oh, I’m sorry, did you take Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because you thought it would be fun? Sorry, sunshine, but you don’t pay $150 a month to have fun. Training is serious business and you should never do anything offensive on the mats like talking, smiling, laughing or enjoying yourself.

7. Don’t visit another gym

There is nothing more sacred than the school you train at and there are no circumstances where it is okay to consider training at another school. Visiting another school when you are traveling, or taking a class with a friend who trains somewhere else, is the literal equivalent of stabbing your Professor in the kidneys, and is something that only the lowest of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners would ever do.

8. Never make eye-contact with a higher belt, worm

As a white belt, it’s important to understand that you are less than dirt. You should never affront a higher belt by doing something disrespectful like looking directly at them, asking them to roll or addressing them without whimpering.

9. Keep an onion in your pants

Nobody is quite sure when this rule came to be or what it was supposed to accomplish, and we’re all too embarrassed to admit it by asking. Just keep the onion in your pants and your mouth shut if you know what’s good for you.

10. Don’t brag about your roll where your partner can hear you

Everybody has their good days and bad days on the mats, and even the best grapplers can get caught. That’s why it’s important to remember the feelings of your partner when you have a good roll and wait until they are out of earshot before telling everyone at the gym about how you absolutely wrecked them with moves you’d never even tried before.

11. Use your weight when you roll

Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all about learning to defend yourself in practical situations, so any time you hold back you’re only hurting your partner. If you’re rolling with somebody who is smaller than you, make sure that you drop your weight on them as much as possible and use your strength advantage to muscle out of bad positions. They’ll thank you for it!

12. Always keep your membership active

So, your training partner shot a sloppy takedown and blew out your knee, putting you on the shelf for a year and costing you your job. Is that any excuse to freeze your dues while you recover? Sure, if you’re a disloyal snake, it is.

13. Bring your coach a gift

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts are people, too, and they love receiving a gift as much as you do. The next time you show up for class, surprise them with a special gift, like the ear of the Instagram user who said mean things in their comments.

14. Never encroach on higher belts during rolls

When rolling on mats with tight spacing, staying aware of your surroundings is a must. If you ever find that you have rolled into the space of higher belts, apologize immediately, vacate the space and self-flagellate with your belt for fifty strokes for each belt level they outrank you by.

15. Learn your lineage

Understanding where your training originates is a key part of mastering Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Before showing up for class, make sure that you study your instructor’s lineage. If you can’t don’t know every forbearer in your chain and their questionable actions that should never be brought up, you’re not ready to take class.

16. No politics on the mat

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone, and the only way to keep it that way is to make sure that everyone knows you won’t do anything offensive like complaining to your coach because the new guy has SS bolts tattooed on his cheeks.

17. Oss



18. Don’t use the bathroom during class

It’s considered disrespectful to leave the mats during class, so you should always go to the bathroom before class to avoid bringing shame upon your instructor. If it is an emergency and you absolutely cannot hold it, tradition says you should use your gi as a diaper.

19. Safety first, unless they hurt your pride

The safety of your training partners should always be a top priority on the mats. If you aren’t looking out for them, why should they look for you? That’s why you should never try dangerous maneuvers on a training partner unless you are in danger of being embarrassed, such as if they are trying to submit you or advance their position.

20. Keep your nails trimmed

There’s no joke here. Trim your fucking nails.

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