1)      Be clean– Your gi and anything else you wear should be clean and dry.  You need to have showered recently, and maintain clean hair.  You don’t need to smell great but make sure you don’t stink.  Keep in mind that you will be in close personal contact with other people.

2)      No shoes on the mat– Your school puts a lot of effort in keeping the mats clean.  The bottoms of your shoes are not clean, and any little rocks stuck in your shoes can easily poke holes in the mat.  If you can wear wrestling shoes at your school, only wear them on the mat.  Wrestling shoes worn on the street are no longer wrestling shoes.

3)      Have the right equipment– If you are the only student without a gi you should get one.  It makes a difference to the people you roll with, and it will help you learn moves that you could not learn otherwise.  At most schools it is ok to be gi shopping for a few weeks, but after that you should have one.  If you do not have a gi be courteous and don’t try to do a bunch of gi chokes to your training partner.  Don’t be surprised if they use their gi to choke or control you, after all, you are the one missing the equipment.  If you don’t have a gi, ask us where to get it.

4)      Be careful with your training partners– BJJ can be very dangerous.  You need to show your training partners respect and lookout for their safety.  If you are close to tapping someone out slow down, give them time to tap.  Focus on controlling them as the submission is happening and slowly applying pressure, it is their responsibility to tap but you need to give them time.  Be aware of your surroundings, don’t roll into other grapplers, and don’t roll off the mat.  In the event you accidently knee or elbow your training partner quickly apologize and slow down a little bit.

5)      Keep nails short– You don’t want to accidently scratch someone.  If you have a hard time remembering to cut your nails keep a pair of clippers in your gym bag.

6)      Keep your feet clean– Most people bring sandals or flip-flops to the gym.  Don’t walk barefoot anywhere that would get your feet dirty (restroom, outside).  This is just common sense when it comes to keeping the mat clean.

7)      Watch your language– It may be a fight gym with a bunch of tuff guys, but if there are kids around show them and the parents respect and keep the language clean.  

8)      Don’t change in mixed company– Don’t forget you are in public, keep your clothes on unless in a designated area.

9)      Pay attention during the techniques– It is rude to ignore or talk as your instructor is teaching and hope that they will teach the move again.  This is not grade school; if you annoy these people they will be choking you in a little while.  Do not ask the instructor a bunch of “what if” questions, or talk about how the technique is easily defeated. 

10)   Do the technique– After the technique has been shown, DO IT! And don’t stop until the instructor says you are done.  Don’t do the move 3 times and think you have it down, or start looking for flaws in the move.  Moves take a long time to understand, if you only do one move a night you will still learn lots of BJJ. 

11)   Be a positive representative– Don’t put on your school’s shirt and go around being a jerk.  If someone asks you about it, invite them in to see what it is about.  Don’t tell them how much of a stud you are; don’t tell them you will choke them easily.   If they do come to your school, thank them for coming and treat them as if they are your guest.  If they decide to roll, make sure they roll with people who are not going to give them a bad experience.  Be nice to new students, greet them and make an effort to help them feel comfortable.

12)   Don’t leave a mess– Pick up after yourself.  If this is too difficult for you, give the school your mom’s phone number so they can have her come in for you.

13)   Stay home if you are sick– Having someone that is sick on the mats is a great way for a lot of people to get sick.  Your friends will be missing school, work and time on the mat.  Taking a little time off will not hurt you, and your teammates will appreciate you keeping your germs to yourself.

14)   Help your training partners (if you are qualified)- If someone keeps making a mistake tell them.  Don’t keep taking advantage of it and tap them out with the same move over and over.  If you don’t know a good counter, find someone that does, maybe you both will learn something.  The better your training partners get at defending the better you will get at attacking.

15)   Cell phones– If you have a major event that is going to happen tell your instructor you might be getting a call.  Most things can wait; if you really need to be connected then sneak a peek during a water break.

16)   Work hard– You don’t need to be the greatest athlete on the mat, your team will respect you for working hard.  Don’t complain, if you are too tired that’s ok but push yourself. You know your limits.

17)   Be on time– Get to class on time, if it is unavoidable ask your instructor if you can come in a little late.  Do not continually show up just in time to roll, that is like telling your instructor that the techniques they are showing are not worth your time.  Don’t make your instructor stay late, be ready to leave before your instructor is ready to lock up.

18)   Don’t brag about tapping people out– Class is not a competition, and often not even a fair fight. Picture you have been rolling 30 minutes, and a fresh guy comes in and taps you out. He jumps up and celebrates, “yes!” People often roll hard against the advanced students, and take it easy on the newer ones. Don’t make a big deal of tapping someone out who once appeared to be invincible. If you really brag, you will probably pay for it next time you roll with that person.

19)   Be positive– A trick to doing BJJ for a long time is having fun, so enjoy your time on the mat.  Don’t get mad when you get tapped out or seek revenge, just smile and keep on training.  Speak highly of those who deserve it and encourage those who need a little support.

About Joao Crus