16 Must Know Jiu Jitsu Pet Peeves

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By Luciana Oliveira

The wonderful world of Jiu-Jitsu! It’s a place where we roll, tap, and many times laugh on the mat. But hey, even in this joyful dojo of ours, there are a few quirks that can make us go, “Really, dude?”

So, after some delightful chit-chat and a whole lot of giggles with some of my training partners, and also some in depth online research, I’ve put together a list of Jiu-Jitsu pet peeves that you’ll definitely want to steer clear of.

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I know what you’re thinking: “These are probably just common-sense things, right?” Well, you’d think so, but you’d be amazed at how often these seemingly obvious “do’s and don’ts” get tossed out the window faster than you can say “Oss!” Trust me, it happens more often than you’d like to believe.

Putting this list together was an absolute blast! I had the time of my life bantering with the team and writing down these points down. Some of them were so hilariously on point that I couldn’t help but burst into laughter.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it! And just a disclaimer, do not take it too personally or too seriously and bare in mind this is a very generic list.

1. Dirty Gi

We’re diving right into the deep end with this one. When I chatted with the lads, this topic was a unanimous chart-topper.

No one, and I mean no one, wants to roll with someone who smells like they’ve just run a marathon in the Sahara Desert.

Jiu-Jitsu is all about close contact—you’re practically giving each other hugs, just with more chokes involved. So, dirty gi is a big deal. Please keep yourselves and your gis always clean and fresh!

A clean gi is a sign of respect for everyone sharing that mat space with you. A little soap, a splash of water, and maybe a spritz of deodorant can go a long way in making the rolling experience enjoyable for everyone involved.

Before we step onto that mat, let’s promise to be as fresh as a daisy—or at least as fresh as one can be when preparing for a sweaty Jiu-Jitsu session.

2. Bad Nail Care

Long and dirty fingernails and toenails….a topic that’s often overlooked but so important in the Jiu-Jitsu universe! Keeping nails neat and tidy is like Jiu-Jitsu 101 for personal hygiene.

On my first class this was one of the first things the coach told me “You will need to cut those nails waaaay shorter”. I had massive acrylic nails at the time so, that was a bummer but absolutely necessary. bv

And get this—some of us are so on top of our nail game that we’ve got a dedicated nail clipper living its best life right there in our gym bags.

So, the next time you’re packing your bag for training, maybe slip in a nail clipper alongside your gi and mouthguard.

3. Body Odour

Now, I know we all want to be memorable on the mat, but trust me, being the person who smells like they’ve just wrestled a skunk is not the way to leave a lasting impression.

Personal cleanliness is so basic, yet so crucial. A quick shower before class and a freshly laundered gi are like the red carpet you roll out before the big event on the mat.

It’s not just a sensory assault; it can genuinely mess with your training partner’s focus and enjoyment of the session.

So, let’s talk courtesy and respect, the twin pillars of any martial arts community. Keeping yourself smelling fresh is like sending a thank-you note to your training partners in advance.

So, as you’re packing your gym bag, make sure it includes a clean gi and maybe even a travel-sized deodorant. It’s a small act, but one that speaks volumes about your respect for the dojo and evmjeryone in it.

Make sure you and your gi are clean before entering the mat. It makes the training experience better for everyone and ensures that the only thing memorable about you is your killer technique, not your killer smell.

4. Bad Breath

We’re not just sharing techniques; we’re sharing air space, often just inches away from each other’s faces. Brushing your teeth before class or carrying some mints with you will go a long way!

Some folks are so committed to the cause of fresh breath that they keep a mini bottle of mouthwash right in their gym bag.

Good hygiene isn’t just about you; it’s a love letter to your entire training community. By keeping yourself clean and fresh, you’re not just elevating your own game; you’re making the dojo a more pleasant place for everyone.

5. Big Ego

There is no place for ego on the mat. Jiu-Jitsu is like a never-ending journey of discovery, and guess what? No one—yes, not even that black belt who seems to have superpowers—knows it all.

When you let your ego take the wheel, you limit your own growth by thinking you’ve got nothing more to learn.

An inflated Ego has a ripple effect and can disrupt the learning environment, making it less conducive for everyone to grow and thrive.

In the world of Jiu-Jitsu, humility isn’t just a virtue; it’s a superpower. It opens doors to self-improvement, invites constructive feedback, and fosters a culture where everyone feels respected and valued.

Without the Ego acting as a barrier, you’re more open to connecting with your training partners on a deeper level. These connections often turn into strong partnerships that enrich your training experience and might even lead to lifelong friendships.

So, the next time you step onto the mat, consider leaving your Ego in the changing room, next to your shoes and your worries. By doing so, you’re setting the stage for a richer, more fulfilling Jiu-Jitsu journey, not just for yourself but for everyone you train with.

6. Hiding Skin Infections Or Sickness

You’d think it’s common sense, but oh boy, you’d be surprised how often this one slips through the cracks. If you’re feeling under the weather or you’ve got some funky skin situation going on, let’s do everyone a favour and Netflix and chill at home, okay?

If you’re sick or sporting a skin condition that even your grandma wouldn’t kiss, you’re not just risking your own health, but others. Not cool, my friends, not cool. It’s not just about you; it’s about everyone else who shares the mat with you.

Conditions like ringworm, staph, or impetigo are not just gross; they can also bench you and your training partners for weeks, requiring medical treatment. And let’s not even get started on heavy hitters like the flu or COVID-19. Those can be game-changers in the worst possible way.

So, if you’re feeling iffy go see a doctor and get the all-clear before you make your grand return to the mat. By taking a rain check when you’re not feeling 100%, you’re not just being responsible—you’re embodying the values of respect and community care that make martial arts so special.

I am currently a bit under the weather with flu like symptoms and refraining from going to class, which honestly annoys me deeply, but I would feel awful spreading whatever I am carrying to my fellow gym goers.

It’s a small but mighty act that helps keep our training environment as healthy and awesome as it should be.

7. Wearing Socks On The Mat

Who knew that a simple piece of fabric could stir up so much controversy? It’s the pineapple-on-pizza argument of the martial arts world.

First off, let’s acknowledge that the sock situation isn’t black and white. Some folks swear by them, arguing that they’re like little shields for your feet, protecting you from mat burns and those pesky fungal invaders that nobody invited to the party.

Others say socks are like cozy foot sweaters, especially welcome in dojos that feel like they’re located in the Arctic Circle. However, the majority opinion in the Jiu-Jitsu world leans more towards #teambarefoot.

Imagine trying to pull off a slick sweep only to find your feet is wet and slippery. Not ideal, especially during intense sparring sessions where every inch counts.

Your feet are like your second pair of hands on the mat, giving you valuable feedback as you grapple. Socks can act like mufflers, masking that sensory input and making it harder to read both your movements and those of your opponent.

Reduced traction isn’t just an inconvenience; it’s a potential safety hazard. A slip at the wrong moment could lead to awkward tumbles or even injuries, for you and your training partner.

Training barefoot is often seen as part of the dojo etiquette, a nod to the generations of martial artists who have come before us. Wearing socks might be viewed as a break from this time-honoured practice, and not everyone might be cool with that.

So, what’s the verdict? To sock or not to sock? Well, that’s ultimately up to you, but it’s always a good idea to check in with your instructor or your gym’s specific guidelines.

You know, just to make sure you’re not stepping on any toes—figuratively or literally.

In the end, the sock debate is a nuanced one, with valid points on both sides.

But by understanding the pros and cons, you can make an informed choice that suits your needs and respects the dojo’s culture.

8. If You Say You’re Rolling Light, Roll Light!

The tale of the “light roll” that turned into a WWE SmackDown! I can almost hear “FINISH HIM!” This one always gets a chuckle out of me because, let’s be honest, we’ve all been there.

You agree to a chill, laid-back roll, and then—bam!—it’s like someone flipped the “beast mode” switch and wants to murder you, or you murder them.

Jiu-Jitsu is like a trust fall—you’re literally putting your well-being in someone else’s hands (or arms, or legs). So, when you say you’re going for a light roll and then suddenly turn into a human bulldozer, you’re not just breaking the rules; you’re breaking trust.

Light rolls are like the stabilizers of Jiu-Jitsu. They let you practice your moves and techniques without the fear of getting steamrolled.

So, when you suddenly crank up the intensity, you are at a higher risk of injuries, and nobody wants to add “unexpected trip to the A&E” to their training schedule.

Light rolls are your chance to slow down and focus on the finer points of technique, timing, and strategy. Changing the pace disrupts this educational journey, depriving both you and your partner of some valuable Jiu-Jitsu wisdom.

If you suddenly go from zero to sixty, don’t be surprised if your partner feels the need to match your intensity. This can lead to a vicious cycle of escalation that could end in unnecessary roughness, resentment or injuries.

9. Trying Social Media Tricks

Those flashy, jaw-dropping moves that rack up likes and shares faster than you can say “Oss!”. But before you try to turn your dojo into your personal TikTok stage, let’s pump the brakes and chat about why those viral moves should come with a “Don’t Try This at Home” disclaimer.

Those dazzling techniques you see online are often performed by folks who’ve spent years, if not decades, perfecting their craft.

Trying to mimic them without the proper training is a recipe for disaster, and not just for you but for your unsuspecting training partner as well.

The coaches carefully curated a lesson plan designed to nourish your martial arts soul. Throwing in a random viral trick from Instagram can mess up the whole class, making the it less effective.

Just because a move looks cool doesn’t mean it’s practical. Those high-flying, camera-ready techniques often sacrifice efficiency for aesthetics. Practicing them can lead you down a rabbit hole of bad habits that are hard to break.

Before you even think about attempting that viral move, have a chat with your coach. They can give you the lowdown on whether it’s a good fit for your skill level and how it suits with the class’s objectives.

Got the green light? Awesome! But remember, start slow, maybe even in slow motion, and make sure your partner knows you’re venturing into uncharted territory.

10. Rolling Against Your Will

So, let’s chat about why it’s not just okay but downright commendable to decline a roll when you’re not feeling it. Your well-being is the VIP of your Jiu-Jitsu journey.

If you’re not feeling 100%, whether it’s a nagging injury or just a general sense of unease, it’s better to be a spectator than a statistic. Trust me, the mats will still be there tomorrow, but only if you’re in one piece to step onto them.

Jiu-Jitsu isn’t just a workout for your muscles; it’s a gym session for your brain, too. If your mind is elsewhere—maybe you’re stressed, distracted, or just not in the zone—you’re not going to be at your best.

And a distracted mind can lead to mistakes, which can lead to injuries which will keep you off the mat, and you will not enjoy that. It’s a domino effect you don’t want to set in motion.

Ever get that gut feeling that tells you rolling with a particular person might not be the best idea? Listen to it. Your instincts are like your body’s built-in alarm system, and they usually know what they’re talking about.

So, you’ve decided to sit one out. How do you say “no” without making it awkward? You don’t need to spill your life story. A simple, “I’m going to sit this one out, thanks,” is like the verbal equivalent of a polite bow—short, sweet, and respectful.

If you’re not up for rolling but still want to be part of the action, how about suggesting some light drilling instead? Or you could say you’ll be ready to roll in the next round after catching your breath. It’s like saying, “It’s not you; it’s me,” but in a way that leaves the door open for future rolls.

Remember, everyone’s there to learn and grow. Declining a roll is your right, but try to do it in a way that respects the other person’s time and effort. A little courtesy goes a long way.

11. Higher Belts Avoiding Lower Belts

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of higher belts dodging lower belts as if they were avoiding a puddle on a rainy day. Jokes aside, higher belts should be the wise owls of the dojo, sharing their wisdom and experience with the eager young sparrows.

Jiu-Jitsu is less of a solo marathon and more of a group hiking adventure. Those who’ve been on the trail longer have a treasure trove of “been there, done that” wisdom to share.

When higher belts take on the role of mentors, they’re not just giving; they’re also receiving. Teaching is the best form of learning, after all.

When higher belts actively engage with lower belts, it creates a culture that’s warm and welcoming. It’s an environment where everyone—regardless of their belt colour—feels like they belong.

Being mindful of these dynamics and acting accordingly doesn’t just make you a better training partner; it elevates the entire experience.

So, higher belts, consider this your friendly nudge to be the mentors you were destined to be. And lower belts, don’t be shy to seek guidance. There is absolutely no shame in that!

After all, today’s white belts are tomorrow’s black belts, and the cycle of learning and teaching continues, making the dojo a nurturing ground for all.

12. Going Too Hard on Newer People

While it might be tempting for the experienced practitioners to flex their muscles on the newer folks, it’s essential to remember that the mat is a place of learning, not a gladiator arena.

Sparring is like the practical exam after a series of lectures. It’s where you get to test out all those cool techniques and strategies you’ve been learning. Going full steam ahead on someone who’s just getting their feet wet isn’t just uncool—it’s counterproductive.

Tapping out someone who’s just starting their Jiu-Jitsu journey isn’t exactly a badge of honour. Remember, the mat is a place of mutual respect, not an arena to boost one’s ego.

Going all out on a new joiner can be like pouring a bucket of cold water on their enthusiasm. It can be disheartening and might even make them reconsider their decision to embrace the Jiu-Jitsu journey.

New practitioners are still learning the fundamentals. They might not know how to fall correctly or defend themselves effectively. Going too hard on them is a recipe for potential injuries and may discourage them to stay.

A balanced sparring session is a shot of confidence for a new joiner. It gives them a glimpse of their potential and motivates them to keep pushing forward. By dialling down the intensity, you’re giving the new joiner chance to practice and refine their techniques.

Treating every member, regardless of their experience level, with kindness and respect paints a beautiful picture of camaraderie and unity. It’s the kind of environment where everyone feels valued and supported.

By approaching it with mindfulness and respect, you’re not just making the mat a better place but also playing a crucial role in shaping the next generation of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners.

13. Gi Pants and Belts Coming Off

The classic “wardrobe malfunction” on the mat! But in the world of Jiu-Jitsu, it’s the unexpected belt or gi pants slip that can leave you feeling a little exposed.

You’re in the zone, executing a perfect technique, and then… whoops! Your belt decides to go rogue, or your gi pants start their descent…annoying, distracting, and potentially trip-inducing.

Loose belts and wandering pants are potential trip wires in disguise. Imagine the chaos of tangled limbs, belts, and pants during an intense roll. It’s hard to stay in the moment when you’re constantly pausing to retie and readjust your belt and pants.

In the world of martial arts, every detail matters. A neatly tied belt and well-fitted gi pants are like the uniform of a dedicated student. They signal respect, readiness, and reverence for the art and its practitioners.

Invest a little time in learning the tried-and-true techniques for tying your belt and gi pants. And hey, we’re cooking up a detailed post on this very topic, so stay tuned!

Before you step into the action, give your attire a quick once-over during the warm ups. Ensure everything’s snug and secure.

Regularly inspect your gear. If your belt’s looking more like a frayed rope or your gi pants have seen better days, it might be time for an upgrade.

While a slipping belt or descending gi pants might give everyone a chuckle, it’s worth mastering the art of the secure tie.

14. Rolling with the Same Partner

It’s natural to gravitate towards certain training partners, especially those you feel comfortable with or believe you can learn from. However, consistently rolling with the same person can limit your growth and the richness of your Jiu-Jitsu experience.

The comfort of the familiar… having a go-to song on your playlist that you play on repeat. You know every beat, every lyric, and it feels good. But hey, let’s not forget that there are other tunes out there that could become your next favourite!

Rolling with the same partner every time is comforting, but it’s like listening to the same song on loop. You’re missing out on a whole playlist of experiences!

You and your go-to partner will know each other’s moves so well that you might as well be choreographing a dance. You miss out on the unpredictability that different partners bring to the mat.

Staying in your comfort zone means you’re not being stretched, challenged, or surprised. And let’s be honest, that’s where the real learning happens. If you’re only rolling with one person, the feedback you get becomes a bit of an echo chamber.

Different partners bring different styles, techniques, and strategies to the table. The ability to adapt is a superpower. Rolling with a variety of partners keeps you on your toes and forces you to adjust your game.

And if you’re eyeing that competition, remember, your opponents won’t come with a manual. The more diverse your training partners, the better prepared you’ll be for the unpredictability of a competition.

Actively seek out partners who are the polar opposites of your regular training buddy. Tall, short, experienced, newbie—each will teach you something new. By embracing a more diverse set of training partners, you’re not just enriching your own skill set but theirs.

15. Not Rolling With Girls

Whether it’s guys underestimating girls, or occasionally the other way around, this is one needs a serious update.

Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that prides itself on technique over brute strength. The whole point is that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger opponent.

So, when someone underestimates a training partner based on gender, they’re not just perpetuating a stereotype; they’re fundamentally misunderstanding the essence of the sport. When you underestimate someone, you’re not just doing them a disservice; you’re also robbing yourself of the chance to learn something new.

Every training partner has unique skills and techniques to offer, and you won’t tap into that richness if you’re not fully engaged. Consistently being underestimated can be demoralizing. It can make people feel like they’re not taken seriously, which can, in turn, affect their performance and enthusiasm for the sport.

Approach each roll with an open mind and the eagerness to learn from everyone, regardless of gender. You’ll be amazed at how much richer your Jiu-Jitsu experience will be when you shed those preconceived notions and embrace the full spectrum of talent on the mat.

In the end, Jiu-Jitsu is a journey of continuous learning, and every training partner is a potential teacher. So let’s leave the gender-based underestimation in the dust and focus on what really matters: improving, learning, and respecting each other on this incredible journey.

16. Talking During Class

While socializing is a wonderful part of the Jiu-Jitsu community, there’s a time and a place for everything. And during instruction? Well, that’s neither the time nor the place.

When the instructor is demonstrating a new technique or explaining a concept, everyone’s focus should be laser-sharp. Chit-chat during these moments can be a mental speed bump, messing everyone’s concentration.

Jiu-Jitsu techniques often involve intricate movements and precise timing. A casual conversation during instruction can cause you or others to miss these crucial details, leading to ineffective or even incorrect practice later on.

Let’s not forget that the instructor is there to share their expertise. Talking while they’re teaching is a sign of disrespect, and it undermines the learning environment they’re trying to create.

It sets a bad example epecially for newer students seeing more experienced practitioners talking during instruction. It sends the message that it’s okay to be inattentive, which is detrimental to the dojo’s overall learning culture.

Before striking up a conversation, ask yourself, “Is this the right time?” If the instructor is speaking or demonstrating, the answer is probably no.

If you have a burning question or an insightful comment, write it down mentally and save it for the Q&A session that often follows instruction, or check the best time with your coach. Read the room and assess accordingly.

If you’re a higher belt or a more experienced student, remember that others look up to you. Your behavior sets the tone for the rest of the class.

While the social aspects of Jiu-Jitsu are one of the many things that make it awesome, there’s a time for talk and a time for focus.

By keeping the conversations for appropriate moments, you’re contributing to a more effective, respectful, and harmonious learning environment for everyone. So let’s zip it, tune in, and roll on!

Wrapping Up

From the importance of hygiene to the unwritten rules of sparring, we’ve covered a range of do’s and don’ts that can make or break your experience on the mat.

Remember, Jiu-Jitsu is not just about mastering techniques; it’s about building a community. A dojo thrives on mutual respect, trust, and the collective pursuit of improvement.

By being mindful of these pet peeves, you’re not just avoiding minor annoyances; you’re actively contributing to a more respectful, inclusive, and more enjoyable training environment for everyone involved.

So, as you tie your belt (securely, of course!) and step onto the mat for your next session, carry these snippets of wisdom with you.

They might just make you the training partner everyone wants to roll with and the student every instructor is proud to teach.

Happy rolling, everyone! May your journey in Jiu-Jitsu be as fulfilling as it is sweat-inducing. Oss!

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Luciana, a proud Brazilian, blends her passion for jiu-jitsu with a deep-rooted connection to spirituality and well-being. Her dedication to the martial art reflects not just a physical discipline, but a holistic approach to life, seeking balance in mind, body, and spirit. Whether on the mats or in meditation, Luciana embodies the essence of harmony and inner strength.

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