10 October 2010

Tips for New Students

Everyone has been the ‘new person’ so in an attempt to make the transition either to starting BJJ or training with a new team, I’ve come up with a list of rules and I have also gotten other people that have been doing jiu jitsu for a while to give helpful suggestions. Like always take posts like this with a grain of salt, they are supposed to be a mixture of serious and funny.

1. Tap out on your opponent.This may sound weird but if you are sparring or even practicing a submission, tap on your partner, not the mat. And do it with some meaning, not just a feather light tap. There are always lots of things going on if you tap on the mat, the sound may get drowned out by other sounds going on at the same time. If you are in a place where you can’t tough the person, say ‘TAP’ loudly and/ or tap with your feet. Doing this may be the thing that saves you from passing out or getting injured.

2. The trunk of your car is bad storage for your gear. If you throw your gear straight into your trunk after practice and don’t take it out till then next day before practice, it will make your gear stink/ and possibly mold. That is gross, end of story

3. If your gear stinks, we reserve the right to not spar with you. Sorry but if you do not follow the above mentioned rule, or if you wait until you smell so bad someone tells you to wash your gear, then we reserve the right to say no. Yes not everyone washes their gi every day, but buy some Fabreeze, preferably the anti-microbial one so it will at least kill some of the gunk on your gi. Most of the time people will endure a little bit of smell, but be reasonable here, don’t make us suffer.

4. When using changing areas or bathrooms lock the door. This should be a no brainer. Close and lock the door. I don’t want to open a partially closed door and run into you changing. You may not care but remember your gym has adults, females, teens, and children. Protect everyone!

5. Knock on said doors before trying to open them. Again some people forget to lock the door, by knocking you can find out if someone is in there or not. Also it scares the crap out of me every time I have the door locked and someone just yanks on the handle and tried to open the door. So just knock, it’s a nice thing to do.

6. Wear  something on your feet to go to the bathroom. Bathrooms are generally dirty areas, so going from our mats to the bathroom bare foot, in the socks or wrestling shoes you were wearing on the mats, is just gross. Buy a pair of cheap flip flops and put them on every time you leave the mats, or keep your shoes by the mats and put them on before gong to the bathroom, it keeps stuff clean.

7. If you find something weird growing on your skin, get it checked out before coming back to class.  It’s that simple, if that infected hair isn’t looking right, you have weird bumps or sores, or a round red spot on your skin get it checked out before going to practice, don’t infect your teammates, if you’re not sure what I am talking about, see THIS article.

8. If you are a larger person/ muscley  please be aware of your weight or strength.  In my case yes I may be a purple belt. But that only helps me so much when I have a guy that can bench 3 times my weight picking me up and tossing me. Or if someone twice my size has side control and is trying to suffocate or squeeze me. From experience, my 5’3” 120 lbs can’t handle Your smaller teammates will love you if you learn to balance and not use all of your weight/ strength on them

9. While some catch on faster than others, no one becomes amazing over night. With the exception of BJ Penn who got his black belt in 3 short years, jiu jitsu is a difficult sport. The people that have higher belts have been right where you are and know that it can get very frustrating. One day in class you will just kind of hit you how much you have learned or how much you have grown so far. So keep working this sport does take time!

10. Sparring in class is not Mundials nor any other big championship. Use this time to make mistakes, and fix them. Sparring in class is to try new techniques, to think and make game plans. Please don’t go full out against your teammates, someone could get hurt. Most of all relax and have during class!

11.While sparring, move for higher belts. That’s right, if you’re sparring and you get to close to another pair, whoever has the highest ranked person rolling gets to stay, the lowest one’s have to move. It’s just courtesy. Now occasionally everyone is even, whichever set can move easiest and restart in the same position, moves. There will be some times where higher belts will move for lower belts, like when the lower belts are in a place to finish the match (submission), or the lower belts are much bigger and the higher belt moves to get out of the way of whatever is going on. But generally speaking, move for the higher belts.

12. Please do not call it ‘Jits’ yes we all like to shorten the name of the sport some how. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a long name, but there are already jiu jitsu or BJJ, how many names do we need to call it? Besides, there are a lot of people that have been in BJJ a very long time, and really don’t like hearing it called that.

13. While there is some good technique shown on Youtube, most of it is bad. We all like to watch video of technique, read the books out there, take notes, practice at home, etc. You need to be careful about what sources you are using. Many good jiu jitsu coaches have websites and online video tutorials. Many will have a couple free tutorials, with a membership you can buy to see the rest. Those are the best online sources. Using Youtube to supplement your game is like using only Wikipedia as a source to write a paper for school… Not smart. Anyone can post anything on Youtube. There is some god stuff but most of it isn’t legit. If you’re going to use it, make sure the person teaching the skill is good, many of the top competitors have one or two videos up, but leave youtube for looking up opponents past fights, or watching top athletes compete.

14. Remember to relax! You’re here to learn how to do a martial art, specifically BJJ. BJJ is the ‘Arte Suave’ it’s really hard for your teammate to help you through a technique, if you are so stiff your arms are shaking. If you remember during technique to stay loose and relaxed, the techniques become easier. If someone comes over to help keep loose, listen to everything they say then try and move, occasionally they will put you in the right place, don’t resist, just go with the flow!

15. And finally! If you have a question, just ask! If you don’t know how to tie your belt, if a technique just isn’t going right, or you just aren’t sure ask someone! The higher belts know what it was like to be new, the white belts that have been there a while know how it was to be new we all are willing to help but if you don’t ask, we don’t always catch it. If you’re shy, look for someone on the team that is always talking to every one, or has a smile on their face, and of course the instructors will always try to help. The more questions you ask, the faster you learn!


Those were just 15 basic things that should help out anyone who is starting BJJ, or switching/ visiting a school. Some were meant to be funny, but all of them are there to be helpful. I hope it helps someone new. If you have been training a while hopefully it made you reminisce, or made you think about how to help out those new people at the gym. Either way hopefully it affected someone!


  1. I don't think the link to the article you suggest in point seven worked.