BJJ’s Biggest Pet Peeves
When you get a diverse group of people together, there are bound to be behaviors that you just don’t agree with. The jiu-jitsu academy – the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community in general – is no exception.
Diversity is what makes the jiu-jitsu community so amazing. The mats attract people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, all career trajectories… everyone comes together to share their passion for the gentle art. But because everyone comes from very different places… they may have very different views on what’s okay, and what’s not so much.
Even so, jiu-jitsu is a community. Just as with any type of community, anywhere in the world, communities tend to develop their own social rules and norms, some of which are unspoken. This is what helps to maintain order. So, wherever its members might have come from – and whatever may be the rules and norms they typically follow in their everyday life – they are expected to adapt to those of the mat.
But, expectations don’t always align with reality. There are always a handful of individuals - *cough* purple belts *cough* - who tend to be the biggest violators of BJJ’s Biggest Pet Peeves:
Intentionally Missing Warm-Ups
Mandatory participation in warm-ups isn’t usually a formal rule on the jiu-jitsu mat… at least for most BJJ academies. I’ve definitely witnessed many an athlete who was turned away from competition class because he or she arrived well after the start of class. But this is rare.
But because it’s not a formal rule, you get individuals who repeatedly, and intentionally, miss warm-ups during regular classes. I get it. Most warm-ups consist of dumb, monotonous movements, with little variation day-to-day. But that’s not the point. For one, the purpose of a warm-up is to warm your body up so that you don’t injure yourself during regular training. Those dumb, monotonous movements serve an important purpose. Additionally, in being part of a jiu-jitsu academy, you’re part of a collective. If you decide not to do what the rest of the collective is doing, you’re sending an implicit signal to the rest of the group that you think you’re special or better than the others.
It’s not a good look. Don’t do it.
Wearing Stinky Gear
I cannot stress enough: jiu-jitsu is an intimate sport. Not “intimate” in the bedroom sense (well… depending on your relationship with your training partner). Intimate in the sense that you are up-close-and-personal with another human being. You’re breathing on each other, sweating on each other, and in some cases your face is dangerously close to their personal bits.
You do not want to be all of that with someone who hasn’t sufficiently washed his or her training gear. Maybe it’s an honest mistake. Maybe the gi or rashguard is at the end of its life and he/she can no longer get the funk out. More than likely, however, it’s because that person – usually a teenager fresh out of his parents’ home – thought they could get one more use out of it before washing.
Don’t be that person. Wash after every use, and know when to toss.
Going to the Restroom Barefoot
In line with the above, another pet peeve is when someone gets off the mat, barefoot, goes to the restroom, barefoot, and returns to the mat to roll. There is no possible excuse to justify this violation.
And if you’re inclined to argue, imagine this: you’re in a room full of people – mostly guys – and they all have varying levels of urinary accuracy. There will be droplets on the floor. If they are dry and unnoticeable, you’ve just rehydrated them with your sweaty feet. Then you return to the mat, where your feet have just transferred that bit of human biology directly to a surface in which you and your training partners will be rubbing your faces.
You’re welcome for that visual. Wear shoes when you're off the mat.
Being on Your Phone
This pet peeve is just as applicable to professors as it is to students, and I see it violated time and time again. There’s a big difference between using your phone as a timer or to consult notes, and scrolling through Instagram or answering messages that could wait until after class. Don’t kid yourself either, everyone knows which one is happening when it happens.
For students, this is less of a violation. The odds of you being on your phone during regular instruction is low. You’ve paid good money to be there, and you’re there to learn. The times I have seen students get up to answer a phone call, it’s because they’re on duty or they have a family or work emergency. This violation is more for professors. You are getting paid to be there; you should give your students your undivided attention and dedicate your time to guiding them through their jiu-jitsu journey. Even outside of drilling, you have a responsibility to be alert and attentive, in the case that you can prevent a mishap or injury on the mat.
So put that phone up. It’s just an hour, hour and a half max. Enjoy being disconnected and in the present moment.
Not “Rolling Light”
I am not saying that rolling hard in general is a pet peeve. You can roll as hard as you want, as long as both parties are aware that this is going to be one of those rolls. If you’re in a competition class, this doesn’t have to be said. If you’re in a regular class, a little forewarning is always appreciated.
What this pet peeve is really about is when you’re training partner explicitly asks to “roll light” -or more commonly, mentions being injured or coming back from an injury – and then proceeds to roll with you like it’s the finals at Mundials. Not only is this a dick move, it can also potentially be unsafe. By giving your training partner an unrealistic expectation of the intensity of the roll, you’ve changed how he/she might react to your sudden onslaught, which may put him/her in a more compromising position that he/she would not have normally been in.
How would you personally rank these BJJ pet peeves? And most importantly, are you a chronic violator?