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BJJ Etiquette, Prohibited Actions, and Jerk Moves

Written and unwritten rules of engagement on the Jiu Jitsu mats


man pondering BJJ etiquette, rules, and jerk moves
Pondering BJJ on the mats

BJJ Etiquette

BJJ etiquette on the training mats is a set of largely unwritten rules in the Jiu Jitsu world. Although you won't get kicked off the mats for violating them, but many people will frown upon it if you do. This type of knowledge is passed down from student to student by just watching how other people interact on the mats, regardless of the academy. Here are some of the things that I now expect of my students because I've finally written them down at my academy:


  • Be on time for class, even for the warm ups.

  • Be clean by bath or shower before a training session

  • Show up to training on time unless you had unexpected delays beyond your control

  • Wear a Gi uniform that is clean and not worn in previous training since washing.

  • Slap and bump hands before each roll

  • Ensure rolling partner is not hurt by surrounding people or objects

  • Ensure surrounding people are not hurt by your roll

  • Thank your partner after each roll or drilling session

  • While watching other people roll, ensure they do not bump into each other

  • Before training with a partner, wipe down all your sweat

  • Bring your own water bottle and towel to training

  • Check into class upon arrival at the front desk or using your membership app

  • Bowing out and shaking hands with everyone in class at the end of class


You may have noticed I didn't put down the old-school rule pertaining to a student not asking for a roll from a higher-rank student. I'm inclined to think that this rule hinders the progression of the lower and upper ranked students, so I never instill it at my academy.


Prohibited Actions

Prohibited actions are there for everyone's safety and learning experience on the mats. It makes sense for these types of rules to be written down at your academy. Each academy has their own set of prohibited actions. Here are the prohibited actions on the BJJ mats at my academy:


  • Striking of any kind

  • Not letting go of a submission hold once your rolling partner indicates his submission

  • Grabbing individual fingers or toes of partner

  • Jabbing your fingers into your partner

  • Eye gouging

  • Biting

  • Hair pulling

  • Slamming partner into floor or against wall

  • Wearing jewelry or watches

  • Wearing makeup

  • Wearing shoes or jandals on the mat (except wrestling boots)

  • Being barefoot off the mat areas

  • Not wearing a shirt for gi or no-gi training

  • Not wearing shorts over spats for no-gi training (males only)

  • Wearing revealing shirt or shorts for no-gi training

  • Wearing singlet during no-gi class

  • Wearing clothes with protruding hard bits

  • Purposefully being disruptive to others’ learning experience

  • Not addressing your rolling partner’s safety once you realize he is injured or unconscious


Jerk Moves

Jerk moves (also known as "dick moves") are harder to qualify than prohibited moves, so they fall under this category. Some of these moves are just annoying to witness. Here is a list of what I consider to be jerk moves at my academy:


  • Applying force to submissions that aren't properly on

  • Applying submissions too quickly to give your opponent time to tap

  • Driving elbows or knees into partner

  • Using painful pressure points to solicit a submission (neck, groin, kneecaps, temples, etc)

  • Covering nose or mouth or eyes with your hand

  • Teaching techniques to classmates without being asked to do so (especially for the white-belt professors)

  • Using high pain tolerance to avoid tapping from a strong submission hold

  • Applying advanced leglock techniques (including knee reaping) on lower ranks without his permission before roll

  • Rolling without awareness of neighboring classmates, mat borders, or surrounding dangers

  • Pinning your rolling partner for long periods without advancing your position or allowing him to escape

  • Purposefully using your strength or weight advantage to dominate a weaker person

  • Moving explosively without technique during drilling or light roll

  • Using full resistance during drilling without being instructed to do so

  • Being completely limp during drilling or rolling without any resistance

  • Not communicating location of your injuries prior to, or during, a roll and then complain that you got injured there

  • Pretending to strike partner after gaining a dominant position

  • Making sexual comments about BJJ positions

  • Shouting negative commentary during anyone’s roll

  • Intentionally not doing a technique as taught by the instructor during the class

  • Coaching your rolling partner through a technique during a roll without his request

  • Coaching teammates during their rolls without their request

  • Doing cardio taps when tired during a roll

  • Talking to classmate while instructor is addressing the entire class

  • Asking instructor complex questions that do not relate to the topic being taught during class time

  • Cursing loudly on the mat

  • Striking up a conversation with your rolling partner during the roll

  • Retaliating because someone refuses to roll with you

  • Training with others while you’re sick

  • Training while you’re dirty or wearing a dirty gi


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