To many students beginning jiu-jitsu (especially those who are new to the martial arts in general) the academy can seem to be a foreign place with many strange customs (ex. bowing and saying Oss!) and numerous unwritten rules.
What to expect when you first start training?
How do you avoid “stepping on anyone’s toes” or unknowingly violating the rules of the academy?
How do you get the most out of the class?
Here are 5 Tips for new students to ease your start in training bjj:
1) Take note of the customs and rules of the academy
Many academies will have a list of academy rules on the wall.
Some of the customs like bowing when entering the mat, go back to the early days of jiu-jitsu. It shows respect for the academy and those great masters of jiu-jitsu who have gone before us.
Some of the rules are common sense:
~ Arrive on time for the class. Don’t be tempted to skip the warmup!
~ No shoes on the mat! Bacteria and bad things can be tracked onto the mat surface and potentially infect students
~ If you are sick with flu or cold, stay home. Don’t pass your illness onto the other members of the gym
2) Don’t be the “Smelly Guy”
Unfortunately, most gyms have a guy known as “the smelly guy”. He may not even be aware of his fragrant personal aroma, but the other members of the gym sure notice!
~ Carry a can of Axe body spray in your gym bag.
~ Be sure to keep your finger and toenails clipped short to avoid scratching your training partners
~ Your kimono and rash guard must be washed and air dried every day after training. Don’t forget it in your gym bag after class.
~ Be careful to cover any small cuts or scabs with tape so as not to risk infection
3) Be a good training partner
Here are common early training partner mistakes
~ Don’t be a “limp noodle” and fall over at the slightest nudge from your partner. You need to imitate a live partner and it doesn’t help if you are just flopping over!
~ Alternately, don’t be stiff as a statue and resist your partners early attempts to try the moves. Let them get the movement down before gradually adding resistance
~ Tap! Don’t get your elbow hyper extended because you refused to tap. Your partner feels bad when your arm is hurt. It is your responsibility to tap when you get caught!
4) Stay focused!
The bow when you step on the mat for class should be symbolic: clear your mind of all else and concentrate on training jiu-jitsu.
~ Don’t talk while the professor is demonstrating a technique. The ultimate in bad bjj manners!
Got a brilliant one liner on the tip of your tongue? Don’t interrupt the professor teaching the technique.
~ Practice the techniques that are being done in that class. Don’t digress into a move you just saw on Youtube.
~ Don’t start talking about your work problems or the UFC or whatever while drilling. Your partner is there to train and don’t get distracted by chattering while they are trying to drill.
5) Have an open attitude
As in learning any new skill, the beginning can test your frustration levels. You have to maintain an open, positive attitude.
~ Coming from another martial art some guys have habits that they already know. But it is difficult to learn when “your cup is full”.
~ You’ve got to “Pay your dues” when everyone else has more experience than you do. Tapping out is part of training. Don’t let it discourage you ~ it happens to everyone!
~ The technique might not work at first – but it isn’t the technique is not good. It is more likely that you need more practice. Don’t be so quick to dismiss techniques.