Basic Do’s and Dont’s for starting BJJ, Judo, and other Martial Arts

Do’s and Don’ts

This is focused solely on things each student should be mindful of while training, unrelated to technique.

(1) Do not be the smelly kid.


Wash your gi after every class. No exceptions. If you wore it and stepped one foot on the mat, its dirty.

No, hanging it up to dry in the sun after class is not the same thing. Once you start to sweat on that thing again, all the stank from the prior training session will come pouring out.

Yes, I can tell. You smell. Everyone else can smell you.

Most importantly, you are unnecessarily putting your health and the health of your training partners at risk of contracting staph, ringworm, and other communicable diseases due to the petri dish you’ve decided to wear on the mat because (1) you didn’t have time to wash it or (2) you don’t have more than one gi.


If you have been training more than 6 months, you should have a gi for each day of the week you train. Gis are part of the cost of training.

Finally, brush your teeth and put on some pit stick before you train. Your training partners will love you forever.

(2) Trim your nails.


Again, coming to class with untrimmed nails is an unnecessary risk to you and your training partners. I’ve seen cheeks sliced open, nails ripped off, and chunks taken out of ankles, toes, and wrists because of untrimmed nails. Some gyms are so serious about it they do a nail check at the beginning of class, and ask you to leave the mat and trim them before returning if they are too long.

If there is any nail above the nail bed, you and your training partner are at risk of injury. Guys, your toenails are nails. Trim them. No one wants to get cut by your Howard Hughes-esque talons. Carry clippers in your gear bag and check your nails before each class.

(3) No bare feet off the mat and no shoes on the mat.


This should be a personal and ultimate pet peeve, because it is just unsanitary, rude, and thoughtless. In BJJ, your face is likely about to be smashed into the mat. YOUR FACE. The last thing I want is for someone who’s been walking around the gym without shoes on, on the same surface that people walk around with shoes from the outdoors (that have stepped in who knows what), to put those feet on the mat that your face is about to get smashed into. Would you rub the bottom of your shoe on your face? No? Then do not ever put your bare feet off the mat. Ever. Not even right off the edge of the mat. No. Stop it. In a perfect world, you’d sit down on the edge of the mat and clean your feet with wet wipes before walking around on it, but nothing is perfect.

(4) Train with everyone.


No one can learn BJJ alone. It requires training partners of all different levels and sizes to truly learn the art. It frustrates me when I see white belts refusing to roll with other newer white belts because the newer student is “too green” or “too spazzy” or doesn’t know the drills and positions properly. I know its frustrating, but people have put up with you when you started, the older student has gotten to where they are in their training because other students rolled with them despite their inexperience.

The only times you should ever turn down a roll are (1) You have an adjusted training program set by the head Professor (2) you are injured (to clarify, an ouchie or boo-boo does not count as an injury). If you think your training partner is going too hard, you must advocate for yourself and ask them to slow the pace and the pressure down. Remember, Jiu-Jitsu is a combat sport, you cannot expect to be treated with kid gloves or expected to do the same with your partner.