Firstly let me appologise for the lack of content, just Christmas and the silly season getting in the way. I have an idea of the next few blogs that I would like to post, the main idea behind my content will be more along the personal protection vein and my thoughts on the integration of BJJ. But before I start down that track I just wanted to post one about etiquette in the gym and on the mats.
As most older BJJ exponents, I came from a traditional MA background, with boxing and Muay Thai thrown in. Judo, Aikido, Kung Fu etc. and one of the issues I had was the cultural assimilation with these styles. Not that I have and issue with the cultures, but for a westerner who has never bowed to anyone, it was a little strange to bow to my coach, training partner, friend… but we all did it, because that was appropriate, in the same way as eating whale sashimi while sitting in a Tokyo sushi restaurant, with the founder of Kudo, but that is another story!! This was the same with learning the names of techniques in the parent language, counting etc.
When I started BJJ I found the informal manner in which the classes were run very refreshing, the relaxed atmosphere was a nice change, the respect was still there, but it was more subtle, more intrinsic. There was no need to call your coach Sifu, Sensei or Master, but this lack of a grandiose title, did not detract from his [the coach] position at all, nor the respect he was afforded. I think we rely more on the maturity of the people involved and the actions of the coach to generate that respect, rather than forcing it on the students by mandatory actions. I want to be clear that I am not denigrating these traditions and in no way am I judging them, I am just voicing my personal opinion on the matter, to each, their own.
This being said, there is etiquette on the mats and I just thought I’d take this opportunity to refresh and/ or educate on a few points:
So, in no particular order……..
Hygiene: this is my main reason for no shoes on the mat, just practical and doesn’t really have anything to do with tradition, but think about where the soles of those shoes have been….
Finger and toe nails, stay on top of them, keep them trimmed up, there is nothing more frustrating than having to miss a roll because of a cat scratch.
Clean gi/ no gi… wash them after every session, no exceptions, smell=bacteria=infections…
Clean person… shower/ deodorant, just be thoughtful. If someone has poor personal hygiene habits bring it to the attentions of one of the coaches and we will chat with them.
Makeup (Ladies… usually) don’t wear any, it’s a bugger to get out of a gi and at the end of the day that is no different than dirt (from a gi washing perspective), just train and look pretty afterwards.
Respect: while not demanding bows or titles, we do have a few perks that time on the mat earns….
Coaches/ higher belts…. It shows respect to address them as coach (insert first name here) or just coach. Only on the mats and most definitely only at the gym ☺
When rolling be aware of who is around you and give way to higher belts on the mat. They have earned the right.
Don’t refuse a roll if asked by a higher belt. This is your opportunity to learn from them. If you have an injury or some other legitimate reason, explain it. If you just don’t like being tapped, put your ego away and get on with it. I suggest you look deep inside for the answer to this one.
Don’t boast, gloat, or happy dance if you dominate of catch your opponent, particularly a higher belt. You never know what is going on, he/she may be trying a particular escape or defence. By all means have that happy dance in your head, but it shows great disrespect to show that joy in front of others and generally there will be consequences…..
I feel strongly about the above point and in order to grow, we all need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to our training partners. If we can’t do this we stifle and this is never good. More on this in another blog I feel.
Other things, bring water and a towel. Clean up your stuff when you leave, because we won’t… we aren’t your washing lady and we retain the right to throw dirty, smelly training gear in the bin, as opposed to letting it fester!
Have you own first aid kit… scissors, strapping tape, nail clippers, dressings and antiseptic..
Chat to your partner when you are training, but when the coach is instructing, be respectful, quiet and listen.
If you have to leave the mats, let the instructor know. They will know to come looking for you if you don’t come back. By the same token if you rock up late, get ready and wait at the edge of the mats until invited by the instructor.
Have your belt tied, and be ready to start on the clock when doing rounds.
When you have finished your class, and another class is in progress, keep your voice down, as the instructor is trying to teach. Inside voices, or go outside to chat.
Be attentive with good posture, sitting or standing. No lounging on the mats.
I’m sure to have missed some, but we will get those as we go. At the end of the day, the goal is to make everyone’s training as enjoyable as possible and the mutual respect that goes with this wonderful art is a big part of that, so lets keep it tight and enjoy our time on the mats.