What Should You Not Do In BJJ?

BJJ has its own culture with some pretty unique customs. To avoid some embarrassing mistakes and culture faux pas we will breakdown what behaviours to avoid while on the BJJ mats.

What Should You Not Do In BJJ?

You should not skip showering and neglect your hygiene before BJJ. You should not try to teach other students particularly if you are a beginner. You should not celebrate submitting training partners. Don’t call your coach by their name. Do not fake tap (Brazilian tap) when caught in a submission.

Why Is Hygiene So Important In BJJ?

Hygiene is very important in BJJ because of the close contact nature of the sport. It is unpleasant to train with an athlete who has poor hygiene due to the foul smell and the potential to spread diseases such as ringworm, staph and other fungi infections.

If you are new to BJJ your old hygiene routine may need to be turned up a notch. Before you attend training it is wise to shower and thoroughly scrub your body. You should also clean your teeth.

You do not want to be known as the “smelly” guy at your BJJ gym. The “smelly” guy is disliked by everyone and many BJJ practitioners will purposefully avoid training with them.

Fortunately, you can avoid being brandished with this title by just spending 15 minutes prior to training showering and brushing your teeth.

You also need to keep your toenails and fingernails trimmed. As you are constantly grabbing your training partners long nails can easily scratch your teammates, leading to nasty injuries and infections.

If you keep your nails short you won’t have to worry about potentially injuring your fellow BJJ gym goers.

What Is A Professor White Belt In BJJ?

A professor white belt is a beginner in BJJ who insists on teaching other students, particularly senior students Jiu Jitsu when they do not have the sufficient knowledge to do so.

Professor white belts are very common in BJJ. Nearly every gym I have trained at has this type of practitioner. It doesn’t matter what country you train in if you have been around BJJ long enough you will have encountered this person.

Every professor white belt I have encountered appears to have poor social skills. They are unable to realise how their behaviour appears to others. I think most professor white belts have good intentions but they just don’t understand how not only is their advice incorrect but it is slightly irritating.

There is something very annoying about having someone who clearly has no idea what they are talking about trying to place themselves as an authority above you and give you incorrect unsolicited advice.

You do not want to be known as a professor white belt at your BJJ gym. They are universally disliked and the subject of ridicule.

To avoid being known as a professor white belt do not offer unsolicited advice to your training partners when you are a beginner. If you are asked for advice from a fellow white belt it is best to just ask the coach or a senior student because most likely your advice will be wrong or lack key details.

What Is The Proper Sparring Etiquette In BJJ?

When sparring BJJ to maintain etiquette you should match the intensity of your training partner. You should not stop the roll to coach your partner or ask for advice. You should move out of the way higher belts who are rolling and not ask them to spar, rather wait for an invitation.

Some BJJ gyms are very serious when it comes to sparring etiquette. If you break protocols an angry upper belt or grumpy coach will shout at you. While at other BJJ schools there appears to be no rules governing sparring.

Most schools have some sort of sparring etiquette and if you want to be a good training partner you should follow these rules:

Match the intensity of your training partner – If your training partner wants to take it easy don’t come out guns blazing and submit them 10 times in a round, while if your partner wants to up the intensity don’t be a dead fish and let them effortlessly pass your guard

Don’t stop sparring mid roll – There is nothing more annoying than someone who wants to stop sparring to ask technique related questions or even worse wants to coach you through a potential submission. When the sparring round is over there is plenty of time to coach or ask questions.

Move out of the way of higher belts – When space is limited and you are about to run into a pair of upper belts you should move out of the way. They have earned the right of way.

Don’t ask higher belts to spar – I don’t believe in this rule but some BJJ schools are strict about this. Before you ask an upper belt to spar check the protocol at your gym, some may take offence and reject your offer. 

Don’t celebrate submitting your training partners – Sparring is not about winning. It is about learning and improving. Your training partners are helping you improve, so don’t celebrate beating them. Keep your celebration to yourself.

If you follow these sparring etiquette rules you will be a well respected and liked sparring partner. 

What Do You Call A BJJ Instructor?

What you call a BJJ instructor depends on your gym’s culture. Some BJJ instructors are fine with you calling them by their first name others insist on being called professor or sensei. To avoid offence or embarrassment ask your instructor what is the best way to address them.

If you are training in a traditional BJJ gym the instructor may be offended if you call them anything other than professor. In Japanese schools it is expected you will refer to your BJJ gym as sensei. 

While in other gyms the instructor will insist you refer to them by their first name and would feel uncomfortable being called professor.

The title you use to refer to your BJJ instructor all comes down to culture and their personal preference. It is best to check what they prefer before you start training to avoid causing offence or an embarrassing situation.

What Is A Brazilian Tap In BJJ?

A Brazilian tap is a light, barely noticeable tap which is used to get the attacker to loosen the submission so the defender can escape while allowing them to claim they never tapped. It is an unsportsmanlike move that is not acceptable in BJJ.

A fake tap also known as a Brazilian tap is a very cheap move. BJJ athletes who are caught in a deep submission will implement a Brazilian tap in a last ditch effort to avoid being submitted.

It became known as a Brazilian tap as many Brazilians who couldn’t stomach losing to an American would use a fake tap to avoid having their ego crushed.

You should never use a Brazilian tap in training or in competition. It is a shameful and unsportsmanlike move. Your teammates and opponents will forever curse you if you attempt to use this move.


When starting a new hobby it can be a little intimidating as you don’t know the rules and customs. However, if you follow this guide you should avoid embarrassing yourself too much on the BJJ mats. Just remember shower before training, don’t offer unsolicited advice, follow sparring etiquette, call your instructor by the correct title and don’t fake tap when caught in submissions.

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