There are a few unwritten rules for training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that every beginner should be aware of. All of these rules are not universal across every academy, each may have their own ideas for what to do and not to do.
When you enter a gym for the first time, it is important to be respectful by avoiding actions that may be considered taboo by the instructor or the students.
Safety is of the utmost importance for beginners in BJJ. There are a few moves that are frowned upon for beginners for safety reasons. The general consensus is that most of the techniques that are illegal in competition for your level are unsafe to be used in practice.
Frowned Upon Techniques.
Leg locks are a very underutilized technique in BJJ, but they should be applied with self-control to keep from injuring your training partners. Most beginners do not initially understand how to use self-control while rolling. Control is a skill that needs to be developed before moving on to such potentially dangerous moves.
A common rule in most gyms in the USA is that brown belts can use leg locks while rolling, but only against someone at their level or above it, purple belts should not be knee barring white belts.
This rule applies to straight ankle locks and knee bars. Toe holds and heel hooks are often not allowed at all during training because they have the potential to seriously injure a person for an extended period of time.
Wrist locks are another frowned upon move for white belts. Wrist locks are illegal for white belts in competition, and they are not allowed at some academies at the lower levels. Wrist injuries can take a very long time to heal completely, many black belts have been dealing with a chronic wrist injury for years because they are not willing to stop training for long enough to let it recover. Regardless of your level, avoid wrist locking anybody who has a white belt.
Most types of pain inflicting techniques are usually frowned upon in gyms. Joint manipulations and chokes are absolutely fine, but neck and spine cranks are a big no-no. The most common way of using the neck crank is the “can opener” from inside somebody’s guard.
Your training partners do not come to practice to get cranked on, they want to train safely and not have to suffer from the lingering effects of a hard neck crank for days and weeks afterward. These pain techniques include but are not limited to neck cranks, spine cranks, bicep slicers, and calf crushers.
All of the things that come with the act of spazzing are frowned upon. Using your full strength and trying to muscle out of every position is not helpful to your progression, and it will only piss other people off.
Avoid grabbing the fingers when trying to break grips, it is not legal and can easily break somebody’s finger. Head butting, elbowing, and kneeing are obviously not appreciated, and neither is slamming.
Appearance and Hygiene!
Properly washing yourself and your gi is appreciated by your training partners. There are horror stories that have been shared in the BJJ community on this subject.
Do not roll up your gi after training, while it is drenched in sweat, and keep it in your trunk without washing it before the next training session. Nobody wants to roll with you in your stinky gi. It not only reeks like old sweaty socks, but it is a festering pit of bacteria that could give somebody an infection. Buy multiple gis so you can wash and rotate them for practice.
Wear Shoes or sandals in the bathroom, please! The bathroom floors can be very dirty, people may accidentally have peed on the floor. When you walk into the bathroom and then onto the training area you are bringing all of those germs onto the mats. Your whole body comes in contact with the mat, and when germs get into scrapes or cuts, it can cause a staph infection. Keep your nails trimmed to avoid cutting or scraping your training partners.
It is also important to know a few things about wearing the gi and belt. Not all gyms care about the little things, but when visiting a new gym, it is respectful to follow a few rules as a form of common courtesy. The belt should be tied properly with the black bar on the right side of the knot. If you do not know how to tie the belt, ask your instructor or seek a tutorial online.
Some of the old-school gyms frown upon white belts with black gis and black gis in general. This taboo has faded recently but some gyms still adhere to it. BJJ was evolved from Judo, and Judo competitors are only allowed to wear white or blue. It is also not legal to wear a black gi in IBJJF competition. If you are visiting a new gym, bring a blue or white gi to avoid offending anyone.