Is going 100% ok as a guest at a BJJ school?
It's generally considered good etiquette to not go too hard when you're a guest at another BJJ school. (Unless it’s the 1980s and you’re accepting the "Gracie challenge".
As well you may be on top of your BJJ game any given day and want to challenge a BJJ academy owner for the rights to his/her students... If you win, they become your students! (I AM JOKING)
Ok, So... l let’s talk about etiquette when you’re a guest at another school.
When I travel, I don't like to have gaps in my training, so I find places that allow guests. I often do some research in the area prior to traveling. I look on Google for BJJ academies to "drop in". Most schools welcome drop ins. Some ask for a drop-in fee and others do not. I simply call and say "hi, I am going to be in your area on a specific date and wondered if you allow drop in's"? I have never had a school say no.
Open mats are a great opportunity to try out different techniques and meet new people, but it's important to respect the training environment of the host school. Dropping in and taking one of the classes is another way to not only train but experience different BJJ culture. Every school is a sort of "Tribe". It’s also kind of great because most schools are very welcoming and its like an extended family you never knew you had.
If you're visiting a BJJ school for the first time, introduce yourself to the instructor and let them know your level of experience (be honest and don't sandbag). This will help them gauge how hard to train with you and who to match you up with. It's also polite to ask before taking any photos or videos of the class.
When rolling with lower rank belts you should let them apply more technique on you out of respect for the school you’re visiting. Going 100% against them is considered bad behavior and could cause them to get discouraged. It’s also considered bad to go 100% with lower ranks. If you get a submission it’s better to "catch and release" than continue to roll. Also, watch out because every school has what is referred to as an "enforcer"
What is an enforcer at a BJJ school?
The enforcer is that one person (in most cases a higher ranked student known to beat everyone else) who no matter what you do they are going to try and submit you. They will go 100% against higher belts and show no mercy if you are over the top. If you come across an enforcer the best thing you can do is let them know you’re a guest and ask them to warm up. Enforcers will give the same aggression that you may have given to resident students. Its considered impolite to roll hard when you’re a guest.
In general, it's important to be respectful of the training environment at any BJJ school you visit. Again, this means following the rules of the school, being friendly to other students, and not going too hard when rolling with someone of a lower rank. By doing this, you'll make sure that everyone has a good time and can focus on learning and improving their techniques.
Other rules of etiquette when you’re a guest at a BJJ school are as follows:
- Ask to wear wrestling shoes on the mats (if you have them) - Put your phone away and don't use it during class - Don't talk while the instructor is talking - Ask before taking photos or videos - Don't show up to class late (show up early) - Respect the property of the school and clean up after yourself.
By following these simple rules of etiquette, you'll be sure to have a great time at any BJJ school you visit!
Matthew Tropp - BJJ Report