I’ve begun planning my West Coast Tour. Almost all the pieces are put together: the schedule is at 90%, about 1/3 of the schools have been contacted, and I am all excited for it! However…
As I mentioned over at Combat Sports Review’s “What Would It Take” article, there are many hidden rules in BJJ. You know what I’m talking about–the stuff that NO ONE does or that you KNOW you’ll get in trouble for doing. In school it might have been passing notes or chewing gum, but even then, when you did it, you KNEW it was wrong. But the problem is–there are often newbies who can’t tell their guard from their mount and have no clue how to behave at a new place. They will sometimes break rules without even being aware of it.
I’m over in Korea and some of the hidden rules here are very Korean, others may be the exact same everywhere in the world. Thankfully my school doesn’t have many hidden rules. Call the instructor “sa-bum-nim” (it means “instructor” in Korean), use the honorific “yo” form if you’re speaking Korean to the instructor. Take off your shoes before entering, bump fists before rolling or shake their hand and bow a little (Korean culture! :)). People usually say hello and goodbye as they are coming and going. And, ummm, that’s pretty much it. You need water, go get it. You want to roll with the instructor, ask him.
My old school had many more hidden rules: Never speak casually to the instructor. If you are getting into the circle, you stand by rank and then by time in BJJ. So the newest white belt stands to the instructor’s right, the highest ranked, longest in belt stands to his left. Also, lower belts didn’t ask higher belts to roll unless they were friends.
Savage Kitsune mentioned a few of these hidden rules at her gym: turn to the wall to retie your gi/belt, always wear the belt you have been awarded, even when visiting a new school.
It’s helpful when schools make their guidelines public, such as Cassio Werneck’s school. Without reading it I would never know that a school had a policy to greet people from highest rank to lowest rank. This article mentions some crazy rules I would never even have guessed, such as “7. The proper way of sitting during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class is on your knees with your butt resting on your feet or cross legged. Other positions are considered to be impolite so never make the mistake of doing that.” Also they mention: “10. Classes start on time so you should be ready by the time it begins. If you are going to be late, call in advance.” Well, at my class people often come late and it’s not a big deal. I was 30 minutes late today because of work. I told my instructor “I’m sorry I’m late!” and he says NO PROBLEM! So…your miles may vary!
I found out that some schools don’t allow patches from other schools, while others encourage it from visitors. Some schools also don’t allow white belts to wear any color gi but white.
How does this relate to my West Coast tour? Simply put, I don’t want to make any big faux pas. So I’m emailing each school to ask if it’s okay to wear a patch from my school and if pictures are okay. Those are the two things I am most concerned about. I figure anything else–well, hopefully I have the “she’s just visiting, so her breaking our invisible rules will be okay” thing going for me.
I’m curious–what are the hidden (or perhaps publicized) rules at YOUR academy? Do you have unsaid rules for passing the guard? Are there special rules if you come in late? Anything special you need to do when you need to drink water? Do you have to ask for a bathroom break? Do you have to call your instructor “Grand High Poobah Master?” Share your school’s secrets!!! 🙂