We often get new people in our school. When I see new people, in general the first thing I do is greet them, ask their name, promptly forget their name, ask how long they’ve been doing BJJ, etc. Okay, the forgetting the name is totally not on purpose. If there was no time in class, and we’re drilling and I see a new person completely shrimping wrong or has no clue how to do a reverse shrimp, I will usually go over and help them.

I do this because I remember how I felt when I started BJJ. I was uncomfortable because I didn’t know anyone, couldn’t do anything right, and didn’t know what to do or how to do it.

I have empathy for new folks in BJJ, and new people joining an established group.

Thankfully I have enough experience in BJJ that I feel confident helping any newbie with about 80% of our basic material (yes, I still have some problems with some basics). It would be different were I a beginner trying to help another beginner.

However, I know that not everyone is like that. I know that there are a lot of brand new people who come to one class and never come out, and that some who don’t bother even trying to learn new people’s names until the new people have actually become part of the group. Or people who are hyper focused on what they need to do that they don’t have the time or energy to help someone else. Or people who are there to be with their friends.

So how do you treat new people who show up to your gym? Do you greet them, wait for them to come up to you, introduce yourself if you have to spar? What if you see someone struggling – do you assist them, wait for them to ask for help, or wait to be told to help them? Why?