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The Dark Side of Jiu Jitsu – Things That Drive Us Crazy On The Mats…

The Dark Side of Jiu Jitsu – Things That Drive Us Crazy On The Mats…


Exploring the things we hate about this beautiful art...

We all love Jiu Jitsu. We spend countless hours on the mats.  Even when we are not training, it is in the back of our mind. However, there is a dark side to Jiu Jitsu. No I am not talking about leg and wrist locks. There are definitive things not to be loved about Jiu Jitsu. Let’s take a few minutes and examine them.

One huge thing is hygiene. Stinky gis are on the top of this list. If nothing else, the nogi crowd is on to something because they avoid the dirty gis problem all together. However, hygiene is not limited to dirty gis. How about the bad breath guy?  It is a strange world that we live in where I trust someone to let go of a choke on the mats before it kills me however our relationship is not close enough to tell him his breath is beyond bad. How about the guy who always smells like weed? I get it buddy, weed is a big part of your life. However, I can smell your passion before I see you. You would think hygiene and body odor would be a non-issue for adults who know they will spend hours in close contact to people with noses. But here we are.

Along with the hygiene issue is organic material from another person finding its home on you. One example of this is the random drops of sweat.  How many times over the years have you gotten sweat in your eye or mouth? It is disgusting. It is actually worse than disgusting.  I feel like someone should gift a Danaher instructional to the person they offended in the matter. Another example of this is the mystery hair.  There is nothing worse than finding a small hair in your mouth and not knowing where it came from. You hope and pray that it is someone’s beard hair. However, you fear the worst. I once drove home 35 minutes from the gym to finally discover a mystery hair as I walked into my house. There are no words.

A third thing is in wardrobe choices. I love nogi. However, I don’t understand the guys who wear spats without shorts. That one needs no explanation. Also the guys who roll topless are also annoying. If you are fighting in a competition and that is your thing then go for it. But come on; in the gym have a rash guard. The other bad thing in nogi is the guys who roll with a t-shirt. It is fine if you are only rolling for one or two rounds. However, rolling with that guy is a nightmare after 30 or 40 minutes. It is the Jiu Jitsu equivalent of being watered boarded with sweat.  In the gi world, the guys who do not have a shirt underneath their kimono are bad. If I am going to tap, it should be to your technique, not from your sweat and chest hair.

Jiu Jitsu politics is another huge sore point. Some people make Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones look pale by comparison. At best Jiu Jitsu politics are an embarrassment and at worse it is a cancer that can destroy a gym.

Fifth, the sport v. street debate can also be hugely frustrating for people.  When I first started training, I thought the great divide in Jiu Jitsu was between the gi and nogi guys. However that division has nothing on the sport v. street debate. Some people hate that instruction is geared too much in either direction. Other people are tired of the criticisms the other side lodges. I say sport or street, find what you love and train.

As an instructor and coach, Dean Lister has been sought all over the world for his combat knowledge. His unique experience as a submission grappler, seasoned Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and former UFC fighter gives his a perspective that few in the world can offer in self-defense.


Injuries are hugely frustrating.  Some of us have had multiple surgeries. Others of us are lucky that we have been only sideline for a week or two. The question in Jiu Jitsu regarding injuries is not if but when.

Seventh, lecherous training partners and overt sexuality are also annoying on the mats. I get it. An attractive girl joined the gym. But there are times where I think some of my male training partners have been in prison or some far away land for the last 10 years and this is the first female they have seen. She probably does not need 20 guys offering to be her partner for the class. Certainly any kind of sexual harassment is unacceptable on the mats.

Favoritism is also a huge annoyance.  I know some students will always garner more attention than other students. However, if the focus becomes too disproportionate then it becomes frustrating. It is bad for the school’s culture. For students, if you are getting free weekly private lessons from a variety of black belts try to at least be subtle about it.

Eighth, warm ups that take a disproportionate amount of the class are also hugely frustrating.  If I am paying to learn Jiu Jitsu I don’t want to spend a third or fourth of the class doing jumping jacks. I can always work on my strength and condition at home or before class starts.

Language is another potential annoyance. I hear tales of non-Brazilians using a Brazilian accent. I don’t get it. If your jiu jitsu is good then it is good. It does not matter what your nationality is. Beyond that, don’t over use Jiu Jitsu slang. Not everything in life is OSS or Porra. Saying OSS and Porra all the time is like typing in all capital letters. Please stop.

Tenth, instructors who give their students a hard time if they can’t train 2 times a day 5 days a week are also frustrating. Dude, I don’t need my commitment or passion challenged by someone who is in their twenties without a wife or kids. I am glad that you are able to train 3 times a day buddy.  Let’s talk again in 20 years when you have a 9-5 job with a mob of rug rats running around the house.

Another frustration is gyms either handing out belts like a pez dispenser or not handing them out at all. There should never be an 8 year old Jiu Jitsu black belt. But on the flip side of the coin, if you have been a blue belt for 6 years there is something wrong with that picture. How many years were you injured? How is your training structured? Do you have to beat Gordon Ryan in a competition to get promoted? Are you flirting with a black belt’s wife? Seriously, what is going on?

Jiu Jitsu is an amazing part of our lives.  Our academies are a family. However, like any family, there are definite ways in which we annoy each other. Let’s be considerate of our training partners and show deference.

For practical, real-world techniques that could potentially save your life, check out Dean Lister's "Alpha Male Self Defense" from BJJ Fanatics.  These are techniques that will protect us off the mats to ensure that we get back to training and working those fancy grappling moves the next day!  Check it out here.




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