10 Things to Stop Doing at BJJ (A Picture Guide)

Meet John Q. Whitebelt. He's your everyday BJJ white belt. John does a lot of stuff wrong -- he is just a white belt after all. But you can learn from John's mistakes. Here are 10 things John does that you should not do at class:

Tying the belt wrong

John forgot how to tie his belt but he's too embarrassed to ask to be shown again. When John gets to that critical moment where he has to tie the knot -- is it right or left or left over right? -- he just loops it through however and tugs on it until he thinks it looks OK. Amazingly, despite the 50/50 chance of getting it right by pure change, John beats the odds and gets it wrong 100% of the time.

Grabbing the skin

When John is desperate for a grip, any grip will do, even when it's a handful of human flesh. John doesn't realize he's sending everyone home with dozen of fingertip-sized bruises up and down their arms and legs. 

Sitting with his back to the room

John is skipping this round of sparring so he figures it's good to just sit wherever while he gossips about BJJ drama he saw on reddit, unaware that if anyone rolls over him and breaks his arm, it's his own fault.

Crossing his legs under side control

John knows getting mounted is bad. He also knows he may be able to stop it by blocking with his knee. But John is also lazy. So he just crossed his leg and rests it there. John is surprised when this does nothing and he's mounted anyway.

Knee breaker stack pass

It's John's big moment -- he gets to try a stack pass! Never mind that his partner's leg is bent the wrong way and he's about to torque their knee and bust their hip out of socket. That's their problem. Throw all your body weight into, John! It's your time to shine!

Defensive hands in guard

John is starting to catch on that keeping your arms in when you're in a bad spot is the right thing to do. It makes sense under mount, under side control, and under knee-on-belly. So far so good. John figures he might as well do it when he has guard too. Not so good, John.

Yanking on both lapels

So John recognizes that he was wrong before and he needs to do something with his hands. This time he's going to keep them busy 100% of the time by pulling both lapels nonstop even if that means he can't do any sweeps or submissions and pulls them right through his own guard.

Lounging around during instruction

John thinks "Ooh, this is a comfy way to watch instruction."

Playing hard to get in sparring

John has figured out a fool proof plan to never getting tapped again: If they can't touch you, they can't tap you. Genius, John.

Sitting around like a hot mess

John is overheated and out of breath after one round of sparring (go big or go home), so he does that respectable thing and pulls his jacket half off and turns into a pile of mouth breathing human garbage.


If you see yourself in John Q. Whitebelt here, do not despair. No one excepts white belts to get everything right. You may not realize your mistake until someone points it out to you. We hope John Q. Whitebelt has helped you avoid a few of the biggest white belt blunders.

Do you have a something you'd add to this list? Let us know in the comments and we'll include the best ones in the next edition of John Q. Whitebelt's adventure.