12 Tips to not be "That Guy"
Every martial artist knows “That Guy”. The guy you train with only if you absolutely have to. The guy whose smell hits you before anything else. Being “that guy” is never a good thing as it typically implies that your teammates don’t or won’t train with you. So, how do you avoid being “that guy’”?
1. Clip your nails
If your partners look like they just went a round with Wolverine, it may be time to whip out your trusty pair of nail clippers. Getting cuts from someone's nails is not only unpleasant during your BJJ training, it’s also unsanitary and can lead to infections. Be sure to have your nails (finger and toe) clipped before class. As a bonus, don’t be the guy that gnaws his nails off because he forgot to clip them, it’s still gross and makes your nails serrated.
2. Wash your training gear
While it’s expected that you’re going to get a little smelling during a hard day's practice, you shouldn’t start practice that way. Having clean MMA gear is important, as it’s courteous to your training partners and helps to maintain the sanitation of the gym. Your no gi rash guards, spats and gi’s are particularly good at holding bad smells, so it’s important to wash them repeatedly along with your belt. Also spraying fabric spray does not count as washing your jiu jitsu clothing and really doesn’t work well.
3. Watch what you eat before practice
While this one may not seem as obvious as the others, what you eat before practice can and will affect who wants to roll with you. Try to avoid foods that will make you excessively gassy or foods that leave a lingering smell no matter how hard you brush your teeth. Again, your teammates have no problem extending courtesy, but it’s nice to come in fresh for the gym.
4. Brush your teeth
This goes right along with the previous statement. Bad breath is unpleasant no matter where you are and is especially unpleasant when you’re rolling with someone. Brushing your teeth is a very simple act that can mean a world of difference to the individuals you’re training with. While we’re talking about oral hygiene, washing your mouthguard will also prevent stinky breath.
5. Roll how you say you’re going to roll
It’s quite common for a rolling partner to ask to roll lightly, especially if they’re injured etc. If you say you’re going to roll a certain way, then come out of the gates going 100 miles an hour, people are going to avoid rolling with you. It’s rude and can be dangerous if your partner is not prepared. Winning a roll because your partner thought you were going 50% instead of 100% is not really winning, it’s just being a bad teammate and a poor training partner.
6. Only rolling with smaller people
No one, and I mean NO ONE likes the guy who only rolls with people smaller/weaker/newer than him. If you truly want to improve your game, you have to challenge yourself with your partners. Smashing people may feel great in the short term, it will have a serious impact on your skills and self image as you progress when you realize you can’t compete with the individuals in your division.
7. Bragging about Submissions
This one is just really rude. You’re not fighting for the title in a Fight to Win, you’re sparring with your teammates. Not only is it a sign that you don’t care about your partner, it’s a sign that you're immature and probably shouldn’t be in the gym to begin with. While a little bit of teasing between friends can be the norm, especially if you’re a close gym, excessive gloating is never appreciated.
8. Being excessively spazzy
While it can be difficult to control your limbs when you’re just starting out, it’s still important to be in control at all times. Accidents may happen, but you need to do your part when it comes to keeping a roll safe. Your partners (especially if they’re upper belts) know what they’re doing and are not going to put you into a position that’s so dangerous you immediately have to start throwing elbows and knees.
9. Cranking submissions
Unless you’re in a serious competition, it’s not a good idea to start cranking submissions. Many BJJ submissions can cause serious harm if you apply them hard enough and if your partner doesn’t even have time to tap, you’re being too aggressive. No roll is worth causing serious harm to your partner.
10. Talking while the instructor is speaking
Again, this is just common courtesy. There is an unspoken expectation that you respect your professor, especially when they’re instructing. It’s rude to speak when someone else is speaking and it’s even more rude to speak while someone is teaching you. Unless you’re asking your professor a question, there is no reason to have a conversation during instruction.
11. Don’t coach as a white belt
This one is like “the blind leading the blind” and is usually a pet peeve for coaches and upper belts. It’s great to encourage your teammates, but number 1. If you’re a lower belt, you’re probably not qualified to coach and number 2. If you’re coaching one team mate against the other, it’s a good possibility that someone's feelings are going to get hurt.
12. Be courteous to your training partners
It’s important to keep your partner in mind when training. Have respect, be thoughtful and be mindful of how you may impact their training experience. There’s a variety of reasons why your partners might be at the gym. They might be a hobbyist, they might be a competitor or they might be training to stay in shape. Take these reasons into consideration and train accordingly.
At the end of the day, you’re there to have fun and sticking to these simple rules can ensure that both you and your partners are enjoying training. Your gym and partners will appreciate you not being “that guy”.
AUTHOR: KATHRYN PETTY