Fraud, Rape and The Misrepresentation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)
A lot in the news lately about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and unfortunately, some of it has been negative. Two stories have stuck out, in particular. The lighter of the 2 being a person in the UK claiming to be a Rickson Gracie Brown Belt – with the entire community calling the legitimacy into question. This is an important topic as we get into the authenticity of this (relatively) young martial art known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If you hold a belt in this art, you should be able to find your lineage back to the originators (as far back as Carlos Gracie & Mitsuyo Maeda). Rickson Gracie, the son of Helio Gracie (brother of Carlos), is a person among BJJ “ROYALTY”. So, a person claiming a brown belt under Rickson is a pretty huge honor – if it is true. At any event, there was a lot of background and back-n-forth that took place on this story (can be read here and here) that led to a small fire-storm to build in the BJJ Community, as there is a gym in the UK possibly using a completely fabricated fight-resume to promote their gym (aside from being a Rickson Gracie Brown Belt, this person has claims of MMA career, Muay Thai, and other arts). Bottom line being – First: you should know your BJJ Lineage. Second: you should be PROUD of it and be able to site it, back it up and (if necessary) prove it! I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve got pictures, video, certificates, etc. to authenticate my belt, who I was promoted by, and who trains me on a regular….and you don’t have to twist my arm to get it, because I’m super proud to be under Alliance, under Phillipe Gentry at Gentry’s MMA, who’s under Jacare. My lineage looks like this:
Mitsuyo “Count Koma” Maeda → Carlos Gracie, Sr. → Helio Gracie → Rolls Gracie → Romero “Jacaré” Cavalcanti → Phillipe Gentry → Sean Coleman
What’s yours? BE PROUD to announce it!!
The second story that has been all over the place is definitely more deep, harder hitting and sad.
The ‘gang rape’ charges against 2 BJJ male “Medal Chasers” against a female BJJ athlete from their gym.
You can read more about that story here . As we all know, this is a touchy subject. Rape seems to be a common story in the news these days. There are situations where the ‘victim’ was dishonest about the accusation, cases where there is clear-cut evidence that the victim is being honest and the unjust act indeed did occur, and then there are those ‘grey area’ cases that we often see where it’s 1 persons word against the others – and no clear-cut understanding of what exactly happened. This particular situation seems to be pointing in the direction of the ‘clear cut evidence’ case, as it is reported to have been filmed by a security camera. The discussion of Rape cases is not unique, so I won’t re-hash that. But this story is unique in that it affected people within our Jiu Jitsu community. But I’m not even going to take the bait on this case with regard to Lloyd Irvin, whether you like him or his business, his 1989 case that’s been getting drug up, or even the ill-advised website purchased to control the SEO with regard to all this news attention. No-no…let’s take this into a much more global direction:
If you train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you have been transformed (whether you like it or not) into a representation: Of our Sport. Of The Gentle Art. Of Jiu Jitsu.
Yes, I believe this to be a true statement. You are no longer just the representation of yourself. That is the beauty of BJJ, it is multifaceted. Yes, it is an individual ‘sport’…when you are out on competition; it is you against someone else in that respect. But it is much more than that. You also represent your coach, your teammates and your gym. Whatever you do; in competition, training or in life; is a representation of them. But it even goes further than that. You are a representation of The Gentle Art. Yes, you. If you train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you have the power of influence and interpretation over the average outsider with how you represent it. It is an amazing responsibility! Think about it. Even if you are just starting out and are a White Belt – the entire Gentle Art (and legacy of the Legends before you) RELIES ON YOU! Your actions, how you approach a situation, how you talk, how you treat others….all of it….is how you are representing this amazing Martial Art that we know and love.
Put yourself in an outsider’s shoes for a moment. If they were to witness how you act…or better yet, how you REACT…in a difficult situation – they are attributing that to who you are. But also *what* you are. We stereotype every day. Whether we want to or not. So if the average outsider was introduced to the concept/name/art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by reading about this rape-case, how do you think that person would stereotype BJJ, subconsciously? Think they’d be interested in joining? Getting their daughter to join? …You see where this is going?
Now picture a woman walking into a local gym to check out their BJJ program. If she is greeted by humble and welcoming students who are intent on making her feel comfortable and helping her improve. Or, on the flip side, what if she is greeted by gawking eyes, or disrespectful innuendo?
You would imagine that woman leaving the gym having 2 totally different outlooks on either:
- The gym as a whole
- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a whole, or
- (most likely) BOTH the gym and the Art
So you see? YOU have the power of influence towards the outside public. YOU have the ability to shape the image of a Martial Art and a Sport that was molded by legends. YOU, alone, carry this responsibility. As do I and everyone else within our community. We must carry this responsibility with a certain level of dignity and respect. The interpretation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for future generations begins TODAY, and the controller is in YOUR HANDS. Treat each day, each action and each approach as if you will be directly impacting the Legend of Carlos & Helio Gracie….because, believe it or not, you are.
We are ambassadors of this sport.
Or as I like to call it: Submissionaries!
credit to Disciple Dojo for the great image!
Check out his site for additional INCREDIBLE art for sale!