Rolling Against a "Black Belt Killer"


It is said in BJJ that there is no lying. You can't fake technique. For all your talk and posturing, at some point you need to get on the mat and show what you know. Or don't know as the case may be. I count myself lucky to have not come across too many liars in BJJ (that I know of), but this guy...well, I had to talk about him.

The other day a guy comes into the gym (I won't say his name, that's not the point). He seemed like a nice enough guy. I noticed him when he was being taken on a tour around. I was teaching class so I didn't have a chance to talk with him. Afterwards I was told some things that I felt hard to believe.

This man, the aforementioned "Black Belt Killer", came into the gym wanting to "train MMA". He was informed that we don't have a formal MMA program and that anyone interested in competing must first train BJJ, boxing and muay thai individually. This did not seem acceptable to said BBK. He didn't want to train just BJJ because he didn't want his game to "backslide".

Because training BJJ means your MMA will backslide. I guess there are no triangles in MMA these days, but I'll get to that...

A little background on BBK, in his paraphased words: BBK was a blue belt (from a Gracie in Singapore, though I didn't get the name and have no idea what Gracies are teaching in Singapore), though he wasn't sure if he even knew where his blue belt was anymore.

Um, sure.

He also claimed that he had submitted most of the black belts he had ever rolled against and that they never really gave him problems. Naturally, I asked "black belts in what?"

Now, usually, this is the part in the narrative where the person says they will come back, but never does, and we are all left to wonder "what could have been?"

But he came back tonight!

Perhaps drawn in by the no gi class, perhaps by the fact that since I'm not a black belt, he should have no trouble with me.

Of course, he wasn't quite sure how to do an omoplata and seemed to rely solely on strength to escape mount, but still, it happens.

In open roll, he demonstrated his triangle defense three times: pushing me off the mat. Something that didn't happen the fourth time. Or the fifth.

He also had no counter to a body triangle, minimal rear naked choke defense, poor balance, no half guard, no knee on belly defense, no mount escape save the attempt at just pushing me off. One of our boxing coaches, Robert Brant, reversed him twice and nearly armbar'd him (no disrespect to Brant, who earned my respect rolling tonight)...

But I digress. The point of this isn't to show what he didn't have or the skill he was clearly lying about, it is to point out that I was f***ing pissed off. What was worse, there is no way he even would realize why I was so pissed off.

He hadn't earned that understanding yet.

No, he did nothing to disrespect the gym. He was nice enough, if not a little douche-y rolling (he used pure strength and was unable to keep any of my white belts in side control). His excuse afterward was that "everyone was a lot bigger than they were overseas". Even my 140 pounders I guess.

No, my problem was the fact that the would tell anyone ever that he had "tapped out most black belts" he had rolled against.

I can only think of three scenarios to explain this:

1) The black belts he tapped were black belts in some other martial art not based in grappling.

2) The "black belts" were lying about being black belts in anything.

3) The black belts in BJJ allowed him to work techniques and submit them as a show of class and good instruction.

If it is one of the first two, that's just a shame. It happens, but it's sad.

If it is the third one, it is totally inexcusable.

Maybe it is me. Maybe it is the fact that I have been lucky enough to roll with local Professors like Greg Nelson, Ishmael Bentley, Chris McCune, Nate Homme and Mike Ellefson that I respect so much that I can't imagine talking that way about any of them. Talking that way suggests you have no respect for the sport or the art or the years and years they have given as students and teachers.

I don't write this post because I want to slam this particular man. For all I know, he is a good guy that got too caught up in the moment and wanted to puff out his chest a little, but what if he walked up to Robert Brant or Raphael Butler and claimed to have " beat up Golden Gloves champs" or told Dan Moret that "it's stupid to fight more than a couple ammy fights, I can beat up any amateur fighter"? How can you excuse someone that flat out lies about something you put your blood, sweat and tears into?

Listen, if the guy comes back to class, I am more than happy to teach him. I give anyone credit that comes back on the mats after being exposed. BJJ is a hard sport, about 75% of everyone that starts quits by the time or before they get their blue belt. It is hard to admit you don't know s***. You can think you know how to box. You can think you know how to kick. You may even think you know how to wrestle.

You are wrong on all counts, no matter what you and your friends do after too many PBRs.

But get on your back and see if you can even start to imagine what to do.

Lying about your rank and your successes is a slap in the face of everyone from white belt to red belt that comes in and puts in their time. And for what? So you can sound a little tougher to someone you have never met before?

Or better yet, don't come back. I would rather roll with someone who can't tap out a blue belt but works their a** off every day in the hopes that some day they will earn all those things you lie about.