The BJJ Bully *Question*

Just curious how everyone would handle this...sorry for the FRAT.

I have a guy training with me who is 6 foot 3, 280lbs. We will call him "Big Black" (he's about the same size as the MTV body guard..but 10 times lighter skinneded ö)

He has been training for a long time and has had his BJJ Brown belt for over a year.

Currently @ my school I have a competing black belt (placed in several large tournaments), and 5 or 6 other purple belts. (I'm a purple)

....Anyways...Big Black is a tough roll mainly because of his size. He has good posture and his game has a lot of "big man moves". He has never submitted me (or even passed my guard for that matter)...but I have never submitted him.

The black belt training at the camp has submitted Big Black several times in training (but even he was caught in a foot lock last week)

Big Black doesn't pay to train @ the academy. I figured since he was a brown belt it would be nice to have him @ the gym.

His favorite move is a crucifix neck crank. (which to the best of my knowledge is illegal in BJJ competition) Big Black is constantly pulling this move off on the smaller/less experienced guys. While the neck crank is under control...the pressure a 280lbs man puts on someones neck is pretty instant.

I've had several other students recognize his technique...and now they are attempting it during open rolling (with no control).

Today I tried to approach him about the neck cranks (I've had several students ask not to be paired with him for rolling). I explained to him that he is a brown belt with a variety of tools. The neck crank was illegal in BJJ and I'd appreciate him not using it in my class. He responded with "We aren't wearing the have to learn to defend the move". An answer I thought was pretty disrespectful...especially since it isn't his gym.

Cardio training is a mandatory part of my beginners BJJ classes. Big Black shows up after the technique and rides the cardio bike until everyone has finished circuit and plyometric training. I've asked him several times to join in for the mandatory fitness training...but he usually finds an excuse to not participate.

Everytime I approach him about issues he gets very defensive. I don't want to kick him out of the gym...but at the same time he isn't really "bringing anything" to the team other than his "brown belt" ranking.

His attitude is pretty poor and his lazy work ethic is contagious (others see him not doing the cardio and try to find ways to skip out)

What is some advice?!?!

...he showed up to one Muay Thai class...where all of my 155lbers gave him a low kick beatdown.

He never returned to the Muay Thai class again. I tried to explain to him that the guys where going hard on him...because they felt like he takes advantage of them in BJJ (obviously where his strengths are)

We have a similar brown belt (6'1", 265) who has a lot of the same issues - doesn't participate in the warm-ups, uses a lot of "big guy" moves, and has a majority of the people in the class requesting not to be paired with him due to his "cranking" of submissions. Unless you really threaten to kick him out of the gym unless he changes his attitude, I don't think it will change. You have to protect the majority of your students interests as a business owner, and if he can't understand that, then it is probably time for him to train somewhere else.

 No easy answers on this one, but I can think of a few things I would do right away.

1. Make him pay. His belt does not decrease your rent, nor does it put food in your mouth. He may quit right them and there, which means he does not value the training.

2. Make him attend and participate in the entire class. This does not have to be personal. Simply make a rule that if you miss warmups you don't spar.

3. Make him and the entire class do way more position sparring/drilling. This way you can control the positions and attacks he is able to use, and the ones against which he must defend. He will not be using a crucifix neck crank if the goal of the sparring is to maintain/pass guard or maintain/escape mount, for example. On certain days you could even leave free sparring as an after official class option, just so he could see how popular he really is.

4. You are already describing him as an uncooperative, unhelpful, selfish tool. Why is he in YOUR gym?


Ray, think of it this way. You are the reason people come to Tiger, for the MMA training. There are a bunch of good gyms in southern Phuket, but what sets your gym apart is the BJJ and MMA training.

While it is cool to have a brown belt training at the gym, he is not the reason people are there.

I know I am very worried about getting injured when I am in Thailand. I wouldn't want to roll with a 280lb brown belt who is using neck cranks in training. I was worried about clinching with the K-1 fighters at Sinbi, but it turned out fine.

You know as well as I, how poor of a background the Thai trainers come from, no one should be training for free. Either they are fighting and making money for the gym, teaching a class/seminar that is making money for the gym, or paying the gym for the services they receive.

In a nutshell, here is the situation:

A) If he's training at your academy, he must follow the rules of the academy.

B) YOU set the rules and the policy. Period.

C) If he can't handle that, he can train elsewhere.

Here's something I've said to people in the past:

"I may not be the most talented grappler at my own academy. As I develop other instructors, I may not even be the best teacher at my own academy. But one thing is for sure: if I am the one in charge, it is MY responsibility to provide everyone the safe, controlled training environment to which they are entitled. I need to defend the rights of my other students."

I follow a three-step approach to correcting behavior. The first time I talk to you, I pull you to the side and gently ask you to correct the behavior. "Hey Big Black, I need you to do me a favor. The rule in this class is No Neck Cranks (or "show up on time" or whatever), and I need you to make sure you're not using them. Thanks."

The second time, I call you on it in front of people. When I see the next neck crank, I say (in front of the class "HEY! I already spoke to you about the neck cranks! Are you going to follow the rules here, or do I have to send you home in front of these people?"

The third time, we head to my office. "I've already spoken to you twice about the neck cranks. It's time for you to make a decision. Are you going to follow the rules at this academy, or are you going to find somewhere else to train? I don't need your money (in this case, your "experience"), and I don't need your attitude. So you have a choice to make: you can change your attitude, or there's the door."

It isn't fun to have these talks with people, especially folks who are bullies. I've used this process with different people over the years, and only once did we get to steps 3 & 4 (#4 is where the choice is no longer in his hands. "Don't let the door hit you...").

As unpleasant as it can be, this is your most important job as a school owner: protect your students.

If you DO have to kick him out, let your students know that he was asked to leave, and why. I can't tell you how pleasantly surprised I was by the reaction from my students when I kicked the one student out--there was an outpouring of support. They understand that I had to take a difficult path, and that I did it to protect them. My students know that I have their back, no matter how tough that is for me.

Some days, you just have to put on the daddy pants and say "This is MY gym."

Good luck. It's a challenging situation.


You guys have pretty much supported my own ideas on the situation. Thanx for the advice. any other comments will be appreciated.

 I think you've already been given great advice. #1 on the list is make him pay. As was mentioned, that may solve your problem right there. #2 is to enforce the rules. If you don't allow crucifix neck cranks then it applies to everyone.

I personally don't allow crucifix at my academy and it doesn't matter what belt rank you are or if you are big and black.

Dont get caught up in justifying yourself or discussing your position.

That is the problem...great advice. LOL...I've never really used these boards for advice...but this thread has actually been helpful ;)

Thanx guys.

Let us know how it went.

".I've never really used these boards for advice...but this thread has actually been helpful ;)"

that's what's so awesome about this place, especially the bjj forum. there are tons of talented, experienced people here who can answer almost any question with real-life experience.

why isn't he training with the instructor who gave him his brown belt?

Good advice above.

A brown belt should know better.

Easytarget is right. This is your way of life and all the students are your responsibility. You have a lot of people that put their trust in you taking care of them. Big guys can cause a lot of damage esp to the neck. Repeated injury can lead to a lot of health problems. Overall you are responsible for your students health so you are just as accountable as this brownbelt if something serious happens. You need to trust your foresight.

Decaf, LittleMick, decaf...

"Everytime I approach him about issues he gets very defensive. I don't want to kick him out of the gym...but at the same time he isn't really "bringing anything" to the team other than his "brown belt" ranking.

His attitude is pretty poor and his lazy work ethic is contagious (others see him not doing the cardio and try to find ways to skip out)"

I think this about sums up all of the reasons why you should ask him to leave. The fact that he endangers people and he's an overdefensive asshole about it is more than enough ground to toss him. Add to that the fact that he's lazy, and the cherry on top is that he's setting a bad example for others.

...and you let him do this for free?

The guy sounds like the equivalent of gym cancer. Get him out.

kick his ass out

I can't believe you're asking this question.

It's an easy call. Kick him out before he hurts someone badly and YOU get sued.

Is he injured and therfore not partaking in the cardio?

Is the neck crank a new move for him that he is trying to perfect?

Is he new to the gym and doesn't understand the way things work there? Shy? Brown Belt doesn't eqaul socially confident.

Tough situation rgardless due to his belt ranking and the fact that a brown is nice to have around.

Best thing to do is what most of the others above have already said or if you don't want to say to much just kind of ingnore him.

Or ask him to help you get ready ready for your next fight and since he doesn't pay make him feelm that he ows you that and run the ship on him everyday.

I second FatBuddha. He needs to respect you as owner. Sounds like he has it pretty good with free training, a good black belt instructor and a laid back beach life environment, but hasn't been giving you the respect you are owed. Better to kick him out now than do it after he really fucks up someones neck.

Your gym, your rules. It shows a lot of class that you actually sought out opinions.

Well...situation solved.

I sent him a written explanation of the situation. I was professional and ended my email with "what are your thoughts on my concnerns"

I received a long F*bomb littered email that found a way to put the entire situation "as a result of me" which I responded that it was time to find another gym.

I've discussed the decision with the rest of the guys @ the gym and they all supported it.

Thanx for the help guys :)