I have some ideas that I have put a significant amount of thought into. I believe they are important. I present them, and myself, to the world in a manner that rubs some people the wrong way. That's cool, I completely understand why some people wouldn't like me, and I keenly understand why the ideas I represent might threaten people. However, some of these people have taken to wilfully misrepresenting the things I say, and attempt to spread rumours, half truths and outright lies in an effort to avoid dealing with the merit of my statements. You are free to speculate on whether they do this because they lack language comprehension, basic logic, or are savvy enough to know they don't have an intellectual leg to stand on. But the fact is they resort to bad faith arguments to discredit me instead of my points. However, since there will no doubt be a future occasion when this situation repeats itself, let me save us all some time and give you a list of things that will be said about me, and then the actual facts. If you just care about training at an awesome club (or attending a seminar, or acquiring an instructional) that will make you far better at BJJ, feel free to skip this. But if you've come across some pseudo controversy, have read some things about me and are unsure what to think, yet care to make an informed judgment on who I am and whether you might be interested in my version of BJJ, feel free to dive in.
1- This is the only one that really matters because it mischaracterizes my statements on the importance of clear standards, high standards, and recognizing substandard instruction. I have absolutely said that several places, particularly on the island, offer pretty poor quality BJJ. What my detractors will try to tell you is some version of the following:
A) I run a hardcore competition club and don't respect hobbyists.
B) I think anyone who taps to a lower belt must suck or not deserve their rank.
C) I think competition results or destroying people on the mats are the only things that matter when assessing rank.
Regarding A), know that "hardcore competition club" is sometimes employed as a backhanded term by people who cater only to hobbyists or the self defense crowd as a way of dismissing anyone who happens to be leagues better but wears the same rank. The really hilarious thing is that my club is the definition of a hobbyist club. In 5 years, with the exception of Shane when he did a training camp for ADCC trials and Umesh when he visited for 10 months, none of my students have been anything approaching a full time or even part time competitor. Even my top students tend to attend class an average of 3 days a week. We don't roll that hard and we don't train specifically for competition. We have excellent tournament results, but that is down to two facts. The first is that our club has a safe and supportive environment where we help each other improve rather than beating the shit out of each other in training. The second is that we have a system that allows people who aren't overly physically gifted to understand BJJ in a way that is frankly superior to the memorization of random moves. This means that when someone is talented, the system is a serious accelerator.
This fact threatens people who care little about quality but wish to make a living teaching or owning schools. I don't get this. McDonald's is plenty successful, they don't have to pretend they are Morton's Steakhouse, more people want convenience than high quality, just don't lie about it. Yet there are people out there who have a problem with me saying that those who offer lower quality BJJ, or easy promotions, or whatever, should be up front about it. On the island, in more than one location, we have had clubs run by blue or purple belts advertise themselves as the best or most technical BJJ in their city, when their city has much better clubs run by legit black belts. That's not right. Certified Gracie training centers run by blue belts around the world trying to trick people into believing their club is better than a legit black belt club because they have "pure Gracie self defense", is not right. It's easy to say "mind your own business, let the consumer decide", but when we have enough uninformed consumers, we get Trump University. I refuse to shut up about this. If you just want to do BJJ as a fun hobby, it probably doesn't matter where you train (though I think hobbies are more fun when you have a clearly defined path to get good at them). But if you want to see what you're capable of, it matters a great deal, and I care immensely about helping people achieve their best. So when I see talented, dedicated BJJ practitioners training at shitty clubs who lie to them about their relative level of quality, and try to keep them from investigating the difference by engaging in character assassination and relying on tribal loyalty, I will occasionally open my big fat mouth. Tell me to shut my mouth, I take no issue with that, but be honest about why you believe my silence is warranted.
Regarding B), not only have I never said anything negative about the mere fact of tapping to a lower belt, I publicly went on about losing to a brown belt in a nogi competition. I am very proud of this. It exposed a gap in my knowledge that I corrected and turned it into a strength, so much so that the brown belt in question came to visit and train with me after receiving his black belt. Tapping to lower belts in training or competition happens to the best of us, it is the nature of up and coming talent to dethrone their elders. Getting clowned by hobbyists a couple of ranks below you, who are rolling light, when you are an instructor who is the same size as them, doesn't happen to the best of us. It happens to people who have been promoted due to money changing hands or low standards, or both.
Regarding C), I have given more than one interview discussing how rolling skill and teaching skill are different. I view myself as a decently skilled black belt on the mats, but my skill at organizing and conveying knowledge is way the hell better than my ability to roll. And it should be, I put a metric shit ton of work into it. Some people are a wealth of knowledge despite their bodies being incapable of putting that knowledge into action. However, some people who are really terrible at BJJ have used this notion as an excuse, and uninformed people buy it. You don't have to be an absolute killer to be a black belt, but if you aren't, you better be an amazing teacher, and anyone I have called out publicly about this, is demonstrably the opposite.
Here is what I think about rank. It should represent skill AND knowledge, and should have clear standards for both. It should also take into account physical attributes like strength, speed, cardio and flexibility, in addition to mental attributes like toughness, gameness, adaptability and strategic/tactical thinking.
Of course you can promote however you like at your club, but if you're going to promote on attendance, or time in, just own it and don't have a conniption if people who care about merit think that's lame.
Now let's get to the lies and half truths.
A) I demote people. Bull-fucking-shit. I have never demoted anyone and discourage people from doing it. If people feel more comfortable wearing a lower rank than they received somewhere else so they can see their progress through our rank system, I reluctantly accept. I have seen people quit BJJ when they receive a rude awakening after moving from a low level club to one with good standards. I care far more about my individual students and creating the circumstances for them to succeed than I do about external perception. Some people have taken advantage of my silence on this to spread this rumour quite far. It couldn't be more false. Oddly enough the people who insist on doing this tend to come from one particular club, and people from that club have done the same thing when they have moved to any number of other clubs.
B) I let people who I have demoted compete. Since I have never demoted anyone this is also a lie. In our first year we had one visiting student who was a fresh blue belt from a nogi club compete at white belt in the gi. He got obliterated by all our 6 month white belts when we were a brand new club and I had no familiarity with the competition scene, so I didn't see a problem with it then. I still don't. I can see how disingenuous people might use it as part of a campaign to discredit me, but that's why we're here I guess.
C) I am secretive about how I achieved my black belt. Uh, what? Again, I was introduced to the BJJ community at large via an interview with Stephan Kesting on YouTube where I talked about exactly how long it took me go from white belt to black belt in the gi. I trained MMA, including nogi grappling for about 8 years, I then chose to focus on gi BJJ, and thanks to my excellent coaches, but with a pretty huge assist from the concepts and systems I developed for learning (which are heavily influenced by the work of Ryan Hall), I got my black belt in less than 2 years of training in the gi. As for why it would matter what route I took to get there, again, you will have to decide, but the fact of the matter is that the people who bring this up tend to know that I have competed a few times as a black belt. To be even more emphatic on this point, I have a 100% submission rate in my wins in the gi, and my 1 loss was by a penalty point at Pans, to a black belt that has medalled at Pans and Master Worlds, in which I did not receive points for a clear takedown. Not only that, but my first ever competition in the gi (and only my second grappling competition experience ever), was at black belt. If you've ever competed, you know how nerve wracking it can be when you have little to no experience with it. It takes a long time to be able to express anything close to your full abilities in competition. Again, and I know I'm beating this point to death, I was able to be successful because we have a system for making people who aren't hardcore full time competitors pretty good. Why people would try to circumvent that point to talk about how I got to black belt, when my entire point is about merit, not lineage, or tradition, or governing bodies, should be obvious.
D) I'm a jerk. Can't argue with that. I'm a jerk to people I don't respect. There aren't many of them, but they sure can be loud sometimes. If you want to know what I'm actually like. Talk to me, or better yet, talk to any of my students, anyone that has ever attended one of my seminars, or any of the couple of hundred people from all over the world that have visited my school, many of them staying at my home. I suspect they'll tell you that I will be quite honest with you, and that is a quality some don't appreciate. I will also do my absolute best to help you achieve your potential through BJJ, regardless of your rank, what school you're from, or whether you are a hobbyist or competitor. And since my glaring moral crime seems to be that I am occasionally rude to people who disingenuously support a status quo that is harmful to informed consumer choice (or those who support PC thought and speech policing), shouldn't the fact that I'm a damn good BJJ instructor (even my most ardent detractors will generally admit this) be the defining quality in settling my account with the world?
And I would be remiss if I didn't cover the last, but perhaps most irrelevant thing people will bring up when they try to discredit me rather than debating anything I actually say: "Didn't you used to run a weird fight club with a funny name a long time ago, how can you talk about legit BJJ?".
You can tell people are really scraping the bottom of the barrel when they try to bring up something from quite far in the past, then knowingly mischaracterize it because it has no relevance even beyond being old news. CBHOD was a private fight club, that I ran while pursuing my MMA training. It incorporated a very heavy dose of humor and the advertising for it was highly satirical, which is why people weren't quite sure what to make of it. Anyone that has talked to me about it can tell you that while I'm pretty open about what it was, fully explaining it can be a pretty long conversation, one I don't really want to have with the public. More importantly, it's not where I received any of my BJJ training or credentials, so it has absolutely no bearing on my BJJ career. It is also important to note that anyone who contacted this place seeking BJJ training, was directed to go train at a BJJ club. I never pretended it was something it wasn't, and that's part of why I have a chip on my shoulder about shitty BJJ clubs taking people's money. My detractors seem to think it's some big secret that they can use to discredit me. Not choosing to advertise something irrelevant, that happens to be associated with a really negative experience in my personal life, is not the same as hiding something. There are still videos of it up on YouTube for fuck's sakes! Would I prefer not to be associated with it? Damn right. Would you want to be associated with something from your past that is benign, but has a wacky name, is tricky to fully explain, and has no bearing on your current career? Would you want to advertise a new venture by mentioning something irrelevant that would also make it much easier for someone that you never want to have any contact with again to possibly have access to your new life? But hey, I said some things that make people who want McDojos to be on the same public footing as legit clubs feel uncomfortable, so fuck it, privacy is dead anyway in our society, whatever it takes to make a disingenuous argument on the internet is fair game.
It's not a secret. Trying to make it a point against me just reveals how desperate some people are to find anything to talk about besides the actual merit of my arguments.
I try to avoid any bad faith arguments, and I will continue to do my very best to help anyone who is interested in my system achieve their fullest potential. If you care about that, great, I would love to meet you. If you disagree with my positions and actually want to have a discussion like a grown ass adult, engage me publicly or privately, and I will happily respond. But if you simply don't like me and what I represent, please just be honest about it, and don't use logical fallacies, bad faith arguments, rumors, lies, and irrelevant shit from the past to muddy the waters. Or do, but realize that to a neutral observer, it reveals far more about your insecurities, insincerities, and lack of intellect than it does anything about me.