A disturbing new video leaked by a student has shocked the jiu-jitsu community, revealing what appears to be ritualized abuse of an unidentified white belt at the hands of high ranking gym members during training. Commenters on the post have identified the gym as Maciel Sousa’s Evolution Gym in Brazil.
In the video a white belt adult is seen being forced into a series of “rolls” with an aggressive high belt. (The abuser appears to be a purple belt, though the belt is faded.) Early on the victim is choked and taps, but the assailant intentionally holds the collar until the student is unconscious. The pale and dazed student is then revived and immediately handed back to the purple belt who submits him via armbar, then jumps into yet another choke, and then another armbar while mugging for the camera. Despite multiple team members in the room, including at least one black belt, no one steps in to intervene.
To be sure, hazing and gauntlet tests of strength or “brotherhood” have been part of martial arts culture since…ever. But what is captured in the hi-def video is neither hazing nor fraternal team building–it’s ego and abuse of both a student and the art form itself on vivid display, a stark contrast to the gentle art monicker its universal lessons about respect. The casual reaction of the students in the video seem to suggest that the event is not uncommon at Evolution.
Feedback from the BJJ community thus far has been universal outrage, with many Brazilians commenting that the perpetrators should be at least stripped of their belts. Others suggest the abusers be subjected to the same treatment at the hands of black belts, and some commenters have shared the location of Evolution to make confronting the participants easier. Reviews posted to the Evolution Facebook page have called for Maciel Sousa to close the school.
“This is not a teacher or a master,” said one commenter on the original post.
“The worst jiu-Jitsu Academy in the world,” said another.
Evolution Gym hosts weekly martial arts classes for children and women.