Over the past few days, the jiu-jitsu interwebs have been abuzz over our community’s latest scandal. A man by the name of David Arnebeck, a black belt under Rickson Gracie, has been revealed to have a sordid past which includes a conviction in the nineties for soliciting a prostitute and more recently a 2013 conviction for groping a 15-year-old girl.
The scandal isn’t as much about Arnebeck’s crimes, but the fact that Rickson posted a picture on Instagram just a few days ago of himself training with Arnebeck at Rickson’s house.
This picture has drawn the ire of many prominent members of the jiu-jitsu community including one of Rickson Gracie’s most popular black belts, Henry Akins, as well as jiu-jitsu black belt and rockstar Ty Gay. Both have made posts about the subject which Arnebeck himself chimed in on. The majority of Arnebeck’s points can be found here:
Here is Gay’s emotional and direct video which addresses Rickson’s inattentiveness to this incident:
Akins wrote poignantly in a facebook post about this
As we are learning now from Hollywood, silence only perpetuates the problem and makes us complicit. I was completely shocked, angered and very much disappointed to see this, especially because I brought this issue to the attention of the JJGF 2 years ago when Tony Pacenski as still involved.
Many people feel that the Gracie family is in some way morally superior, and many people view Rickson Gracie as being a sort of jiu-jitsu god. The Jiu-Jitsu Global Federation was purportedly brought about by Rickson’s desire to “save jiu-jitsu.” Do the implications of this revelation conclusively debunk Rickson’s moral standing? If Rickson addresses the situation now, can he redeem himself?
It’s a difficult reality for us as a community, but we have to face it.
Another difficult reality we have to face is that there are active competitors with serious criminal allegations against them, including sexual assault. We are all very quick to judge Rickson Gracie for associating with a known perpetrator of sexual assault, and possibly correctly, but I hear very little uproar about others within the community allowing athletes with criminal pasts to compete on their stages.
Is this revelation about Rickson’s inaction going to be a catalyst for real change?