A Reader Question: The Infamous Sandbagger

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“I know you have covered articles pertaining fake black belts getting demolished,
but what about guys you lie about grappling experience walking into dojos to demolish the students there and are never seen again.
How do most people handle that?”

Jiu-jitsu Times: Ahh,..the infamous sandbagger.

A sand bagger means a few things in the bjjosphere:
A) Someone who enters a tournament at a belt level below their true level of experience to increase their chances of winning the division.
Think of a 2nd degree black belt in judo or a guy with a bunch of MMA fights entering the white belt division of the local bjj tournament.
B) A visitor to an academy who professes no previous grappling experience and proceeds to pull De la Riva guard and spin to the back immediately and smoothly.
Zero experience you say?!?

Let’s talk about scenario “B” here.
There are a few reasons that could be behind this story.

“Have you ever trained any grappling before?”
“No, I’m a complete beginner.”


 

1) The sandbagger (SB) is in fact being humble about their background and doesn’t want to come across as a boasting type.
I have a little muay thai training experience, but upon entering a real muay thai gym I would say I am a beginner.
I am not bringing any skills that those trainers have not seen before and don’t want them to put myself in a situation where they are expecting more from me than is my level.
The guy just might be an understated personality who likes to keep a low profile. The opposite of a braggart.


 

2) The SB is inwardly insecure about his abilities and wants to make a “pre-excuse” ready if he gets tapped.
If he is only a “beginner” then it should be no surprise that he gets dominated.
Also, going into a new gym carries some territoriality to it.
The home gym guys will defend their mat against visitors and show that their school is a high level school.
If a guy walks in and talks of his experience, he might then get fed to the academy’s killers to show him what is up!


 

3) The least likely (but dirtiest!) of these possibilities is that the SB wants to get some type of sneak advantage against the other students.
Similar to the “let’s go easy” guy who wants to lull his opponent into a state of false security and then jump to seize an advantage in the roll.
Before the blue belt knows what happened, the SB is cranking on a heel hook and got his tap.
* This is a good way for the SB to get himself “greenlighted”.
“Greenlighted” is when the head instructor, noticing what happened with the SB, looks over to the corner with the gym’s killer brown belt and nods his head ominously.
“Go sort him out and show him what is up.”

I had one guy try one of my classes who answered “zero grappling experience”.
We started to roll and he immediately looked to set me up for an ankle lock.
He had trained before for sure.
My response was the turn it up and apply what Carlson Gracie would call “make real position on him”.
I guess treating him with new white belt gentleness was not necessary 😉

How do Jiu-jitsu Times readers see sandbaggers?

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