The hottest BJJ attraction of the season isn’t a fancy new gym or high-stakes tournament, but an innovative “haunted house” featuring some of the world’s most dangerous animals.
The “Grappling Ghoul House,” located in Melbourne, Australia, is marketed as “spooky, Oz-rated fun for all ages,” but guests are being reported as being “deeply traumatized” after leaving the attraction. The Jiu-Jitsu Times went to visit the attraction on Halloween to see if it lived up to the hype, and what we saw was something we’ll never forget.
Entry to the haunted house required all participants to sign a waiver that looked identical to a standard martial arts gym waiver with the name of the academy scribbled out and replaced. As we stood in line, we noted that the building itself didn’t seem like anything special — the “house” is actually a large jiu-jitsu academy, temporarily repurposed for the scariest time of the year. In front of us stood three large grapplers, one wearing a shirt with a lion on it, one wearing a shirt with a wolf on it, and one wearing a shirt with a shark on it. We were initially comforted by their presence, as individuals who compare themselves to apex predators are known to have zero insecurities or ego problems.
We stepped into the first room and immediately began sweating — the heat was unbearable, and “The Horses” by Daryl Braithwaite played ominously over the loudspeakers. “G’DAY!” yelled the first monster as he leapt out from behind a corner, eliciting a yelp from everyone in our group. He wore a gi and purple belt and crept around us, begging us for a roll. “Nah, man,” said my coworker, visibly shaken. “It’s way too hot.”
“Come on, mate,” pushed the purple belt. “I’m from Queensland. This is a crisp, refreshing day. Throw on a gi with me. I’m twenty years old and just won PanPacs for the third year in a row and have nowhere to go but up from here.”
His unbridled enthusiasm sent chills down our spines, and we hurried into the next room.
With the purple belt having successfully put us all on edge, we tentatively looked around us in hopes of avoiding another jump scare.
The three large grapplers in front of us were either unfazed or simply pretended like they were as we moved into the next room: a replica of a butcher’s shop, filled with realistic-looking animal remains on meat hooks. Our eyes darted from one hook to the next, waiting for another monster to jump out from behind one of the chunks of “bloody” meat. Instead, a loud crunch from behind us made us all nearly jump out of our shoes: up-and-coming brown belt and Polaris veteran Jeremy Skinner was following slowly behind us, munching on a carrot. “He’s a vegetarian,” whispered one person in our group.
“How does he get his protein?” hissed another, disturbed by Skinner’s friendly demeanor as he cheerfully waved to us.
“Nobody knows,” said one of the guys in front of us. “Some say he eats twelve containers of Vegemite per day — by the spoonful.” We gasped collectively and nervously watched as Skinner followed two paces behind our group as we walked. The message was clear: he wasn’t our greatest threat — yet — but it wouldn’t be long until he’d caught up.
The next room elicited excited gasps from the three men in front of us, as it was a near-exact replica of ADCC 2017. “Look!” one of them exclaimed. “It’s Leandro Lo!” Indeed, the large Brazilian legend had appeared from the other end of the room and began walking toward us. But suddenly, a tall, hulking shadow wearing leopard-print shorts jumped out from the wall, immediately securing a rear naked choke on Lo. Strobe lights flashed, and we all screamed.
“Who is he?!” shrieked the man in the shark shirt.
“I’ve never seen him before!” whimpered the one in the lion shirt.
“The name’s Craig,” responded the voice, so soft we could barely hear him. We instinctively huddled together for protection as the mysterious Australian man brought Lo to the ground and finished the job, leaving him twitching as we bolted past the grizzly scene into the final room.
The final scary scene didn’t hide who the monsters were. In a moment reminiscent of the “twins” scene from Stephen King’s The Shining, a man and woman stood side by side, watching us walk into the room. The three large men in front of us burst out laughing. “This is it? The grand finale is these two little munchkins?” Suddenly, though, the strobe lights began flashing as Men at Work’s “Down Under” began blasting through the speakers. Disoriented and confused, we could only watch in horror as the man and woman immediately pulled guard and inched toward us, foaming at the mouth as they eyed our feet.
My coworker and I immediately recognized the danger and began backing away — we knew about Lachlan and Livia Giles, the ultimate Australian jiu-jitsu power couple. Alone, they were scary enough. Together? Well, even in a controlled environment like a haunted house, we didn’t want to take any risks. The three men in front of us were less afraid, and they elbowed each other in the ribs as they mocked the Giles couple. In a flash, Lachlan and Livia each dove for the men’s feet, immediately locking in heel hooks. The man in the wolf shirt dove out of the way just in time, watching his friends cry out in shock as they tapped to the Giles’ leg locks.
With blood (Fake? Real? It was hard to tell.) now dripping from their fingertips, Lachlan and Livia crept towards the final large man. “Please, no!” he cried. “I’m an alpha! An alpha!” But it was too late — the couple swept the wolf-man to the ground and swiftly tapped him out with inside heel hooks before shrimping backward into the darkness.
Aside from being scared, the men in front of us were mostly unharmed. My coworker and I guided them out of the Grappling Ghoul House, at which point they fell to their knees and kissed the ground, muttering things about “blood-thirsty kangaroos in human suits.”
For the Jiu-Jitsu Times crew, the experience was a five-star scare fest. We can only imagine what horrors will unfold at the next installation after ADCC 2021 takes place.