When a BJJ instructor tells their students they shouldn’t train with people from other schools or at open mats…

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By William Murphy, Ph.D.,IBJJF Black Belt 3rd Degree, USJA San Dan Judo 

Not all schools are open every day of the week. Some schools offer open mats on the weekends instead of structured classes. In some cases, there may be an open session on the weekend at the local college, YMCA, etc. Some open mats are open to players from any school, and any style of grappling.

Some instructors encourage their students to go to open mats with as many other schools as possible to maximize the variety of warm bodies with different styles to train with, while other instructors have a policy that they only want their students to train at affiliated academies.

It’s fairly reasonable for your instructor to prefer that you come to their class, if they are holding a class that day.

A full mat is often a better experience for everyone. So, that is a very logical and reasonable request from your instructor.

But, if your instructor or school does not offer a class on a particular day, and they forbid you from ever training at open sessions on the days they don’t offer a class, then it’s a little more difficult to justify their policy, except as a controlling one.

First, if the instructor wants to keep you from training somewhere else on the weekend or Friday night, than they should make the investment in time or trust to have someone open their gym so you have a place to train within their network on that day.

Further, if they can’t offer a class on the weekend that fits your work or family schedule, but there is an open mat that does fit your schedule, it’s a little more difficult for them to justify not allowing you to go to an open mat in those circumstances.

It’s a little sad, but in some cases, instructors are afraid that if you go to open mats where other black belts roll, you will be tempted to switch schools and begin training under those other black belts.

However, instructors who are really confident in their own skills and the value they provide their students will have little fear of this.

If your instructor tells you that you cannot go to open mats, then you should ask yourself a few questions.

Are they asking you not to go because they have gone to the time and trouble to offer morning and evening classes on those days, and they want to do your part as a member of the group to make sure the mat is full of training partners that day?

Or, if they do not offer a class on the weekends, or do not offer one in a slot that you can make, are they so insecure in their own skills, and the value of the experience they are providing to you, that they would try and tell you that can’t train elsewhere?

If the instructor’s policy is strictly to control you, then you should also ask yourself why you would give anyone that kind of control over what you train and who you roll with outside of their class.

Generally, Wrestling, Boxing, and Judo are very open models, that work just fine even though they encourage cross training at various gyms, clubs, and dojos (especially if the home club is a non-profit, as many Judo clubs are).

And, in real combat training, you train with whomever will maximize your chances of surviving that encounter. Can you imagine a self-defense firearms instructor saying to you: “if you practice shooting at that other gun range, then you are disrespecting your shooting coach”? Ridiculous! A self-defence instructor who is truly concerned with your ability to defend yourself, wants you get in as much training as possible to survive an encounter.

Now, some instructors will have the honesty to tell you that their policy against training at open mats on the weekends at non-affiliates is a business decision. And, in a way, that kind of direct honesty is admirable.

But, other instructors really count on your naiveté when they feed you these rationales:

1) “If you train at the open mats at the other local schools, they will have an advantage over you in competition.”

    This is obviously false because you will learn as much about the other players as they will about you.

2) “They will learn our secret techniques.”

    There are plenty of world champions that put their entire game on DVD. Their students do fine in tournament.
    Marcelo Garcia puts every class he teaches online. His students do fine in tournament.
    Further, once the techniques get performed in tournament, they are immediately public; if they work with any kind of high percentage, in today’s world of phone video cameras and the Internet, there are very few secrets that stay secrets.

3) “It will lead to people competing less, because it provides an alternative to competition that provides a similar local function.”

    Not everybody wants to spend $50 to $100 on an entry fee to compete.
    Not everybody wants to spend all day waiting for their name to get called and end up short-changed; in some cases, only getting one or two fights even if they win their division.
    Not everybody wants to give up an entire day away from their family when there are local alternatives.
    Not everybody cares about $2 medals. The instructor might, because a lot of instructors market their academy based on the number of $2 participation medals their child students won, or even how many $2 medals their adult students won.
    Serious competitors are not going to compete less just because they also get the benefit of training at the local open mats to hone their skills. Competitors that have the heart to compete and win at the major tournaments (Mundials, the Pan-Ams, the NAGA nationals, etc.) will continue to compete. High level competitors are not preparing to beat local recreational players at open mats; they are training to beat national and international semi-professional competitors at those events.

4) “The people at that open mat will just try and hurt you.”

    How is this different from the risks we take at tournament?
    Don’t we usually have some of those same hard rollers within our own academies?
    Isn’t the whole point of learning Jiu-Jitsu to learn what our deficiencies are and how to defend ourselves?
    Does your instructor really think that he is the only decent human being in town?

However, the concern that someone may try to hurt you is the only concern that is not self-serving.

Sometimes students from other schools will roll hard with their own teammates, and really roll hard with players from other schools. It happens, whether it is because they don’t want to “lose” to someone from another school, or because they want to “beat” the players from the other schools.

If you go to an open mat where they try to injure you, and you don’t like that level of testosterone, then find a different open mat. Some open mats roll hard, some roll “chill”, but usually the intensity of the roll is determined by the two individuals rolling.

In my experience, most schools that offer open mats are very welcoming to players from other schools. Occasionally, you will get some schools that like to pound on players from other schools. That is pretty rare, however. Also, in those cases, they usually pound pretty hard on their own students too.

If your instructor tells you that you should not go to any local open mats, and it isn’t because they are also offering a weekend class on that day, then they are probably either afraid of student drift, or are insecure about their own skills. Or, in the worst case, they’re worried about both.

Referring to my previous article, if your instructor tells you that you shouldn’t go to open mats and he does not roll with you, then this is even more of a red flag regarding their credibility as an instructor. There is a high probability that you have an instructor that does not want you to find out that they really are not that good on the mats. They probably don’t want you to experience the real deal when you roll with the other black belts.

If your instructor does roll with you, doesn’t offer weekend timeslots, but still tells you that you cannot go to the local open mats at other locations on the weekends, then you are probably learning from someone that has set themselves up as a cult leader, and wants to feel like they can control you.

I received all of my belts from white to black belt from the same two instructors, who were partners at the academy where I trained at coming up the ranks. No matter what other training opportunities I had, there was zero chance that I would ever switch academies because I was getting to learn from two of the best BJJ instructors on the planet (Mestre Sergio Penha, now 7th degree, and Professor Marcio Simas, now 6th Degree). To this day, even after 20+ years of doing BJJ, I have no doubt that there is much they could teach me. But, I am confident enough in what they taught me, and what I have to teach my BJJ students, that I always encourage my students to train at as many academies as they can, and to learn from everybody.

The “fun” part of Jiu-Jitsu is getting to roll and make new friends. For recreational players, who do Jiu-Jitsu for fun and not their career, there is no reason for an instructor to try and diminish their fun by telling them that they can’t train with their friends from other schools at open mats – unless they are also offering a timeslot at that time and want to keep the mats full to maximize the training experience for everybody.

Half the reason to continue to play sports as adults is to network with other people in a sporting environment. It leads to more job opportunities, more friendships, and a better quality of Jiu-Jitsu life.

Plus, let’s be honest: when you roll at open mats, you tend to get better, more quickly, than if you only roll with your own incestuous circle of regular training partners.

As my friend and former BJJ student Rob Villetto (now a fine IBJJF Black Belt in his own right) likes to say: “Let’s just roll…”.

56 COMMENTS

  1. Because he earned the title and it becomes part of the name? It is clear that you don’t have a degree and therefore don’t know how to value them.

  2. First of all I’ve to disagree. As Instructor I dont mind my students participate in Seminars, visit other school while in trip to other cities or to overseas. Personally I think instructors should organize trips to school like Alliance, Marcelo Garcia, Mendes to do an exchange and etc… but be part of open mats in competitors academies ? No. And that is nothing to do with FEAR of lose your students. Competition it is where you should show your skill. Share your knowledge you should do in open mats at your academies with your brothers. Students should be training in one academy from same team. Do you want to roll against another people GO TO A COMP, do you want to invite your friend to come visit your school he must be from another city, Ive enough experience in receive “VISITORS” which came with another intention to investigate and take contacts etc… At end the day it is your school, your bussiness and you set the rules. The rest is all BS and the loyolty should be both ways and straith forward no behind the instructors back. Every 2-3 months we’ve a competitors students knochink in our door “hi we just come to do a visit you to see bla bla bla”. My answer is SEE NOTHING SEE YOU LATER. I take the risk of maybe lose a future student. If you are a LEGIT visitor good. We’ve received a number of international visitors like we received a black belt from Hawaii, a blue belt from Fabio Gurgel they are all legit visitors and looking for a place to train. We dont even charge for that. YOURE VERY WELCOME. now students from the other academy from next street trying to visit us? Thanks mate no. COMP IT IS WHERE WE TEST OUR STYLE NOT IN OPEN MATS. This is my point view. Stick with your school, be loyal to your instructor and to all good luck on the mats.

        • Some of you find it too easy to throw the word cult around too easily.

          It’s not too difficult to understand what he is trying to say. He welcomes LEGIT VISITORS, just not rival schools.

          I’ve done judo in a university setting and we do allow visitors from out of town, out of country, or other judo schools but we certainly DO NOT ALLOW competitors or coaching staff from other competing universities participating in the country’s equivalent of the NCAA. The last time we made that mistake it cost us the title. You can use Marcelo Garcia’s school as an example every time but it’s getting tiresome. Let other coaches do what they want to do and just do what you want to do with your gym.

          They are not doing you any harm so just live and let live.

    • Sounds like they are the McDojo martial arts instructor claiming to possess super secret knowledge passed down from the masters of old that no other instructor is privy to. The top jiu jitsu competitors in the world cross pollinate. In contrast, when’s the last time someone from the Gracie Academy in Torrance won a major competition?

      Life is too short.

  3. I have limited BJJ training, but think this is a great philosophy which can be applied to any martial art. If you isolate yourself to your own school, you will only be exposed to a limited number of sparring/grappling partners. By expanding that pool, the evolutionary pressures will force you to improve.

  4. What I find is some schools are full of bad influences And backstabbing instructors. I have seen this first hand so I reserve the right to order my students to stay clear of those!

  5. This is a PhD in stimulating CREONTES. I trained with Grand Master Carlson Gracie and he never fought me and still, I bled and defended our flag until he passed. Carlson Gracie Forever!!!!! Open mat is an American thing… Nunca serão! OSSSSSSSS

    • Professor Cavalcanti,
      You and I agree that Mestre Carlson Gracie Sr was a great fighter, and a great Jiu-Jitsu representative.
      I understand how you feel about my article.
      I think you are right to a certain degree that open mats is a very American thing.
      I am American, and I am for open mats.
      Especially when the open mats where the BJJ players can train with the Judo players, and the wrestlers, and even the Sambo players and Catch Wrestlers (luta livre guys) if we can get them on our mats.
      But also where players from different BJJ schools can train together without worrying about who is on what team.
      I understand, and respect, that most Brazilians are fanatical supporters of a team.
      Flu vs Fla soccer/futbol and all that.
      I get it.
      I just like Jiu-Jitsu, and I am not a Brazilian.

    • Elite military and law enforcement cross train, sports cubs (such as soccer) cross train, scientists cross train, universities cross train, etc. Why, pray tell, are a few small business owners in the jiu jitsu industry scared of it again? Instead of smearing customers as a way to guilt them, why not just offer better service?

  6. The JJ Doctor have to put PhD in his name because he probably won nothing in JJ. Probably doesn’t hava a single trophy in his place and still probably never made a champion student. Scumbag excuse. I never heard of William Murphy. Probably bought his belt from Marcio Simas and who knows who pays his rent. Daddy or a boyfriend?

    • I trained at Tedd Williams W.C.G.; along side of Joe Steveson, Phillip Miller, and Jason Lambert. Our coaches philosophy about cross training was to provide any coaching we needed in house. Rather than going to another school to learn stand up, we would find a striking instructor and hire him. We’ve had Dan Henderson, Bas Rutten, Quinton Jackson came to our gym rather than go to theirs. Coaches can provide everything an athlete needs for proper training, without jumping around, if they are truly committed to bring in great coaching as needed.

  7. So stupid. There is no such thing as cross training is a sport where there are team awards. By the way, he is the same guy that wrote that article about making submission hold for children under 12 illegal in America unless the referee intervenes.

  8. I have good friends at other schools in the area. We often go to each others open mats and train. It is always a good experience to make new friends and roll with people that have different sets of skills. I love Jiu Jitsu, it is my biggest hobby or fun activity in my life. I train probably five times a week for the last three years
    . My coaches do not care if I train at other open mats. I can only see the top level competitors and teams worrying about training at other schools, it all depends on what you are in Jiu Jitsu for, either way is fine, just be yourself and leave the rest.

  9. Murphy how much do you pay for rent, insurance, water, electrical at your own school? When did you got your first black belt and your 3rd degree black belt?

  10. Dear Mr. William Murphy,PhD
    I am a BJJ Sheriff just like you are pretending to be.I done some research and find out you don’t train with Marcio Simas or Sergio Penha for over 18 years!!! how in the world of God you earned your black belt and the three stripes your are claiming on your resume?
    Stop being a keyboard warrior Mr. Murphy. After I didn’t find a single trace of your name in tournament records I was also told you received your black belt in a hospice bed as you were dying from cancer. Miraculously, as I was told, you are a survivor. It would have been better if you died.
    Mark

    • “Mark”,
      First, what is your last name, who is your teacher, and where do you train?
      I have been fully disclosing about who I am, where I come from, and what I do.
      But I do not see that you have listed your last name, and your academy as part of your profile.
      If you doubt my credentials, come to Sarasota, see the beach, and let us find out what the mats say.
      Best Regards,
      Bill

  11. Mr PhD Murphy did you post this on-line because you have lots respect for Carlos Gracie Sr. and your Brazilian masters?
    From William PhD Murphy’s post on-line
    “Mr. Pedreira cites several newspaper articles that allege that the fathers of several underage girls tried with varying success to have Carlos Gracie Sr. prosecuted for having sex with their under-age daughters. Mr. Pedreira presents newspapers and the court appeal documents that appear to document that Judge Romao Cortes de Lacerda sentenced Carlos Gracie Sr. to serve one year in prison in one of these underage sex cases.”

    • “Mark”,

      You just posted a direct quote from what Roberto Pedreira’s claimed and wrote in his Choque books.

      It is true that Roberto Pedreira makes that claim in his books.

      Are you implying that I am really Roberto Pedreira, and that I am really the author of those books?

      Because, I am not Roberto Pedreiras, nor did I write the Choque books.

      If you have a problem with what somebody writes in their book, you take it up with the authors of those books (Roberto Pedreira and Reila Gracie), not the readers nor the reviewers of those books

      It is true that I try to read every book written about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu history, including the books by Reila Gracie, Kid Peligro, the other Gracies, Roberto Pedreiras, Judo books, Wrestling books, etc.

      Is there some banned book list that says what books that black belts may read and which books they may not that I am not aware of?

  12. On your facebook page you posted this about Carlos Gracie Sr.( SEXUAL CRIMES). Is this your form to show respect to the father of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu? Is this how you respect Carlos Gracie Sr.? Are you man enough to discuss this with Carlinhos Gracie Jr. who signed your black belt certificate?

    BJJ Library

    April 20 at 5:15pm · Edited ·

    The observations below are not my observations or opinions, but reflect the newspaper articles of the time that Roberto Pedreira researched to write his shocking book “Choque: The untold story of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil”, and the comments of Reilla Gracie in her biography about her father, Carlos Gracie Sr.

    Roberto Pedreira references numerous newspaper articles that claim that Carlos Gracie Sr did not spend any significant time training with Mitsuyo Maeda (Conde Koma).

    There were numerous newspaper articles that documented that Carlos and George Gracie actually started as students at the Academia Jiu-Jitsu of Donato Pires, the only Brazilian Mitsuyo Maeda ever gave a teaching diploma to, and that this was where they actually trained for three years, not with Conde Koma directly.

    Prof Pires was in pictures with Carlos, depicting Carlos as the student, and Prof Pires as the instructor during those years. Carlos and George later became assistant instructors, and ultimately ended up taking over the academy from Prof Pires when he retired from teaching jiu-jitsu.

    In subsequent events where Carlos claimed to have been a direct student of Maeda, and Prof Pires was asked if this was true, Prof Pires denied that it was, and stated that Carlos made that claim because it sounded better from a promotional perspective if Carlos was taught by a Japanese rather than a Brazilian.

    When reporters asked Maeda directly, Maeda could not recall whether he ever showed Carlos Gracie any moves or who Carlos Gracie was, but he did acknowledge that Prof Pires was a professor he had licensed to teach Jiu-Jitsu.

    There were only two public fighting matches with actual newspaper coverage featuring Carlos Gracie Sr as a fighter, and he did not win either of them. However, his brother George was a well documented prolific fighter, and to a lesser extent, so was his brother Helio. Oswaldo also was documented to have a fair number of fights, although less than George and Helio.

    • Those aren’t my opinions.

      If you have issue with the claims made by the authors of the books that made those claims, then you should address it them.

      Roberto Pedreira made those claims in his book, Choque.

      Reila Gracie, the mother of Roger Gracie, also made those claims in the biography she published about her father (Carlos Gracie, Sr.).

      Take it up with the people who wrote the books that made those claims.

      They wrote those books, they made those claims.

      Contrary to what you seem to imply, I am NOT Roberto Pedreira, nor did I write the Choque books.

      And, I am certainly not Reila Gracie, nor did I write her book.

        • You just posted those quotes from Roberto Pedreira’s book and Reila Gracie’s book on to this blog.

          They are not my opinions, although they may represent your opinions.

          But, you can’t write a review or a critique of someone’s work without identifying what work you are debating, discussing, or critiquing, can you?

          If you had read my full review of those works, you would see that (1) I carefully disclaimed that the opinions of those authors are not my opinions, and (2) that I described their claims as “shocking”.

          You can present whatever you want from reviews and critiques I have made about other people’s books or videotapes or articles, out of context, but it has nothing to do with the article that I actually wrote above.

    • Perhaps I do, but not for the false claims made above.
      The quotes “Mark” presents above were made by Roberto Pedreira and Reila Gracie in their books.
      “Mark” has posted an incomplete review of their works that I commented on, and I disclaimed in my critique of those works that the authors’ opinions were not my own, and “Mark” has presented that critique out of its context.

  13. So, are you propagating false claims!? Everyone here can go to facebook (bjj library) and see what I am talking about it. I am not making up **** here am I mr bjj PhD!??
    You better have solid documentation from the Brazilian court to prove.
    Your “students” will be proud to tell the other schools they cross train with they are under William Murphy Phd. the guy from the internet blog.

    • You just posted those quotes from Roberto Pedreira’s book and Reila Gracie’s book on to this Internet blog, and you posted that material without any care about not propagating that material on the Internet.

      You can’t post that material on to an Internet blog like you just did, and then accuse others of propagating the material on Internet blogs, *when you just posted that material on to an Internet blog yourself*

      And you posted that material out of context, without scholarly critique, just to advance your own personal vendetta against someone else.

      Those claims come from Roberto Pedreira’s book and Reila Gracie’s book, and are not my claims.

      Any obligation to prove those claims is on the people that made them, namely Roberto Pedreira and Reila Gracie.

      I am not Roberto Pedreira, and you just posted that material on to this public blog, not me, of course you posted it without using your real name or last name.

  14. Why did you humiliate your Brazilian MASTERS in front of THEIR students!?
    You never answer any of the questions above, you keep typing and typing and never answer anything, thinking people are stupid.
    Conclusion: you are a disrespectful, selfish, narcissistic (egotistical).
    You don’t own any schools and you don’t really own the students you are giving belts to.
    Mr PhD is located in Sarasota,Fl where my school is.
    The school he is talking about (Academia).
    The owners include two other black belts and the teacher is a guy name Clayton.
    None of them are any good.
    Mr PhD doesn’t even train (much).
    I am done with you!!!

  15. Reading the comments below this article is a bit of a wake up call. Black belts acting like children, insulting the writer personally because they disagree with his view on training outside the club. That mindset is what happens when you insist on “loyalty” in a martial art. You start sounding like a kung fu club or a gangster who never evolved intellectually past grade six.

    And the logical absurdity of claiming the writer wants to start a “cult” because he allows his students to train outside is almost comical.

    It’s scary to think that some of these people have influence on children and youth who respect them beyond their BJJ skillset just by virtue of that black belt. And no, I don’t know the writer at all, have no dog in this fight beyond the fact that these comments make me want to remind my own son to never think a black belt on the mats implies any sort of wisdom off the mats.

  16. I let my student train where ever they want. I also hold open mats. I don’t ever use my open mats to recruit. I always address the outside student by shaking their hands, thanking them for coming and rolling with them. I honestly think the people who are afraid of their students training somewhere else has an insecurity issue, so afraid their student will see the grass is greener on the other side. My father took us to all kinds of schools to train. We had our school we would train 5 days a week at and only 1 day a week we would train at another school. That’s how we excelled in judo. Your opponents won’t learn your secrets in one roll. It takes months to learn everything they have. But in all,honesty, who cares, Jiujitsu isn’t about competition, it’s about learning something useful.

    • Sensei Camarillo,
      I think those of us who started in wrestling and Judo before BJJ have this approach to open mats in common.
      We all received a lot of help and coaching,
      often from volunteer Judo and wrestling coaches at YMCA clubs, Boys and Girls Club Clubs, school team coaches, and also the for profit Dojos and recreational leagues.
      They were all good; and they all helped us.
      Paying that forward gets tricky in the BJJ community because some (but not all) of our friends from Brazil see the open training model as alien.
      But to me, that was I how I grew up, and I can still see all those coaches in my memory’s eye from all those different environments helping me.
      Hard to give that model up and I don’t think that I want to.
      Thank you for your comment.

  17. A number of the commentators in this thread would benefit from a critical thinking course. I should know, as I have a Ph.D. in philosophy 🙂 That said, luckily, we’re not living in feudal Japan or Brazil in the 1930s-1950s. Luckier still, I don’t belong to a gym filled with the types of small-minded people populating this thread. The art of jiu jitsu is growing as a global community precisely because fewer “traditionalists” are dominating the sport. Let them have their feet of clay.

    At the gym where I train, we usually have four to six black belts at our open mat. No one minds training with people from other gyms in the local community or from out of town. That’s as it should be. For a history lesson on how out of place the “creonte” nonsense is in the 21st century, you can see an earlier post of mine about this issue here:

    http://philosophycommons.typepad.com/the_grumpy_grappler/2014/05/creonte-and-proud.html

    Let the name calling begin! Who knows, perhaps someone will even suggest I be lynched–that is murdered–for having differing opinions about open mats. You people are absurd.

    p.s. Thanks for raising an interesting and important issue, Professor Murphy. Much respect!

  18. So what you are saying is when a husband doesn’t want his wife to sleep with other men and wants her to obey him, it is because he is insecure. Got it. Good luck. The Samurai would turn in his grave reading this garbage. If we are speaking in generalities the funny thing usually these open mats are filled with non-competitors or unaccomplished competitors….maybe the real dudes are working hard with their real teams. You just called Fabio Gurgel, Atos, Cobrinha, some of the best guys insecure, as an American, you do not have the right to disagree with Brazilian masters.

    • Dear Sir,
      Each Professor can run the model he likes, and each student can choose the Professor that suits him best.
      I am mindful of your point regarding Professor Fabio Gurgel, but I am also mindful that his chief Protege, Professor Marcelo Garcio, rolls with everyone, puts recordings of his every class online, and he and his students never seem any worse for it;
      In fact, I frequently wonder if they did not become stronger for doing so.
      I respect that you don’t agree with the points made in my article and I thank you for you comment.

    • If you are going to argue by analogy at least learn a modicum of critical thinking skills. Commercial interests of a business owner have nothing to do with societal norms surrounding monogamy. Hence your analogy that a business owner attempting to smear his customers is akin to marriage infidelity is horrendously poor.

      In western society free choice and competition are inherent to capitalism. Instead of smearing the customer, perhaps the business owner should offer more value to retain their customers.

      Sports clubs (such as soccer) cross train, elite military and law enforcement units cross train, the top universities in the world cross train, yet somehow its bad for jiu jitsu to do so?

  19. Whole bunch of drams in the comments. I own an MMA academy in Oregon and had the pleasure of being brought up at Alliance MMA in San Diego. We’d do in house smokers, check out open mats at the gyms that only specialized in jiu jitsu etc. This is from one of the top five MMA gyms in the world who had Lloyd Irvin (pre serial rape), Saulo Ribeiro and numerous other guys as jiu jitsu coaches throughout the years. I’ve got a very active and successful fight team (18-0 in the past year including multiple belts and a king of the cage world title) and a majority of us compete in grappling tournaments. I run open mat every Saturday. I get gym owners, fighters from other teams etc. and I don’t feel threatened in the least. I love my students and they know it, and our numbers in competition speak for themselves. I think it’s important to respect tradition but keep an open mind, evolve, and put the growth of your students above your insecurity that they’ll leave you for another gym. I’ve met plenty of world class fighters and coaches who completely and 100% disagree with me though so what the hell do I know?

  20. This sparked an intense debate on the BJJ UK Underground fb forum, and a pattern is starting to emerge:

    Instead of agreeing to disagree, the coaches who don’t want their students to train elsewhere will mount personal attacks and take moral high ground on anybody who has a differing opinion. This includes childish, illogical, and downright wrong arguments, as well as trying to discredit, insult and/or bully that person.

    Unfortunately this also comes from high level coaches (self appointed leaders of UK BJJ, UKBJJA).
    When reading their comments on “creontes” it’s hard to believe these are actually mature and respected grown men. Unfortunately they, and people like them, are unknowingly an embarrassment to a community I love, and this attitude is tarnishing my passion for BJJ…

    Peace

  21. The whole “creonte” thing is total bullshit promoted by self-interested gym owners. I could almost understand it if the clubs were not-for-profit clubs run for the benefit of their members but they’re not. They’re money-making businesses taking significant money each month from the customers. Who the **** are they thinking they can tell fee-paying customers what they do in their own time?

    And it’s not even beneficial anyway. People go to open mats pick up new ideas and bring them back. Premiership football clubs loan players to other teams. The Green Berets come and train with the SAS. Mature, sensible people know that it’s good for everyone for skills to be transferred. But these guys want a cult-like mentality.

    My own team does it and it’s embarrassing to read the Facebook comments of grown men buying into this ****.

  22. Hey William,

    I remember reading this article a while ago and saying to myself, “well, or course”, and then I was shocked by all the responses to the article written by people who are so opposed to your point of view. I never knew it was such a controversial opinion. I read another of your articles recently with a multitude of similar responses and again, it was surprising. So… I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know you definitely have a lot of support out there although there are people who aren’t voicing it; maybe they’re like me and feel that this is kind of a common-sense idea. See you at open mat sometime.

    -Bobby

    • Hi Mr. McMasters,
      Thank you for your note.
      I also think it is common sense, with a catch.
      The catch is BJJ has been ran as a for profit business model in Brazil for quite a while,
      and Brazilian sports fans also tend to be fanatical regarding their sports teams in general.
      So, as BJJ has spread, many Brazilians running for profit models have had a lasting cultural influence on their students,
      and the culture of a closed model rather than an open model has also spread.
      I actually do not think that the closed model is the best model to maximize quality or innovation of Jiu-Jitsu within the community.
      And many Economics journals rate Brazil’s position in the Corruption Index regarding the Business environment very high.
      So, I respect that many people who are making the objections are doing so with either good intentions in their own way, or a cultural bias, or sometimes both.
      But, I am also aware that not every objector is motivated by service ideals or what is best for the group vs what they think is best for themselves.
      We’ll have to see what the culture and community look like in another ten years or so.
      I remain an optimist.
      Cordially,
      Bill

  23. My main concern with students going somewhere else to train is that in my area there are no other legit BJJ schools. I don’t want them going and picking up bad habits or rolling with a bunch of spazzes who are going to do nothing but hurt them, both in physical ways and like to said by picking up horrible moves. If they’re traveling to a legit school I say go for it!

  24. These comments attacking the author are comical. If you disagree with someone, fine but name calling is childish. All I see is a bunch of instructors afraid of their students training elsewhere simply out of fear of a “loss of revenue”. Sad but true. Good article, I don’t agree with every point but the basic premise is solid.

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