Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all about respect, great vibes on the mats, people having fun, and looking out for each other even when competing. Until it is not. We all know Jiu-Jitsu is the absolute best option you have for self-defense, as long as you’re not facing multiple attackers. We all know how BJJ actually became popular – The Gracie Challenge match. Nowadays we look at them as entertainment videos, give that such occurrences are not very common. However, every now and then someone thinks they can challenge a BJJ instructor to a match. A BJJ challenge match today will have pretty much the same outcome as before, but how far can a trained grappler go against an untrained one?
Grappling certainly gives us an edge over most other martial artists, but when it comes to facing untrained people, BJJ just makes things completely unfair. Being the aggressor is never smart, and most ripples aren’t really that type of person anyway. However, it would be dumb not to use your skills if they were ever called upon, whether it is the streets or a Gracie challenge match type of situation. That said, a BJJ challenge match and a street fight are two very different things, and turning a challenge into a brawl is not really what Jiu-Jitsu is about… usually.
The Gracie Challenge Legacy
The history of the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a violent one. For that matter, the history of any martial art that is worth mentioning is also a violent one. Some of the oldest martial arts came to be mostly as a result of battlefield requirements. While the Gracies didn’t have to wage war the way the Samurai did when developing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, they certainly didn’t go about it in the Aikido style.
What the Gracies did was to use challenge matches to showcase how powerful Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is. They went about through newspapers, issuing an open challenge to anyone to come and fight them in No Holds Barred type of matches. Given that nobody knew what BJJ was all about, and people had never seen anyone fight off their back. The matches were violent affairs with punches and kicks thrown in between all the grappling that happened. It did help popularize the art throughout Brazil, giving it its first real “boost.”
The second time BJJ Challenge matches came about was when Rorion went to the USA and established his Gracie garage. While he had students training there anyway, the way he went about promoting it was the Gracie challenge match way again. This time, Rorion refrained from actually hurting people, and instructed his students to only slap them with open palms in addition to grappling, with no kicks or punches allowed. His idea was to recruit the defeated challengers as students and it worked like e charm. That is how BJJ became famous in the USA (along with the UFC), and eventually, became the global phenomenon we know today.
A Modern Day BJJ Challenge Gone Very Wrong
In modern times there are a few examples of BJJ challenge matches that took place when folks storm gyms, looking to challenge the instructor. The latest example of this comes from a Checkmat gym, and apart from a couple of videos showing the challenge itself, and the aftermath, there’s not much known on what lead to the challenge.
The story seems to be the usual one – a man, big muscles and all, claiming to be a fighter walks into a BJJ gym and challenges the instructor. The instructor, of course, obliges. There’s nothing at the start of the match (so far) though, as the first video begins with the bulky challenger caught in the bottom of half guard. It just seems like the ordinary BJJ challenge match at that point with the instructor clearly dominating the bottom person with ease. That is when things take a turn for the worse, even by Gracie Challenge match standards.
The mandatory slaps are once again not something we haven’t seen in modern-day BJJ challenges. It is just the way Rorion did it. However, at one point, after begin slapped several times, the bottom person just says to the instructor “I guess you can finish me as well”, at which the instructor replies “no, no, just fight, there’s o backing out”. He then proceeds to put pressure on the guy, who exclaims “I can’t breathe”. Once again, the instructor brushes him off by saying “I don’t care”. Not your typical attitude during such an occasion and things only get worse from there.
Getting Hard To Watch
The instructor proceeds to mount and eventually takes the guy’s back, establishing a rear-naked choke with ease. The guy starts tapping, to which the instructor replies “do not tap, we’re not there yet where you tap” and proceeds to torture the guy, whose breathing gets heavier and heavier by the second. With panic all over the man’s face, he turns discretely to his belly, which is a huge mistake. The instructor proceeds to strangle him, never going completely to the end, while the guy taps again. The instructor doesn’t let go.
The video gets really hard to watch after this point The big guy tries to stand up but can’t and all he manages is crawl outside of the mat area, being strangled all the time. He barely manages to utter “please, please please, please stop” as the video ends, and the guy on his back showing no intention of letting him go.
Taking Things Way Too Far
But it is far from over. A second video follows the first one, where we can see that the instructor finally letting the “challenger” go, and he is exhausted from being strangled. The instructor then proceeds to strike the guy, but this time it is punches and hammer fists. The guy is clearly out of it and completely unable to defend himself. However, the striking doesn’t stop and more punches are followed by head stomps and soccer kicks. The big guy tries to cover up, but that doesn’t help him much.
At one point, the kicks stop and he is able to barely stand on his feet, trying to find the door that leads out of the gym. The instructor then comes up to him, telling him to get out and throwing what appears to be his stuff out. The guy though, inexplicably actually walks back towards the mats. After resting at an armchair for a while, though, he picks a few more of his things and leaves, although remains seated right outside the gym, as the video indicates.
The instructor accompanies him out and can be heard saying “Another day when you’re a better man, we’ll be best friends”. Later, as the video still goes on, the instructor can be heard talking to the camera guy that the big guy came claiming to be a professional fighter, and actually threw a punch first.
How Far Would You Go?
The thing with this BJJ challenge is not that the guy got beat up. That is the point of a challenge match after all. It is how much he got beaten up, and the manner in which it happened. While we haven’t really seen every Gracie challenge match, especially those from the old days, those that we have seen none went into as much violence as this 2020 edition.
The thing is, we have no idea what led up to the beating, because it wasn’t really a match from the get-go, as the guy had no idea what he was doing. It depends a lot on what happened leading up to the match, and there might be justification for the instructor’s actions, but only up to a certain point. Some of those kicks and stomps were really out of order, as was the constant choking that went on for quite some time. I can’t presume to know what it feels like to be in that situation, but the question remains, how far would you take a BJJ challenge match?
Every story has two sides to it (at the very least). While it is unclear how and why the guy chose that gym and that instructor to challenge, we’d certainly love to hear the instructor’s side of things. We all love watching modern-day Gracie challenge match style videos like this, but after a certain point, this one gets really hard to watch. Knowing how chill grapplers usually are, the question beckons what prompted the guy to unleash so much rage on the “challenger”? We hope to hear his side of the story, and will update the article as soon as we get it!