Elia Yuriditsky’s Side of the Story After Being Disenfranchised by Denny Prokopos and Eddie Bravo

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Elia Yuriditsky is now former 10th Planet Black Belt. Eddie Bravo and Denny Prokopos Revoked his 10th Planet Black Belt.

Two days ago Denny Prokopos, Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Black Belt announced that he’s recalling the black belt from Elia Yuriditsky.

It’s actually something new in the world of Jiu-Jitsu but it is as it is. Although, there were some previous cases of demoting students from one belt to another like in this case:  BJJ Brown Belt Demoted To Purple Belt By Jiu Jitsu Coach

Denny Prokopos wrote a post about Elia Yuriditsky yesterday:

“It is long known that there is a difference between a true martial artist and the lover of the arts. To some receiving a black belt is the ultimate goal but soon they realize that the black belt is just the beginning of a profound and deep connection between you and the integrity of the arts. Every day when we get up as a martial artist and a representative of a legacy we must make sure that our integrity stays intact and that make good choices to protect our own. Having our values intact and always within us is what we should always strive for and should expect from our martial arts family. So when any of our own true martial artists are not representing our core values and ideology to the fullest we have to make sure to protect the ones that do with not just everything we got but with all that we stand for. I had a talk with Eddie Bravo and we came to the agreement that we will no longer honor Mr. Elia Yuriditsky black belt under our 10th Planet Jiu-jitsu system and family.”

Elia Yuriditsky’s Response:

It didn’t take much for Elia to respond to this situation made by Eddie Bravo and Denny Prokopos. His first response was:

First, a few points before I delve into the whole story (if there’s an interest for one).I left the school and Denny’s response was retroactive.
I left because Denny was never there, the school nowadays is run by lower level belts most the time or people who were given very questionable promotions. Denny attempted to impose an authoritarian restriction on who I can or can’t train within the Bay Area and I don’t subscribe to that.
My understanding is that Denny sold the idea to Eddie because one of my training partners/coaches competed against Marvin Casteele in a recent FTW.
I haven’t been to a local tournament in years, not sure where they got that from.
I’m just trying to train, bros. I can do an AMA, write up the full story (it’s long), answer questions here.

Denny Prokopos Replied to Elia Yuriditsky’s comment on Reddit

“No one will bully me. I am prepared for everything. Even Things that are unimaginable. I am the first 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. I will not tolerate one of my Black Belts, now former, training a non-10th Planet representative in high-level Jiu Jitsu competition. That makes me look like a traitor to my Master Eddie Bravo. A lot of people in martial arts think they know the meaning of loyalty but they don’t. I don’t care what you write about me, you are entitled to have your own opinion, but that doesn’t make you right.

After back and forth comments from Both Denny Prokopos and Elia Yuriditsky’s comment on Reddit and Social Media, Elia Yuriditsky decided to give his full side of the story for Jiu Jitsu Times:

Elia Yuriditsky: Here’s the real story, as I promised. I can’t say it’s an interesting story, but it is as close to the whole truth as I can bring myself to write. For those not aware, I am responding here to this thread:

I’ll keep things organized and chronological, and will try to keep the sources and biases as illustrated as possible.

My decision/announcement to leave the school from which I got my black belt resulted in a backlash in which Denny Prokopos (head instructor of 10th Planet SF and my now former teacher), at the endorsement of Eddie Bravo, ‘no longer honor [my] black belt under [their] 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system and Family.’ This came after a long series of unpleasantries including, but not limited to, Denny restricting me from training with a person he did not care for. I’ll get into the unpleasantries more below.

Ultimately, Denny justified his actions by stating that I betrayed the 10th planet system in helping my friend (Travis Margalit) prepare for a match against another 10th planet black belt (Marvin Casteele). Marvin is from the LA school; I’ve met him twice. I’ve never had a real conversation with Eddie Bravo. Prior to my revocation, he didn’t know me from Adam.

My friend Travis left the 10th planet as a brown belt six years ago. We have been training together total since 2008. If I have a friend, he is one.

I will admit that there were periods of time when I was not upfront about where I was training. However, Denny was well aware of my recent training with Travis, and he explicitly consented to my training with him just a few months ago. (I have the screenshot of that text convo if someone knows how to upload photos from a phone). I was never told not to train with Travis. More on this below too.

I didn’t corner Travis; I only trained with him. Had he asked, I would have cornered him, but he didn’t. Marvin is, for all intents and purposes, a stranger. We shared a franchise, sure, but if you have to ask where my loyalties lie when, on the other side, stood a man who has been there for me without question for nearly a decade… Well then maybe the rest of this story isn’t for you.

To paint a fair picture, I’ll have to tell you who Travis is in relation to Denny, some details of how things parted, the degradation of the school over the past years, Denny’s overall behavior, and, finally, how I fit into this whole thing.

As For Elia Yuriditsky Thoughts and Feelings

My ten years of hard study at 10thP SF should have bought me a quiet exit. I have a life outside of BJJ, a professional career, and I didn’t deserve to have my character questioned so publicly without any explanation.

The response from my local community has been overwhelmingly positive. Years of trying to be there for people the way you want them to be there for you does not go unnoticed: the messages I’ve received have reinforced that for me. I’m really touched.

Some 10th planet people from other schools have told me that their doors remain open. It takes a lot to go against the request of your ‘master’ and his first-born. I appreciate that the people I’ve met do not all blindly follow commands.

Denny is unreasonable. I asked that he simply take everything down and allow me my privacy; he insisted that he must tell the world that I am not his black belt so that I do not go around saying so. I’ve been offered black belts from many people now.

If anyone needs to hear it, I am not Denny’s Black Belt. As for the black belt itself, he can’t take it back from me any more than some unfortunate girl can give him back his virginity (just one jab, sorry).

As for Eddie Bravo, Elia Yuriditsky didn’t know what Denny told him. I asked that he pull his endorsement. I’ve told him I have at least earned my right to leave without a public spectacle. I’ve heard great things about Eddie; I have never witnessed them, unfortunately, and I never will. I wish his franchise success.

All the people I’ve met and developed genuine connections with remain in my heart. If a person’s sole criteria for determining their loyalty to you is where you pay your monthly fee, then that person is probably not someone worth concerning yourself with.

The “fight” between Denny Prokopos and Elia Yuridistky is an OLD STORY

The main part – who is Travis and why is there an issue with him and Denny? I started training with Denny in 2008 when he taught out of a room no bigger than a small studio apartment. Travis was one of the first students. When I joined, I had nearly three years of BJJ under my belt. Travis had 6 months. I never tapped him.

Travis’ dedication and innate talent for BJJ made him an important part of the school. It also made him, at that time, one of Denny’s closest (and possibly only) friends. He eventually became the assistant instructor. In those days, Denny taught almost all the classes, but when he didn’t, Travis filled in.

Eventually, a riff brewed. Travis and Denny were both stubborn individuals at the time, and each wronged the other. I’ve heard stories from many people on both sides, and there is no clear answer as to who was right and wrong. From the best I can tell, neither had clean hands once the dust finally settled.

I had no role in their falling out as I was in law school for most of it. And I trained only lightly when my schedule permitted. The fact is I also don’t involve myself where I don’t need to be.

Travis eventually got his brown belt and left the school, as did two of his closest friends and main training partners. Denny never recovered from this blow. It resulted in serious trust issues, a regular demand for ‘loyalty’, and general suspicion of dissent.

Travis eventually found a new home in Bay Jiu-Jitsu, helping that school grow tremendously. Today, it is a successful Checkmate affiliate and is as competitive as any school in the Bay.

Over the years, Travis has made a lot of efforts to mend things. It has been 6 years, and Denny still doesn’t want people training with Travis.

This is evidence that Denny still hasn’t recovered from that hit. If he isn’t brought to reason, he probably never will.

Post Travis Development and Elia Yuridisky’s Roll in it.

Things didn’t go too bad at first. Travis’ presence was missed but we had a strong team back then. Although the school was young, we were making good moves with upcoming competitors like Ben Eddy, Alex Canders, Mike Hillebrand, and Adam Sachnoff.

Denny has was always a handful, but we all loved him for it anyway. As many people pointed out, he would go on directionless rants with nonsensical pontification. It was fine; he knew his BJJ and knew how to communicate it.

Things eventually started to turn bad. Without getting too much into Denny’s personal life, he was in a long, difficult relationship. He eventually got engaged and then broke up. This is important to note for a lot of reasons. First of all, he no longer had anyone to keep him grounded. He grew more obsessed with illustrating a lifestyle and less interested in his school.

The breakup hurt the school in many ways. His fiancé’s father was initially doing the construction for the new location and it was never completed. Our entire downstairs is just concrete and supplies; Denny just said ‘**** it’, and uses it as a smoke spot before, during, and after class. The walls mats are screwed in with rusty nails, we have one poorly constructed shower, the ‘front desk’ is a half-constructed IKEA furniture accompanied by a broken chair.

The physical state of the school was representative of the school’s spirit.

Elia Yuriditsky About Denny Prokopos’ Behavior:

In Elia’s words, Denny became absent from his school and from teaching. While he was present he was inattentive. And most of the time he even wasn’t there. He was traveling around the world most of the time. Elia also said that Denny stopped teaching innovative and helpful BJJ moves. He was on his phone most of the time while in the class and most of his students never really had a chance to roll with him. He even stopped teaching on Saturdays and Sundays and he was even yelling at people all the time for doing something wrong that he didn’t explain well. If he was present at the gym for like 4 days in one week that was the peek of his presence in the gym. Although he was rarely present even 4 times in a week.

Denny was just texting people to take over the class including me. I was ok with helping at first but soon I got fed up with it because Denny wasn’t doing his job. He wasn’t doing something he’s paid for so I got fed up with it. I had my own schedule and it was hard for me to be committed to teaching every week. The problem for Denny occurred when a lot of other people he was texting to take over class got fed up with it too. What happened at the end is that most of the classes are now taught by purple and blue belts. he even gave some people like Oscar and Matt brown and black belts from respect and those belts weren’t earned by those guys.

he literally destroyed the school with his manner because most of the talented people left. Either they left to other schools or they opened up their own schools. it’s simply not the atmosphere that people can enjoy anymore.

More from Elia Yuriditsky about Denny and Their Relation

Denny had something against me and that was obvious. A lot of times he called me out in front of the whole class for several minutes for whispering to a friend or some other behavior that wasn’t that wrong. he was renting about sacrifice and he was usually disregarding anyone else experience besides his own.

I just needed to get lost from that school and Denny. I was training every single there, even taking lessons twice a day and I was his most dedicated student. Sometimes he would even chew me out and threaten me with violence because he thought I was talking and I really wasn’t. That was enough for me to take some break from that school so I took a few weeks off. I just needed a change as the atmosphere was so bad just like Denny’s manner toward me. I found a new school and was very welcomed by Darren Uyenoyama from FTCC gym and Travis, the subject of all of this.

I was training with both of them back and forth and Travis made me feel like his gym is my second home. There was no other place I could feel like that and especially not Denny’s gym.

A few years ago Denny found out that I was training with Travis and he threw a fit. We were speaking about it but he could never fully understand it and be ok with it. He simply told me he can’t accept it and I told him that I can’t take his command about where I’ll train. I continued training as I was all that time keeping that situation out of the spotlight. I was speaking with Denny more about it and it became the very known secret in our BJJ community.

As Denny was traveling, even more, I was training with Travis more. very Soon Denny was pretty angry with it and he couldn’t hide it anymore. We were talking about it again and I told him that I need instructions from a valid teacher and not blue or purple belts. The issue was again under the spotlight. He expected me to stop going to Travis place and I never told him I will stop cross-training.

And this is How Elia Yuriditsky Side of the Story Ends

Around six months ago I took the picture with some very talented black belts. One of them was Travis and Denny was angry about it. We spoke about it again but he didn’t have an understanding of the situation. I took a few weeks off to determine which school I’ll continue my training as cross-training wasn’t an option anymore. I wanted to see if I really see my self in Denny’s school.

After a few weeks I decided to resign from Denny’s school. A bit before I did it Denny sent me a message that he’s ok with it that I’m training with Travis. It was pretty weird but I was very ok with it and it was good news for me.

Marvin vs Travis was announced shortly thereafter, and training camp began. As I train at several schools, I could only see Travis once or twice a week. But we made sure to stack the training partners. It’s also true that I helped brainstorm strengths and weaknesses, but I didn’t then and don’t now have any insight into Marvin’s game. I’ve rolled with Marvin Castelle one time, for one round. Marvin actually trained at Travis’ school with Reilly Bodycomb for a week in October. We don’t exist in some secret world, and I don’t possess some secret 10th Planet info.

The match went on. Denny wasn’t at the event. Despite him promising to train and corner two of his own black belts, he instead decided to extend his 10th vacation in the last 12 months.

Travis won and he thanked me (and a few others) in his victory social media post. I knew he was going to do this and was fine with it. I don’t want secrets and I own up to my actions these days.

Denny returned and, without a word about the classes I’ve covered (while still paying tuition), immediately started questioning me angrily. “Did you help Travis?!”, he demanded. “I did,” I responded. “We train together, you and I discussed it. Honestly, I don’t want to discuss the merits of either of our positions if you’re against that still. I’d appreciate if we can stop my membership. There are a lot of things going on and I feel like I need time away from this environment. I hope you understand.”

That was it. I finally left. Half a day later, I get a text that I’m no longer recognized as a black belt. I let it pass; I’m done with the school anyway. The next morning, I start seeing posts on social media which I again ignored and instead answered questions privately. I had no interest in a spectacle.

The morning after, everything is viral. I asked Denny to retract his statement as I have a professional life and don’t need this coming up when people search my name. I asked the same of Eddie Bravo. Both give me some sort of tribal response. I told them, without a public retraction, I would need to clarify what happened.

So there it is. Petty, boring, and out in the open. This is a story of one man’s increasing need for control while losing it by his own hand, and another man who just wants to train jiu-jitsu and live his life.

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