Is BJJ Competition Trash Talking Going too Far?
Over the last few years, in the world of competitive grappling there has been an increase in trash talking to promote matches. Is this a good thing, or could be it be more dangerous to the future of grappling and competition than teaching a white belt the Danaher leg lock system and nothing else? Perhaps only time will tell.
Last night during the third Kasai Pro grappling event, self-professed jiu jitsu bad boy AJ Agazarm launched into yet another war of words after his loss against Gilbert "Durinho" Burns in one of the event's most anticipated super fights. The tensions were high and began early at the weigh ins when Burns came in over the contracted weight for their match up.
After the match, Burns, the victor took to the mike almost apologizing and downplaying AJ's theatrics before and even during the match. He even suggested to AJ to take a match with teen prodigy, Nicky Ryan and alluded to AJ possibly dodging this match up.
That's when AJ took over the mike and turned most of his animosity back towards 10th Planet black belt Geovanny "Freakazhoid" Martinez who he had previously challenged to a match with the stipulation that if Martinez were to lose, he would have to leave 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu and "renounce his Master" Eddie Bravo. This match never came to fruition due to an injury to Martinez, but it looks like the two could be meeting in an upcoming Kasai Pro event.
Check out this video excerpted by FloGrappling from the event to see the full back and forth between AJ, Burns, and Geovanny.
AJ is a world class grappler and one of Gracie Barra's most successful competitors. Is this trash talking necessary? What purpose does it really serve? Are these athletes that feel the need to trash talk their opponent's a product of today's world of social media and viral videos? Is it a way to stay relevant no matter if they win or if they lose?
In other combat sports, there has been a constant rise in trash talking between competitors. With the rise of MMA athletes like Conor McGregor, Colby Covington, Chael Sonnen, and others, it has become clear that having well-rounded fighting skills and talent are taking a back seat to someone's ability to talk trash and verbally ground and pound their opponents.
Pro wrestling style theatrics have firmly entrenched themselves into the UFC with the variety of cross over stars that move from their respective worlds and seem to blur the lines between the make believe and the real. Are world class grapplers like AJ and others following in the shoes of those MMA stars and the wanna be MMA stars like Dillon Danis who talk a much bigger game than they've shown in their respective combat worlds?
It can probably be argued that for as long as there have been sports, there have been trash talking competitors. Muhammed Ali, though tame compared to some of the things that get to say, had some of the best trash talking skills in the history of boxing.
Does competitive grappling lose anything when these kinds of occurrences happen? Even in the gold medal match of the tournament, after it was announced he had lost Vagner Rocha took to the mike to indirectly attack both the refs and his opponent Canuto. Isn't the martial arts supposed to be built on a foundation of respect for our opponents? Or is that a facade we've all been keeping up all these years?
As a grappling and MMA fan and practitioner, I for one am not a fan of the trash talking and disrespect that a competitor brings to the table when they make comments on the mike after their matches, when emotions are running high and perhaps they've not processed the best way to react to the situation. I understand the financial gain that can be made by the competitors if they "promote" the fight with tons of trash talking, but I honestly miss the time when it seemed that the best-ranked fighter fought a similarly ranked fighter for the championship to decide who would win. As much as I know that Conor McGregor is an amazingly talented martial artist, I simply am jaded by the histrionics and don't really get excited by the UFC any more.
It seems like it has been years since I've watched a UFC event and I find myself thinking back fondly to the early days of The Ultimate Fighter show when we were given a chance to get to know the fighters, their backgrounds and their personal journeys to the Octagon. I remember rooting for a number of fighters like Rich Franklin, for instance, because he seemed like a genuine nice guy who happened to be a bad ass on the mats.
What draws many people to martial arts is the notion of respect and self control. These bizarre antics and personal attacks between competitors do nothing to maintain that spirit. Have we sacrificed this aspect in favor of the circus freak matches and what how does this set us up for the future of the sport? If you like the back and forth, disrespectful comments, then I hope you enjoy this time as much as possible. Personally, I hope a day doesn't come when trash talk will rule the competitive mats to the point that I'll stop watching live events. But if it ever does, I'll still have my home academy and teammates who I respect and want to help grow.
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