Jiu-Jitsu Characters: Part One
The longer you train Jiu-Jitsu, the more interesting characters you will come across. After almost six years of training, I’ve been able to build a pretty extensive list of the types of characters you will undoubtedly encounter at some point during training. Some of us are “That Guy” right now, some of us were “That Guy” and pieces and part of “These Guys” live in all of us. Some can be a hazard to your training, others are just pure entertainment. I had a lot of fun compiling this list and I hope you have fun reading it. My list of characters was so long that I already have a Part 2 in the works so stay tuned!
The Spazz- Every gym has at least one notorious Spazz. The Spazz has little control of his body and possesses almost no spatial awareness. They are usually stronger than they look and seem to have an endless amount of energy to waste. Spazzs’, amazingly enough, almost never hurt themselves….just their training partners. This is the guy that all the senior belts avoid and the lower belts learn to avoid eventually. Most Spazzs’ change their way by blue belt but every now and then one slips through the cracks and keeps moving up in rank.
Advice: The sooner you identify The Spazz, the better. This guy can be detrimental to your training due to risk of injuries. Part of an instructors job is to keep guys like this in check, but if you do get paired up to train with a Spazz, be careful not to get sucked into a battle with them….stay relaxed, try to get on top, and stay there. You can also flat out refuse to train with a Spazz but that can be easier said than done.
The Stinker- This guy gets done with a hard training session and stuffs his sweaty gi in a back pack, then puts said backpack in the trunk of his car, in the hot sun, and with no regard for his fellow class mates, pulls that marinated gi out of his gym bag and suites up for class a few days later. Other traits of The Stinker are bad breath, greasy hair and various types of body odor…..he also thinks it’s cool to not wash his belt because “it’ll wash all the hard work out”.
Advice: The most important thing to remember here is that The Stinker does not think he stinks! Stinkers are so used to their own funk that they don’t realize how foul their gi or other training gear is. The easiest way to deal with this is to ask the instructor to remind the entire class to wash their gi every time they train…and that should include the belt! Worse than being offensive to your training partners, dirty training gear can carry staph and other dangerous stuff you do not want.
The Late Guy- The Late Guy hates warm ups and drilling but loves to show up fresh and ask you to spar after you’ve already been working hard for an hour. The Late Guy generally poses no real harm to your training but is annoying nonetheless.
Advice: We all have responsibilities that make showing up to class on time, every time, difficult. If you’re always showing up to class late just because you don’t want to warm up or do technique, keep in mind that your training partners and coaches are taking mental note and many find it disrespectful.
The YouTube Guy- This guy has no grasp of the basics of Jiu Jitsu but is up to date on all the “newest moves” and owns every BJJ book and DVD instructional on the market. A first day white belt can easily open YouTube Guy’s closed guard but that doesn’t matter because he’s just waiting for you to try and pass so he can hit his berimbolo sweep and take your back. If YouTube Guy fails to hit his berimbolo on you, be prepared to deal with his Deep Half or Inverted Guard.
Advice: You’ve probably heard it a hundred times- basics, basics, basics! The longer you train Jiu Jitsu, the more you realize the importance of a strong foundation. During your first few years training it’s tough to not start “collecting moves”, but you will be much better off down the road by trusting your instructor and focusing on the basics.
The Prodigy- This is the “new” white belt that comes into class and starts wrecking shop. When you ask him how long he’s been training you usually get a response like “I trained a few months at so and so’s place” or “I wrestled a little in college”. The Prodigy always forgets to mention that the “little wrestling” he did in college was Division 1 and that he’s been “doing MMA” in his buddies garage for the last few years. Prodigy’s can also come in the form of Judo black belts or Sambo experts.
Advice: The Prodigy is the least of your worries but annoying nonetheless. Look, I’ve been training for almost six years and I’ve learned to take my beatings like a man for the most part, but if a “white belt” comes in and starts whooping my ass, I want to know the whole story!
The Restrictor- When it’s time to spar, The Restrictor will give you restrictions like “be careful of my neck” or “can you watch my left shoulder?” and then proceed to try and smash the shit out of you. Some Restrictors will give you two or more restrictions that you need to try and keep in mind making for an awkward training session.
Advice: There is nothing wrong with training with an injury and asking your partner to be accommodating, in fact, having certain restrictions can actually benefit both of you because you are forced to change up your game. Just don’t be the guy that gives his training partner a bunch of Restrictions and then takes advantage of the situation.
The Meathead- Meatheads are wanna be alpha males that usually posses a decent amount of natural athleticism and absolutely hate to lose. The Meathead was most likely a star football player in high school and was notorious for getting drunk and beating up unskilled opponents at house parties (they are quick to mention that they’ve never lost a fight). Meatheads are insecure and have extremely fragile egos so their forays into Jiu Jitsu are usually short lived due to the amount of times they have their own ass handed to them by guys who look like they’ve never been to a Gold’s Gym.
Advice: Meatheads are generally harmless and watching their eyes light up as they experience being manhandled by someone half their size is a guilty pleasure to witness. Sometimes The Meathead has an epiphany and becomes a great training partner, but many quit Jiu Jitsu after a few weeks and end up taking kickboxing on the other side of the gym where they whale on female training partners during “light sparring.” To The Meathead, the fight is always real!
The Bleeder- The Bleeder has this romantic notion that fresh blood on his gi makes him look like a real bad-ass. Rather than leave the mat when he’s cut or injured and clean up in the restroom, The Bleeder just wipes it on his gi and attempts to keep training with you. Blood on the mat? Don’t worry, he’ll wipe that up with his sleeve as well.
Advice: Zero tolerance. If your training partner is bleeding or has fresh blood on their gi, kindly point it out to them right away. Proper form is to stop training until bleeding stops or you get a secure bandage. If your gi has fresh blood all over it and you don’t have a backup gi, training should be over for the day….sorry, but no one should have to risk a serious blood-borne disease while training Jiu Jitsu.
To Be Continued……