Holly McClung Reusing, thank you for this post, There is No Place for Heinous Crime in BJJ Culture, for being a part of the growing village of people who are looking deeply at what we do, why we do it, and what standards we might seek to hold ourselves to. For those reading this, I have to confess that Holly had asked me to contribute some of my thoughts --but I've had a bit of writer's block, due in part to my son's participation in "Team Lloyd Irvin." He sees nothing wrong with staying in that camp and doing nothing. For him, it's "business as usual," and he feels no obligation to the MA community, to us, his parents, or to the world in general. He dispels much of the dialogue as "rumors," says he has little or nothing to do with LI himself, and simply wants to continue to train with his "family" there, regardless of how it feels for his family here.
I had sent a note to LI after the rapes, essentially telling him he was "fired" and to send my son packing--and, of course, he has completely ignored me, except to tell me nothing's wrong in his world and to stop writing him. Keenan has received no small amount of grief from us about the morality of supporting people we consider to be way on the unsavory side, what it means if he actually lets these people give him his black belt (disgrace), and how, sometimes, you have to step up and take a stand for things that might make you uncomfortable --but are, nevertheless, right, just, and required of people with a conscience and set of grounded values.
Of course, Keenan is a 20-year-old man and gets to do exactly what he wants, regardless of how his parents feel. I did that when I was 20 (30, 40, etc.), and so I'm not surprised, just deeply disappointed.
Because of the internet, devastating news travels so fast now and the recent rape arrest of the Lloyd Irvin Medal chasers, Maldonado &Schultz, have gotten a lot of us thinking. Some of us were already doing that but heinous crime has a way of putting a big fire under folks and even though some of the discussion in BJJ circles has slowed down, the impact has not. It is a reminder that although we would like to believe this recent rape case and the 1990 arrest of Lloyd Irvin are isolated, sex crimes are rampant everywhere and these are not the only serious crimes by martial artists. Jiu-jitsu is not immune.
Instead of engaging in a fight over one topic, one faction, one person, can we take a break and ask ourselves a larger question? What is really going on in martial arts and where are we headed?
Of course these horrific events are not the norm and do not represent a cross section of the high caliber individuals who train and practice the arts. For those who have devoted their lives in an honorable and forthright manner to training, teaching methods, and business practices, the notion that these events and other various abuses of power that occur in our industry could ever reflect the actual “culture” of what we do every day is heartbreaking to say the least. Abuse of power is not what we do, it is the thing we learn how to stop doing.
The BJJ industry has seen enormous growth and with that comes ever increasing responsibility. In the 90’s very few people in the US had even heard of BJJ or MMA, or the UFC. Most of us think everyone follows the UFC, but just ask your fellow PTA moms if they watch the fights and you will often get a blank stare. Many know about BJJ but everyone knows about martial arts and they will automatically attach BJJ to what they already know about martial arts.
January 10th 2012 Matthew Maldonado, 26, and Nicholas Schultz, 21, were charged with sexually assaulting a woman New Year’s Eve in a church parking garage. The event was recorded on surveillance video. Both the men and the victim are students of Lloyd Irvin. Those involved are people first and that they are BJJ practitioners is irrelevant. That the woman was a victim of her teammates is truly sickening. As when a person taps from a choke, they trust the other person to let go, she trusted her teammates to get her home safely.
All of the talk of blood lust, retribution and punishment is disheartening. We are not vigilantes. Instead, we should talk and educate. Talk to anyone who will listen. Most importantly support the victim and support creating an environment of trust and equality. The accused will be handled by the courts of law and their instructor has, quite frankly, exploited this situation to the point were I don’t want to type his name anymore. If you’ve felt bullied or shunned, talk about you’re school. Talk to everybody especially people outside of BJJ. Silence is deadly.
This is a hobby for almost all of us. You are paying to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Treat your dojo the same you would your health club. If something doesn’t jive, move. It’s your money. The term ‘creonte’ is someone who cheats on their team. It is an out of date concept and often is taken out of concept of the original situation to which it was first applied. BJJ is a long journey and it is worth the extra time to find a good fit, a family. It is our responsibility to find out who is teaching us. As you get higher in rank you have a responsibility for those new to the school.