T Nation

Ralph Gracie assaults Flavio Almeida


No surprises. The Gracie family are known for their pride. They do not take lightly to things like this.

Story should read. Man bates dog. Get bitten!


As to taking a beating and maintaining composure, I have had some experience that I think I should take to the bank as having passed a test.

Once I was at a club for their once weekly hardcore shows, I don’t think the owner managed those nights. It was strange how many of what seemed like a young male crowd considered to be moshing/slam dancing. At some point one might break out into fast and chaotic dancing around and flailing limbs with reckless abandon. (more typically I would expect it to be more of a rugby scrum type of approach). Nearby people would feel the need to put their hands up to guard each time.

I wasn’t worried about doing that, but suddenly one man who came over to me crouched over would SLAM me in the mouth with a brutal elbow, I caught about three over a few seconds. (The next day I ran across my dentist who said the ulcers on the inside of my mouth would heal by themselves just fine.) I was a little bewildered as to what I should have as my response, I tried a little bit to kick him, but to no real effect, even thinking that a good one might be viciously retaliated against. Later in the set I did shove him around a bit, but it was lame.

I didn’t want to raise enough Cain to bugger up the event or future ones, but it occurred to me I wasn’t running crying for Mommy. I had the luxury of sort of going with the flow, denying this person some reaction value, and proving I have some stiff upper lip.


I think there’s a lot of value in getting beat on. It’s not for everyone, but most of us have the capacity to be much tougher than we imagine. That’s part of why martial arts resonates with people. You take your licks in whatever form, and grow from it.

That’s also part of the danger of pretending different systems are producing the same capabilities in the students, which is also part of why belts are kind of silly. “I’m a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt” can have very different meanings, depending on what system the belt was given under and the conditions necessary for promotion. Wrestling and boxing get along fine without them.

Back in the 90’s I went to many punk and grunge shows in our local Legion halls and similar venues. Basically rooms full of cigarette smoke, leather, flannel, Doc Martens and adolescent rage going ballistic in the mosh pit. And back then there were always mosh pits. The smaller venues were almost entirely mosh pits, with non-moshers forced to the edges of the room.

Even the Violent Femmes concert I went to had a raging mosh pit where my brother’s friend managed to get his face busted open. The Spin Doctors show had one too. We could mosh to anything, and we did!


Oh fuck, I am about 50 and over the last few years I have enjoyed being a berserker in many a mosh pit. I find as soon as someone goes down, there are hands pulling the person up.

On the other hand, I have seen the odd fight break out, and one time someone took a hard hit to the head and had to be sat on a chair and observed for a bit. (the problem is, I mentioned it on the event page on Facebook after and someone was saying, ‘are you saying something happened?’ I got the hint to keep it in more afterwards).

I once got a brutal elbow to my shoulder from one man who before the show was spitting in my honour as he brought equipment in. He threw everyone around before his set. A couple of days later I posted a black, yellow and red picture of the bruise on Facebook and said, “isn’t that nicely ripe?”. Again, I felt empowered that I could handle it.


[quote=“twojarslave, post:39, topic:251600, full:true”]
You ask some good questions about what it means to be a fighter. Obviously, there are many levels to fighting and I’m NOT a high-level fighter by any means. I would say that very few who practice martial arts are. It takes a lot of work across multiple disciplines, especially if you want to train non-ranged weapons too. It’s something you need to dedicate your life to. At age 43-44, my instructor’s instructor checks off all of those boxes (and he’s also a black belt in Judo, which is why we have to learn a lot of japanese names for our throws and some other techniques!). Fighting (and professional dog handling) is all he’s ever really done. I don’t know anyone else like that.[/quote]

I agree, it really does depend on how you define fighter.I wonder who’s a better fighter- Idaho or your instructor. It would probably depend on how you define the word.

Edit- And also really depends on the situation/circumstance at hand.

[quote=“twojarslave, post:39, topic:251600, full:true”]
The more you train and the more elements of violence you introduce and become familiar with, that needle will keep moving over to the right when it comes to what constitutes a fight-ender for you. [/quote]

That’s why I think Judo should be considered a sport and not a means of self-defense. Same applies for BJJ outside of GJJ and other places where they do some form of striking. Too one-dimensional.

Frankly, at this point in time, I believe people who want to learn a combat sport that also helps with self-defense should just train at a reputable MMA school.

I think time is long past for people to do stuff like BJJ and claim they’re training for self-defense/fighting, largely for the reasons you’ve posted.

There are exceptions- those who do BJJ and Judo, any grappling really, competitively beyond a local level. Those guys are tough and have drilled it long enough that they can probably handle most random situations simply by falling back to auto mode.

Still not sure if they’re fighters though.


I hate motivational stuff like this now because I’ve realized that they can be used both ways.


I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that their training goals over the years have been distinctly different.

That would probably be a good bet. My instructor’s school falls into that category. It’s BJJ and Muay Thai, but it’s worthwhile to know that BJJ as they teach it includes a lot of Judo and wrestling. That’s not the same as training either full time, but it’s a good attempt at getting the most effective parts of each included in the curriculum.

To be clear, I still think MOST people who show up and train hard are going to be able to handle most random situations, or at least the ones I’ve encountered. The senior purple belt at my old school would wreck any asshole I’ve bounced at the bar, easily. Two other purple belts there would most likely not. If you grapple on the ground and on the feet against organized resistance regularly, you’ll probably have an edge in most situations, but not always. A belt only covers two inches of your ass.

I believe the gap in skillset between good sport grapplers and your typical aggressive asshole is about the same size as the gap in skillset between good sport grapplers and someone with an equivalent amount of mat time under a system that prioritizes unarmed combat with no rule set. At least through the first several years. Things might even out a bit once you tick past your first decade, possibly even sooner, but I can’t really speak to that.

The difference results from a combination of tactical pathways, specific techniques that are trained and mindset/coaching. Probably a lot of coaching intangibles too. The head instructor is a very charismatic guy who exudes a very unusual combination of danger, intensity, charm and compassion/understanding, but still pushes people to become more comfortable with more violence. He’s also probably a bit sociopathic. Not exactly a common combination of traits. He makes people into badasses, no doubt about it.

I’m hoping to train with him a lot more in the future, but for now my instructor does a good job of passing his coach’s lessons along to me. He’s one of the instructors at that school too.