There is a lot of responsibility associated with being an Instructor of the Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no different. Sadly this is sometimes missed in a lot of Jiu Jitsu schools BUT it shouldn’t be. Teaching is a great responsibility because there is so much more to being a good teacher than just showing techniques and explaining their details. Being a good teacher involves passion for the art, leading by example and really caring about your students development as martial artists and good human beings. Sometimes our passion blinds us but it is important to take responsibility for your actions, set the record straight and lead by example.
An example of this occurred at the 2012 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships this weekend in which one of the legends of the sport was ejected from the arena and disqualified from competing! Multiple time World Jiu Jitsu Champion and one of the favourites to win both his weight and the absolute division, Andre Galvao was asked to leave the arena after jumping the barrier to dispute a very poor and inconsistent referee’s decision. The controversial decision cost his student a gold medal in the World Championships in the purple belt feather weight division. Andre was contesting the referee’s horrible calls and became quite heated while arguing on behalf of his student being ripped off. Andre was understandably upset and angered by the poor decision and earlier poor decisions in which one of his purple belts lost via kneebar in a division in which kneebars are ILLEGAL! Apparently this was the last straw for Andre who got angry and argued with the referee questioning his competence and understanding of the rules! Andre is clearly a passionate guy about both Jiu Jitsu and his students. Unfortunately his passion and emotions just clouded his decision-making ability and thus the fiasco.
Now while it is admirable for a coach to care about his students and stick up for them during such injustices. The fact of the matter is that it was wrong for Andre to act the way he did and jump the barrier to argue with the referee. Was he right in his argument? Probably. Did his criticisms have merit? I’d say so. But as an ambassador for the sport and a leader of his Jiu Jitsu team Atos, Andre acted uncharacteristically bad and unsportsmanlike as a coach and he let his emotions get the better of him which caused a scene. As such the officials saw fit to have him removed from the arena and sadly disqualified from competing in both his weight and the absolute division on the weekend!
Andre has gone on record to apologise for his actions and in a truly humble manner accept full responsibility for his actions and the subsequent consequences. As a man and a leader, that is the Andre Galvao that Jiu Jitsu fans around the world have grown to love watching compete and as a team leader, he did the right thing in accepting responsibility and apologising.
Sadly the decision to disqualify him thus denying him and the fans a chance to see one-off our favourite athletes compete stands. A decision which I also feel is incorrect. Jiu Jitsu is run by the same people hosting the competition and profiting from it without paying their athletes! The lack of a formal ability to protest a poor decision and no independent governing regulatory body leaves both Andre and the fans at the mercy of the organisers/officials. And they unsurprisingly support their own without taking into account the poor performance of their referee. I believe it would have been fair to have ejected him from coaching for the day and even banned him from coaching for the duration of the competition. But disqualifying him and not allowing him to compete is incorrect and unfair as it would not apply equally to everyone, especially if someone was only coaching and not competing. This would mean that people are not punished equally for the same offense and that is unjust. Clearly the IBJJF need to step up and take some responsibility for the actions of their referees and set an example by at least reviewing the situation and looking to improve the way they are handled and also the training and consistency of calls made by referees in the future.
Andre Galvao has stepped up, now it is your turn IBJJF. If you really want to grow the sport and provide a great competition circuit for athletes to compete fairly it is important that you learn from these mistakes and take steps to prevent them in the future. If the IBJJF don’t learn from this they run the risk of having athletes boycott the event and only attend paid competition like the ADCC Pro and other paid competitions that are starting to spring up.
If you want to inspire greatness you must lead by example, earn respect rather than demand it and step up and admit when you have made a mistake. These are traits that have always been encouraged by the Gracie family and we must make sure we as Jiu Jitsu practitioners uphold the Gracie legacy!
Good Luck with Your Training and Happy Rolling!
Jiu Jitsu Kingdom