Home > Uncategorized > Jiu-Jitsu Characters: Part Two

Jiu-Jitsu Characters: Part Two

After a long hiatus, I finally finished the much anticipated follow-up to Jiu Jitsu Characters: Part One. Let me know what you think!

The Sideline Coach: While generally well-meaning, these guys can be extremely annoying and sometimes detrimental to your training. Sideline Coaches usually sit off to the side of the mats while you are doing technique or sparring and try to coach you or your partner. After seeing the instructor demonstrate a certain technique, sometimes only once, The Sideline Coach immediately becomes the consummate expert and can’t wait to share his knowledge with you. Ironically, Sideline Coaches usually have some of the worst technique in the class and spend more time on the wall than drilling or sparring because they’re too busy instructing!

Advice: The Sideline Coach can be detrimental to lower belts who don’t know any better and trust the advice they are given. I have seen many techniques regurgitated incorrectly to newer or lower ranked students (and I am certainly guilty of doing this in the past thinking I was helping) causing them to perform poorly and in some cases, abandon a technique all together because they think it doesn’t work for them. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t ask your instructor, seek out a purple or brown belt to help you.

The Sparring Coach:  You know that guy who is around your skill level or above that you spar with and every time you get him in a bad position or tap him out he immediately starts pointing out all the things you did wrong or could have done better? Maybe you caught him in a deep triangle and as your about to put on the finishing touches, he starts coaching you on how to finish then condescendingly tells you good job? That’s The Sparring Coach. Rather than acknowledge that he just got caught, The Sparring Coach protects his ego by talking his way out of  a bad spot thus making himself feel like you didn’t get the best of him….like he “gave” you something. It’s easy for lower belts to get discouraged by training partners like this because they never quite know whether or not they were really going to get the finish or really earned the sweep or the mount.

Advice: One of the greatest things about Jiu-Jitsu is that we can test our skills versus live opponents in almost every class. Live sparring gives you very real and instant feedback on whether or not what you are doing is working. Having a training partner confuse you like this can be really frustrating. If you identify The Sparring Coach in your class, go ahead and let him do his thing, and know that if he is coaching you there’s a good chance you did something right!

The Hulk: Have you ever seen that guy who walks into class and think he must have gotten lost on the way to Gold’s Gym? That’s The Hulk. With traps where his neck should be, forearms the size of your calf, and legs that resemble tree trunks, The Hulk can be a formidable opponent with even minimal training. In Jiu-Jitsu, technique is favored over strength, but there is no denying that there are some practitioners that are so big and strong that they are able to “Hulk Out” of submissions and bad spots at will. The Hulk can either be a great training partner or an injury machine. On one hand, training with The Hulk forces you to sharpen your technique and learn to survive with a larger and stronger opponent. On the other hand, if The Hulk does not know his own strength and doesn’t have spacial awareness or the sensitivity to let go of submissions yet, you could end up on the sidelines with an injury.

Advice:  When training with The Hulk, your goal should be to get on top or take their back and keep them busy defending or trying to escape. It takes a lot of blood to feed oxygen to those muscles so wear them down and only go for the submission when you are sure you have it. Trying to arm bar or Triangle The Hulk from your guard (unless you have really long legs) will usually result in being stacked horribly so save your spine! Lastly, stay tight and be ready to tap quickly if they get a hold of a limb…most of them have no idea how strong they are.

The Shredder: Also known as Wolverine in some parts, The Shredder often neglects one of the most important hygiene/courtesy rituals in Jiu-Jitsu…trimming your nails. Ever feel the claw from someones foot scrape your face during an omoplata attempt? How about someone reaching in for a nice deep collar grip and feeling the skin around your clavicle scraping off? I can’t even count the number of scrapes and scratches I’ve received from training partners over the years…but I’m sure I also doled out a few of my own.

Advice:  We’ve all been guilty from time to time of training with nails that were a little too long but I’ve flat out refused to train with a few people that had some ridiculous claws on them. Something important to remember is that all kinds of nasty bacteria and other gross stuff reside under peoples nails and open wounds and scrapes leave us exposed to other gross stuff on the mats (like MRSA) so respect your training partners. Carry a pair of nail clippers in your bag, if you don’t have any and need them ask around, usually somebody in class has them. Oh, and if you decide to trim your nails in class……for the love of God…..don’t do it on the mat!

The Gi Whore: The Gi Whore has every special batch number, pre-order, limited edition gi on the market. This guy will actually wait for a specific day and time just to make the pre-order window for a gi that he hopes will arrive in the next 6 months….heck, he’ll buy two and sell one on Ebay for profit to some other Gi Whore who missed the window. A few of my training partners are reading this and thinking “he wrote that specifically about me” but I really didn’t. So many guys have been doing this the past year or two it’s crazy. A personal observation worth noting is that the more senior the student, the less likely they are to be a Gi Whore. Also know that we secretly enjoy choking the shit out of you (if we can) in your spiffy new  batch number whatever, limited edition gi.

Advice: Get an unbleached HCK, shut the F-up and train! Seriously though, there’s nothing wrong with having a nice, comfortable gi, but please don’t turn Jiu-Jitsu class into a fashion show.

The Staller: There are guys in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments who will stall when they are ahead on points or advantages in order to win a match (which is bullshit) but there are also guys in class who will stall just to say they didn’t get tapped or passed or swept during sparring (also bullshit). To clarify, there are white belts who just don’t know what to do yet in which case I don’t consider them stallers. To me, The Staller is a blue belt or above who’s ego will not allow them to take risks for fear that they will “get beat”. The Staller can be very frustrating, especially when it’s just sparring, but he can also be beneficial to your training…especially if you compete.

Advice: So the Staller won’t take risks in class? Fine….you do it. I’ve trained with many Stallers over the years and it has forced me to really work on leaving my own comfort zone and taking risks. I’ve had The Staller with super long legs who can hold closed guard all day long…my solution is to bait them with submissions like a triangle or arm bar and work on stack passing when they take the bait. They finish me? Oh well, restart. I’ve also faced had The Staller who is content to sit in your guard and break grips for 5 minutes straight….my solutions is to open my guard and work on sweeps and other submissions. They pass my guard? Oh well, work on my escapes/guard replacement.

The Super Heavy Weight: The SHW is similar to The Hulk in many ways but is much heavier and much more “round” as opposed to being built like a body builder. You know that guy in class that you can’t close your guard on? The guy who you mount but your knees don’t touch the ground? That’s the SHW. The SHW is extremely hard to move…it almost feels like they are bolted to the mat and can also be very hard to submit, especially from your back. Like a lot of Jiu-Jitsu Characters though, there’s almost always a bright side. Training with The SHW or The Hulk is really the essence of Jiu-Jitsu….big guy vs. small guy, technique vs. size and strength.

Advice: Very similar advice to training with The Hulk. Focus on getting on top or taking the back and make them work. Knee on belly usually works very well to make The SHW gas out quickly. When on bottom, forget trying to triangle or arm bar…if it’s truly a SHW you can’t close a triangle on them anyways (again, save the spine!). My favorite thing to do is work on my Knee Shield Guard and hit my “Big Guy Sweep” which is just the knee push sweep but sounds cooler.

The Egomaniac: Similar to The Spazz but more conscious about what they are doing, The Egomaniac treats every sparring session as a must win and will do anything…even sacrifice their own body to not tap or to tap you. There’s usually more than one Egomaniac in every gym and they are usually white, blue or purple belts. You can have The Egomaniac in a submission so deep that you hear joints creaking or them gurgling and turning purple and they still won’t tap. The Egomaniac also doesn’t like to lose a submission and cranks extra hard to make sure they “get their tap” For these reasons, The Egomaniac has a high rate of injury to themselves and others and you should exercise caution when training with them.

Advice: As I mentioned above, The Egomaniac is a danger to himself and his training partners. If you are more skilled, sometimes you have to save The Egomaniac from himself and play a little catch and release. I find it’s always better to work on chokes when training with The Egomaniac because if the worst happens and you can’t let go of something in time, they’ll just take a nap rather than you having to feel bad about popping their elbow or tearing their rotator cuff. If you are less skilled than The Egomaniac you are training with, make sure you don’t play into their game and end up getting injured. Remember to tap early and often, especially against these guys and you will hopefully avoid unnecessary injury.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Chad Sunderland
    October 20, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Awesome post!!!

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