If you have, you know, a job or something, you may have missed the war of words flying like missiles between ADCC giants Robert Drysdale and Gordon Ryan on social media all week. It’s dominantly been happening on Instagram, and ramped up when Drysdale made a statement (which is no longer live) that Ryan’s coach and grappling philosopher John Danaher’s “system” is a moneygrab which doesn’t live up to the fanatical hype.
This, naturally, led to a storm of comments, memes, and big money offers for the pair to get on the mats and settle it like fighters. Ryan, who is almost as celebrated for his ability to troll high level grapplers on the interwebs as he is disassembling human bodies, also called for anyone who has used a Danaher or Ryan instructional to tag Drysdale and testify on their system’s validity:
Open social media sparring has become so commonplace in combat sports–in a world where press reps can cost tens of thousands of dollars for a short term contract, what better way is there for fighters to drum up major attention in between competitions in just a few minutes a day for free–it’s almost not worth mentioning anymore. But in what appears to be his heated “sign off” from the skirmish, Drysdale sidestepped dismissing Ryan’s talent and instead targeted something more signifiant: an attention-hungry “millennial” mindset which conflates financial success and earned respect.
“It isn’t that you aren’t good, you have a fan in me in fact, you might be one of the most talented athletes I have ever seen,” Drysdale wrote of Ryan in posts shared to Instagram and Facebook. “But the fact that you are skilled doesn’t alter your midget status. In your case, they coexist. You believe DVD Sales are proof of skill (which of course, at least to me, means that Taylor Swift and Kate Perry are on the top of your playlist). You believe that disrespecting people who have paved the ground on which you stand is perfectly acceptable in order to create your brand and you have no clue of the damage your attitude will do to future generations who come up admiring your skills and, unfortunately, your demeanor…You **** on every value and every virtue in our art. You see why you are so small? You epitomize millennials and their cluelessness.”
The tone of Drysdale’s commentary highlights a growing divide in modern martial arts, where contemporary merits like trolling, swagger, and the ability to drum up controversy regularly smesh headlong into old school honor code foundations like humility, respect, and discipline. Now, plenty of grapplers have broken down how Brazilian jiu-jitsu historically fails to be rooted in actual honor–Ryan himself citied the hypocrisy of fighters who lean on BJJ mythology back during his feud with Cyborg:
And it’s not an invalid point.
But that doesn’t mean BJJ isn’t still heavily built, and more importantly sold, on a foundation of perceived honor. “The best thing about jiu-jitsu is the honor it provides,” reads the famous quote from Fabio Gurgel across about 200,000 jiu-jitsu memes plastered on grappling accounts internationally.
“Jiu-jitsu has made me a better person,” echoed Joe Rogan, perhaps the most recognizable man in mainstream martial arts today, in an old interview. “It’s made me a better man. It’s made me understand myself, my weaknesses, my strengths, the **** I need to work on. Jiu-jitsu has been one of the most valuable tools I’ve ever had in my life.”
So if jiu-jitsu is supposed to be rooted in honor, humility, and being a “better person,” where exactly do “millennial” values like name recognition, **** talking, and net worth fit into the sport today? And is it even reasonable to expect a generation of fighters not yet old enough to have birthed families, founded their own gyms, and been humbled by life experience to possess the humility of adults who were given the time to do so?
Anyone who says they have the definitive answer is probably lying. But we’d still like to hear whether you’re with Drysdale, Ryan, or full ronin on this one.
Gonna have to side with Drysdale on this one. BJJ (or any martial art in general) has always been there as a foundation to improve one’s self – to have that humility, respect, discipline, and to be a better person. Love Gordon Ryan, he’s one of the best for sure, but all the trash talking is unnecessary! Leave that for the UFC and WWE!