What Are The Implications of Rickson Gracie’s Association With David Arnebeck? The Jiu-Jitsu Community Speaks…

Over the past few days, the jiu-jitsu interwebs have been abuzz over our community’s latest scandal.  A man by the name of David Arnebeck, a black belt under Rickson Gracie, has been revealed to have a sordid past which includes a conviction in the nineties for soliciting a prostitute and more recently a 2013 conviction for groping a 15-year-old girl.

The scandal isn’t as much about Arnebeck’s crimes, but the fact that Rickson posted a picture on Instagram just a few days ago of himself training with Arnebeck at Rickson’s house.


This picture has drawn the ire of many prominent members of the jiu-jitsu community including one of Rickson Gracie’s most popular black belts, Henry Akins, as well as jiu-jitsu black belt and rockstar Ty Gay. Both have made posts about the subject which Arnebeck himself chimed in on. The majority of Arnebeck’s points can be found here:


Here is Gay’s emotional and direct video which addresses Rickson’s inattentiveness to this incident:


Posted by Ty Gay on Saturday, December 16, 2017

Akins wrote poignantly in a facebook post about this

As we are learning now from Hollywood, silence only perpetuates the problem and makes us complicit. I was completely shocked, angered and very much disappointed to see this, especially because I brought this issue to the attention of the JJGF 2 years ago when Tony Pacenski as still involved.

Many people feel that the Gracie family is in some way morally superior, and many people view Rickson Gracie as being a sort of jiu-jitsu god.  The Jiu-Jitsu Global Federation was purportedly brought about by Rickson’s desire to “save jiu-jitsu.”  Do the implications of this revelation conclusively debunk Rickson’s moral standing?  If Rickson addresses the situation now, can he redeem himself?  

It’s a difficult reality for us as a community, but we have to face it.  

Another difficult reality we have to face is that there are active competitors with serious criminal allegations against them, including sexual assault.  We are all very quick to judge Rickson Gracie for associating with a known perpetrator of sexual assault, and possibly correctly, but I hear very little uproar about others within the community allowing athletes with criminal pasts to compete on their stages.  

Is this revelation about Rickson’s inaction going to be a catalyst for real change?



    • 1. My name is right there at the top and the bottom of the article… You couldn’t be bothered to spell it correctly?
      2. What precisely do you disagree with in this post? Do you feel that dudes that grope kids are cool? Or do you think that people should teach these people the best methods of holding people down and forcing them to submit?

  1. I think its important to address things like this and people should be held accountable for their actions. But I don’t think this compromises Ricksons moral Integrity and conviction for helping jiujitsu. I’m sure his beliefs played a part in choosing to forgive David and try to help him become a better person, something that Is politically dangerous and now he is facing the backlash from that. But to say that anyone with a criminal background should be barred from jiujitsu is cruel. Criminals already have a hard enough time as it is to live with their stigma and still succeed in a positive way and become a better person. I think jiujitsu can be a great method of discipline and rehabilitation, and to bar all criminals is to take a tool away from people who may be able to use that tool to become a better person.

    • If you simplify BJJ to its most basic roots it is a skill set that allows a person to hold another person down and impose their will upon them. If you’ve ever gotten in trouble for a sexually based crime, even one you plead down for, you shouldn’t be allowed to learn jiu-jitsu. It’s that simple. Rickson’s decision to ignore Arnebeck’s actions is an indictment of Rickson’s moral standing. That said, he didn’t do the crime so I don’t think he’s necessarily a bad person, but his actions in this instance were certainly questionable.

  2. I feel like I have to clarify my above statement some. I don’t think that when the choice was presented to Rickson whether or not to bar David Arnebeck from teaching he looked at it anywhere near the way you think he would. Sexual Predators more so than almost any other type of criminal specialize in convincing those they are close with that they are not sexual predators, so it can be very conflicting when 15 years of what you personally know about someone is weighed against one charge laid against them, and their friend of 15 years is telling them that the charge is either false or exaggerated. It doesn’t excuse Rickson’s choice but different moral choices probably went through his head than your insinuating. I wont disagree that its conflicting to allow sexual predators in jiujitsu, they definitely should be put under scrutiny and should not be instructors because of their very specific backgrounds. But blanket statements like all criminals in jiujitsu should be singled out is extreme.


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