Exposing a fake BJJ upper belt is often a nasty affair. There’s usually a lot of accusations, a lot of denials, and even some threats of physical violence.
Not so with MMA fighter John McGuin, who recently had the unpleasant task of outing a man who not only claimed to be a BJJ purple belt, but a police officer.
The whole incident happened on video, which you can see below.
I spoke to John’s twin brother, Thomas, on Facebook about the incident.
“[My brother] John and I were putting our mats together at our new school, McGuin Jiu Jitsu Academy, late at night,” Thomas told the Jiu-Jitsu Times. “And in walked that guy asking about prices and then starts claiming he’s a purple under a gym we’ve never heard of locally and saying he was a cop, which he wasn’t either.”
John decided to roll with the guy to see if he was legit, Needless to say, he wasn’t. John demolished him within seconds.
Shortly after the roll, John McGuin asked him if he was actually a BJJ purple belt. The man said “no” and smiled, as if admitting he had told a white lie. He also admitted to lying about being a police officer.
Most people in the jiu-jitsu community wouldn’t consider the man’s statement a white lie, though. Indeed, there are few people more despised in martial arts than those who claim to hold ranks they didn’t earn. Considering it takes most people at least eight years to earn a BJJ black belt, it is understandable that fake BJJ belts are so hated within the jiu-jitsu community.
Those who lie about being police officers are even worse. Law enforcement are some of the most respected people in our society, and lying about holding such a position — where people literally put their lives on the line every day — will rightly make you a social pariah.
McGuin therefore would have been perfectly justified in lecturing the fake purple belt and going out of his way to embarrass him in front of the thousands of viewers who saw the video on Facebook. Most school owners and BJJ instructors probably would have done exactly that.
John McGuin, however, took a different route: he slapped hands with the fake purple belt, told him it was okay, then offered him help, which the fake purple belt accepted.
I was curious to know why John — who, like his brother, is a BJJ brown belt — took such a forgiving attitude towards the man who had just lied to him. Thomas’ answer was simple:
“We are Christians,” Thomas said. “And we want to change people’s lives for the better.”
Even though I am not religious, I have to admire the McGuin brothers. That is not to say I think it’s wrong to humiliate a person who wears a belt he didn’t earn. Some people don’t learn anything unless it’s associated with pain — either emotional or physical.
However, some people just make mistakes (stupid ones, but a mistakes nonetheless) and the best way to deal with them is to forgive them and offer help.
Do all fake belts deserve to be exposed and humiliated, or do some of them deserve to be treated like John McGuin treated the fake BJJ purple belt?