Tom DeBlass On How To Handle Newcomers Who “Challenge” Martial Arts Instructors

People have been walking into martial arts gyms and challenging instructors since martial arts academies were created. Indeed, much of the history of jiu-jitsu is comprised of “Gracie challenges,” and even today, many instructors have to deal with people coming in from off the street, bragging about their bar fights and claiming that jiu-jitsu wouldn’t work on them.

While many instructors are content to teach the “challengers” a lesson by demonstrating how effective their martial arts experience is and sending the newcomers on their way, some take things too far.

The martial arts section of the internet has been abuzz over a video that’s surfaced of a jiu-jitsu athlete rolling violently with a man who came into his gym, which has a Checkmat decal on the door. While there’s plenty of jiu-jitsu involved, the instructor also deals out a number of slaps, punches, kicks, and stomps to the challenger’s head, even as the man taps out (verbally and physically) and begs him to stop. At the end of the video, after the “challenger” is escorted out of the gym, the instructor claims that the man claimed to be a pro fighter and attacked him first.

You can watch the video below:

The internet has mixed opinions on the video, with some saying that the challenger deserved what he got, while others say that the instructor took things way too far.

Now, Tom DeBlass has shared his own thoughts on how instructors should handle “challengers” who come into their gyms. While he doesn’t specifically name the video posted above, he does address the broader trend of coaches being overly aggressive with people who come into martial arts gyms looking for a challenge.

“One thing that utterly disgusts me is when videos circulate of martial arts owners beating the living shit out of someone that comes in and challenges them. The issue is this, many times the person to walk into an Academy and challenge people, are a little slow. They live in their own little world and watch to many action movies. What pleasure does it give the martial arts owners to utterly destroy them. You already know you can. If you feel you must teach them a lesson simply toy with them. Use Jiu-Jitsu and pin them, but don’t hurt them. I absolutely believe in violence, that is if the person deserves it. A worthy opponent or someone who tries to harm you or someone you love. But to viciously hurt a clueless human that lives in their own little world is simply gross.”

Do you agree with DeBlass’ thoughts? Let us know in the comments.


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