Is Trash Talk Good for the Growth of BJJ?

Is Trash Talk Good for the Growth of BJJ?

Trash talk in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is rapidly increasing with time. Highly skilled younger BJJ grapplers are now employing the trash tak strategies to stand out and come under the spotlight. There is always a never-ending debate in the BJJ community about whether trash talk is suitable for the growth of BJJ. Athletes who are strongly linked to BJJ have varied opinions on trash talk. This article will provide a clear explanation of trash talk in BJJ and its underlying effects on the growth of BJJ. Read this article thoroughly and explore the consequences of trash-talk for BJJ.

1. Fighters’s Trash Talk Strategies

A large number of BJJ fighters consider mental warfare an important tool to showcase strength and fighting skills. Fighters love to dismantle their competitors with their verbal attacks, adopting the trash talk strategy on social platforms, podcasts, and pre- and post-fight interviews. Attacking opponents directly by giving harsh remarks is always a top priority of most BJJ athletes. People find pleasure in and consider negative comments as a source of entertainment. Backlashing is not just limited to the fighters, even their family members, who do not have any connection to BJJ, may also face trash talk.

This negative aspect of trash talk is present from the past, as evident from the Gracie family’s history. Their street fighting videos, post-match clashes, and locker room battles typically answer the question of whether trash talk is new or old.

2. Fighters against the Trash Talk

Not all BJJ fighters are involved in the trash talk;  some fighters don't support this trash talk strategy to get fame.

Once a highly prolific competitor, Marcelo Garcia spoke to Polaris Pro about trash talk in the BJJ world.  His views were contradictory to the direction that various Jiu-Jitsu competitors are taking just to elevate the status of their profiles. Trash talk simply imparts a negative influence on sports. He said,

“Our sport is a very positive thing. It’s not just a martial art; it’s not just fighting; it’s something that helps people. I believe that trash-talking gives our sport the wrong perspective. I could go a long, long way talking about why we shouldn’t do this (trash-talking), but people understand what I’m trying to say. I don’t like it when you see events try to promote their stuff with trash talk. So maybe that goes in a good way so the event makes more money, but for the overall, worldwide, making a positive environment, I don’t see that going in a good way.”

According to him, it's not essential to always change yourself based on the opinion of others. Trash talk is just a petty way to win any championship. Instead of making aggressive remarks or insulting someone, it's better to stay kind and calm while showing efficiency in performance at the same time. He also talked about the trash talks that he faced in his career. Garcia said,

“I’ve been going against that stereotype of Jiu-Jitsu since I started. People told me I needed to look tough; shave my head and have big cauliflower ears. These people don’t know what they’re talking about. You don’t need to trash talk to submit someone and win a tournament. You can put in a good performance and still be kind and respectful.”

Marcelo also talked about events that promote trash talk. According to him, there should only be those campaigns that display the positive aspects of competitors and their inherent skills.

Apart from this, 99% of Jiu-Jitsu athletes are involved in trash talk. The history of BJJ is filled with a large number of top elite Jiu-Jitsu fighters who have participated in trash talk and gained fame.

3. Gordon: King of Trash Talk

Gordon Ryan is considered the king of trash talk. From the start of his journey, Gordon captivated a large audience with his trash talk. People love to watch his interviews to listen to those words that mentally disturb the opponent before they even step onto the mat.

At the start of his career, Gordon Ryan had a very calm personality, but with time, he developed an antagonistic personality.

In 2016, Gordon Ryan started trash talk at one of his no-gi matches where he repeatedly taunted his black belt opponent by letting him mount multiple times. Gordon attempted the leg lock position to finish his opponent.  Gorden also highlighted that this alteration was influenced by his training partner, George Sampier. Another battle of words was also reported between  Gordon Ryan and Andre Galvao. Gordon went to shake Andre's hand, but backstage, a battle arose between them.

But Gordon's trolling and trash talk have only sometimes worked out for him. He once got in significant trouble by sharing a racist YouTube video on Twitter. The video was a Star Wars parody depicting how Asians would eat all animals and go to space to explore more strange creatures to eat. Gordon shared that video as a joke, but Gordon’s replies to the people were not expected. There are several YouTube videos of Gordon’s Trash talk that went viral among the entire BJJ community.

3.1. Gordon’s Trash Talk at Press Conference

A war of words was also noticed between Gordon Ryan and Felipe Pena at a Press Conference. He backs Felipe with his words,  saying that he is the same guy from previous matches. Gordon talked about his increasing strength and targeted Felipe’s skillsets. Felipe also teased him by calling him a chubby baby in front of everyone.

This aspect of Gordon’s personality is not appropriate as the younger generation is drawing inspiration from him, trash-talking their way to fame.

Nick Chewy Albin is one of those BJJ fighters who supports BJJ trash talk. Once, he shared his thoughts that the BJJ fighters have a reduced period to get fame due to shorter periods of BJJ tournaments.  Therefore, by trash-talking, fighters can easily make more money in a shorter time span.

4. Tras Talk Consequences

Before any Jiu-Jitsu fight, if competitors are sharing their negative thoughts, people consider them more exciting. Trash talks only give BJJ the wrong perspective. Building fights by bullying the opponent is highly detrimental to the growth of the BJJ community. Trash talk only presents a bad example for younger athletes as they can not identify the main reasons why most grapplers are involved in trash talk. Based on their understanding, they only consider trash talk as hatred against their competitors. 

One of the major drawbacks of trash talk is that it negatively affects emotional stability and engages the athlete’s mind in undesired stress that surely affects performance. Trash talks include the auditory distraction that ultimately leads to cognitive distraction in athletes. This causes the loss of the athlete’s concentration in the game. Trash talk immediately develops the anger that also destroys the fighting capabilities of a fighter. So that’s why trash talks are considered as source of distraction as they divert attention from important tasks to the shitty things. All the negative effects of trash talk are detrimental to the well-being of both the fighter and its associated organization.

BJJ competitors should only be judged by their fighting capabilities. However,  in the present era, this situation is being altered destructively. No doubt, fans also consider the competition rewards, but in 99% of cases, fan following of competitors gets amplified with trash talk. Brands also offer more booking to fighters for their promotional events, ultimately assisting them in getting more paid. Being genuine is more important as compared to being a troller and entertainer. Weak-minded people spend their time criticizing others, while strong-minded people pay more attention to justifying their skills and capabilities.

Instead of just winning the battle of words, it is crucial to secure the winning positions in physical fighting. BJJ competitors should showcase their excellent grappling skills to come into the public eye. If the BJJ gym is highly renowned and affiliated but the quality of teaching is not appropriate, it also drastically affects the students of that gym.  Students consider them as red flags and prefer to learn in a positive and constructive environment. They also prefer to stay away from BJJ tournaments, as they will only think that all the competitions are just the hub of cheap and hateful people. So gym coaches and instructors should avoid trash talk to develop a healthy atmosphere and effective BJJ’s growth.

5. Last Thoughts

Unfortunately, trash talk is getting more prevalent in  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There are countless competitors in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu whose fame is due to their trash talk as their fans show more interest in negative comments or trolling views about other BJJ fighters. Despite this, some competitors focus on developing their skills instead of just using abusive or bullying words. While considering all the negative effects of trash or useless talk, athletes should only divert their attention to developing their more efficient skills to reach the apex of their BJJ career. Preventing trash talk is ideal for protecting the BJJ from future crises. Athletes should not measure the progress of their competitors via trash talk. What they can do is just invest their time and efforts to find those pathways that can elevate them.

Photo Credit: @flograppling

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