"Should a gym – Brazilian based or not – still follow the unwritten law of the mat?"

“When I went to prison and came out, it was like another stripe being added to my shoulder—another notch of respect on my belt. On the streets, you cannot get a name until you do something. You have to prove who you are by doing something outrageous, like shooting someone from a rival gang. It allowed others to see what type of person you were, and established the fact that you were ready for anything." - Mickey Featherstone

Back in the day, what we were looking for was for someone to have our backs. So every time I did something and was recognized for what I did, it gave me more nerves to continue. After the deed was all said and done, and we were hanging on the blocks, everyone is praising you and talking about what you did. You all should have been there. You should have seen how Taco rushed up on that fella and dealt with him.

Those praises were like drugs that eventually poison the mind, and gave you more inspiration to do things to have more people talking about you. People recognizing you as one who isn’t scared, one who is ready to do whatever is needed.

No one ever wants to go to prison. I never wanted to go to prison. I just wanted to be recognized as one willing and ready for a battle anytime.”

― Troit Lynes, former death row inmate of Her Majesty Prison in the Bahamas, in The Fight of My Life is Wrapped Up in My Father, by Drexel Diron Deal.

Should a gym – Brazilian-based or not – still follow the unwritten law of the mat? What is the unwritten law?

I’ve been lucky enough to have trained around the globe: America, UK, and Asia.

During my travels, I’ve made some great friends and learned from some of the best. But I’ve also seen the political side of the mat.

There are a few rules that aren’t written in your contract when you first sign up. These between the line’s rules could involve:

  • Not cross-training at another gym
  • Not wearing another team’s patches/logos on your gear
  • Not associating with team members from other gyms

To me, this comes off as if you’re in a gang. Almost, cultish- being controlled by your instructor.

The code doesn’t just apply to the students at the academy. The code applies to any gym close enough to another gym’s territory. Sounds a lot like two gangs fighting over territory for drugs or control.

Stay in the 8th Ward- don’t let me catch you in the Upper 9th.

I’ve been approached from time to time by friends and family about opening my own gym. Usually, they will already have a location in mind and tell me why it’s perfect.

The first few things I ask (or Google) are:

Where is the closest gym, and who is in charge there?

The gym doesn’t need to be a grappling gym. It could be a Karate dojo, but I want to make sure no conflict would arise if I went through with it.

The United States, and many other areas around the world, have seen an increase in people wanting to train, thanks to the UFC. With the ever-growing popularity of the sport, how should someone go about finding the right gym, or more importantly, ad not falling into the gangland mentality that comes with most of them?

One organization does a great job of breaking away from this “Matland” mentality is BJJ Globetrotters.

BJJ Globetrotters offer an alternative and relaxed approach to training. Members don’t need to represent a specific name, gym, instructor or lineage. You just need to share a common set of values which all Globetrotters share.

Currently, I train at Kaohsiung BJJ & MMA - a Globetrotter-affiliated gym in Taiwan.

I enjoy being able to wear whatever patches on my gi to cross-training at other gyms on the island. I’ve found that besides trading off techniques, I’m able to make some lifelong friends.

Do you think the unspoken rule between students and other academies should still be applied today?

Let us know!