Jiu-Jitsu is Weird: Part One

Old-School Gym Invasion

I have met some of the most interesting, intelligent and compassionate people while training BJJ. But, I’m sure you will agree, jiu-jitsu can attract some bizarre individuals, and on occasion the mats bear witness to some all-out weirdness.

I sat down with my coach, recently retired UFC veteran, Danny “Cheesecake Assassin” Mitchell to break down some of the more peculiar experiences he’d had in a lifetime in the martial arts.

One incident that stood out was the occurrence of the oft-fabled gym invasion.

On a grey morning in Doncaster, Danny — then an eighteen-year-old blue belt — was teaching a small class of students. A “pretty jacked up guy” walked through the door, eying up the proceedings. After delivering his technique (a triangle choke from guard), he approached the newcomer assuming, naturally that here was a prospective member. After introducing himself, he was met with a rather unexpected response, “this is shit,” the bald-headed newcomer belligerently stated. “What do you mean?” questioned Danny. “It’s fucking bullshit, this doesn’t work, I’d smash my way out of that,” the man replied.

Danny’s first gym, opened in Doncaster as an eighteen-year-old blue belt.

The situation escalated quickly from there. Unsurprisingly offended, Danny offered the unbeliever the opportunity to test his hypothesis. The antagonist didn’t need asking a second time, sprinting onto the mats and lunging at the, then young grappler. Not wasting the chance to prove the efficiency of his jiu-jitsu, Danny quickly put him into closed guard, throwing up his long legs and sinking in a triangle. I would posit, this is where the dude began to seriously regret his life choices.

Like the drowning man as panic sets in, he soon became desperate. “He used his fingers and was literally gauging my face – putting his hands in my eyes and shit like that,” remembers Danny.

Ensuring the choke was as tight as possible, Danny under-hooked a leg to prevent being slammed. With zero chance of escape the man’s bald noggin began to swell, veins protruded violently, the unrelenting squeeze deprived him of the life-affirming flow of oxygen. Akin to jiu-jitsu’s belts the colour of his head changed incrementally from white to blue before ending up at purple. After this final promotion he took a well-deserved trip to Snooze Town.

The stunned class turned to Danny for some clarification to what the hell was going on; encouraging them to carry on rolling, he dragged the unconscious body unceremoniously to the edge of the mats. Awaking from his forced slumber, the guy unsteadily got to his feet, leaving without another word.

Pondering why this ever happened, why did this guy come to his gym of all places? Danny doesn’t think that he was intentionally sought out. At the time MMA was in its infancy in the U.K. and Danny was the proverbial “skinny youth”; hardly an imposing figure. He explains “Maybe he thought he’d come to some MMA class and he thought we’re all going to be punching each other and we’re rolling around on the floor and he thought it was a bit shit.”

The Cheesecake Assassin was once a ‘skinny youth’.

Randomly, years later, on a night out, Danny ran into his bald challenger, who happened to be working behind the bar. There was to be no repeat (being brutally choked usually rids one of their misconceptions about jiu-jitsu!) as he hooked Danny up with free drinks the entire night. “Sorry for getting off on the wrong foot,” he apologetically noted. Perhaps, the understatement of all understatements.

In the battle of jiu-jitsu against all-out idiocy, there can only be one winner.

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