Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A modest proposal for the jiu jitsu community.

I, as a jiu jitsu black belt and member of the community, am sick to death of hearing that a black belt instructor, one who should be a role model and paragon of our community, has raped, abused, and/or sexually assaulted someone. I cannot overstate how pissed off I am at the general shrug of the shoulders from the community and deafening silence coming from our supposed leadership. Its nauseating. I want it to stop.
I have a solution:
If a black belt is indicted of any sexual crime or domestic abuse that individual loses their rank. Not only does that individual lose their black belt, but whomever they received their belt from ALSO loses their rank. So too does everyone either of those individuals have given rank. All IBJJF timelines for promotion apply beginning from the date of indictment. All individuals who have been specifically "de-ranked" are no longer allowed to compete at any rank. Individuals who have lost their rank because their instructors have been stripped of their belt are not allowed to compete until they once again climb the belt ladder to their previous rank.
So if Ze da Silva ranks John Doe to black belt. John starts his own academy ranks Dana and Joe to purple belt, and Steve to black belt. Meanwhile Ze ranks Mike to black belt. Mike then ranks Sue and Jane to brown and blue belts respectively. If John gets indicted for sexual assault, EVERYONE becomes and instant white belt. And because the IBJJF has time standards at each belt even Jane and Joe have several years in purgatory before they can compete again. Ze and John can never compete. If Ze has an affiliation it's functionally dissolute.
If this policy were in place folks would be much more careful about whom they accept belts from and who they give them to. No one wants to end up an instant white belt and spend the next 5 or so years climbing back up the ladder again (assuming they can find someone to give them the belts in question).
The only legitimate concern I would have about a policy like this is that it would create a culture of "shut up or we'll all lose our belts" but truthfully the culture in jiu jitsu right now is such that it couldn't get much more repressive of victims. So that objection is functionally moot.
Lets not mince words, this is absolutely a nuclear option. Total scorched earth policy. I have no delusions that the IBJJF or anyone else will ever implement this, but my question is: why not? If you find yourself uncomfortable with this idea, what are you afraid of? If you have given or received a belt from someone you are not 100% sure might not rape, assault, or molest someone, why are you training with that person? If you are teaching people and awarding the rank of black belt someone you suspect could be a rapist why are you teaching them to more effectively hold someone to the ground?

If you found out your instructor, or one of your peers raped, molested, assaulted someone would you feel that same pride in your belt? I am 2-3 degrees removed from an instance where an instructor raped a young girl. It makes me ill to see my association in the same article as rape. I didn't want to train for months. I got depressed every time I trained. If it were someone in the same school I'm sure no one would have to take my belt away.
Maybe this is too much, too far, but something needs to be done. We need leadership. People to stand up and say "This is not OK!" So far the silence is deafening. Maybe we should all act as if this policy were already in place. We should level a degree of scrutiny on each other. We should stop promoting evil scumbags to the highest rank in our sport. What could possibly go wrong? Comment and let me know, because I can't think of a single thing.


PS: Ze da Silva is the equivalent to John Doe in Portuguese and is not a reference to anyone.. so says Wikipedia any way. I'm sure if I'm wrong I'll hear about it.

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