I recently came across a story about Pat Barry’s girlfriend, Rose Namajunas being bullied by a male fighter from the gym. She and Pat were on Chael Sonnen’s podcast, and Pat talked about how Melvin Guillard came into the gym one day, already late, and started pointing at guys, ‘You, you, and you, get in there. I need a sparring partner.’
Pat mentioned that nobody was getting up, probably because they were all fresh faces in there, new guys. Rose told him she’d go a few rounds with him, so she got her gear on and went in. Pat was off on the other side of the gym, watching the scene unfold. He said Rose started outworking Melvin, so he started going really hard in the paint, trying to take her head off.
Pat says he started telling Melvin, ‘Hey, back off, you’re going too hard,’ but it got to the point where Pat went and got his gear on and stepped in.
This got me to thinking about some of the experiences I’ve had training in different gyms. Gym bullies, in my experience, come in all shapes, sizes and experience levels. Melvin’s been in the game for more than a decade. He knows better. Gyms and teams are built on unity, loyalty and respect.
I’ve also had plenty of run-ins with guys that don’t know the difference between training hard and actually training rough. These are typically the newbies that are just starting their career journey. It happens a lot in grappling. There’s a saying in all gyms, “Never roll with a white belt if you’re in a fight camp,” and that pretty much sums it all up.
I’m so selective about who I roll with. I’ve had guys go super hard to the point they’ve hurt me because I might have been a little better at scrambling or gotten a sweep or a good position. These days, I get pretty vocal if somebody I’m rolling with gets too rough. You can’t afford an injury these days. The stakes are way too high.
I’ve been at my gym for the last five or six years, and it’s a great place, with great people. I love the atmosphere, and am so proud to be part of it. I’ve been to other places where you get the egos that think they’re too good to even warm up. They know practice starts at a certain time, but they mosey on in whenever they want. They’re trying to run the show, to take over, and in some cases, they do.
They dictate who’s in line for sparring, drills, etc. That’s okay if you’ve got a fight coming up, but not when four or five people have fights, too. The “gym superstars” think they can do no wrong, and try to get away with terrible gym etiquette by virtue of having everyone turn the other cheek to it. They think they’re the reason the gym or camp is famous and are entitled to special treatment.
It’s already tough for a female to train with a bunch of guys. You don’t want to be looked at any differently. You don’t want to be seen as the weak link, but you don’t want to be twisted up and crushed, either. Guys respect training partners that can put solid work in without getting them injured. That same principle applies to women. Going ultra rough on us just to make yourself look better is doing everyone a disservice.
Respect is earned in the gym, not freely given, and it isn’t just about how many wins you have or how big your name is. It’s earned by treating your training partners like valued equals and understanding that ego has no place in the dojo. So, do right by your team/gym and check your ego at the door. It’ll go a long way towards making training a better experience, and will make karma shine more favorably upon you.