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Trash Talk in BJJ: Blessing or Curse?

'If You Even Dream About Beating Me, You Better Wake Up and Apologize!'

Muhammad Ali musing about opponents waking up in a cold sweat before fighting him.

This line was uttered around 60 years ago and we still remember it. There is no doubt about it. If you want to gain notoriety, trash-talking works! It did 60 years ago with Ali, 10 years ago with Sonnen, and it still does for McGregor now, as the Irish trash talker has been able to get the best MMA fights for himself, fighting for the belt in 2 weight divisions, breaking UFC every Pay Per View in history, but he also able to fight arguably the most effective boxer of all time: The 49-0, at the time, Floyd Mayweather Jr. It is one thing to watch McGregor run his mouth in MMA to get "big money" fights while actually defeating high profile MMA fighters. It is another completely different thing to see him crossing over to boxing with zero experience, to fight Floyd Mayweather and bring home a 100 million dollar paycheck.

How did he do it? Trash Talk!

McGregor consistently, relentlessly, and publicly insulted Floyd until the contract was signed. And then some!

Watching stories like this unfold in the fight world has got to tempt anybody involved in it to engage in the controversial practice of trash-talking at least on some level. That includes Jiu Jitsu athletes as well. Can you really blame them, though?

The reality is that there's not a lot of money to go around in BJJ just yet.

Athletes, more often than not, have to teach seminars, own gyms, and do a host of other things, while training, to make ends meet. The financial struggle is real.

That not being enough, an injury can put an end to the fighting career at any moment. Then what? In light of these challenges, the Jiu Jitsu athlete is left with a simple formula: Make as much money as possible in the least amount of time. It is upon this realization that the temptation to Trash talk kicks in, but is there a place for it in BJJ?

It is not widespread yet but we already do see a few athletes having some success at it already. The community seems to be divided on the issue. Some protest saying respect and humility are essential values to martial artists. Others claim it is only a show and it is not to be taken personally. It is part of the entertainment and since it attracts eyeballs to the screen, it should be done way more than it is already. Still, others claim it is hypocritical that a sport with the kind of History Jiu Jitsu has (i.e invading academies, street fights, beach fights, bar fights, and etc...) would even consider talking about respect and humility.

The divide seems to be between those who had their beginnings in Grappling in Wrestling and those who stemmed from Judo. Wrestling is definitely not amoral, but it certainly focuses its efforts in building mental and physical strength, rather than instilling traditional martial arts values and Philosophy into its practitioners. While those who had their beginnings in Judo have certainly heard countless hours of moralistic, not in a negative sense in any way, lectures that did little to their physical or technical ability.

As for its effects, we can't deny Trash talk attracts spectators to the game. Many contests would not be of interest to the casual fan but because of the narrative brought in by all of the smack talk, now they want to see "big mouth" losing, or winning for that matter.

While we recognize the attention it brings, it is important to discuss and consider if this is the kind of attention that is beneficial to the sport in the long run.

What do you think: Blessing or Curse?

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