Like any sport, BJJ has its own lingo and terminology. This can be confusing to new practitioners. One of these BJJ eccentric terms you may have come across is mat bully. What the hell is a mat bully?
What Is A BJJ Mat Bully?
A BJJ mat bully is a Jiu Jitsu athlete who takes advantage of less-skilled practitioners usually during sparring while avoiding higher skilled athletes. They may deliberately try to injure their training partners, taunt them, and emotionally abuse them.
A mat bully is a skilled BJJ athlete who bullies weaker and less technically proficient athletes.
Mat bullies are usually pretty good at BJJ but nothing special. They often can’t hang with people around their belt level and age so they develop this insecurity. To make themselves feel like a badass and better about their mediocre Jiu Jitsu talent they will pick on unskilled opponents.
Your classic mat bully is a blue or purple belt who has been training for a long time but stopped improving years ago. They have given up on trying to get better and be competitive with upper belts. Jiu Jitsu is still a major part of their identity and a source of pride. They like puffing their chest out and acting like a bad-ass “fighter”.
They often go out of their way to duck more skilled athletes in the room. Instead they will target white belts and fresh blue belts. When it is time to spar you will see them immediately run over to the fresh white belt and ask him to roll.
When they are sparring with white and blue belts they will show no mercy and ran up submission after submission. While this type of behavior is not being a good training partner it does not constitute bullying.
Mat bullies often take things a step further by deliberately hurting less skilled training partners, cranking submissions, not respecting taps and using a lot of pain compliance techniques.
Mat bullies will often taunt their training partners in a cruel way. They will emotionally abuse them. Some take it to the extreme and try to make their training partners quit the sport.
A classic mat bully technique is to pin a training partner’s cheek to the mat and sit on them in north south and just taunt them over and over again for minutes.
Fortunately extreme mat bullies who are very dangerous to roll with and have nefarious intentions are rare. However, if you train long enough you will likely come across people who try to mess with you.
The best way to deal with mat bullies is not to train with them and then when you eventually surpass them in skill level ask to roll with them and give them a taste of their own medicine.
After you dish out a bit of your own mat justice you won’t have to worry about them picking on you because they only target the weak. They probably won’t even make eye contact with you when it is time to partner up for sparring.
Mat bullies can only exist in a gym where the coach and upper belts allow this behavior to occur. If your coach is not stopping bullying then this a huge red flag and you look for another gym.
Some BJJ practitioners are a little soft and like to throw out the term mat bully to anyone who likes to roll hard. However, the term should only be used to describe those that deliberately target weaker Jiu Jitsu players in an effort to inflict physical or emotional abuse upon them.
Genuine mat bullies are pathetic because they are always cowards. They only try their antics on BJJ students who they know can’t fight back. You never see them trying to bully stronger athletes because they would crush them and humiliate them.