Dealing with the Maniac

Written by: Cristiano Del Giacco


The world is truly an amazing place. Throughout our environment we are able to experience many varieties of life. Different landscapes shaped by the climates and the years passed. Varied species of flora and fauna, some still yet to be discovered. The world is truly a diverse place. So why is it that we can accept this phenomena of differences within our surroundings but find it hard to accept it within our society. After all we are products and inhabitants of this earth; just like the flora and fauna we too are diverse in appearance, personality and mannerisms, to name a few.

The diversity I speak of, in my ramblings, relates to the diversity of individuals as members within a Jiu Jitsu academy. We have the member who trains day in day out; drilling specific techniques, rolling as much as they can always looking for that little alteration to better their technique and improve themselves, developing as round of a game as possible. Then you have the family matriarch; this person trains as often as they can usually accompanied by their child on the mats seeing Jiu Jitsu as a way to improve health and body and wishes to pass Jiu Jitsu on to their child hoping to make it as much a part of their family as traditional Sunday lunches. There are many more forms of individuals in the academy, often possessing their own unique motives for training, social/marital situations or sharing the same circumstances. We could spend a lot of time naming all the different types of people that we train with. But I would like to focus, for the purpose of this article, on one particular style of person: That damn maniac! You know who I mean. That guy (or girl) who arrives to training eyeballing everyone on the mat. Greeting you, but at the same time visualising your destruction. They drill the techniques with such ferocity with movements less like a competent warrior and more like an epileptic cow, grunts and all.

When it comes to specific training and/or sparring it’s as if they are battling for the deeds to the family farm. This person is less concerned with improvement as they are with proving themselves dominant. Don’t get me wrong; there are times when it is totally appropriate to train at 100%. It can be beneficial for competition prep and for self-defence. But to train with this attitude and this maniac all day everyday is counter productive to any real progress. For example; if the focus of all sparring rounds is the idea of winning and solely winning neither practitioner will be willing to attempt any new technique or combination of techniques. Their minds will be clouded with aggression and the fear of losing.

Weaknesses in their game will not be focused and improved upon as neither person will be willing to put themselves in that situation for fear of being perceived as dominated. Some may argue that this prevention and sheer denial of being put in a bad situation may be a good way to train you to avoid being put on the back step, but it is important to train all positions strong and weak. To believe that you can always prevent yourself from being in a bad position at all times; therefore, not needing to address them is a fairly stupid belief.

Some people, when faced with the maniac, often get upset and feel that their night’s training has been wasted as now, rather than dealing with the evolution of their own game, they are forced to deal with potential injury and brutal facial gi rash.

But what should you do? Give up? Get upset? Scream at the person that they need to chill out? Have a think about your life outside of JIu Jitsu for a moment. In all of your beliefs, all the past experiences that have shaped your ideas of what is “right”. Have they always been in line, 100%, with every one else’s concept of what is “right”? I mean there is usually a general consensus of what is moral in society, but many facets of ethics and procedure in social interactivity are grey areas that are really based on the person you are and the beliefs you have formed from your past experiences and influences. Do you think that everyone else has had the exact same experiences to provide the exact same line of thought through the years as you? Think about a time when someone has really pissed you off in your life. That time someone did something so amazingly stupid and unreasonable but he or she acted and looked like they had not done anything out of the ordinary. That time maybe someone put his or her feet on your couch.

You’d think that they have just thrown all respect for you out of the window and figuratively slapped you right in the face, while in their perception they have simply laid down to relax. What one person believes is an insult can be a totally normal act for another. I’m not excusing the acts of the maniac in the academy by all means. The idea I am putting out there is that if we react so intensely in a negative way it will affect our learning experience. If you want to go out there and be an activist and fight to change everybody’s way of thinking to align with your own (fascist) you will be fighting a long and unwinnable battle. Imagine you set out on a quest to stop people putting their feet on the couch or coughing with their mouth open or making eye contact with you while eating phallic shaped fruit. It would be arduous and impossible.

I have trained and dealt with this problem at many gyms around the world and this constant exposure to that frustrated 300 Spartan wannabe has lead me to believe that the question of “Why do you act like that?” Is very similar to the act of running into a brick wall over and over again and expecting it to kiss you lovingly, don’t be stupid it’s a wall. What I have begun to do is have this brick wall, I mean maniac, work in my favour. There are times in competition and even in the street that an encounter will test your Jiu Jitsu in a way that needs aggression and pinpoint accuracy of your top moves. What better way to improve this concept than training with that dribbling Auk at your gym?

I have found that watching others roll and drill has helped to improve my judgement and recognition of this wild beast before any contact is made. When the time to encounter them arrives I switch my state and mind frame from evolution and learning to competition, self defence, the utilisation of what works for me, always advancing in position never backwards. As adults; parts of our life and the people involved in it can only be negative and or destructive if you allow them to be. Instead find some time when you can be alone with your thoughts and rationalise this situation. Ask yourself “What can I gain from this brave heart watching, testosterone fuelled, possibly sexually insecure individual?” “How can I make training with this person enjoyable?” “How can I make their presence useful to the pursuit of my own goals?” I say to take some time to do this because merely asking yourself these questions is pretty pointless, you have to ask and answer yourself. Don’t take the easy option of self pity by saying “That guy (or girl) is just a dick!” take some time to really understand the situation, the fact that he or she is another person who may be different from yourself.

Take responsibility for your own growth and reap the rewards. It will benefit you both at that time and in the future preparing yourself for the shock of 100% aggression in competition and 100% aggression on the street. Because let’s face it; If you don’t believe in your skills and your own mental and physical ability in the gym how could you ever possibly hope to translate it to another situation successfully.

Written by: Cristiano Del Giacco

About The Author

Cristiano Del Giacco
Co-Founder & Lead Editor

Co-Founder of BJJ enthusiast based on the Gold Coast and collector of Kimonos, travelling the world training with some of the worlds best.

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