A 120 lbs woman sits at a tavern table in Nepal cold-staring at a 300lb man across the table from her. A good ol' fashioned hard-drinking contest is well underway and there's a stack of cash on the table. They are surrounded by a crowd of onlookers wagering and watching them drink themselves into oblivion. The large round-faced man painfully swallows a shot with anguish written on his face as he forces it down. The much smaller woman takes her shot and rests her soft-skinned face against her hand and glass, nearly collapsing. The crowd celebrates the victory of the large man and begins to exchange money. But wait! She recovers, slams the glass down and once again stares-down her opponent. The large man raises his next shot with a smile, takes down his drink and has a frozen smile on his face as he falls off his stool in a drunken stupor. The crowd erupts again as Marion scrapes off her loot from the table. Yes, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's a story we love to hear over and over again. A classic David versus Goliath battle. A Royce Gracie versus Kimo Leopoldo. These ego-crushing battles raise us to our feet every time, don't they? But what if you are on the other end receiving a slice of humble pie? Can you keep your ego in check? Review the scenarios below and find out if you might be an egomaniac.
Egomaniacs train in anger, especially after their training partner submits them.
We hear that those with gi-normous egos will be "fixed" in jiu-jitsu. Is this true? I remember when a skinny, little guy slapped a triangle choke on me during my first month of training. It made me respect our art even more. I loved it. When I was a blue belt I recall helping a 220 lb MMA fighter from our team train for a fight. He had amazing striking power but needed help with his ground game. After submitting him the first time he punched my mouth and busted my lip. That was funny but illustrates my point. An egomaniac will not have this response. In my best Jeff Foxworthy voice: If you train in anger after getting submitted by a smaller, weaker or less skilled training partner, you might be an egomaniac.
Egomaniacs refuse to tap even when they know their egg is cooked.
One of my favorite blue belt memories from a Cia Paulista academy I used to train at was Rumble Night. It was crazy. The two best people would pick their teams, huddle up on opposite sides of the mat, turn the lights off (except the bathroom light that barely lit the room) and the head instructor would yell, "Hajime!" It was a submission-only rumble and everyone fought at the same time free-for-all-style until one team was completely submitted. It was great. Really fun. During one of our rumbles I applied an armbar on a white belt that wasn't tapping despite his yelp and look of pain on his face. I released him and told him he was out. He popped up and said - you guessed it - "I never tapped!" I took him down and applied the same armbar, saw the same look of pain on his face and continued to slowly apply pressure until his elbow popped. He had plenty of time to tap before his injury but he just didn't want to lose. He tapped after his elbow popped... and yelped, and rolled around on the mat. He wasn't the brightest guy but I still felt bad for him and fetched a bag of ice for him. As I recall him sitting on the bench holding his elbow while the head instructor gave him an ear load I can't help to think how sad he was that he didn't get to train for months because of his ego. Don't be that guy. If you refuse to tap even when your egg is cooked, you might be an ego-maniac.
Egomaniacs hold submissions after their partner taps.
In 2015, a fighter by the name of Rousimar Palhares came back into the spotlight after continuing to apply pressure to a kimura against Jake Shields too long after the referee stopped the match. Palhares had a history of doing this against his opponents prior to his fight with Jake Shields and was cut from various promotions. If you haven't heard of Palhares, Joe Lauzon summarized Palhares' matches with video of his offenses here. Obviously Palhares' ego gets ahead of him and his respect for his opponent slips away. Another word for a person like this is bully. There is no need for this to ever happen and if it does, a school has the requirement to deal with it swiftly. If you hold submissions after your partner taps, you guessed it, you might be an ego-maniac.
Egomaniacs regularly come late to class to avoid conditioning.
The last thing an egomaniac wants to have happen to them is to lose a match during live training so they attempt to save energy by arriving after conditioning. Unless an instructor has made special arrangements with you about arriving late, you should be there on-time and work your ass off during conditioning, like the rest of your team. Sometimes they even think they don't need it. The ironic part about this behavior is that it reduces their conditioning and makes them even more susceptible to losing matches against their training partners due to a lack of conditioning. If you regularly arrive late to class to avoid conditioning, you might be an egomaniac.
Egomaniacs tell others when they think they should be promoted.
Stop. Please. Just stop. Please don't do this. I think it is human to desire a promotion and wonder when it will happen but get focused on training and learning instead. Start talking about why you deserve a promotion and it's a dead giveaway that your ego needs to be checked. My friend has a blue belt student that was never promoted because he kept asking for it, telling others in the academy that he deserved it and walked around the gym with a chip on his shoulder. He was eventually told it will be easier for him to get promoted by starting at another academy. That's right. He was kicked out. In Brazilian jiu-jitsu we are more conservative about the advancement of our students and never want to be associated with other martial arts that essentially promote their students quickly to make money. It insults an instructor when a student asks to be promoted. The instructor also discovers that this student has a major ego problem and hold back promotion, even if they do have the technical skills for promotion. I am happy to promote a student when all the pieces are in place. I don't want to hold anyone back from what they have earned, after they have actually earned it. If you feel you aren't getting a promotion that you deserve, consider the fact that your instructor believes something is missing. If you tell others when you think you should be promoted, then you might be an egomaniac (don't forget the voice).
I have met so many great people in the jiu-jitsu community and call many of them friends for life. Those that have gained my respect are humble and look to serve their training partners more than they look to be served by their training partners. It is not all about them. I don't meet egomaniacs in jiu-jitsu very often but they are out there. If you find that you struggle with this, consider having a candid discussion about it with your instructor. Tell them what you are feeling and that you don't want to be "that guy." I am sure they will give some solid suggestions for what you should change. You will learn faster, develop better relationships, gain the respect of your training partners and instructors and give back more to the community that gives to you.