Every BJJ gym has one, if not more…

The BJJ Spaz is that student, who still has not learned how to relax, control his emotions and body movements while rolling. They are rough, aggressive, and go 100% all the time. Every roll is like a REAL fight for them.

That type of behavior is usually found amongst beginners; understandably, they still don’t know what to do and how to move, since they have not learned enough techniques yet, so all they have and rely on are their physical attributes/athleticism.

But not all beginners are Spazzes; quite the contrary, most of them understand that a Martial Arts school is a place where you go to LEARN how to defend yourself. You are not going there to FIGHT for your life against your teammates.

Your teammates are there to actually HELP you get better.

It may take 3 to 12 months before the Spaz calms down. We can still find some Spazzes at the Blue Belt level, but rarely at Purple. At that point, they have already learned how to control themselves.

The problem with the Spaz is that, eventually, he will hurt/injure someone due to his overly aggressive and uncontrolled style, and that’s bad for business. Sooner or later, students will avoid rolling with him, stop going to the classes he attends, and eventually, quit the gym.


It’s the Instructor’s job to pair the Spaz with a more experienced student, ideally, a Blue Belt or up, someone who already understands how 2 bodies move while grappling and will not put himself or the Spaz in risky positions, where “accidental” injuries could happen (twist of knees/fingers/toes, elbow to the bridge of the nose, etc…).

Despite all the potential problems they can cause to their teammates and the business, the Spazzes fill a very important role in the gym.

They are the closest thing to a real street fight situation that many BJJ practitioners will ever have the chance to experience, especially if they train at a sport BJJ gym that never covers the Self-Defense side of the Art.

The Spaz’s aggressiveness and roughness are pretty similar to what we may find in a real street fight, but more important than that is the unpredictability of their movements.

Since they have little training experience, they are not trapped in the “Jiu Jitsu way of doing things.” They will try to tap you out and squeeze your neck from pretty much any position: bottom mount, bottom side control, inside of your closed guard, and so on… and that’s exactly what’s to be expected if you ever have to defend yourself “in the streets” against an untrained person, plus the punches, of course.

According to Grand Master Helio Gracie, the definition of Blue Belt is, “Someone who can defend themselves against a larger, stronger, more athletic attacker in a real street fight situation.”

Rolling with the Spaz can be a great tool to test the “self-defense” skills of Blue Belts and up, especially considering they are in the same age group.

The higher your belt, the bigger and stronger Spaz you should be facing.

It’s a win-win situation, the Spaz will learn that athleticism and aggressiveness, without proper use of technique, won’t take him far in Jiu Jitsu.

Gustavo Gasperin
BJJ Black Belt