Robert Drysdale has just revealed that a former student of his, Marcelo Nunes, has decided to open a BJJ gym just 7 minutes away from his own. The two men have been working together for an incredibly long time and Drysdale clearly put a lot of trust in Nunes, as shown by the fact that he specifically mentioned the loyalty he has shown in his recent book ‘The Rise and Evolution of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’. While a student eventually branching out on their own is pretty common in all areas of the martial arts world, it’s not so common to see them doing it so close to their original gym and without the blessing of their coach.
Marcelo Nunes has been a student of Robert Drysdale for years, and has come up to the highest level of the sport training at his Zenith Jiu-Jitsu gym. Nunes has managed to get wins over top competitors like Haisam Rida in grappling and has embarked on a successful MMA career where he’s had multiple PFL wins, and a 10-2 professional record so far. Robert Drysdale gave a much more detailed account of the relationship he’s had with his former student Nunes over the years, and explained how he feels about the situation:
“Being loyal when you have everything to gain (or at least nothing to lose) says nothing about the matter. Loyalty is the quality that is tested when there is temptation to betray. The rest is posturing and self-deception. There is a lot I could say about my relationship with Marcelo and him suddenly opening a gym 7min away from my gym (the one he has been working and networking in for the past 3 or so years). I won’t say it all, but something needs to be said. When I gave my gym’s keys to Marcelo, it was because I trusted him with my life. I remember well when he looked me in the eye and said “I will never do that to you coach” unfortunately, I believed his word (perhaps im naive). In my mind, our coach/student relationship was unbreakable, despite the relentless attempts at severing it by people in his circle who undermined me to elevate themselves. I knew of it all along, but I did nothing because I had the blind sort of faith in Marcelo’s loyalty that leads to the kind of disappointment I am experiencing now.”
“Frankly, it is difficult to continue to have any faith in the human spirit when the people you place so much trust in and think so highly of (see other images) betray their word like this. Still, I’ll take my share of the blame. I gave him far too much power and didn’t keep a close enough eye on what was going on inside the gym daily (again, blind faith). To add to the injury, they have been subtly recruiting students at my gym. It goes: “Hey, I’m not going to invite you to my gym, but we have an open mat tomorrow and you are welcome to come.” If that is not an invitation, i dont know what is. I have no issues with ambition and I know well how scary it is to open a gym with zero students because that is what I did. But ambition and ethics can coexist. As we know, money corrupts everything, even (seemingly) unbreakable friendships and flawless 20yo relationships. As the saying goes, “power doesn’t change people, it merely reveals them.”
“And I have no doubt he will be successful in this new venture of his. He is a hard worker and (I think) I have taught him well (at least JJ he has learned from me). With that said, no amount of success can wash away the shame of having back-stabbed the person who taught him as a clueless teenager, gave him his black-belt, brought him to the US, homed him, fed him and got him every single fight related job he has ever had. That shame (and the internal hell that will come with it whenever he takes pics with the team he built inside my gym) is entirely his to live with. As I always say, the only place we are truly free is in our conscious. Everything else can be lost. To that special place is reserved ultimate freedom. Do we all live with it? His refusal to talk to me abt it says it all. Also, for those who believe he is innocent in all this, “why open so close to my gym when he could have gone across town?” Would he have so many students from day 1 had he gone somewhere else? The answers are obvious.”
“Lastly, a man (a real one) isn’t someone who can put nails on walls. But rather the one who lives and dies by the creeds above. The rest (again), is posturing and self-deception. See you on the mats. We both know who quits first.”
Robert Drysdale originally made the above statement about his former student Marcelo Nunes has opened a BJJ gym 7 minutes away from his in a post to his official Instagram account, and continued in the comments of it: