The “Mana Munchers” of Jiu-Jitsu /// By: Lea Young
When I used to dance hula, we referred to “Mana Munchers” as the students who would kill the good vibes of the group. “Mana” means power in Hawaiian, and as we all know, a team without good morale brings down the spirit and the fun of jiu-jitsu. In some cases, Mana Munchers plague academies and lead to students leaving for other academies with a better vibe or quitting jiu-jitsu altogether. Mana Munchers come in many shapes and forms, many of which are easily recognizable but difficult to deal with. You will usually find yourself cringing when you see their car in the parking lot before training or praying that your instructor doesn’t pair you up with them in class.
The first and most common is the World Champion in Training (all the time). It’s the guy/gal (regardless of belt rank) who doesn’t know the meaning of how to “go light,” and who puts their training partners at risk for injury during what seems like a worlds finals match EVERY SINGLE TIME. They are also the worst people to drill with, as they often give their training partner more resistance than they should and usually can’t do the drill correct because they weren’t paying attention to the instructor or think that they have a better way to do the drill. In some cases, these Mana Munchers show up to class late, skipping the warm-ups so that they are fresh to spar at the end of class.
The second is the Dirt Bag (literally and figuratively). This is the person who doesn’t take personal hygiene seriously, who thinks its okay to air out their gi in between training sessions even though they (and their gi) smell like rotten fish. They come to class with dirty feet that leave a trail of dirt on the mat and are basically a walking billboard for ringworm and staph. They don’t always remember to cut their nails and you are reminded of this when you leave the mat bloodied from an “accidental” scratch to your face during your worlds finals sparring match with them.
The third is the Promotion Hunter. This is the person who specifically targets smaller and weaker people to roll with so that they can flex their proverbial jiu-jitsu muscle. And in particular, always in front of their instructor saying (in so many words), “hey look at me!” These Mana Munchers are often found (if they are an upper belt), in the beginner white belt class so they can “help” the lower belts. In the advanced class, they are found talking about how they beat “so and so”, who happens to outrank them… or whining to their instructor about being the only lower belt in class, getting smashed by the upper belts. This is also the person who has already bought their own belt for the promotion that they think they are ready for and has no shame in telling their instructor what rank they think they deserve.
Know someone like this at your academy? Have you sensed a common theme amongst all of these Mana Munchers? Yep, you guessed it… EGO. If you don’t check your ego at the door before training, you’re going to have a bad time. Jiu-jitsu can and should be one of the most humbling experiences, so do yourself (and your training partners) a favor and don’t be a Mana Muncher.