Monday, January 12, 2015

Issues with background check policies

Two years after the New Year's Eve 2013 rape, in the wake of the Team Lloyd Irvin rape and cult scandals, the Yakima rape, the Aldo Batista rape, the Daryell Xavier rape/murder, the Gregorio Rivera charges, and others, the IBJJF recently announced a background check policy.

It's not the first time a major jiu jitsu organization has claimed to institute such a policy.  Back in June 2013, I discovered that an Austin TX jiu jitsu instructor was a registered sex offender who raped a woman while she was unconscious. The RCJ Machado organization immediately cut all ties with him and announced a new plan to conduct mandatory background checks on staff and instructors.

One version of the Machado announcement is here on the Carlos Machado facebook page, dated July 1, 2013. 

 Another version that Rigan Machado posted on facebook was reported on my blog and the MMAUnderground forum by Ray Elbe:

I invited the RCJ Machado organization to update me about the process, and progress, of their mandatory background check policy.

On January 10, 2015, I received the following email:

"Ms. Oden,
I understand that you're interested in talking with us about our policies regarding instructors and association members. I regret to inform you that at this time we cannot make any statements regarding such matters since our organization's restructuring is in its infancy. Many of the policies are currently being created and we would rather not speculate when answering questions regarding such important topics. With this being said, you're well respected when it comes to the way women are treated in the martial arts community and could probably lend some valuable insight as we shape our guidelines for the association (and eventually, academy) policy manual. Thank you for your understanding,
J. Daniel Beluska
RCJ Machado Jiu Jitsu Association"

This is terribly disappointing.  It's been a year and a half.  I smell bullshit, but, I hope I am wrong and I hope they share with me some background check policy that used to be in place for that whole time (including details and what staff or instructors were removed as a result) and how they plan on changing it.

I also plan on blogging about any academies or affiliations which have background check policies.  I know Bruno Bastos' academy in Midland TX has one and I'm writing about it presently.  Other affiliations, please let me know if I should highlight the efforts you're making to protect your school and students.  I have some suggestions for how to write, implement and enforce a background check policy here.

What exactly does the IBJJF background check policy say?  It's found here:

It applies to

"Black Belt Certificate applicants that reside in the US  (first application and renewal).
Professors and instructors who apply for an academy registration with USBJJF (first application and renewal)."

What does this mean?  It appears to mean
  • black belts who are applying to become members of IBJJF
  • black belts who are applying to renew their IBJJF membership
  • who live in the United States (the policy does not say anything about their citizenship status, only their residency, and thus if you live outside the U.S. you're exempt.)
  • Professors and instructors without regard to belt level who apply to register their academies with the USBJJF
But also note that in the later part of the explanation it says "A person should be disqualified and prohibited from serving as a volunteer/professor/certified Black Belt if ..."

So if you fail a background check it would appear that you cannot teach at an IBJJF-member academy, you cannot be certified as a black belt with the IBJJF, and you cannot volunteer for the IBJJF. 
"You can apply for your background check online through the SSCI website. You will need to provide your full name, date of birth, address, SSN or other form of identification."  

The SSCI company does background checks for other sports organizations and appears to be legit.

What offenses or history would be problematic?

"A person should be disqualified and prohibited from serving as a volunteer/professor/certified Black Belt if the person has been found guilty of the following crimes:

For purposes of this policy; Guilty shall mean that a person was found guilty following a trial, entered a guilty plea, entered a no contest plea accompanied by a court finding of guilt (regardless of adjudication), or received court directed programs in lieu of conviction.

SEX OFFENSES• All Sex Offenses – Regardless of the amount of time since offense.
Examples include: child molestation, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sodomy, prostitution, solicitation, indecent exposure, etc.
FELONIES• All Felony Violence – Regardless of the amount of time since offense.
Examples include: murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, kidnapping, robbery, aggravated burglary, etc.
• All Felony offenses other than violence or sex within the past 10 years.
Examples include: drug offenses, theft, embezzlement, fraud, child endangerment, etc.
PENDING CASES• Individuals found to have pending court cases for any of the disqualifying offenses will be disqualified. If the disposition of the pending case does not meet the criteria for the disqualification as listed above, the individual would then be cleared and reinstated."

Well and good.  But when a Gracie Barra black belt friend of mine had to renew his black belt card, after the announcement of this policy, they did not require a background check! I'm told this is because of a loophole big enough to drive a truck through... your black belt membership card does not require background checking. Only your black belt CERTIFICATION.

His first email to the IBJJF:

I just renewed my black belt membership, and I was under the impression that I would be required to provide a background check as well. I was not asked during the process for this. Is this going to be a problem at some point?
Thank you,

Their reply:

From: "Membership 00 IBJJF" <>
Date: Jan 6, 2015 4:33 PM
Subject: Re: Membership renewal #xxxxx
To: <>
Dear Athlete,

Thank you for contacting IBJJF.

The background check for black belts is primarily for those who are 1) applying for black belt certification (new or renewal) or 2) those who are registering an academy (new or renewal).
If you are not currently applying for certification or academy registration then you do not need to worry about completing the background check at this time.

Best Regards,
IBJJF Membership Staff


So, apparently, the Brazinglish strikes again. Can anyone tell me if they've ever had to renew their black belt certification, versus their membership?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The way the IBJJF handles it is that a "membership" is when you register as a registered black belt through the federation. You get a certificate and recognized on their master list of black belts around the globe.

HOWEVER, in order to COMPETE - you only have to register as a COMPETITOR. This registration is much simpler and basically just puts you in their system so that you can register and compete. This still requires a sign off by a 2nd degree black belt who is registered with the federation if you are a black belt.

If you want to sign off on black belts or register your own academy, then you have to get a MEMBERSHIP.

Its all a giant money scheme in my opinion but thats just me.

Basically - I re registered as a competitor for 2015 and it was as simple as send in my notice, pay my dues, and get my ID card in the mail. No background check required.