MOOKAS*all in Korean
NAVER*all in Korean
This summer it will be 10 years since I introduced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to Korea. I am happy to report that it is generally healthy and growing strong. There are, however, also many charlatans who try to take advantage of BJJ’s popularity. There are fakes and liars at every belt level, often running their own academies. I have never once challenged any of them or otherwise interfered in their businesses. They never directly impacted me, and I felt that the internet (and their protruding stomachs) would be enough for most people to figure out that they were not legitimate.
A couple of days ago, however, I publicly challenged Mickey Choi to a jiu jitsu match. Let me explain what led me to this decision. I first met Mickey Choi when he visited my school several months ago as a WHITE BELT. Of course, my better blue belts and all my purple belts completely destroyed him on the mat, but they still could tell he had previous training. When they directly asked him about his background, he lied and said he had done some no-gi, but had absolutely no training/rank in gi jiu jitsu. A few months later he opened an academy and had photos of himself all over the internet wearing a gi and black belt. Unlike the liars mentioned above, I take both of these actions very personally and very seriously.
Despite all of the above, I still never once confronted Mickey Choi, directly or otherwise. He was being savaged on the internet for the phony that almost everyone knows he is, so I felt no need to make it any more personal than he already had. One brave reporter wrote a story detailing all the testimony given by all those who know Mickey Choi in America and Asia. It was quite thorough and good. But Mickey sued him, getting Dave Hagon to claim that he got a black belt from some mysterious “Fabio” (no, the genius Korean policeman did not require even a last name for Mickey to win this case), and that Dave had in turn given Mickey a black belt. The reporter then had to write a retraction.
In the midst of all of this, Mickey and his associates (the names changed but the IP addresses often did not) began writing lies about how he handled my students, and how I myself, frustrated at not being able to deal with him, hit him in the face. This was the third, and most personal, set of lies. The facts are these. He wore a white belt. As such, many of my students, as per my standing instructions, took it rather easy on him. When he was spastic and rough, they thought it was due to lack of skill and knowledge. And while they did tap him, they did so in a very gentle manner, obviously treating him like a beginner and a customer. Had he worn a black belt, things would have been very different. They would have all felt quite comfortable going much harder with him, and he would have been beaten much worse than he was.
Because of the very personal nature of Mickey’s lies and insults, and because he chose to bring the police into this matter, I simply challenged him to a special match at an upcoming tournament. He responded that he would fight me, but not at a tournament associated with my team. Of course, many “netizens” suggested he simply opt for no time limits or points, with which I agreed, but he found a way to back out, saying he needed a more neutral location. When a reporter contacted me, I simply said that location has nothing to do with jiu jitsu skill, and that I would fight Mickey in his own school. Foolishly, Mickey felt the need to impress the reporter, and said, on the record, that he would fight gi, no-gi, or MMA rules. I jumped on this and suggested 10 minutes of each in the following order: gi, no-gi, MMA. When the reporter asked why that order, I told him that I wanted Mickey to take all three beatings, and that if we began with MMA, the day would probably end a bit too soon for Mickey to fully realize the error of his ways.
Mickey called me four times in the next 15 minutes, obviously shaken, and kept changing the dates due to some upcoming business trip. I simply told him to choose the date. Just like the location, I do not want to give him a single excuse for the beating he will take if he shows for this fight. I honestly do not believe he will, but I will train hard anyway. We are now tentatively set for April 4, though he is to call me on March 25, when he returns from his business trip, to finalize. We will each bring one person, we will each film the entirety of the event, and the film can and will be made public. I have all this recorded in telephone conversations between Mickey and me. Learning much from my friends in the US who have dealt with Mickey, and from my own brief but distasteful brush with him here in Korea, I am not leaving any room for his excuses and lies. This has already been reported in the Korean press, so Mickey can now either fight—and be crushed 3 times on video—or he can back out, which will also settle the matter of his credentials for anyone who is objective about this matter.
John M. Frankl