Ask Maggie Moo: "What if the Black Belt Doesn't Like Me?"

It's been a while since I've responded to one of these, but this week's question comes from J.C about dealing with a difficult situation in the gym.

Question: I train at a gym with about 5 black belts. The main black belt is wonderful and treats us all well. One of the black belts really doesn’t like me and it bothers me. I feel like I am really well-liked at my gym and I am so kind to everyone. I know it’s stupid because we've never had a falling out, or exchanged mean words and I’ve always attended his classes and thought they were great. He isn’t flat out rude or unkind but he just sort of treats me like I don’t exist. If I ask a question during class he laughs it off, rolls his eyes and moves on to the next person. I haven’t done anything to him, so I’m confused and obviously a little sensitive. It makes me not want to attend his classes and it’s very uncomfortable in social situations. He is cold, short and distant with me but warm and friendly to other students. To the point of literally being the only one who doesn’t clap or say congratulations when my main black belt mentions my tournament successes. Yet, he will be the first to congratulate every other student. I  go out of my way to say hello and to make sure I’m always very respectful. What should I do? Sometimes it’s so uncomfortable I want to quit just to avoid the drama. Do I leave it alone and just deal with the awkwardness? Do I bring it up to the main black belt? - J.C.


First of all, if you have done nothing to harm him you are not responsible for the way he feels about you. Have you ever heard the saying “what people think about me is none of my business?” I get it; it is definitely uncomfortable, especially when one of the best parts of Jiu Jitsu is the team bond and family atmosphere. I’m certain there are people I train with/have trained with who don’t like me probably through no fault of my own, but as long as I treat them with respect and kindness- I'm staying true to my nature. And if they don’t like me? That is on them. Seriously. Their loss. People go through all sorts of things in their outside life- death, job loss, break ups, depression, etc. that can affect the way they feel about themselves and others. Maybe he is envious of your easy nature. If you are well liked there, focus on the people who like you. Support the people who support you. Black belts, of course, are looked to as leaders and mentors but in the end, they are people too, flawed, imperfect and also guilty of allowing emotion/pettiness, etc. to get the best of them. No one is obligated to like you, but they must respect you. For a black belt who literally deals with “customers” or practitioners all day long, he should be much better at his poker face and at the very least able to treat you with decency. His flaw is just that- his!

If you have gotten to a point where you are so uncomfortable you do not want to train, perhaps pull him aside and ask him “have I done something to offend you?” I am a big believer in the direct approach. If you are not comfortable with that, bring it up to your black belt. Maybe he has some perspective you are not considering or would be comfortable mediating the situation. Most people just want to train in a drama-free environment and the sooner you have that, the better you will feel. Most importantly, do not obsess over it. His damage is not your job to fix. You have stated that you love your gym, your main black belt and all of your training partners. Put your energy into those people. And whatever you do, do not quit. You are going to be a black belt someday and you will know how to treat your students- with kindness and respect.


Team Texas: Stephanie Trevino


Name: Stephanie Natasha Trevino

Rank: 4 stripe blue belt

Where you train:
 Every where. My home school is Midtown MMA, I cross train a lot because of my schedule, Team Tooke’s, Revolution (my daughter trains there and they feel like my second family)

How long have you been training?
5 years. I used to take time off when I was bodybuilding

Favorite Gi?
My hyperfly, honestly the reason is it is my lightest gi and when you are trying to make weight, it comes in handy.

What’s in your gym bag?
Everything.  I train multiple times in a day so I have a gi, several changes of clothes, face wipes, deodorant, all my notebooks and razors in case I need to shave my legs on the go. Ha.

Favorite submission?
Chokes, chokes all day…. Cross collar or paper cutter

Favorite thing about the Jiu Jitsu community in Texas?
How amazing everyone is. So welcoming and just like one big family.

What’s one thing you would change about the Texas Jiu Jitsu community?
Easy. Have all the fierce women not be scared to be fierce. See there is a group of tough and aggressive competitive women who like to train and try to kill each other. We love it. That is not always welcomed and many times we are seen as too aggressive, too strong or you name it. With the women’s group we run, we are trying to change that. 

What is your greatest accomplishment?
Going back to school for my PhD it has always been my lifelong dream. Also taking a chance and starting my business. 7 years later, I am thankful for it.

What has been your biggest struggle in Jiu Jitsu?
 I would say my size and my strength puts me at this weird in between phase where I don’t know if I need to hold back or go harder with some.

If you could give any advice to your white belt self, what would it be? Compete. As much as you can, get out there and do it.

What motivates you to train on days when you just don’t feel like it?
Motivation? Nah, all discipline. Discipline is a muscle like anything else, you have to force it and before you know it, it becomes part of you. So, if I have a day I don’t feel like it, I tell myself STFU and train.

If you could take a private lesson with any Jiu Jitsu practitioner who would it be? 
Josh Hinger Why? His methodology, the way he views competition and his mindset, they are exactly where I would want my mindset to be.

Who is your favorite competitor to watch? 
Lately Vagner, but I am not real savvy about watching too many competitors.

Who is your favorite TX competitor to watch? (outside of your current affiliation)
My favs are in my affiliation though! Honestly thought I would say my friend Vanessa Lopez, she is just so technical and crafty!

What’s your perfect Jiu Jitsu playlist? 
A little rap, a little house, just variety! I love it all.

What do you remember about your first day of Jiu Jitsu?
 My son had been training there for a while so I already felt welcomed, it was a great experience.

What do you remember about your first tournament?
 How terrified I was, I never knew nerves like that.

What is your post-competition meal/restaurant? 
Anything with alcohol, my favorite would be Mexican food.

When you’re not training Jiu Jitsu, where can we most likely find you?
Working out. Yoga. Or at home cuddled up with my sexy boyfriend and rubbing on his hairy chest. That makes me happy.

Anything exciting coming up?
Master Worlds! Then focus on the next step and plan on my competition schedule.



Team Texas: William Tackett


Name: William Tackett

Rank: Purple

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Where you train: Brazilian Fight Factory

How long have you been training? I started back in 2009.

Favorite Gi? Archetype 😍

What’s in your gym bag? A gi, rashguard, mouthguard, and a towel.

Favorite submission? Rear naked choke!

Favorite thing about the Jiu Jitsu community in Texas?
That I have seen the Jiu-Jitsu community grow from a smaller scale to now one of the biggest communities In the U.S.

What’s one thing you would change about the Texas Jiu Jitsu community?
More super shows in Austin, like Kasai, F2W, and other big shows

What is your greatest accomplishment?
Although I have won a few good titles, I am most proud of my run at the ADCC Westcoast trials where I took second place.

What has been your biggest struggle in Jiu Jitsu?
Finding like minded people who have the same goals and drive as me. I feel I have found that at Brazilian Fight Factory 😁

If you could give any advice to your white belt self, what would it be? 
Build your game. Dont just have a bunch of random techniques, make them in a sequence of eachother and build a system.

What motivates you to train on days when you just don’t feel like it?
My team! I used to have to tell myself that my opponents were training harder, but now I know that my team is training if I'm not, and they will pass me up if I slack off.

If you could take a private lesson with any Jiu Jitsu practitioner who would it be? 
The GOAT, Roger Gracie.

Who is your favorite competitor to watch? 
I love watching JT Torres!

Who is your favorite TX competitor to watch? (outside of your current affiliation) 
Although he's no longer in Texas, I gotta go with my brother Roberto Jimenez!

What’s your perfect Jiu Jitsu playlist?
I dont like to listen to music before competition, I feel it distracts me from my fight. So I like to just stick ear plugs in and play no music

What do you remember about your first day of Jiu Jitsu? 
We practiced shrimps and side controle escapes and then watched the adults spar.

What do you remember about your first tournament?
My and my brother were at a local Naga and we both won our divisions by submission! After we got our swords, we were hooked!

What is your post-competition meal/restaurant?
 I love Pizza and Sushi! I never complain with either 😂

When you’re not training Jiu Jitsu, where can we most likely find you?
 Either in my bed or in the kitchen 😂 On a serious note, I really dont do much outside the gym besides go to church and spend time with family.

Anything exciting coming up?
I still have alot planned for this year! NOGI Pans, NOGI Worlds, and some super fights!



Team Texas: Jean Dalua Cartagena


Name: Jean Dalua Cartagena

Academy: NBTC Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Rank: Black Belt- Second Degree

Years Training: 17 years

Favorite Gi: Nozomu brand

What's in your gym bag? Well in my gym bag I always have my gym clothes, tape, my gi, protein and supplements, cookies, some snickers- the new ones that are made with peanut butter

Favorite Submission: Triangles

What's your favorite thing about the Texas Jiu Jitsu community?
 I like that everyone that competes from Texas support each other’s no matter the team

What is your least favorite thing about the Texas Jiu Jitsu community?
 Well for me I like everything. Here there is a lot of good jiu-jitsu talent and I have made many new friends since I came from Puerto Rico.

What is your greatest accomplishment? 
My greatest accomplishment was having the opportunity to travel to the USA and make my dreams come true, show my Jiu Jitsu here in the USA and represent my island of Puerto Rico 🇵🇷

What has been your biggest struggle?
Leaving my family and friends behind to follow my dreams for the love of Jiu Jitsu.

What motivates you train on days when you don't want to?  
My students motivate me every day I want to be a good leader for them and if they see me working hard they are gonna do it too.

If you could take a private lesson with anyone who would it be?
Ronaldo Jacare de Souza is one of my favorite fighters I grow up watching his fights

Who are your favorite competitors? 
I have many,  but definitely Jacare and Terere- old school jiujitsu

Who are your favorite Texas competitors to watch?  
I like to watch Cole Abate. He has really good Jiu Jitsu and is a very talented boy.

What's on your Jiu Jitsu playlist? 
 Reggaeton, Old School Hip Hop and Reggae music

What do you remember about your first tournament?  
I remember being a white belt who has only been training for 3 months and they didn't have anyone in my weight division so they put me with the blue belts and I won first place!

What advice would you give your white belt self?
Keep training, working hard and don’t be afraid to fail because good things are coming.

What is your go-to post-training meal or restaurant?
Isome protein shake after training and as for food I eat anything I would like to eat 😁

If you're not on the mats, where can we find you?
You can find me in the gym out in nature, on the river, hiking or at the beach when I have the opportunity to go there in Texas

Anything exciting coming up? 
Yes, Master Worlds! We are having a big camp in my gym in New Braunfels (NBTC) with a couple of World Champions coming to teach. It'\ is gonna be very good training from August 9th-11th.

The Jiu Jitsu Struggle is Real: July 4th Gif Edition

When you ask someone if they're going to open mat and they say no, but they'll run later....


When someone tries to use my own move against me......


When I get overly sensitive after being corrected on a technique I keep doing wrong.....


Watching your female teammate rolling up a new meathead...........


When someone asks me what else I do to supplement my Jiu Jitsu.....


Trying to do sprawl drills as a heavyweight be like...............


How my training partners look at me when I'm about to wristlock them.....


Trying to pretend you're not tired when the professor says "last round"


How upper belts act when they corner you and you're not listening.....


When you get a surprise stripe at promotions.........







Team Texas: Moses Cabrera



Name: Moses Cabrera

Rank: Yellow belt

Where You Train: Ohana  Academy in San Antonio TX

How Long Have You Been Training: 5yrs

Favorite Gi: Roll Bliss Custom Team Moses Gi

What's in Your Bag: Gi, and No Gi maybe also snacks

Favorite Submission: Arm Bar

Favorite thing about the TX Jiu Jitsu community? After going to war with each other we can hang out and play Fortnite.

What is one thing you would change about the TX Jiu Jitsu community? Going to Submission only matches instead of points because sometimes kids just hold or stall for a win.

What is your greatest accomplishment? I would say my greatest accomplishment is winning my 3rd Championship Title Belt for Submission Hunter Pro 45 In San Antonio at Cowboys Dance Hall. I was really emotional because my mom passed away on January 11th, 2019 from Cancer, so my family and friends were there to support me. I felt my mom was there. She would always tell me "show up and do your job."💜🦋🙏


What is your biggest struggle? I like pulling guard, so now I want to perfect my top game that will be my hardest struggle to change.

What advice would you give your white belt self? Don't let a win or a loss define you. I'm not the best at this cause I still cry or get upset when I lose, but try to know this will help you improve your Jiu Jitsu game in the future,  my dad he always asks me, "do you wanna be good or do you wanna be great in Jiu Jitsu?"  So my answer is "great!"

Who is your favorite competitor to watch? My favorite competitor to watch is all of my opponents,  like watching my friends and Cole Abate, Sergio Guajardo, Brother Salgado, Mona Bailey, Jr. Ortega, and Zane Mangan. I take private lessons with my big bro Cole Abate he is one of the best Teenagers in Jiu Jitsu ... even when I win he lets me know what I can do better so I can improve my game

What's on your playlist? Classic Rock music

What do you remember about your first day of Jiu Jitsu? I cried but at the end of the day, I told my dad I wanted to come back tomorrow to train.

What do you remember about your first tournament? My 1st tournament was Gracie Grappling Cup in San Antonio TX.

What's your go-to post-competition meal? Twin Peaks kids eat free from 11am till 4pm on Saturdays.

If you're not on the mat, where can we find you? Playing Fortnite in my room or hanging out with my friends.

Have anything exciting coming up? Just won gold in Ibjjf kids in Houston TX,  Fighting for my 4th Championship belt for Submission Hunter Pro soon, Just training with all my friends and teammates around Texas is exciting to me and last, just want to thank my Professor Jason Yerrington from Ohana Academy in San Antonio TX, where I have been  since I was 6☆

Team Texas: Mayra Cardenas


Name: Mayra Cardenas

Rank: Purple Belt

Where you train: Renzo Gracie Houston

How long have you been training? Since September 2014

Favorite Gi? Shoyoroll

What’s in your gym bag? Workout clothes- Monkey Tape and body spray

Favorite submission? Chokes and wrist locks

Favorite thing about the Jiu Jitsu community in Texas?
We support each other regardless of team affiliation. But when it’s time to compete, we fight for our team.

What’s one thing you would change about the Texas Jiu Jitsu community?
 BrewJitsu (benefitting the We Defy Foundation) showed me there’s nothing to change. It’s amazing.

What is your greatest accomplishment?
Showing my kids that hard work does pay off.

What has been your biggest struggle in Jiu Jitsu?
My type A personality gets humbled a lot. But it’s made me realize I need to keep working to get better. No one is indestructible. We can all break, but we can all also succeed.

If you could give any advice to your white belt self, what would it be? 
Calm down! This is the sages environment to train in. Listen. Let them teach you.

What motivates you to train on days when you just don’t feel like it?
Street survival is my job. Not just safety for me but for the people that count on me.

If you could take a private lesson with any Jiu Jitsu practitioner who would it be?
Professor Jared Weiner from BJJUNITED Why? His style and size is something that mirrors mine. I respect him immensely and his desire to better everyone but is loyal to his team.

Who is your favorite competitor to watch? ALL of them 

Who is your favorite TX competitor to watch? (outside of your current affiliation)
Melissa Lozano from Team Tooke and Olympia Watts from Gracie Barra Webster

What’s your perfect Jiu Jitsu playlist?
Reggaeton, hip hop and some old school Rap

What do you remember about your first day of Jiu Jitsu?
 I’m about to get my ass handed to me. Let’s do this!

What do you remember about your first tournament?
My kids were there and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Also, I felt I didn’t know any Jiu-Jitsu

What is your post-competition meal/restaurant? Anything with pizza and/or tacos!

When you’re not training Jiu Jitsu, where can we most likely find you? Spending time with my kids and my boyfriend. Shooting. Watching movies. Eating at Mikes seafood lol

Anything exciting coming up?
I’m excited every day I get to train and do the things I love. Looking to continue to compete and get outta that damn 3rd place spot