UPDATE: Tom Fogarty replied to our request for a comment, his full statement is below. We have yet to hear from FloGrappling.
All of the pent up anger hiding under the surface at FloGrappling, an expansive streaming service with exclusive rights to stream IBJJF and other events, briefly boiled to the surface yesterday. And it was all because of one poorly captioned Instagram post.
The video in question showed Carlson Gracie Team blue belt Tom Fogarty attempting to fake a guard pull to ankle pick. The move failed, and he was promptly arm barred. These things happen in competition.
Unfortunately, of all the hundred of options the FloGrappling Instagram had to choose from, they went with this caption:
The response from the Instagram community was loud and clear: taking digs at blue belts isn’t cool. Here’s just a few of the responses we screen captured:
I was able to get in touch with Tom Fogarty via his Instagram. He had this to say:
“I work really hard on my jiu jitsu. I love it. I love to share techniques, I teach kids class, and I compete. BJJ is especially good for my health and nutrition.
I keep a bjj notebook where I write down my mistakes and my accomplishments. I was a little embarrassed to find that this particular mistake was published for all to see. Although, after reading the comments I felt very proud to be a part of the jiu jitsu community. It is clearly full of positive and supporting people.
I’m not mad about the comment. If anything, it helped demonstrate exactly what I want to bring to jiu jitsu, and what jiu jitsu brings to me. I guess sometimes it takes something negative to show how positive and supportive of each other people can be.
As far as competing goes… you will see me again. I hope next time Flo catches one of my accomplishments rather than one of my mistakes. Just unlucky! Oss!”
In addition to nearly unanimously coming to the blue belt’s defense, the comment thread prompted some full blown rants on FloGrappling’s stream qualities, pricing structure, camera work, grammar usage, and even that red belt documentary they keep saying is coming.
The BJJ community has had a love-hate relationship with FloGrappling for some time now. On the one hand, the platform offers a huge breadth of content. In addition to their exclusive rights to IBJJF, Kasai Pro, and ADCC, they also have an excellent YouTube channel, podcast, and even film library. For the BJJ hardcore, it’s got a lot going for it.
But they have also come under fire for their pricing structure, which charges a whopping $30 a month unless you pay for a year up front. That’s almost as much as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime combined. They also refuse to offer individual purchases of events, forcing customers to pay a $30 subscription to watch a single event.
And because FloGrappling is the only place to watch many of the most important events in the sport, many people feel their pricing is exploitative.
Incidents like this one seem to open the floodgates of ill will towards the platform. As of today, the Instagram post has 45,000 views and hundreds of angry comments. Surprisingly, the caption hasn’t been edited.