Richie Martinez, a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt under the legendary Eddie Bravo, was issued a citation by local police after allegedly violating COVID-19 restrictions to film a training video for his students, according to an Instagram story posted Friday by the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu standout.
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Martinez, 35, took to social media to lament the citation, writing, “Have you ever gotten a ticket for jiu Jitsu? Lol,” in a post also uploaded to his Facebook page that showed what appeared to be a citation issued to Martinez.
The image of the ticket, which was blurred to omit certain sections of the citation – presumably by Martinez – alleged that Martinez was guilty of “Failure to obey a public order.”
“Boogeyman” claimed in the post that he was “filming videos for my students and my website” when “someone decided to call the cops and snitched on me.” According to Martinez, the police “were waiting in a civilian van” before issuing him the citation.
Martinez appeared to express frustration and shock at the ordeal, writing, “Never thought in my life I would ever get a fine for doing Jiu Jitsu.. can’t wait till we can go back to normal..,” ending the message with and expletive aimed at those who alerted the police to his activities.
The inaugural Eddie Bravi Invitational (EBI) runner-up expounded on Facebook, saying that the police response was unwarranted, and in fact, overblown, due to what he deems inaccurate details from those who called the police initially.
“I explain to them that [I] was only filming some videos with two other people there, and they said somebody reported me saying that we were having classes,” Martinez claimed.
“I’m 100%, I will get the case dropped,” said Martinez.
Martinez resides in San Diego, California, where he operates his own gym, 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu San Diego, a member of the 10th Planet Freaks subsystem.
California has implemented a variety of measures to slow the spread of the virus, including several executive orders at the state and local level prohibiting non-essential activities.
Executive Order N-33-20, issued by Governor Gavin Newsome on March 19, ordered that “all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.”
The Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, issued Executive Order No. 2020-2 on March 30, which stated that “all City residents shall comply with all current direction issued by” Order N-33-20.
Concluding Order 2020-2, Faulconer wrote, “Any violation of the above prohibitions may be referred for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. Each individual officer should use their discretion in enforcing this order and always keep the intent of the order in mind.”
Citizens of San Diego have not received the state’s and city’s restrictions without issue; on Saturday, a so-called “Freedom Rally” took place in the city with a gathering of over 200 protestors, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Union-Tribune quoted a protestor as saying, “This is definitely where the cure is going to be worse than the disease,” and reported that “[p]rotesters demanded that businesses, schools, churches, parks and beaches be reopened. Many expressed that the coronavirus was “a flu” and pointed to the low number of positive cases in the region and state.”
Governor Newsom said at a Saturday press conference that he was not surprised to see protests across the state, and more broadly, the country.
“I just want to encourage people, when you practice your free speech — which I don’t embrace, I celebrate — just do so safely… This virus knows no political ideology,” said Newsom.
Interestingly for Martinez’s case, the Union-Tribune cited a police spokesman as hesitant to give out citations.
“We are balancing the need to enforce and citing people for not social distancing with the anger, frustration that people have for being quarantined the last month,” said police spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi.
Martinez shared a video of the ongoing protests in the city Saturday with a caption of two clapping emojis, indicating his apparent support for the demonstration.
Even with the citation, this may not be the last time Martinez is involved in practicing jiu jitsu during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grappling standout, ranked fifth on the 10th Planet pound-for-pound rankings, is set to compete against Bellator welterweight Austin “Mr. VanZant” Vanderford at Chael Sonnen’s Submission Underground (SUG) grappling show on UFC Fight Pass on April 26.
SUG 13: Magalhaes vs. Jones has not been postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, making it one of the only live sporting events – combat or otherwise – to still be taking place across the globe, let alone the United States. The promotion recently held SUG 12, which took place on March 29, in an abandoned, repurposed grain silo in Oregon.
The promotion did not test athletes for COVID-19 at SUG 12, and it has not announced plans to do so ahead of SUG 13.
No competitors or staff have reported positive testing for COVID-19 in the wake of SUG 12, though two athletes scheduled to compete on the card withdrew due to concerns over travel and training during the pandemic.
In an interview with Bloody Elbow, Sonnen spoke to the duality of having concerns about promoting the event while also aiming to prove a point amid the current climate.
“When I put on mixed martial arts events, I’m aware that there’s contact. So, I’m aware of this. I’m not a prude about this. I’m also not proud of this. I know what it is. Even aside from the virus we gotta deal with, that’s a very real concern. I would never want to be a part of anything that hurt somebody,” said Sonnen, who went on to claim that he and his “whole family had it.”
Sonnen said the decision to continue with the event was one engrained in combat sports.
“That is one thing about this community, whatever the consequence, by the way. By the way, whatever the consequence—I don’t pretend for you that I know. But we will, on an ideal—it’s not about armlocks, it’s damn sure not about money, it’s not about championships. This is an ideal: we take on whatever challenge there is, and we go forward.”
Oregon, the site of the first SUG event to have taken place during the pandemic, has passed strict measures to prevent gatherings and recreational events. On March 23, six days before SUG 12, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive No. Order 20-12, “STAY HOME, SAVE LIVES.”
The measure stated, “Non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence (e.g., parties, celebrations, or other similar gatherings and events) are prohibited immediately, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained,” an apparent death knell for a combating sporting event in which, as Sonnen admitted, “there’s contact.”
The Executive Order also noted that “failure to comply with any of the provisions of this Executive Order constitutes an imminent threat and creates an immediate danger to public health,” and any persons violating the Order would be “subject to the penalties described in ORS 401.990, is an Oregonian statute that provides for a Class C misdemeanor, according to OregonLaws.org.
In a statement, the Portland Police Bureau noted, “Criminal citation is a last resort measure and the public is highly encouraged to be aware of the order and voluntarily comply,” including that “If businesses are not in compliance, they will also be provided a warning and opportunity to get in compliance.”
It is not clear whether or not SUG 13 will take place in Oregon, as the promotion has not announced the event’s location. However, if the event were to incur the attention and disapproval of the government, Sonnen has stated that he would shut down the event.
“I can talk as tough as I want about it, but if somebody came forward and said, ‘Hey, we don’t want you to do this.’ Okay, we’re not going to. We’re not going to push back,” he told Bloody Elbow.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.