The Cult of Lloyd Irvin

A top UFC trainer builds a house of champions. Allegations of psychological and sexual abuse tear it down.

They'll tell you they weren't scared. They were just sick of the stories, sick of the escalating pressure, sick of the dark cloud that hung over the school and seemed to be growing by the day.

But calm and collected people don't abruptly pack their belongings and hitch rides to airports in the middle of the night. Some say they feared violence. Others thought Master Lloyd would talk them out of leaving as easily as he talked them into other things.

They would listen. They always did. Lloyd Irvin was a martial arts guru who demanded absolute obedience. His training facility was a breeding ground for champions. If you wanted to belong, you didn't ask questions.

Lloyd Irvin, AKA Master Lloyd
Mike Calimbas
Lloyd Irvin, AKA Master Lloyd
Court records show the state of Iowa charged De'Alonzio "DJ" Jackson with third-degree sexual assault and supplying alcohol to a minor.
Mike Calimbas
Court records show the state of Iowa charged De'Alonzio "DJ" Jackson with third-degree sexual assault and supplying alcohol to a minor.
Keenan Cornelius
Mike Calimbas
Keenan Cornelius

They knew he wanted to film a YouTube video in an attempt to extinguish the public backlash. Things were fine, they were expected to say. Despite the exploitative marketing, and the pending criminal case against two of their own for an alleged sexual attack on a female student, things would always be fine at the Lloyd Irvin Martial Arts Academy.

But none of them could manage those words. So they snuck out as a group, roughly a half-dozen in all.

"We just wanted to get out as soon as we could," says Frank Camacho, who had traveled from Guam five years earlier to train with Irvin. "We had a meeting. People were freaking out. We were just not in a good place. So we left."

Keenan Cornelius hesitated. The 21-year-old had come to Irvin's Maryland institute to learn how to win. The school was everything to him. His closest friends were there, along with paid travel and free lodging. Those who remained behind — the ones unflinchingly loyal to Master Lloyd — tried to convince him to stay, that he'd be crazy to leave.

But interviews with over two dozen former students, employees, and associates of Irvin paint a different picture. They describe an environment that prioritized winning at any cost, where Irvin dispensed psychological coercion and sexual harassment to control a stable that included at least four men criminally accused of sex offenses — Irvin among them.

Keenan's family wanted him out. They believed the school's atmosphere was toxic and anxiously awaited word of his exit. But that night, their calls went unanswered.

Finally, a sympathetic student texted Keenan's mother, Kathleen, in San Diego, providing her son's whereabouts: he was at one of Master Lloyd's properties, wavering.

She called for a cab and had the dispatcher connect her to the driver. She pleaded with him to rap on the door until Keenan answered, then begged him not to let Keenan shut it.

Kathleen stayed on the phone with the driver the entire time, getting a play-by-play. Keenan is coming out. Keenan is in the cab. We're taking off. It became progressively easier for her to breathe.

When the driver passed the phone to the back seat, Keenan told his mother a truth that would be inadmissible in the militant atmosphere of Lloyd Irvin's school — a place, former members claim, where fear, isolation, and reprisal hung over their heads like guillotines.

"Mom," Kathleen heard him say, "I've never been so scared in my life."

When the Gracie family of Brazil migrated to the United States in the early 1990s, their homegrown style of jiu-jitsu revolutionized martial arts. Time after time, smaller men would march into pay-per-view cage matches and subdue bodies built on steroids by dragging them to the ground and applying pressure to an arm, leg or neck.

Traditional martial arts showcased in B movies slowly gave way to real-world effectiveness, students intoxicated by the ability to outwit someone in a human chess match.

Though a few graduate to the bigger purses of mixed martial arts, most ply their craft in jiu-jitsu meets across America, where top grapplers can expect a few thousand dollars for a main event. They aspire to open their own schools or charge for seminars, so they seek out instructors renowned for their ability to prepare athletes for competition.

Instructors like Lloyd Irvin.

Irvin, 44, his bald pate often shiny with exertion, is among the country's premier martial arts authorities. His school resides in a low-income area of Prince George's County, Maryland: 10,000 square feet of bodies interlaced like pretzels, fighting to stand out.

A fit and stoic six-foot-three, his face rarely wearing anything but a stern expression, it can be hard to capture his attention. Irvin cuts an intimidating figure. "I was scared to talk to or even text him the first few months I was there," recalls Camacho.

"When he walks into a room, you know it," adds Mike Fowler, a former student who's won multiple jiu-jitsu championships. "He makes you want to listen."

Fowler and Camacho say students were expected to address him as "Master Lloyd," a title normally reserved for select few instructors.

Because of the results, few minded the formalities. Irvin has manufactured dozens of top-notch competitors who compete in events all over the world. The elite are dubbed his "Medal Chasers" for their propensity to stand on top of a riser, necks weighed down by championships.

Irvin can also be seen at Ultimate Fighting Championship events, where pros like Brandon Vera and bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz have turned to him to sharpen their grappling. In one post-fight moment that went viral, Irvin awarded Cruz a jiu-jitsu belt promotion immediately following a title defense.

"Team Lloyd Irvin has helped me out so much," Cruz told Fist-A-Cuff Radio in 2011. "They're doing big things in mixed martial arts."

Phil Davis, a top-ranked contender in the 205-pound division, once called Irvin "an honest to goodness ninja." In an increasingly lucrative sport, Irvin is singled out as one of the top go-to trainers to help prepare for war.

"The guy could not only whip my butt, but he was beating the shit out of guys fighting in the UFC," says Camacho, who made the trek to Maryland after watching Fowler dominate in a tournament.

Irvin's coaching talent creates a devout brotherhood. Competitors often throw up three fingers after winning bouts in an "LI" formation; others get tattoos of the school's logo, a bulldog in military fatigues. Some wear "three-percenter" signs on the podium. According to Irvin's philosophy, it means being part of the elite: the remaining 97 percent are those who fail in competition, in business, and in life.

The school's aggressive sales force welcomes everyone from four-year-olds to casual enthusiasts paying $199 a month or more, but Irvin's focus is reserved for the competition team and the attention it brings. Training is arduous: two or three times a day, with tryouts that can last four to five hours and involve vomit, dehydration or liability waivers.

In a sport that demands a callused body, that's nothing unusual. But the closer a student got to Lloyd Irvin, the stronger the sensation that you were drowning.

"The people he had the most control over were females," says Jordon Schultz, a two-time world champion. "Any task at any time. They were extremely obedient."

Former student Miguel Escobar, who now works at a martial arts school for disadvantaged youth, saw female students shaving Irvin's face, clipping his fingernails, and acquiescing to requests for massages. Ryan Hall, a black belt who left Irvin's in 2008 to start his own school, watched Irvin tickling, tackling or chasing them around.

Others were disturbed that he would share a hotel room with student Nyjah Easton while traveling, a habit witnessed by several of Irvin's students, including Schultz. (Easton did not respond to requests for comment.)

A woman didn't have to be enrolled in Irvin's school to catch his eye. Several students allege that Irvin made advances on wives or girlfriends, despite being married since 2003 to his wife, Vicki Irvin. Escobar recalls introducing Irvin to his girlfriend at a club, then leaving them to talk about a potential business opportunity. He looked back to see Irvin with his arm around her. She walked away, telling Escobar that Irvin had invited her to his hotel room.

"No disrespect, but were you hitting on my girlfriend?" Escobar asked him.

"Don't worry about her," he recalls Irvin saying. "She'll be all right."

Irvin's students felt a similar sense of sexual entitlement. One former girlfriend of Schultz, who asked not to be named, recalls that some of the men living in the fighter house asked him if she could "come around."

Knowing what that meant, he declined. According to Schultz and his ex-girlfriend, athletes would sometimes bring dates back to the fighter house, where weed or ecstasy would be passed around. So would the date. Pictures would be taken. It was, in the words of a source who asked to remain anonymous, "Vegas meets jiu-jitsu."

"These were just kids, 19, 20 years old," Escobar says. "You put them in certain situations and things will happen."

Some things were more serious than others. In 2008, one of Irvin's most promising pupils, De'Alonzio "DJ" Jackson, then 19, left Maryland to attend college in Iowa. According to police reports, Jackson invited a 16-year-old girl to the Double D bar for college night. When she and a friend picked him up, he gave her some Bacardi he produced from a backpack.

After spending some time in the Double D, they went outside to a car. The girl told police that Jackson penetrated her even as she repeatedly told him to stop.

The next morning, the 16-year-old awoke with a headache that she suspected might be drug-induced. She told her foster mother, who informed authorities. When questioned, Jackson denied giving her alcohol, drugs or forcing himself on her.

The day after the incident, police discovered he sent her a text: "I'm sorry I took ur virginity like that. Plz give me another chance."

Court records show the state of Iowa charged Jackson with third-degree sexual assault and supplying alcohol to a minor. He pleaded down to serious assault and received a suspended sentence resulting in fines and 60 days in jail, which he was allowed to serve in Maryland.

Jackson returned to Irvin's to work and train. A YouTube video from November 2012 shows him performing one of his jobs: driving a van and picking up children aged four and up — including young girls — for Irvin's after-school program.

Keenan Cornelius had been at Irvin's for only a short time before he reported back to his parents. "Some people say you can get brainwashed here," his mother recalls him saying. "But not me." (Keenan declined comment for this story.)

Just 19, he was intelligent and analytical but had dismissed notions of college. Jiu-jitsu was all he wanted to do. A friend had raved about Irvin and his curriculum. Maryland seemed like the place to be: no distractions, just hard training.

"He explained he could live there for free, and that this man will pay for him to compete," Kathleen recalls. "It sounded weird to me, but I didn't want to cause a fracture in our relationship. In the end, we let him go."

Shortly, Keenan's phone calls grew less frequent. He began ignoring their emails, telling his mother that he suspected Irvin or his subordinates were monitoring his Facebook account.

"We're a close family," Kathleen says. "The conversations we used to have just stopped. He became private. He started changing."

When he did come home, his attitude was dour. His sister Chloe recalls him abruptly demanding she prepare him food.

"It's a feminist household," Kathleen says. "That was just bizarre."

Stories began to orbit Keenan's family. His stepfather, Tom Callos, is also an instructor and knew people in the business. Irvin's was a cult-like atmosphere, some warned him. It was isolating, restrictive, manipulative.

The family made overtures to Keenan about coming home, which only drove him further away. "I can't win if I'm not here," they recall him saying. "All my friends are here." He would repeat both like a mantra.

Irvin had good reason to keep Keenan in the fold. He was the school's latest star, courted for tournament appearances and valuable to Irvin's reputation as a trainer. He had won jiu-jitsu's Grand Slam, earning two gold medals at each of the sport's four major tournaments.

By the time Keenan had arrived in 2011, Irvin's fighter house, dubbed "the Jungle," was in full swing. "Little Mexico," the basement, was reserved for new recruits. Keenan and others were on the first floor, dubbed "The Suburbs." It was a glorified dormitory for martial artists. With paid rent and travel, some likened it to being on scholarship.

"Everything in the house and everything we did was to win," says Camacho. "Go downstairs and you see someone watching jiu-jitsu videos. Upstairs, someone is drilling in the middle of the floor. There were holes in the wall from tackling people."

Many worked long shifts at the school for low pay — as little as $4 an hour plus free training. If you weren't a top-shelf athlete, it wasn't uncommon for four or more students to share a two-bedroom apartment. The best got free board subsidized by Irvin's primary income: consulting for other martial arts businesses, which could net him upwards of $57,000 a head per year, the fee quoted in his "MMA Millionaires" application packet.

But according to some, Irvin's podium-ready charisma held a darker side. "He sought out and spent lots of money to improve his skill-set at persuasion," says Schultz. "He knew he'd have more power that way."

Schultz recalls Irvin attending a seminar for neural linguistic programming, techniques which can be used to manipulate the mind. One business associate who saw Irvin interact with students described them as "robots," blank-faced and relaxing their posture only after he had left the room.

Over and over again, Irvin pushed the idea that students were "Androids" who should do whatever the "Programmer" tells them without critical thinking.

An Android does what they're told without hesitation, Irvin would say. If you want to be a world champion, you have to let the Programmer program you.

"It was really a toe in the water to obey any command given," says Hall. "That started to become a point of contention with us. I wasn't compliant. I didn't buy into it. Others did."

According to Fowler, Hall and others, Irvin would rouse students out of bed at any hour, demanding they run errands — anything from 3 a.m. calls for cheeseburgers to raking leaves or picking up dog waste at his home.

"It was about calling me at 1 a.m. saying that he needed some video," Camacho says. "Or that someone is coming in from airport, and you'd pick him up at 3 a.m. No questions asked. We were in Lloyd Irvin's world."

"There was a lot of control," adds Shultz. "Some people trying out for the team would pass out. It was kind of an initiation, like hazing. Looking back, I think he was trying to relive his fraternity days in the school. He wanted absolute obedience."

Lloyd Emory Irvin, Junior was born in 1969 to Rosalee and Lloyd Irvin, Sr. Dubbed "hyperactive" by doctors, he claimed in a 2006 interview that medication was suggested. Instead, his parents enrolled him in martial arts classes. He was boxing by eight and took up wrestling in junior high before attending Bowie State University in Maryland. There, he pledged to the "Que Dogs," an unofficial offshoot of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and one that prized hyper-masculine behavior. Irvin's Facebook page recently showed the Dogs in a reunion, throwing up "hooks," the group's signature gesture.

On October 7, 1989, Irvin and seven to nine other men congregated in an apartment at River Park Tower, where one of them had led an unidentified female attending nearby Hampton University to the bedroom. She claimed she was punched and slapped, according to The Daily Press in Hampton, Virginia, and heard one man muse how easy it would be to throw her off the balcony.

The men allegedly ripped out her tampon and took turns raping her. A physician who later examined her indicated she suffered from vaginal spasms, indicative of forced intercourse.

In the morning, she was allowed to shower and was driven back to her dorm. Three of the men were quickly rounded up by Newport News Police, a number that would grow to eight as the investigation continued.

In the spring of 1990, a 20-year-old Irvin and co-defendant Terrence Gatling were the first to be tried for rape. Both pleaded not guilty.

Irvin's defense: though he wanted to participate in what he believed was consensual sex, he was unable to achieve an erection.

Because the jury believed that the woman couldn't positively identify him as one of the men who penetrated her, he was acquitted. A less fortunate Gatling was found guilty of forcible sodomy.

"I feel the girl was raped," one juror told the Press. "But the room where this happened was dark, and with all that was going on, it was unclear who was doing what."

The victim, 17 years old and 98 pounds, told her story in court three times over 15 months. Of the eight charged, four men were convicted and sent to prison; one received a suspended sentence; and two cases were dropped due to insufficient evidence. Irvin exited the courthouse a free man.

He returned to school and graduated in 1992 with a business administration degree. There was no firm career path. He was athletic, strong, and enjoyed martial arts, but none of those things could be monetized in a culture glutted with instructors teaching dubious self-defense techniques. Most fighters made poor businessmen, and their doors were frequently shuttered.

After watching an early UFC event in which Royce Gracie used jiu-jitsu to subdue much larger men, Irvin became intrigued by grappling. He studied for six months at a Washington, D.C. school, then opened his own dojo.

Irvin's move coincided with the emergence of Billy Blanks' Tae Bo cardio kickboxing fad. Within three months, 500 enrollees at his school were looking for a Blanks-style experience. Irvin accommodated them, but watched as retention ebbed.

"I went from 500 to zero women because of no contracts," he told Internet marketer Daegan Smith in a 2012 podcast. "I got in financial trouble, two months behind on my mortgage and rent on the school."

Irvin told Smith he began seeking out self-help and business advice, though little to none of it was written expressly for the struggling martial arts instructor. Then he came across the teachings of Dan Kennedy, an evangelical marketing guru who offered advice to small businesses on recruiting and keeping customers. Irvin paid $3,000 for a front row seat at a Kennedy seminar and was rhapsodized.

On the verge of bankruptcy, he soaked in Kennedy's lessons on the kind of hyperbole needed to draw attention to himself. He offered 30 days of free classes to new attendees, appealed to soccer moms and organized after-school programs. Business improved, with the weekend warriors supplemented by serious grapplers who could secure his reputation as a potent teacher.

"I didn't have enough money to pay the rent," Irvin testified in a 2011 Kennedy endorsement video. "Life now after Dan's influence has been amazing...I've gone on to generate millions and millions of dollars in these different businesses...we've got a 12,000-square-foot facility now. We have eight guys fighting in the current UFC."

His salesmanship leaned toward hyperbole. At one real estate investment seminar — another venue of business he once plied his trade in — Irvin was introduced as a "Man of Greatness" who once appeared on the cover of Fortune. The latter wasn't true. Though he later claimed he was "featured" in Forbes, it turned out to be nothing more than a paid advertisement.

Irvin has repeatedly cited Kennedy as an influence. Kennedy has made no secret about how his approach toward marketing and the skills of thought reform are intertwined.

"What business are you in?" Kennedy asks rhetorically in one of his newsletters. "CULTS."

In mid-2012, an instructor from out of state pulled Irvin aside at an event.

"I heard Nick Schultz is with you now," the instructor, who asked not to be identified, claims he told him. "You need to understand something. This kid will burn your school to the ground."

Irvin laughed it off. Had he listened to what his colleague had to say — that Schultz had a history of shoplifting, criminal trespass and erratic behavior — New Year's Day 2013 might have turned out differently.

Schultz, 20 and no relation to Jordon Schultz, had come to Irvin's school from San Diego, where his former instructor had booted him from his gym for theft. He had not broken the habit. "I observed him stealing on daily basis," Jordon Schultz says. "Small things, food items, DVDs. He was one of those guys."

Nick Schultz became friendly with fellow student Matthew "Matteo" Maldonado, who had been there only a month. On New Year's Day, an acquaintance of Maldonado's got a text. "Had a great time," he wrote. "Went out clubbing."

Earlier that morning, Schultz and Maldonado were in nearby Washington with a female student, Billie — not her real name — who had been at Irvin's roughly a year. According to a statement she later gave to police, all three were drinking. She said the two men then took her, inebriated and staggering, into a nearby church parking garage and raped her.

In their arrest warrant, investigators describe retrieving surveillance footage they alleged shows Maldonado holding up an inebriated Billie, then penetrating her from behind. After Maldonado departs, Schultz appears to force her into oral and vaginal sex. At various points, police asserted, she's dropped to the concrete, unable to support herself. Billie was left in the garage until a passerby heard her crying for help.

In an open letter that appeared on, a jiu-jitsu news site, Irvin promised to see the victim through this difficult period and expressed disgust at the actions of his students, noting that both had only been there a short time.

Despite his statement, the martial arts media pounced on the story, charging Irvin with a corrosive environment that was likened to an island of misfit toys.

"Suddenly," Keenan's sister Chloe recalls, "it went from, 'Everyone makes mistakes' to, 'Lloyd is a monster.'"

Inundated by negative press relating to the New Year's Eve incident and the subsequent discovery of his own 1990 rape trial, Irvin took quick and — by his own admission — regrettable action. He purchased a URL,, and used search engine optimization techniques so it would appear near the top of an Irvin-related web search, bumping his own rape-related clippings further down the page. advertised women's self-defense courses. "Lloyd Irvin's Martial Arts Academy is fully dedicated to empowering as many women as possible," read the copy. "Information is power and arming women with the ability to be smart, aware of their surroundings and defend against an attacker is top priority in the Ladies Kick Butt seminar and program."

Accompanying footage showed clips from a 2012 seminar, the women in attendance likely ignorant that the lead instructor was once on trial for sexual assault himself.

Irvin addressed the URL controversy after reporter Brent Brookhouse exposed the sleight of hand. "The reason I purchased the URL was singular," Irvin wrote in the same open letter on "I didn't like the tone and tenor of things online but still felt I could not speak publicly about anything... the execution and timing were awful."

Despite the mea culpa, he purchased at least one additional URL after his statement was released:, which now directs visitors to a video by stand-up comedian Kat Williams on "haters."

Keenan's mother was horrified. She made another plea for her son to return home.

"Billie just got back from the salon and got highlights," she recalls Keenan saying. "She can't be that upset."

Last January, Irvin called an early morning meeting of his top male competitors. According to Camacho and Jordon Schultz, both present at the gathering, he wanted to clear the air regarding the negative publicity. Of the 1990 allegations, Irvin told them the victim had wanted it and claimed rape out of guilt. No one seemed to question why this seemingly consensual act had sent four men to prison.

"He told us she was down for it," Schultz recalls. "And that the next day, her boyfriend had found out and then she went to police."

Irvin also told students he was helping pay the legal bills for Nick Schultz and Maldonado, who — like most in his circle — had little financial means of their own.

"Most of the guys didn't seem to care," says Camacho. "You just want to go train. That was all we wanted. To train."

But the atmosphere of the school had changed. Every day seemed to bring more negative attention. Team Lloyd Irvin was quickly becoming a scarlet letter in martial arts circles.

"As a team, we were hated on," Camacho says. "It was over the top even before all of this. People making fun of us at tourneys, throwing up the hand sign. Meanwhile, we're wrecking and winning titles. But when that stuff happened, it was hate times one hundred."

Uncomfortable and fearing any continued association with Irvin would have a negative impact on their careers, several Medal Chasers and other students decided to leave at night rather than navigate Irvin's expected protests. Brookhouse, who tried in vain to get Irvin to comment, soon became a target of his ire.

"I reached out to him and he said the 1989 rape was old news, that it shouldn't be made public," Brookhouse recalls. Irvin later wrote on Facebook that he might "put an investigator" on Brookhouse for his reporting, which Irvin dubbed "harassment."

Matters were made worse when a YouTube resurfaced that depicted Irvin driving away from a Mercedes dealership and brandishing stacks of money. Memorabilia from the movie Scarface is shown; so is a mural depicting Irvin in his fraternity colors of purple and gold, two men bowing to him on either side.

But off-camera, Irvin's financial state wasn't so bountiful. He and his wife have been jointly hit with three separate IRS liens in 2011 and 2013 totaling $1,563,276. All remain outstanding as interest continues to accrue.

Billie returned to the school after the New Year's incident, feeling that Irvin supported her. But once she discovered that he was paying for her alleged attackers' legal bills, she left, according to friends.

Schultz and Maldonado finally went to trial in October. But the surveillance video was blurry. Despite viewing the footage more than 100 times, jurors couldn't say beyond a reasonable doubt that the three intoxicated students were involved in forcible sex. Schultz and Maldonado were found not guilty.

Irvin declined to be interviewed for this story. "A wise man once told me, 'Don't waste your time with explanations,'" he wrote in response to an interview request. "'People will hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe.'" He claimed a "lynch mob" had formed and that former student Ryan Hall, who has been outspoken about Irvin's practices, was "guiding the story."

In his open letter, however, Irvin addressed the night in River Park. "The facts are the facts and glossing over the fact that I did NOT rape nor have sex with ANYONE involved in the 1989 incident cannot and should not be brushed under the carpet...I am 100% against rape, attempted rape or any other form of violence against women. I don't support it, don't condone it and don't enable an environment that would ever have anything to do with it."

On one message board, Maryland instructor Phil Proctor questioned the motives of the woman who brought the 1989 rape charges: "It sounds like a 'train was run' on a dirty whore that got to feeling guilty," he wrote. Proctor did not respond to interview requests.

Several former students and associates of Irvin's contacted for this story also declined comment, citing fear of retaliation by Irvin in the form of character attacks or the potential for confrontations during jiu-jitsu tournaments, where Irvin remains a presence.

Others believe men like Hall have ulterior motives for criticizing their former instructor. "I've never seen Irvin do or say anything bad," says Ken McCarthy, a marketing consultant endorsed by Kennedy. "I just saw a really hard working, focused guy taking care of business. The people speaking against him also run schools. There's incentive. Those [exiting] students are worth money."

UFC bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz and Brandon Vera have cut ties with Irvin. Irvin also disbanded his affiliate program, which allowed schools to use Irvin's reputation to bolster enrollment. In return, winning students would be considered "Team Lloyd Irvin" branded athletes, a label that now appears unwelcome.

Disappointed his family's art was being dragged into the negative press, Rener Gracie released a YouTube video condemning schools that prioritize the win-at-all-costs mentality. "There's no regulating body for running an academy," he says. "The risk is, you take someone with a rough upbringing without education or values or influence and teach them jiu-jitsu.

"Once they make it, they'll feel like they have the right to abuse those below them."

Irvin's school remains open for business in Camp Springs, with plans to add a women's only fitness training center in the near future.

His website summarizes the academy's philosophy for young enrollees. Under the watchful eye of Lloyd Irvin, parents are assured of one thing: "Morals are number one."

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I was a student at Llyod Irvin's academy in Maryland.  It was professionally run and I saw no instances of anything remotely related to the "culture" described in this article.  



I am not a student of Lloyd Irvin and have no affiliation with him or his gym whatsoever. I'm not interested in how many martial arts belts he holds, who he has taught or anything else. I'm only concerned about "allegations" and "inferences" made in this article. 

Having carefully read this article and digested the content I'm forced to ask the author why the author intentionally tried to mislead the reader by distorting the facts? 

(1) The author is fully aware of the fact that Lloyd did not rape anyone in back 1989. The author knows that Lloyd was acquitted by a court of law. The author also is aware of court testimony in that Lloyd couldn't even get his pecker up to do wrong.  Knowing all these facts I want to know ---why is the author intentionally misleading the reader by making inferences that are not true?

(2) Are you the author of this article a narcissist? Narcissistic behavior is the practice of blaming someone else for screwed up behavior instead of putting responsibility where it rightfully belongs. In other words, those young men who did wrong--- did it on their own. Lloyd was not there and had no involvement whatsoever. The only connection he had to those young men is that they studied martial arts under Lloyd's instruction.  So, why is the author blaming Lloyd for the behavior of other grown men? Wake up and get a brain.

I hope and pray that Lloyd's attorney's file a malicious and  intentionally libel and defamation of character law suit. 

Good luck!


Part 1

Marshall Thompson

I was around before all but 3 people mentioned in this article & around longer than all but 2. For years I was right beside him for many of his moves and helped run one of his businesses for a time. I also lived in one of the fight houses for some time. I've worked at the gym. I've taught classes, I've had a van route picking kids up after school & I have been a sales consultant at the gym.All of the Guys in this article know that I'm a guy of integrity. Master Lloyd and I have had our ins & our outs. Yes I call him Master in terms of skills not for anything else. My Lord Jesus is my only master. He's rolled with top Brazilian guys & made them look bad. I've seen Brazilian black bets come into do class maybe expecting to show him up, but after class is over, come to the front of class & say you all have a great instructor.I've seen guys from the UFC train with him & get crushed, with him out of shape.. Also seen him wipe the mats daily with all the top medal chasers & others before there was a medal chaser name. I've said plenty of times over the years I wish he didnt have the injury & could fight for a UFC Title. Not only has he mastered the arts, but he has also mastered gun & knife defense. The night he was home invaded & took the guys gun, when Brandon Vera was there many don't know it but he didnt set the alarm after letting me out..He was sleep on the couch, early a.m. & I woke him up to let me out. A couple hours later I was contacted about what had happen. So the people that say they want to fight him have no clue. His skills , mind & mindset on many levels is amazing.This article is creating this man to be a monster, which isn't true. I don't know if the writer picked & chose what he wanted to paint him this way leaving out things that were important bc that's what they do or if some of them left out important things bc of personal reasons, bc that's what we as humans do when we feel offended.He and I have had some heated arguments over the yrs some in front of people & some behind the scene. At times, would go face to face at each other about something. He may have handle somethings different from the way I would have & vice versa. We are all humans.But, I can tell you this it was never during normal business hours. Everything done there was professional, even the lobby looks like a hotel lobby. I been to a lot!! of gyms & none compare.Yes it was strict training for the few that came to him & said they wanted to be great. He believes in systems & that if you follow & model certain principles that you will have the same results. He would basically say looking at statistics 97% of people in every field come up short bc they cut corners & make excuses. 3% ers follow instructions to the T & those instructions are programmed in. They can only perform to what has been programmed through correct repetition.

Rest of post in reply section


Thank you so much for reporting this story. It's things like this that desperately need to be uncovered and voiced.


A sexual deviant picking up 'children' for an after school program?  Disgusting.  


Also, tigerstyle444 wins. That video gets funnier each year Dana White helms the UFC.



How is Jake Rossen "trying too hard" by reporting events as told to him by a source? If you don't approve of living somewhere that isn't all about absolute deference to males, then that's your own bias (and problem), but Jake isn't "trying" anything by reporting relevant details from a source close to the story. This just makes you sound dumb and chauvinistic. 

Welcome back, Jake.


Not a Irvin fan, but your were trying way too hard on his one.

"When he did come home, his attitude was dour. His sister Chloe recalls him abruptly demanding she prepare him food.

"It's a feminist household," Kathleen says. "That was just bizarre."

Like I said, trying way too hard. SMDH


Wow, and so the saga arises again. This is the most in depth article I have read on the LI Jiu Jitsu string of incidents.


Wow. I just hope any women thinking of joining his school read this article. That goes for parents too. Running background checks on these martial arts instructors would be a good idea before joining. Martial arts should be about character development above all. This guy has none.


@mattwright83 More people like you need to step forward. This whole thing smells ugly. Nothing but hearsay, stories, and an acquittal a long time ago, and their going to ruin this guys whole life.



yes, not getting it up is the best defense ever.  If it's soft as a snail, you can't go to jail.

your definition of narcissism is a distortion of fact.  wikipedia is your friend


Part 2

I never witnessed him using the Android principle for ill will & if he did use it towards an adult woman as has been alleged it is not right, but that's an ethical issue. He has broken no law.. That's between him and his wife and is none of my business. I also wouldn't have to tell him he's wrong bc everyone knows my stances, but would anyways.Also it was stated in the article that another adult woman was seen staying in his room. I've was right by his side for years and never seen him do anything sexual with anyone. No one in the article said that they did either, but if he did that's between him, his wife, her & God. If I cut people's heads off for that we would have a lot of headless people.I would bet that the majority of men reading this article have or are being unfaithful. I would also bet that 100% of you that haven't has a best friend that has. If it occurred I'm not condoning it at all. I think it's wrong. Fix it now! But again is an issue between them.Let me tell you what I have seen. I have seen adults try to do things for attention from him and he ignores them both female & male. Years ago I don't know how I myself would've handled it. A powerful man in the martial arts & marketing realm with money. I've seen how women stop the times I had to drive his Aston somewhere or his wife's convertible.I myself thought it was pathetic how people try to come to him to be yes people from no where expecting something. I've never been that guy.. The times we went back and forth face to face I never felt that he would harm me. It was weird when I read the article the other day & saw that It was said I think from Frank said he was afraid. Frank is a great guy & friend. I immediately thought that someone changed some words. I have never heard anyone say that they felt afraid of him. Many would come to me without me soliciting any at all about advice on different realms, religion, relationship, training ect. Because, they would say they saw my authenticity. The few things that people would come to me about would be more things of they want to fight but haven't been allowed to yet ect. A person came to me right before the guys left overnight & said you have been around a while & keep it real have you ever heard of anything like this happening & I said no you should go talk to him, because I hadn't & I don't do gossip.What I do know guys is that the atmosphere there is fun but disciplined. The youth there are taught respect. People coming up with these things making it a bad environment. In facts it's one of the best environments for "Youth" that it is. I've done a good bit of work with youth. I have volunteered for Young Life Youth Outreach for over a decade. It's the biggest youth outreach in the world.The funny thing is Master Donnie uses Master Lloyd's systems but he's always run the whole jiu jitsu program by himself & Ms. Rose is the backbone of everything. When the stuff escalated parents kept there kids there bc they know what goes on with them and Master Donnie is like another parent to those kids. He loves them & so does Ms. Rose.I moved backed to Jackson, MS about 3 months ago after being there for 7yrs. The crime & murders here are terrible. People have come to me asking me to run an MMA school here in the inner city. I've never wanted to have a school. After turning it down, someone blessed me with a school. I still tried to turn it down and then someone bought the equipment for me. Will be opening in days.I thought well Lord I have to do it. I thought well I've been right there with the number one youth team in America for years & they are disciplined and have excellent grades & it's right in the inner city. I've never heard of any of them getting into trouble and they all say yes & no Sir. Good happy kids. They also carry themselves with respect & bow into the mats & classes just like the adults.The two adult guys that were in the media for the rape going out on while out for last New Years that were recently found not guilty were new. I didn't know them very well had trained with them a few times. I did know the young lady & prayed for her recovery. I don't know what happened there.I can tell you what I do know and I hope it doesn't cause any problems for me saying this but I only answer to God. I'm just telling the truth & no one has asked me to, so I may be violating something but, if you know me you know I don't care when it comes to what I believe is right. Before I came home to MS for Christmas last year, while on the mats training one of those guys were put on the spot by Master Lloyd to go to bathroom and take a home marijuana drug test. He felled it while we were on the mat. This was a practice for the elite competition athletes. Master Lloyd gave one of his serious lectures. He told the guy to call his mom & tell him he's not coming home for Xmas.


@Chawl - Do you think that's significant? An entitled, white, upper-middle-class family feels as though their athletic son has had a shift in attitude after learning the value of hard-work, suddenly he's part of a cult?

"Hey Mom, haven't seen you in months, can you cook that meal for me that I miss?"

"WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? Don't you know we're FEMINISTS?! How DARE you ask your MOTHER to DO SUCH A THING!"





Part 3

While in the locker room the guy was venting to me an a UFC fighter that this would be his first Xmas away from home. Lloyd is always trying to teach life lessons ect. Real martial artists. So when I decided I was going to go ahead & do the gym, while sitting with the planning committee I said, the model I'm going to use will come from my Lloyd, I would like to call him to let him know I'm going to use it & get his blessing. My thoughts were its the right thing to do.
I don't talk to him often, but when I called he said you don't need my blessing it seems like this is what God has called you to do. He said just make sure Jarrett "my best friend in MS that started me in MMA" doesn't have a problem with it even though you alls location will be far enough apart & won't affect each other I've seen people fall out over smaller things. I told him that I had already discussed it with him. After that, he said well if you want the blue print that I use I will give it to you, with your work ethic I know you will do it.I told him I will change martial arts principles with biblical ones. This was over a month ago and the last time we talked. I will open the gym in days focusing on high school males, guiding them to manhood through Christ while demonstrating real character. I will hold the business around that schedule and use the finances to rebuild the community.
I've learned how to run an academy by being & working there. Yes there is a winning mindset presented for the few who express they want to be champions. He never says that winning is everything but he always says that he expects us to do our best and do everything in preparing that we can, if not the loss is your fault. I moved from MS to MD to be the best the same as others. It's seems as if people are putting a negative on not training to lose.The mindset is things are either answered with a Yes or a No. There are no betweens & excuses.. I picked it up there right off and is imbedded in me. People complain about the athletes that move there get free room and board and training and have a job to make money. Some of these guys traveled all over the world and didn't pay a penny. There are many colleges that don't offer what he gives. Many of these guys wouldn't go to school anyways, unlike myself. I declined a full scholarship & stipend to a PHD program to move there and train.He didnt sell me, didn't use any mind tricks on me to get me there. In 2006 I went there to train on vacation it was 4th of July week the school was closed that day. Only Ryan Hall & Julius Parks were there. Lloyd spoke to Jarrett & I briefly & disappeared after he asked them if they had clothes to roll with us. He flew out that day didnt see him again until I moved back. The structure there was so was so great he didnt have to be there.After moving there I ran into financial problems. I told Jim Kelly about it and he got with Lloyd and offered me a job in a side business. I took what I learned from that job seriously and applied it. I remembered shortly after I had over 30k in my checking account & I eventually didnt work for years. Yes I worked hard!! Yes I picked people up from the airport here & there. There were also times when I couldn't and said no and someone else did it. I didn't mind.
I also have been presented with an opportunity in MS to use that skill as well. All of the skills everyone that I saw learn can make them money if they apply them. I learned so much! I don't know of a person making $4, after all the scholarship stuff, but I do know of some people not really doing much & making good money. I was never on scholarship. I never paid a dime to train there, not even when first visited for that week. Nor, did my friends pay that came to visit.
I know plenty of times we all would eat and the bill would be hundreds & Lloyd would pay for it. I also know that the best would come in to facilitate different things and we never paid a penny. I also know if he had supplements or meds that was needed he would give it. I know he helped out with gas ect.I also know a couple of years ago we were not speaking at all and had one of our biggest outs and I had a car accident and he texted me letting me know he would get me a rental car. I declined being prideful as usual. Months later Ron Stalling would fight on Strike forces & we weren't speaking and I received a call saying he knew that Ron would want me in his corner and that he would fly me out to Vegas for him.Also when I read the stoic face comment about Lloyd I figured that the writer put that in, bc it's what's perceived of him. I think it's intention, bc I have seen on many occasions before any of this stuff happened him getting racist & hate mail. People seemed to not want to accept him bc he's black when I have never seen anyone work as hard as him. I've literally seen him driving and typing on his computer, staying up for days, family rarely seeing him, making sure everything was right for the team and businesses.


@Sprawl @Chawl Dude.

First, where in the story does Rossen even hint at the wealth or status of Keenan's family? The reason he was at Lloyd Irvin's full-time anyway was because it was free for him to train if he lived there, as clearly stated in the story. And you really couldn't scroll up just a little ON THIS PAGE and see that it was his sister, not his mother? Do you revise all your history like this? I mean, regardless of which female in that house we're talking about, it's too much if you're angrily yelling at a woman to make you food to begin with. And yes, there are men and women living in households that would identify themselves as feminist.

I don't get how this is so hard for you to understand.


@Sprawl @Chawl

Are you in a parallel universe? Or simply too busy to scroll up and fact check before you send out a comment?

It was NOT his Mom, it was his sister that was mentioned in that part of the article. The mother was simply relaying what had occured.

"His sister Chloe recalls him abruptly demanding she prepare him food." 

Unless, this had always been the unfortunate dynamic between this brother and sister then fine, but since it was NOT, it understandably caught their attention. Was this the "end all" of signs of something going wrong? No. But for that family it was one of probably multiple examples.

As for "...a shift in attitude after learning the value of hard-work..."  What?

Is the "hard-work" you are talking about in reference to Keenan's training? Because other than that, the "value of hard-work" at lloyd's dojo, appears to occur when picking up the "Master's" dog's turds? Or maybe the hard-work is keeping his "Master" off his girl? 

Hide Your KIds, Hide Your Wife, Hide Your Dog, IF Lloyd is anywhere around.@Sprawl 



he should be humiliated about that incident 20 years ago.  he tried to participate in a sex crime but not being able to get hard was the best defense he could come up with.  is he some kind of victim now?  


Part 4

The reason why I said the writer had to write it because he is a big kid always playing. It's nothing for you to come out of the elevator or stair well and he has ran down to beat u there to scare you. We also watched him do this to others. To this day I still grab my neck when I look up from yrs of playing the chop game. I've chopped him so hard he's to just stop moving. We all played a game were we did pushups if u said the wrong word, he would pull over right then & do pushups where ever. I've watched all those guys play a never ending game with him where they were all acting like ninjas hiding behind stuff everyday.. There's nothing for you to walk up and he just grabs your hand and y'all start wrestling or he pretend he has a knife and you flow throw the transitions.. He's always trying to scare you or play, running to the bathroom before his wife. I've always thought he's done the stoic thing publicly to maintain respect.. He's the real deal but very playful & controlled.He's always giving life principles about thinking before you react. I remember driving and getting mad bc someone in front of me was driving slow yrs ago. He explained what if that guy has just caught his wife cheating ect & get out of the car & start shooting ect.
I also see that they were talking about the charge DJ had and no one knew about that. That happened before DJ was training there 19 and in college. I was there working with DJ when he came, I even coached him in a bbj tournament & Thai Fight early on. I wouldn't have guesses it either but kids do dumb stuff & again Lloyd didn't know he even existed when that happened.
As far as Lloyd's not guilty verdict from when he was 19yrs old over twenty yrs ago I don't understand what so hard to understand or why he should have to bring that up. I sure he was humiliated enough then, & he was tried. I wasn't there & I don't know what happened & it was posted that he said it was a group event. I myself have been invited on many occasions well before I knew Lloyd existed to join friends in a train. I always declined & they knew I wasn't having sex. I then was waiting til marriage. My boys called them Flippers.. Many of these girls I know of have families now and their husbands have no clue that this happened. I also know of situations where the girl got embarrassed when the word got out of what had happened and she called rape. So, this isn't uncommon.
Also, they mentioned a meeting that was held where he supposedly said he would help the guys with their attorney's. I was invited to come to it but was at work.. I don't think he even helped them with it, but from what I heard it was said that he was taking the side of not knowing what happened & that in his situation the two guys that plead guilty was pressured, young and families couldn't pay for defense. I'm typing this as I go, I'm not certain but I believe those few who pled guilty later were released. So, yes I can understand him trying to aid both sides. Especially, knowing both parties involved. I know it wasnt his intent but that is really a biblical thing to do. Do the best you can to help both sides.Again he is not a saint nor am I or any of the people in this article. I also have never seen anyone forced to party or do anything in the gym or out side of the gym. He's the type of person that wipes his hands of you or just walks off. Only few people were allowed to go out with him or hang around him. For years I was right there closer than most at some times the closest. Was it because I had my own mind and not trying to be a yes man, I don't know.
I said that to say yes us adults went out to party after fights from time to time or Birthdays and no one was forced to have a drink. I drank and took shots but my best friend Ron Stallings never did over the yrs. He doesn't drink. He just said no and no one forced him. The times I said no, other friends might joke me bc I joked them, that's what guys do. It was all in fun & we were all over 21.Again the environment was always positive for youth at all costs. I remember yrs ago I lost a no gi advanced match against a good WEC fighter. I remember walking off & kicking the chair. Master Lloyd came to me & told me I had to apologize to the youth because they saw me and I needed to apologize to them, bc that's not how we carry ourselves.
There are many families that have benefited greatly from being there. I've also never known any of his students to want open their own gym or do something with marketing that he wouldn't help. I have also never known him to charge any of them.
I also know how I started back training there was him saying I talked to the other guys & they said that you should be allowed to train there. I have love for you and you moved here to train to be the best. I believe you have the ability and there are no other gyms around that can help you like you need. You can come here and train if you like, but not be apart of the team. That took a lot for him bc we both are prideful. I also know of other guys leaving over the yrs and him saying it really hurt him and he meant it. He felt that people just used him and left. He spent hrs on hrs and money training these guys, breaking down technique to the finest details.We all have personal things we need to work on and we should ASAP and I'm not letting anyone off of the hook for that. I just question people's real motives and it's really a waste of time and it's affecting kids in the area and others that have nothing to do with any extra stuff. Some want to train and can't move. Many know the training is good and know the environment and have no desire to move. He has a child and family they don't deserve to be smeared with this year after year. President Clinton and other were actually caught in acts and forgotten about.
Even if this article did tell his full character and paint a pictures of him, which it doesn't. I would say the same thing he who hasn't sinned cast the 1st stone. Not even if you haven't been accused but if you haven't done anything wrong that someone can keep bringing up on you. If you do have something why do you keep trying to drag him down.. But if you, him or I have wronged someone go to them and make it right the best you can. Ask God for forgiveness allow him to work in you and use your gifts and abilities to help others. Change your life. If you felt you were wronged contact that person, forgive them and release them and yourself..The people trying to bring him down won't be able to, he knows his stuff and follows biblical principles whether he knows it or not and will succeed. Gods gifts have no respect of persons. He's lost a great deal of students and starting over almost from scratch on many levels. If he beats you take the beating like a man and look at what you can do better. Attacking him this way will only make him work harder.
Don't waste your time coming at me with hate and other things because I won't even respond. The truth doesn't need to be defended, all I did was give the truth about my experience for 7yrs.. I can honestly say I'm thankful that I've learned the things I have from him and that I'm now able to use to help build my community and that I also honestly enjoyed hanging out with him. Fun, real guy & if I had to go to war he would definitely get a call whether we were on good terms or not.

Marshall Thompson



For every good report there may be 100 bad reports. I read the article and begin thinking negative thoughts, but then I read your novel of an essay and it made me realize who I wasn't thinking like .....A CHRISTIAN. There is so much negative media and so little forgiveness. People are ready to burn  a person at the stack just for being charged. I also went to Lloyd Irvin's for a brief 3 month period, although I rarely seen the guy, although his establishment seemed very professional. I think people like yourself can bring change in people where ever you go. When people see your light it produces encouragement. I am from Jackson, Ms also, but I currently stay in Woodbridge, VA. I would like to stop by you gym when I come home from Christmas.......Be Blessed My brother

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