MMA News

Tuesday, 05/08/2012, 02:33 pm

Exclusive | Rich Franklin on being "Gi-tarded"; BJJ Black belt

Rich Franklin is a true student of the game. He started training jiu jitsu in 1994, and has never looked back. Rich will also be the first person to tell you that his training under respected jiu jitsu black belt, and long time friend Jorge Gurgel can be demanding at times.

“I will tell you now there was a while I did no rolling in a gi at all”, Rich said. “Jorge would get upset with me I think because I would think I was rolling at a black belt level, and in reality I wasn’t”.

Gurgel is widely respected for both his attention to detail, and ability to make his fighters “get it”. The basics are drilled and instilled in to his students from day one, and Franklin was no different.

“Fortunately when I grapple I’m able to depend on some basic jiu jitsu knowledge so I can keep myself out of a little bit of trouble”, Franklin said. “Also, it seems like good posture and strength allow me to get out of trouble and recover from certain things. Jorge and Jon Stutzman at the school will yell at me sometimes because I will just grip the lapel, and do things that aren’t right, and I will end up choking somebody with some sort of made up choke out of nowhere”.

The evolution of MMA has increased jiu jitsu’s popularity significantly over time. It was hard to find legitimate schools when Franklin first started his own jiu jitsu training.

“This was back in 1994 or 1995 when jiu jitsu first kind of came to the US and for me to have a blue belt instructor was a big deal”, Rich said. “The gi game is so much more in depth, and so much more complex now than it was in the states back then. I feel like I’m so far behind sometimes”.

When training for MMA, no-gi jiu jitsu is the norm, and being an active fighter can mean your gi jiu jitsu suffers.

“I tweeted this out one time that I was ‘Gi-tarded’, and by the way that’s a term that I coined”, Rich joked. “When it comes to rolling with the gi on I am so far behind. When I originally started my jiu jitsu game I was all gi, but like I said my instructor at the time was a blue belt so all of the gi stuff I knew was blue belt level gi stuff”.

Unsure of his longevity in the sport, Rich has started thinking about when his gi jiu jitsu black belt might become a priority.

“Jorge and I have had some conversations about getting my black belt. I’ve recently spent more time in the gi, and I go to the school once a week to take gi class, and roll with some of the guys. I enjoy doing that. It’s just that my fight career at this point in time is more important to me, and Jorge has told me that I don’t roll well enough in a gi to be a black belt, and I don’t feel I’m deserving of a black belt any way. At some point I will spend a significant amount of time in the gi and I will focus more on getting my black belt. It’s something new that will come in the future and I look forward to it”.


22 Responses to “Exclusive | Rich Franklin on being "Gi-tarded"; BJJ Black belt”

  1. Get rid of Fitch (forever) says:

    Actually if Rich feels he’s behind in his Bjj skills its prob because his coach JORGE gurgel is not as highly regarded as the article says. Jorge was out grappled bya purple belt and lost a fight a few years ago. Jorge always chose to bang and LOSE rather than get tapped out by NON-blackbelts. Just ask matt hughes if Jorge is a “highly regarded BJJ blackbelt” Hughes is well known for teasing jorge on many occasions

    • Jacob Chamblee says:

      Jorge Gurgel is a very legit blackbelt. Getting subbed by a purple belt is not that surprising, especially if you train everyday, it is going to happen. Non-blackbelts tap out blackbelts all the time. You have absolutely no idea what your are talking about.

      • Shawn says:

        I like Jorge, but in regards to his MMA skills, he’s nothing to brag about. He hasn’t had wins by way of submissions since 2005. I’m sure he knows his shit when it comes to coaching BJJ, but if I had a choice to pick a BJJ coach to train me, and I’m in the UFC, Gurgel wouldn’t be one of them. And one would think that Franklin having trained BJJ for over 15 years, he’d be much better than he is on the ground. Even work the submission game more often than standup. If you don’t have as much confidence on your ground game as your standup, then you aren’t being trained well enough in jitz. Just saying.

      • Silvas scared says:

        A purple belt should NEVER tap a black belt. If purple belts are tapping Black or even black belts ” all the time ” that’s a sure sign of a weak school, one that promotes to quickly. And before you bash me about not knowing what I’m talking just know that I train and am ranked in BJJ. At my school Blues rarely sub purples, purples rarely sub browns and so on. When a junior rank does sub a senior usually it’s a huge weight or strength advantage.

  2. James says:

    Not sure why Rich is so concerned with upping his gi game if mma is his end goal.

  3. Tincat says:

    It’s awesome to hear this from Rich. Great to hear that Jorge has such a high standard of complete jiujitsu and demands the same from his students.

    To many MMA guys get “black belts” from the fact they train no’gi only for MMA for a few years from shonky schools.

    To be a BJJ blackbelt it’s not about your ability to tap someone or avoid being taped, it’s your understanding of no’gi, gi, and self defense jiujitsu, not how many world titles you have.

    Props to Jorge and Rich both for upholding and understanding the traditions and standards of real BJJ.

    • Shawn says:

      “To be a BJJ blackbelt it’s not about your ability to tap someone or avoid being taped, it’s your understanding of no’gi, gi, and self defense jiujitsu, not how many world titles you have.” This does hold some truth. But when your job is to compete in as big as stage as the UFC, it’s really all about your ability to tap someone out, or avoid being tapped, as well as knowing your moves and positions 3 or 4 steps ahead, and being able to influence your opponent to move in the direction you want.

  4. jonesy says:

    jorge is not really that good …and he is not that great a coach,,if he was good in bjj he would try fight there more…and also he is really a bad coach cuz rich is far from a black belt level on the ground u can clearly see that in the forrest fight but yet jorge gave him free belt….look at anderson in bjj from nog bros he is real blck belt

    • you remind me of a retard says:

      “if he was good in bjj he would try fight there more”

      by that same logic, Nick Diaz must not have good BJJ since he prefers to stand and trade with people rather than go to the ground.

  5. Tincat says:

    Haha sorry Jonesy, I don’t feed the trolls like you. But nice try 😉

  6. Nick says:

    I mean if he wants to get his black belt in “Gi jiu jitsu” let him. There really hasn’t been a place for a Gi in MMA for a few years now.

  7. Dick Diaz says:

    i wonder if he’s going to get in trouble for this potentially offensive tweet.

  8. Tincat says:

    Well Nick, it’s not about the relevance of Gi jiujitsu to MMA. It’s about BJJ as a complete martial art, where if you only learn 1/3’d of the art by only focusing on no’gi competitive grappling then it’s not really a BJJ blackbelt you can have respect in.

  9. Chad Walker says:

    if you dont think rich is of black belt caliber watch the fight against travis lutter..that armbar escape was crazy!!!!!!

  10. joshuah says:

    How the fuck can people throw ignorant rants @ this article? ?

    Jesus Christ! Maybe Jorge isnt the best fighter ever but this article shows he’s a great coach!

    A garbage coach would just hand out a black belt to a best friend of over a decade.fuck I hate MMA “fans” so ‘ignant’

  11. dman says:

    Why do you need to put on pajamas to get black belt? If you’re a great no-gi grappler and rolling at a black belt level you are deserving of a black “belt” (rash guard nowadays). And the person above who said that a purple belt should “NEVER” tap a black belt, well that’s just silly. If a purple and black roll multiple rnds everyday 5 or 6 days a week, it’s gonna happen. The purple may get tapped 70 times first, but ultimately it will happen.

  12. Tincat says:


    As the second part of your answer implies that you have some understanding already, I’m sure you already know the answer to your questions regarding the Gi, but I’ll reiterate anyway for those who aren’t in the know.

    The Gi *pajamas* is just a hard wearing training garment so that you can simulate using self defense techniques with the assumption that you are both wearing clothes at the time and not hanging out at a nudest beach.

    No-gi you can’t even grab the shorts or shirt a person is wearing, so it teaches you other skills that are just as important such as not relying on clothing grips, controlling wrists and neck better and using your hooks and positioning differently.

    Gi training will teach you what to do when someone is holding you in place by your clothing, or how to use your own clothing and theirs to your advantage. You could show up to class in jeans and a shirt, but you’d be spending a lot of money replacing your ripped clothing each class.

    From a ‘purest’ perspective, such as that held by Helio Gracie during his lifetime, if you don’t spend the time learning the complete art of jiujitsu, not just training in a Gi, but also your basic self defense work like Headlock escapes, cover crash clinch, and basic grounded punch defense position defense, then you don’t deserve a Blackbelt.

    • I can somewhat agree with that. A t-shirt and jeans is quite different from a gi, however, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen anybody been rendered unconscious from a “t-shirt choke”. From my experience no-gi (or at least mma based no-gi) lends itself much better to fighting and `real life situations` than gi jitz does.

      I come from an mma school with a great coach who is a legitimate black belt (stay calm, he did receive it while in a gi). We do tons of rolling and wrestling, and he promotes, very stringently i might add, the same way you would in gi. In your opinion, if i`m there 5 years and get promoted to a purple belt, the ranking is invalid because we did not gear up?

  13. Tincat says:

    Hi Diego, cheers for the great response mate.

    Regarding Gi vs No-Gi and their relevance to ‘real life situations’, my point was that both teach vital skills and are training tools used to make sure you have the best depth of knowledge and experience possible.

    By exclusively Gi training you most likely open yourself up to a reliance on the garment for control of your opponent. But clothes can rip and tear and give way leaving yourself open to losing control of your opponent and exposing yourself.

    The same goes for only training No-Gi. You train yourself to move and react without the expectation that someone can grab your jacket or Tie or pants and hinder your movements or hold you in place more effectively than you expected. You also neglect using all the weapons available to you in a self defense situation by not using your or their clothing as a weapon if appropriately available.

    I hope that goes a long way towards answering your question but I’ll elaborate a bit more regarding your purple belt. I can’t speak for the jiujitsu community as a whole, only for myself and through my experiences as to what I believe the jiujitsu community feels.

    Jiujitsu is evolving and changing to meet peoples needs, to become more flexible so that it can spread across the globe. So now we have MMA clubs, no gi clubs, traditional clubs, sporting clubs etc.

    I would say that if you walked into a ‘Traditional’ BJJ school that practices the full syllabus used by the Gracies and Machado’s etc through the decades that incorporates Gi Based training and non sportive self defence training and you wanted to learn there and wear a purple belt, having come from a MMA/no’gi backround, they would likely test you and re’grade you based on your knowledge which would be lacking in those area’s you are unfamiliar with.

    This would be done not to punish, but to give you an idea of where you were knowledge wise in their system and so you knew what needed to be worked on and where your level was at.

    I’m not saying all schools would do that, some may just integrate you at the level you are at, but I would worry that their standards aren’t where they should be.

    Basically put, you are a purple belt in No’Gi jiujitsu. Not Traditional Brazilian jiujitsu. There is a divide not forming between styles, and it’s up to those individual clubs to decide what standards and style they adhere to. Regarding the original article, obviously Jorge is going the path of Traditional BJJ.

    Let me stress, BJJ is BJJ, the path you follow is up to you and what you enjoy and wish to learn. Neither style is more valid an artform that the other, but they do focus on different technical goals.

  14. dman says:

    Well put. And I will conceed that if I put a gi on (and i refuse), I would get taken for a ride. I guess there should be an emphasis on traditional or no-gi rankings. And what you alluded to above, which i’m sure you know, goes both ways too. I’ve seen many guys come from a traditional jitz club and not hold their own in no-gi against people of the same rank… or less.

    To each his own.

  15. pitride9 says:

    I remember the first time i was gi choked…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.