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”.