SERIES: Ask a BJJ Black Belt Special Edition: No-Gi Part 2
In a follow up to his epic no-gi rant, Gracie Jiu Jitsu Black Belt Brian Jones gives his thoughts on no-gi and gi based jiu jitsu. View the epic video for Part 1 HERE
Why is it that no-gi doesn’t have an accepted belt system?
There isn’t an accepted belt system in no-gi because you don’t wear a gi. A belt is part of a gi so if you do exclusively no-gi then it is impossible to have a Brazilian jiu-jitsu belt rank. One can be a great grappler but no one can have a belt in no-gi. This would be like someone claiming a no-gi black belt in judo or a purple belt in boxing. Anyone who claims belt rank in BJJ and has not trained extensively with the gi is a fraud.
How hard is it for an experienced no-gi grappler to adjust to using the gi that you have observed?
It typically doesn’t take very long for an experienced no-gi grappler to make a transition to the gi but the time varies depending on the grappler’s game. In my experience the faster, more athletic grapplers tend to have a tougher time because the gi slows everything down. I have noticed a reluctance by no-gi grapplers to try gi training. They will complain about the heat, the guy grabbing them, etc. If they stick with it they usually end up really enjoying working with gi.
Would you ever consider a no-gi belt system yourself?
I would personally never consider a no-gi belt system because I require all my students to train in the gi. No-gi is optional but encouraged to create well-rounded grapplers. I understand that some instructors have developed no-gi ranking systems and that is fine, but belts should be reserved for arts that utilize the gi. Maybe colored rashguards or patches for fight shorts would work if a person wanted to rank submission grapplers.
From your experience how well do gi jiu jitsu practitioners transition in to no gi?
It is much easier and quicker for a gi grappler to transition to no-gi than the other way around. I have found that those who start with a gi are less hesitant to try no-gi than the other way around. It usually only takes a month or make a transition. The biggest difference is in the handles. Gi grapplers have to learn to stay tighter, control the head, grab elbows, and deal with the scramble.
How would you approach training an MMA fighter?
I don’t consider myself a mma coach but I have fought amateur mma and trained in several striking arts. My advice to the novice mma fighter is to devote himself or herself to one particular art for a year or so and really develop a base. This could be boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, or bjj. Once this foundation was built then the rest of the game could be rounded out with other ranges. If I were coaching and the novice started with BJJ I would make him train with the gi until blue belt. At this point the gi would come off and no-gi work would start alongside striking and wrestling. I believe kids start way too early in mma. Most of the top level fighters excelled in one combat sport or another before transitioning to mma, they didn’t try to learn everything at once in the beginning.
Brian Jones has been studying martial arts for over twenty years. He is a first degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Carlson Gracie Jr. and a black belt in Judo under Donald Leach. Brian has trained and continues to train with a number of outstanding instructors including Helio Soneca, Michael O’Donnell, and Aaron Little. In addition to BJJ and Judo, Brian has experience in many other martial arts including boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, and Kenpo. He has even traveled to Iceland to train in the traditional viking grappling art of Glima.
In addition to martial arts training, Brian has extensive education and experience in exercise and fitness. He has a PhD in Exercise Science from the University of Kentucky and is a full-time college professor. Brian is the Kentucky state director of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and a Fellow and Faculty member in the Institute of Martial Arts and Sciences (IMAS). He is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting certified Club and Sports Performance Coach, Crossfit Level 1 Coach, World Kettlebell Club (WKC) certified fitness trainer, and certified Functional Movement Specialist (FMS).
Brian has worked with clients of all types in fitness, martial arts, and combatives contexts. He has served as a strength and conditioning coach for high school, college, and professional athletes. Brian has trained military personnel and law enforcement officers and tactical units in both fitness and defensive tactics.
View the video for Part 1 HERE