T Nation

BJJ...a Love/Hate Story


BJJ has been quite influential these last couple decades and for good reason. However, I feel that the amount of attention it has drawn to itself have not only hurt BJJ, but also the MMA community.

Quick, what do MMA fighters do on the ground? Did you think BJJ? I'm guessing most of you did, certainly most MMA fans do. What they're really doing is submission wrestling(with punches). Sure this is semantics, but it is a little telling of what I am getting at. It's like how people call bumper plates "Crossfit plates" or ciruit training "Crossfit".

BJJ is unfortunately more of a brand than anything now. I found out a few days ago that the no-gi grappling classes are going to go bye-bye because they weren't getting enough people. While the Gi classes are generally packed. I asked myself why this is, and the answer is generally that because the Gi classes are BJJ.

Where's the shoot wrestling and the catch wrestling? These styles are a lot more appropriate for MMA or basically anything short of a kimino party or training for sport BJJ. People seem to mistakenly think there isn't a big difference, but the difference is huge. BJJ is about position then submission second, where shoot/catch wrestling is about submission then position.

Which makes perfect sense for the respective arts. Locking down your position is a lot more effective/important when you can hang on to the guy by the gi. Where is things are to fast in no gi. There is constant movement.

I do practice BJJ. It's obviously not my favorite submission wrestling style, but it's definitely one I enjoy. I just think its sad that BJJ has taken the spotlight from other styles, especially one's that are more suitable.


Hmm I don't agree with your assessment of control in no gi. I do it pretty well with under/over hooks and knee on belly. But yes, it's not the same.

I also don't think catch guys are 'all about the submission'. Barnett, as an example, has crushing top control, and tends to be very methodical in his approach. His positioning is superb.

Anyway, as to your point, I'm not sure what the problem is. I think it's great any kind of submission wrestling is getting love. And whether BJJ guys admit or not, they've pulled a lot of techniques from wrestling, catch, etc. over the years.

I'm more interested in why a nogi class isn't getting students. Most places I've seen, my own school included, the nogi classes are a point of entry. Guys come in having been acquainted with BJJ via MMA. The serious ones buy gis eventually, but for the beginner that's an investment they usually push back.


And how many catch wrestlers or shoot wrestlers are winning no-gi grappling tournaments? BJJ isn't a fad or a brand, it's just an excellent art that produces a lot of high caliber grapplers.


You take a stance of one with intimate knowledge of the subject and yet your speech belied the obverse. I disagree with several things you said and will just leave it at that. I'm not entirely sure what point you would like to have made with this, whatever it was, I think you are worried about something trivial.


After Josh Barnett's last win in the Strikeforce GP, he made a shout out to training catch wrestling and the viability of professional wrestling. Obviously Sakuraba and Minowa also are from that lineage.

Or as Sakuraba once said...
"In fact professional wrestling is strong"

Regarding the Gi/No Gi discussion. I've often been told that you must train Gi to reach higher levels. To a certain extent, I respect that because there's room for fewer mistakes. In No Gi, you can often rely on athleticism or just generally that things are more slippery. I think the Gi forces you to be more strategic whereas No Gi is more tactical and scrambles play a much bigger role.

Anyway, I agree with rundymc. No gi tends to be where the fresh off the MMA fad students tend to congregate. On the other hand, most Gi classes I know have had more serious and longer practicing players. Many of them moved from practicing No Gi to Gi exclusively. As far as the OP's question of where are the other arts? Some schools where I've trained have moved to calling No Gi class just submission grappling since it's no longer specific.


I don't take BJJ, but a lot of guys at my gym have said that Gi has helped their No-Gi grappling a ton.


i refuse to train with a kimono while training with for a MMA fight, despite my teacher pleads. I like Eddie Bravo, Chris Litle, Barnett school of thought.


I can see the logic in this.

Is your teacher primarily jiu-jutsu (Do they call it BJJ in Brazil or is it just jiu-jitsu down there? I really want to know.) or is he your MMA coach?

The one thing I will add is that if you are doing BJJ as a stand alone art, or for self defense you should practice gi and no gi. The changes in friction and grip between the two really do matter. If you are training for MMA I would be think rolling with gloves on would make more sense than putting on a gi/kimono.


Robert A


As a lowly blue belt I disagree with you in the part of control taking in No GI. Look at some ADCC tournaments and matches, watch Marcelo Garcia.. The have excellent control, they strive for excellence and they train bot GI and No Gi.

In my opinion control is one of the most important things in BJJ/Shoot Wrestling, if you don't control your opponent I don't think you can be confident in submissions you attempt. Position before Submission is what is being drilled around here. I tend to agree on this..


he is my main coach and a bjj black belt, but his strong points are his wrestling and karate(he was part of the brazilian team in the world cup for shotokan in the 70's, 80's when things were pretty much more brawl, no mouth-piece and kumites that would get people knocked out.)

I do think that training with a gi may make more susceptible to going for lapel chokes and getting bad habits that you wouldn't otherwise on pure nogi.


There is an excelent video of Marcello Garcia talking about BJJ,
and the gi.
and how it is essential.

I have to agree.

Ive spent 20+ good years in a gi- competing. ( til I couldn't)
and plenty( ten or more ) of that time in a wrestling singlet.
I am very biased towards training with the Gi.

Particularly for beginners.
anyone not doing for 4 years more then 3 x a week and competing on a regular schedule is a beginner-
(and that is fine)

most people want to tear shit up - no gi- and get right to the 'heart' of the grappling.
and tend to think the formality of a Gi and a practice that is formal is a waste of time

However the Gi takes the 'speed[' most beginners
( yes blue belts too)
want to use- but cant control
its only hours in the Gi that builds that. ( or wrestling room)

Nogi - grappling does not have the discipline that Gi does
nor is it like a wrestling practice
deep with talent and hard work-
its just not there yet

I've wrote about this before - comparing the two and what I took from each to get better
training in the gi post wrestling season - my head was spinning with ways to make it work no-gi
and how to implement it immediately.

As for MMA grappling- you should spend some times in a gi.
More importantly I will mention you should roll and strike together
its sometimes not beneficial to separate it. but that is another post.

Having Met Barnett( back in February) and had a lengthy conversation
on wrestling judo and MMA
- I can speak on him a little
so can Zen-Nova.

Basically he played Judo- and wrestled very very aggressively
a very different style then the 'classic' judo and he knows the rules.

just like design you can't break the rules or basic principles unless
you already excel or have a strong grasp of the basics.

unless you are a super freak ( like barnett) then all rules are off.

I think I confused myself.

MMA or NOgi wants to break the rules - skip past silly belt road blocks
skip the bowing etc and get right to the good stuff.
which is ok for the most part-
except when your a mess and have no body control yet.


I totally understand kmc.

I'm also a lowly blue belt, but I see where you're coming from. I'm a nogi guy. I think I'm pretty good (I can hang with most purples on top). But every couple of months I'll catch myself being too... loose, which works fine when I'm feeling physically primed, but not at all when my body is rebelling for whatever reason.

I find the gi helps this. You and your opponent both slow things down. You see things you're missing. You see things you forgot about. Your guard improves, as do your sweeps.

My 'thing' is triangle escapes. I got out of 8 triangles in one day at a tourney last year... nogi. My success rate is WAY lower in the gi. I can't slide out as fast, and my opponent can catch my wrist for an armbar and reposition himself to finish the choke.


yup, my success rate for escapes is way lower when with a gi, also with a gi is much easier to stall with all that lapels and collar available =) I don't think of it as bad thing, i learned that in order to be considered a good adversary at rolling you must be tough to submit and i include stalling on that.


Whatever, I'm going to keep choking fools the fuck out with there own gi!


I'm saying is not useful, it's just to where we want to translate that efficiency will be useless, I love using lapel for stalling and some subs.


Something that is forgotten when mma, bjj and the gi are brought up is that bjj wasn't "invented" for mma (at least what we call mma today). It was, and still should be, considered a self-defense art. Chances are that in a self-defense situation the attacker and you will both be clothed so the idea that if you train in a gi you will be lost in a real fight (and mma is not a real fight) makes no sense.

What I am noticing lately is that people have the idea that mma=reality and that training for mma=self-defense training. It's this line of reasoning that leads people to see the gi as useless in the real world.

Finally, I have never heard of a BJJ school getting rid of no gi classes and/or training. Maybe the OP is telling the truth but it isn't a new fad hitting the BJJ world. Also, no gi training is not new to BJJ. It didn't start with the arrival of mma or ADCC. You can see photos of Carlson Gracie when he was in his 20s fighting vale tudo without a gi. In other words: the whole gi vs no go issue was settled a long time ago.


Why take BJJ for self defense? I don't get it. How many street fight situations would it be good in? Maybe 1v1? You can't do it if he has a friend because that friend might soccer kick you in the head while you're trying to choke a guy out or break his arm. What about rolling around on asphalt or concrete if it happens there? It just seems like it's the worst place to go in a fight is on the ground. Sure it works in MMA because it's always 1v1, but why would it be better than a striking art for self defense?


1 on 1 is the best possible art for winning a fight.

When i was younger and got in a street brawl, i was drunk, i automatically went for takedown and mount and got soccer kicked by his friends.


Street fighting is not self-defense (and I believe illegal). Someone asks you to step outside, you have a choice. The thing is this: the situations in which you wouldn't want to go to the ground, such as multiple opponents, are situations that usually you wouldn't want to fight standing either. I think it's funny when some martial artists witness a BJJ practitioner defeat one of their own then turn around and ask, "what about multiple opponents?", as if they had some gotcha moment. My response is, "so you are saying that you can't win one on one but somehow can win when it's more than one?"


It isn't. It's horrendous for "self defense" but it's marketed very, very well to people that don't know better.