Reader Question: No Gi experience transferring to BJJ

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Question: “Hey, I’ve been training at an MMA gym for 6 years frequently and competing in no-gi tournaments.

But since most of the guys here are focused on MMA and I just want to do jiu jitsu, I was thinking about switching full time to a BJJ school.

I’ve won a lot of tournaments, even tapping people who went on to win their brown belt gi divisions.

The thing is, I’ve never done gi before, which makes me a little afraid to switch.

What can I expect when I start? Also, how might this affect ranking? Will they keep me at white belt for a certain amount of time because that is how they usually do it? Thanks.”

Jiu-jitsu Times: Making a transition from MMA (a nontraditional martial art) to Brazilian jiu-jitsu (a traditional martial art) involves these types of details.

In much the same way that a 2nd dan in judo will put on a white belt and enter a BJJ academy, MMA and no-gi specialists are temporarily wearing a white belt around their waists. Their rolling partners will quickly discover that a white belt is not a true indicator of their abilities, though.

Read also : Sometimes You Can’t Tell By The Belt!

Nonetheless, it is customary to adopt the new belt system of BJJ until the instructor assigns you a belt according to your technical ability. Don’t worry, if you are demonstrating a high level of technical ability, you will not be staying at white belt for long.

I have seen professional MMA fighters with submission wins in the UFC wearing blue and purple belts in gi class. They simply didn’t spend as much time perfecting their collar chokes and spider guard.

But make no mistake; these guys were skilled, technical grapplers!

As far as making the adaptation from no-gi to gi training, there are a few significant differences:

1)You may get caught by some of the sneakier chokes at first. Collar chokes that you have never previously had to defend will be coming at you from all over the place until you learn to protect that neck!

2) Passing the guard when your opponent has gi grips is a much different situation. Skilled gi grapplers can use the gi grips to slow your movements and you will have to make more of an effort to avoid and break those annoying grips!

3) Many no-gi guys report initially that their fingers and hands must adapt to gripping the collars and sleeves. It requires a special kind of grip strength to hold the gi that you must develop.

4) Escapes are more tricky because of the multitude of controlling grips your opponent is afforded by the kimono and pants. No more slip and scramble without the gi! But it will also force you to use better timing to execute those escapes.

What DOES remain the same is the base, posture, balance, agility and pressure that you developed in no-gi training.

I am sure that you will rapidly make the adjustments after an initial (and sometimes uncomfortable) learning curve.

Read also : Henry Akins on Advanced Details in the Basic Techniques


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