There’s been a lot of talk about the growth BJJ is experiencing. In minds of many BJJ stars, the popularity boom is facilitated by ADCC and the way they promote Nogi grappling.
Gordon Ryan and B team separately made comments about IBJJF losing prestige compared to ADCC.
“Winning USA (ADCC) trials now it’s more valuable than winning Black belt worlds.” – Nick Rodriguez concluded earlier this year with his teammates adding that winning the ADCC does a lot more for one’s career than IBJJF world championships.
Gordon Ryan remarked on IBJJF’s popularity earlier in January, when Kaynan Duarte won European Championships:
“The talent level at this year’s Euros is lower than ever by a landslide, even though the level in jiu jitsu as a whole is higher than ever. What does this mean? Ibjjf is slipping quickly Into irrelevance in terms of prestige. “
Now Felipe Pena made a social media post decrying the circumstances that have led to the drastic drop in popularity Gi BJJ is experiencing.
Pena’s post is lengthy and was written in Portuguese so we’ll offer a quick summary first:
Pena shares there has been criticism of Gi Jiu-Jitsu compared to Nogi Jiu-Jitsu, but they are different modalities therefor not suitable for comparisons.
Gi Jiu-Jitsu has different techniques, more grips, and a more technical details.
Rules need to be adjusted to avoid stalling.
Critics of Gi Jiu-Jitsu are typically athletes who have not stood out and focus on Nogi.
Nogi has fewer grips, and a good wrestling base helps.
As per Pena, there is a difference between sport JJ and professional JJ.
The financial return for Nogi is greater for professional black belts, but Gi Jiu-Jitsu is still greater overall.
Paying black belt athletes in the main events would be a good step if Gi JJ doesn’t want to completely lose relevance.
Pena’s post in full:
“Recently, I’ve seen several messages from people criticizing Gi’s Jiu-Jitsu in relation to Nogi. Despite being the same sport, they became very different modalities.”
“I find nothing to do with these criticisms, for the reasons I will talk about below. Feel free to comment, disagree and write your opinions.”
“Gi Jiu-Jitsu techniques and Nogi are completely different. On the one hand, we have Nogi with a lot of scrambles, more submissions, mostly leg attacks and a more active wrestling game.”
“The gi has its beauty and tradition. Perhaps Nogi is easier for someone who doesn’t practice assisting, but assisting a tight guard pass, with sidecontrol stabilization, a collar choke, like Roger Gracie used to apply in mount or a bow-arrow choke from the back is very cool.”
“I’m not saying that I prefer one or the other, because I like and have always competed in both! I would just like to point out that they are very different modalities and that I appreciate both, each in its own way.”
“The Gi jj, as it has a collar, lapel, pant and more grips, in general, does need some adjustments to the rule to avoid “stalling” in 50/50, lapel and make the matches more dynamic.”
“As with Nogi, matches without time limit become boring, for those who are watching and it becomes much easier to break free from the guard and tie up. ”
“Anyway, I can give good and bad examples in both modalities, but it all depends a lot on the rules of each event and who is matched. That is, there can be beautiful and ugly matches in the 2 modalities and there must always be adjustments in the rule to stimulate the attack, the submission, the confrontation to make the match as dynamic as possible.”
Most critics of the gi are athletes who tried to compete for years but never managed to stand out
“Most critics of the gi are athletes who tried to compete for years but never managed to stand out and chose to focus on nogi. This is due to some factors, which some do not see, such as: the large “hole” in the heel hook game of Gi Jiu-Jitsu athletes, due to the fact that they do not train this, since for a long time, it was not allowed in any competition.”
“The fact that the physical factor balances a Nogi combat, since, as there are no grips, it is easier to get rid of. A good wrestling base helps a lot, as several Nogi events, such as ADCC, come to a point where if you pull guard, you get punished, while in Gi events, you can pull and choose to work the guard. Anyway, I believe that each one chooses to focus on what they want, or even focus on the 2 but criticizing one or the other only harms the sport in general and leads nowhere.”
“There is a difference between sports and professional JJ. The sports, I consider, the athletes who train as a hobby, who eventually like to compete, but don’t live off JJ. PROFESSIONALS are athletes, who really have a profession and depend on the financial return of the sport. The sport, in general, has been growing very fast with media, sponsorship and many events with good scholarship payments and prizes.”
The financial return on Nogi has been greater
“For Professional Athletes, black belts, the financial return on Nogi has been greater, due to the number of events in this modality, but in terms of sport JJ, I see Gi Jiu-Jitsu much greater and that it is unlikely to change, as most most of the schools have practitioners training in the gi, perhaps because it is an easier and safer adaptation.”
“It’s easy to talk from the outside, without knowing what’s really going on, but I believe that ibjjf, if they want to, are fully capable of making professional gi Jiu-Jitsu grow like grappling… Paying black belt athletes, at least in the main ones events like the World Cup, Pan, Brazilian Nationals, etc. with a grant that really makes sense to compete and that keeps up with the growth of the sport, is something that would be the first step in my vision.”
This is a very interesting take considering Pena is insistent that he’ll be moving away from BJJ competition and into Mixed martial arts. Previously Mica Galvao detailed similar concerns but confirmed he would keep competing in both modalities in order to foster Brazilian culture.
John Davis is a dedicated practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, having first started training in the martial art in 2011. Despite facing significant knee issues that have sidelined him for a period, John remains passionate about the sport and continues to follow all the latest developments in the BJJ community.