You know guys I really worry about the future of jiu-jitsu. I really believe that the whole "no-gi" craze is hurting classical jiu-jitsu. I've been flamed on other forums for saying this, but it's my opinion, and I must state it. I truly believe that unless you are learning BJJ with the gi, then it's not pure BJJ you are learning. I guess you can call me a "traditionalist" when it comes to jiu-jitsu. What are your opinions?
I agree that if you are just no-gi then you are not doing the "classical" BJJ. But also if you are just doing gi-tournament stuff you are not doing it either. The "true" BJJ is divided into three parts, 1) grappling (both gi-and no-gi), 2) self defense, and 3) vale tudo. If you neglect any of the three you are not doing the traditional BJJ.
Where is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu headed? Well, my answer doesn't really revolve around the Gi/No-Gi debate.
Well right now, I think it's an exciting time to be involved with BJJ. It's going to be a big-time Martial Art (some would argue that it's "big" already), and we get to be there for its infancy.
You see I view BJJ *now* as Karate and Taekwondo was in the 60's and 70's. Then you had guys who would open schools as green belts, while driving hours and hours every other week or so to train with the nearest Black Belt. Point fighting tournaments were actually considered hardcore, as many people wore little more than a cup and a mouthpiece. Knockouts were frequent, and takedowns on hardwood gym floors was the norm.
Same thing with BJJ. Now, we've got guys running schools who are Blue Belts and Purple Belts. In 20 or 30 years, that'll be UNHEARD of. Personally, I drive 50 minutes one-way for BJJ (and my Instructor hasn't been a Purple Belt for a year yet), and I know people who drive a LOT more than that. When there's a Black Belt holding a seminar anywhere in the state (we don't have a BJJ Black Belt in Wisconsin yet) people from all of the schools just flock to it, whether it's 1 hour or 4 hours away. And tournaments? We all know how people get popped elbows and sprained necks at NAGA and other tourneys.
What's the future? Well unfortunately, we've all seen what has happened to Karate and Taekwondo. I think that's one reason that the Brazilians have come here...they've SEEN what Americans will pay for belt rank. Sure, some guys will work hard to keep it respectable and legitimate. But then some guys will sell BJJ Black Belts to 12-year-olds, too. And tournaments? Just wait until they start only allowing takedowns in the expert divisions, and start everyone else on their knees. Next year? No. In 30 years? Just watch.
Don't think it will happen? We've all seen what happens to Martial Arts in this country. It's only a matter of time. Already, there's plenty of people who think the belt system has gotten tremendously easier over the last few years. Earlier this year, we had a guy in Wisconsin get promoted to Purple which sent half the state up-in-arms complaining that he wasn't good-enough. We already have guys who are claiming Black Belts in MMA. Sadly, it's only the beginning.
As far as Gi/No-Gi goes, I think a good mix of the two is necessary. Especially from a self-defense standpoint, because people walking on the street aren't wearing Gis (however...in Wisconsin at least, people wear those thick winter jackets from October to April). But, by that same token, training with the Gi will make you better defensively, as you'll instinctively protect your arms and neck better than someone who *just* trains No-Gi.
Just my $0.02
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