When a student starts his BJJ journey, he can easily become overwhelmed with all the different styles within our Art.
Should I stick to Gi or NoGi? Should I base my game according to the IBJJF rules or focus on the ever growing Submission-Only style? Sport BJJ or Self-Defense type of training? Which one is the best?
What he doesn’t realise yet, is that all of the styles above are pieces of a single thing: Jiu Jitsu.
Those different styles, for the most part, share the same core principles, fundamental concepts, and mechanics. They all make sense together, complementing each other, and if you can do one, you can do them all. All you have to do is some small adjustments to fit your Jiu Jitsu into that specific style.
A real BJJ Black Belt is well versed in Gi & NoGi, Top & Bottom Game, Takedowns & Leglocks, Old & New School, Points System & Submission-Only, Sport BJJ & Self-Defense.
Sure, he may have his preferences, but a real BJJ Black Belt can’t limit his knowledge by training in only one style. Jiu Jitsu is bigger than that.
With Jiu Jitsu becoming more and more mainstream, standards are getting lower. It’s not uncommon to see students getting promoted to Black Belt without knowing all areas of the art, or finding celebrities doing Jiu Jitsu as a workout without having ever sparred a round.
Some, like MMA fighters, may not even want to learn all styles. They are just doing BJJ because they have to.
Others train exclusively in either Gi or NoGi, which makes them a specialist in that area, but hardly a Jiu Jitsu specialist.
So why not learn it all? People have their own reasons and we should obviously respect that, but to me, after almost 20 years of Jiu Jitsu, I would have an awuful sense of incompleteness if I had chosen to stick to a single style of Jiu Jitsu.
That’s my craft, my Martial Art, and I want to be the best I can be. The more knowledgeable, the better, in my opinion.
For the student who is passionate about Jiu Jitsu and wants to hold his Black Belt to a higher standard, being well-rounded is something that’s going to come naturally, sooner or later.
Even if his school doesn’t teach it all, he will search for knowledge, broaden his horizons, and he will find a way to progress – even after getting his Black Belt.
You may think it’s gonna take you forever to be well-rounded like that or it’s way too much work, but that’s not true, Jiu Jitsu is Jiu Jitsu, it’s one thing.
We have many examples of athletes that have excelled in every single style of Jiu Jitsu, more often than not beating the “specialists” of a given area.
To fully appreciate the symbiotic relationship of those styles, take a look at Fabricio Werdum, Ronaldo Jacare, and Demian Maia– some of the most accomplished Jiu Jitsu players of our time!
What do they have in common?
- They are all ADCC Champions. ADCC is the biggest and most prestigious NoGi tournament in the world, with partial Submission-Only rules.
- They are all IBJJF World Champions, the biggest and most prestigious Gi tournament in the world, run in a point system rule.
- They are all elite UFC fighters, the biggest MMA organization in the world. Werdum is the current Heavyweight Interim Champion. Jacare is the #1 contender in the Middleweight division. Maia had a Middleweight Championship fight against Anderson Silva.
Impressive, isn’t it? If they can do it, so can you!
“Well-rounded” is a common term used in MMA to describe fighters who are proficient in all areas of the sport: striking, clinch/takedowns, and grappling. Why not use it in Jiu Jitsu as well?
Are you well-rounded in Jiu Jitsu?
BJJ Black Belt