The evolution of Nogi Jiu-Jitsu

2017 was a significant year in terms of the evolution of Nogi Jiu-Jitsu. The ADCC, IBJJF World Nogi championships and the multiple other submission only events provided us with a clear picture of where Nogi Jiu-Jitsu is at in the grappling universe.

Nogi Jiu-Jitsu has undergone something of a revolution over the past 4 years. The rise of the ‘submission only’ scene and the emergence of nogi specialists has resulted in the speedy evolution of the sport.


Without a doubt this has resulted in a significant divergence between the Gi and Nogi sports which was more evident this year than seen previously.

At the same time Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles proved that  it is still possible to be a champion at both. However there is little doubt that it has become harder for athletes to be dominant in both Nogi and Gi as both sports require skills that can only be gained through very specific training

Craig Jones is a great example of this divergence. Although the Australian is a very well rounded grappler and also an excellent Gi competitor, Craig has dedicated himself to the Nogi competition scene in recent years. 2017 was his break out year and his biggest win came in the ADCC when he sensationally submitted Leandro Lo with a rear naked choke.

Craig gave an insight into his preparation for this match recently on the BJJ Brick Podcast.

In the interview Craig also talks about how he feels the two sports have diverged and how he feels it is better to focus on one discipline if you want to excel. In the interview he also made some interesting comments about on how feels Gi and Nogi have separated as sports.

“I really think for your camp you need to only train what is coming up next. If training for the ADCC don’t even put the Gi on. I think you are wasting your time.

In 10-20 years the Gi guys won’t be winning the ADCC.  Think about how hard it is to be amazing at spider guard, heel hooks and wrestling! The gap is broadening.”

This statement is in contrast to the previously held belief that training in both codes is beneficial to both games. Marcelo Garcia famously trained 50% gi and 50% nogi even when competing. However Marcelo’s game utilized a number of techniques that could be used in both codes. E.g- Butterfly sweep and Single leg X guard. However the evolution of the leg game and specialist Gi positions such as the Berimbolo means that there are more positions that are sport specific. Athletes now specialize in these positions and it has become very difficult to beat experts in both games

Craig Jones

IBJJF Evolution

This evolution in the Nogi game has also made waves in the IBJJF scene.

Keenan Cornelius and the Atos team are always at the forefront of Jiu-Jitsu and they too have noticed how the Danaher death squad are effectively using leg entries to sweep and set up submissions. Using this information and translating to their own nogi game in an IBJJF rule-set, they went to the 2017 Nogi worlds in December and dominated across the color belts.

From purple to black belt guys such as Keenan, Lucas Barbosa, Jonnatas Gracie, Kaynan Duarte, and Conner Deangelis used 50/50 entries and knee bar attacks to enter into sweeping positions and defeat all their opponents.

As Keenan explains in the video above this style is simply the evolution of the nogi game. He feels that guys have become too good at shutting down the open and reverse DLR nogi guards that we have seen in previous years. As a result DDS style entries is a

ATOS nogi

Check out the full recent interview from Keenan on the Nogi Meta game.

Rise of the Nogi specialist

The biggest factor in the Nogi evolution has been the increased opportunity for athletes to focus on Nogi tournaments only.

Is nearly 6 years since the 1st Metamoris and 4 years since EBI began. Since then promotions such as  Polaris, SUG, ACB, and Five grappling have established a fan base and are hosting numerous events every year. For the casual fan, names such as Gordon Ryan, Dillon Danis, and Gary Tonon are arguably more recognizable than most of the big names in the Gi sport. This opportunity will not go unnoticed by the next generation of top grappling prospects. As a result it seems reasonable to expect more elite level Nogi specialists to emerge in the next few years.