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Does No-Gi BJJ Have Belts?

Once panned as a gimmick by BJJ traditionalists, No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu has exploded in popularity over the last decade. Thanks to the rise of professional BJJ, eyes are on the martial art more than ever.

Now with more eyes on No-Gi than ever before, more Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools are opening that are strictly No-Gi. This brings up a common question among those new to Jiu-Jitsu.

Does No-Gi BJJ have belts?

The short answer is yes they do, but let’s dive a little further into the question. Below is a complete breakdown of everything about No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu.

In this article, we’ll cover several topics, including the benefits of training No-Gi, then we’ll answer the question, does No-Gi BJJ have belts?

What is No-Gi?

No-Gi Grappling is a style of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that is done without the uniform. The sport is mainly practised in a rash guard and shorts or spats.

Traditionally BJJ was done in the Gi only, but as the martial art grew many practitioners began preferring No-Gi.

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Does No-Gi BJJ have belts?

Yes, No-Gi BJJ schools that are run by a black belt do in fact have their own belt system. Each of these Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools have their own criteria for their students to move up the ranks.

The criteria for earning a black belt in No-Gi is very similar to traditional schools and can include:

  • Skill progression
  • Time put into training
  • Actively competing

The benefits of No-Gi BJJ

No-Gi BJJ Belts

No-Gi BJJ has all of the same benefits as traditional BJJ training in a Gi.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Learning a form of self defense
  • Weight loss
  • Being part of a community
  • Staying active

But there is one benefit that No-Gi BJJ does have over traditional Brazilain Jiu-Jitsu training. Many martial artists believe that No-Gi training is more realistic than that in Gi Jiu-Jitsu.

In Gi Jiu-Jitsu, there are many techniques that require the use of the Gi that aren’t applicable in real life. They are good techniques, but No-Gi is more adapted to real-life situations. This is a huge benefit that No-Gi has over Gi Jiu-Jitsu.

No-Gi Competitions 

Similar to BJJ GI tournaments, No-Gi competitions have their own specific rulesets, experience brackets, and weight classes.

One BJJ promotion that runs both Gi & No-Gi brackets on the same day is the North American Grappling Association (NAGA). They run more No-Gi tournaments than any other promotion within the United States and Europe.

NAGA even holds its own championship at the end of the year. This features the best competitors from around the globe who have won the most NAGA tournaments.

No-Gi Competition skill levels

Almost all BJJ organizations in the world follow the IBJJF rule set that separates fighters by belt ranks. Brackets are from white belt to black belt just like in Gi competitions.

NAGA however has a different system for their tournaments. Separating No-Gi divisions by:

  • Novice
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert

No-Gi competition rules

Most organizations follow the rules that were established by the IBJJF. Within the IBJJF rule set, all chokes and arm locks are permitted for adult white belts to black belts. 

Leg locks are a different story. The IBJJF allows straight ankle locks for all divisions. However, kneebars and toe holds are only allowed in the brown and black belt divisions.

Also as of 2021, adult black and brown belts are now allowed to use heel hooks in IBJJF No-Gi competitions. 

NAGA allows all submissions for intermediate to expert skill levels. This includes all leg locks and spinal locks.

No-Gi weight classes

No-Gi weight classes differ from Gi weight classes. This is because you don’t have to wear a Gi during the weigh-ins.

Here are the weight classes for men and women No-Gi divisions within IBJJF NoGi competitions.

IBJJF men’s No-Gi divisions

  • Rooster: 55 kg(122.5 lbs)
  • Light-Feather: 61.5 kg(136 lbs)
  • Feather: 67.5 kg(149 lbs)
  • Light: 73.5 kg(162.5 lbs)
  • Middle: 79.5 kg(175.g lbs)
  • Middle-Heavy: 85.5 kg(188.5 lbs)
  • Heavy: 91.5 kg(202 lbs)
  • Super-Heavy: 97.5 kg(215 lbs)
  • Ultra Heavy: No maximum limit

IBJJF women’s No-Gi divisions

  • Rooster: 46.5 kg(103 lbs)
  • Light-Feather: 51.5 kg(114 lbs)
  • Feather: 56.5 kg(125 lbs)
  • Light: 61. kg(136 lbs)
  • Middle: 66.5 kg(147 lbs)
  • Middle-Heavy: 71.5 kg(158 lbs)
  • Heavy: 76.5 kg(169 lbs)
  • Super-Heavy: No maximum limit

No-Gi only BJJ gyms

belts in no-gi bjj

Today there are now more No-Gi gyms than ever before. There are even a few affiliations that are strictly No-Gi only.

Below we will discuss some of the top No-Gi BJJ gyms in the world.

10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu

By far the biggest No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu affiliation in the world is 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. 10th Planet mastermind Eddie Bravo was once criticized by BJJ traditionalists for pushing a No-Gi only system. 

Bravo has proved all of his critics wrong and now has one of the fastest-growing affiliations in the world. There are numerous 10th Planet gyms around the globe teaching their brand of Jiu-Jitsu.

New Wave Jiu-Jitsu & The B Team

The two newest high-profile No-Gi only gyms located in Austin, Texas are New Wave Jiu-Jitsu and the B-Team.

These two camps are the result of the Danaher Death Squad breakup that shocked the BJJ world.

Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, and John Danaher broke off to form New Wave Jiu-Jitsu. Craig Jones, Nicky Ryan, Nick Rodriguez, and Ethan Crelinstein formed the B-Team.

Both teams were created by the top No-Gi athletes in the world and will have their own belt systems. 

Summary: Belts In No-Gi BJJ

So to answer the question again, the answer is yes. No-Gi BJJ does have belts within their systems.

While Gi BJJ is still strong, No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu has had an incredible surge in popularity. As Jiu-Jitsu continues to grow, you will no doubt see more No-Gi only Jiu-Jitsu gyms being established.

If you enjoyed our article on the belt system in No-Gi BJJ, share it by hitting the button below.

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Gareth Davies

I'm a martial arts competitor and enthusiast. Over the last 15 years, I have trained and competed in several martial arts. I live in Manchester U.K working as a strength & conditioning coach when I'm not travelling and exploring martial arts around the world.
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