Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida has caused quite the stir in the BJJ world with a recent statement around fighters competing in exclusively gi or no gi competition. In fairness Buchecha has certainly put his money where his mouth is, as the elite grappler has tested himself in as many forms of competition as possible. Buchecha is not only a thirteen-time IBJJF world champion in the gi but he’s also a four-time IBJJF no gi world champion and a two-time ADCC world champion as well. He’s also managed to amass a perfect 4-0 professional MMA record in recent years, demolishing the competition in ONE Championship.
The full quote from Buchecha about gi and no gi competition was as follows:
“I think that a real fighter needs to fight in the gi and no-gi. And you can, you need to test yourself in MMA, right? To see how your Jiu-Jitsu is going to be in a real situation. I mean, that’s how I see it. Of course, MMA is not for everyone, a lot of people don’t like it. But I think the gi and no-gi should be, like… You should fight in both, period. And that’s my opinion.”
The full statement from Buchecha about grapplers competing both in gi and in no gi tournaments was made in a video that he uploaded to his official Instagram account:
Naturally, he drew a fair amount of criticism for this hot take. One of the people who managed to articulate the opposing argument best was actually Garry Tonon, one of John Danaher’s most highly-accomplished students who has always had a preference for competing in no gi competition and MMA. He shared the same video to his own official Instagram account and added the following statement:
“Why stop there? A real fighter must compete in k1, judo, sambo, wrestling, Muay Thai, ping pong, combat jiu jitsu, catch wrestling, pancration, karate, hopscotch, kravmaga, taekwondo, boxing, aikido, tai chi, synchronized swimming, sumo,wing chun, lethwei, badminton….. All jokes aside, I’ve heard this preached by people my entire athletic career, and it never made any sense to me, and it’s so strange because it only exists in the jiu jitsu world. You don’t ever hear anyone tell a wrestler they aren’t a “real” wrestler if they don’t compete in judo nor do you ever hear someone tell a judoka they aren’t a “real” judoka if they don’t also compete in wrestling. You would never hear someone say someone isn’t a “real” runner if they didn’t compete in both the 100meter dash as well as the 800meters. It’s really cool for people to successfully compete in multiple martial arts, but I don’t really see a need to suggest someone isn’t a “real” anything just because they choose to specialize in one martial art. There are a ton of boxers I could heel hook in 15 seconds that never did MMA or grappling, but for God sakes they are still “real” fighters and I would never try to suggest they aren’t just because they only choose to compete in a specific ruleset.”
To his credit, Buchecha did respond and made it clear that there was no ill will intended in his original statement:
“Relax, That’s just my opinion, I think Gi helps in the No Gi game and the Gi helps No Gi as well, and It’s always good be out our comfort zone , that makes us grow, but It’s just my opinion! If you don’t agree with me it’s all good, I respect that!”