Largest No Gi Jiu Jitsu promotion takes place at The Arena

Group photo of all the gentlemen who were vying for promotion in the No-Gi Jiu Jitsu ranks on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at The Arena in Point Loma, San Diego, CA.

On Saturday, April 21, 2012, The Arena MMA Gym in Point Loma, San Diego, CA conducted their first No Gi Jiu Jitsu promotions. The Arena joins Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu and Randy Couture’s Extreme Couture as the third major international Mixed Martial Arts Association to offer the rankings in No Gi Jiu Jitsu.


According to one of the gym’s owners, “It’s like moving up in the food chain.” He went on to explain the reason for the ranking system and the differences between No Gi and Gi Jiu Jitsu, “In today’s world, you have to offer the students of the mixed martial arts choices and that’s what The Arena has done. No one in San Diego has this No Gi ranking system. With the No Gi Jiu Jitsu becoming a lot more technical, it translates better for the fighting you see in the street. And like in the Gi Jiu Jitsu, the student needs to know where he or she stands as they reach their goals of being able to perform and escape the holds properly. If they can’t do it properly, then the instructors fail them and they don’t move up. The Arena has now become the biggest pure MMA fight gym in the world.”

After all the qualifying maneuvers have been done, the students lined up for their promotion in rank. Photo: Jim Wyatt

All the most experienced fighters were given their just due and appeared in the front row. Photo: Jim Wyatt

While the students went through their paces, the Black Belts watched and graded them. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Getting a photo taken with their coaches was very important. It showed the respect the students have for their teachers. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Black Belt Jake Mapes continues to promote his students by changing the designation on the student’s belt. Photos: Jim Wyatt

Checking with their records, the three judges continue their promotions in rank. Photo: Jim Wyatt

For each student you could see the promotion in rank meant a lot to them. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Friends and family watched as the students went through their paces. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Gi Jiu Jitsu students line up for their promotion in rank. Photos: Jim Wyatt

Coming up through the ranks – Joe Duarte (front right) now fights for Strikeforce.

Joe Duarte (R) and Xavier Anderson (L) pose for a photo together.

Not one dislocated shoulder or broken arm despite the many armbars being applied.

Shane Krutchen receives his promotion in rank. Photos: Jim Wyatt


The three Black Belts keeping track of all the judging are (l to r) Jeff Clark, Pat Speight and Jake Mapes. Photo: Jim Wyatt

After all the seriousness of qualifying, the students’ alter ego gets the best of them.

The gentleman in the front row currently have the highest ranking. Photo: Jim Wyatt

What’s that they say about volunteering in the Army ? Volunteering can only get you into trouble. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Without a doubt, this has to be the favorite photo from that day.

The Arena’s Blacks Belts presiding over the ceremony, Jeff Clark, Jake Mapes, Jason Bukich and Pat Speight walked about the room like Marine Corps DIs checking as the students made one Guilotine Choke or one Armbar after another. With abrasions on the forehead and backs, they kept repeating the same maneuvers despite the recognizable fatigue implied by the heavy breathing and sweat that left the mats wet; there was nothing to deter them from reaching their goal of getting promoted.

Black Belts from other academies were also in attendance, along with numerous in-house MMA fighters from the UFC and Strikeforce. The recitation of who someone is under or training with is similar to the way a  wizard on Wall Street might brag about the brokerage houses where they worked or where they went to school and ended up getting that sheepskin from Harvard.

Following their testing, the Gi Jitsu group took over the mats and had their testing plus promotion ceremony. After both ceremonies, The Arena had a free BBQ for all members and their guests, followed by a UFC viewing party later in the evening. Free Arena t-shirts were handed out to all attendees.

The Arena provides 24 Adult Jiu Jitsu Classes per week taught by the aforementioned Black Belts.

The many individuals who moved up in rank in the No Gi Jitsu and Gi Group was so large, I still haven’t been able to compile the full list.

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