Jack Douglas talks no-gi BJJ in U.S., celebrates title: “They want a showman”

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Photo: Personal Archive

At just seven months among the sport’s elite, Jack Douglas is starting to capture his first important titles. The 26-year-old athlete was the best super-heavy and ultra-heavy fighter in gi and no-gi at this year’s American Nationals, one of the toughest tournaments of the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) circuit.

Owner of a submission-heavy style, which prioritizes attacks from the waist down, Jack became no-gi American Nationals champion by applying a heel hook on John Leslie (Axios) in the final. He spoke about how he practices his finishes.

“I was already practicing leg attacks a lot, and the heel attacks are more of a complement,” said Jack, who also won the Nationals’ gi super-heavy division by beating Lucas Norat (Gracie Barra). “I can’t deny that it’s a bit complicated to practice them without some kind of hesitation, but it’s that old story that all that is new is scary. But the heel hook will become just as normal as an armbar. The secret is to train, study and practice. In the past, people would only talk about heel hooks when they had a superfight, and now you practice that position all week to fight on the weekend.”

Having lived for four years in the United States, where he leads his career as a professional athlete, Jackson is closely following the increasing popularity of no-gi events — a niche in which Americans are, for now, investing more.

“I believe gi jiu-jitsu isn’t going to lose its space, because many people don’t like to train or compete without the gi,” he said. “No-gi jiu-jitsu can, indeed, gain more space in superfights, because the vast majority of events are looking for a more dynamic kind of match. The public these days that buys tickets wants to see fights with movement, spinning and euphoria. The events are also looking for athletes that display this type of style — it’s all in service of the show. I always train to win with lots of movement, via submission. The audience that gets to see me fighting will enjoy it!”

Jackson trains at Checkmat La Habra in California, under Lucas Leite, his teacher.

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