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Rare 'no gi' jiu-jitsu tournament coming to Banff

"I think it's the future of grappling, and so does the team, and we want really want to bring both [gi and no gi] to the Bow Valley and not be one or the other."

BANFF – After a successful inaugural jiu-jitsu tournament in Banff in June, Dark Horse Grappling Series is back at it faster than you can tap out.

Local club Dark Horse Martial Arts announced it’s hosting another large-scale jiu-jitsu tournament – a no gi submission-only format – that will take place Sept. 3 at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre.

“We’re taking a bit of a risk with this one, mainly because no gi is less practiced in western Canada and we want to bring it to the forefront,” said Travis Erlam, owner of Dark Horse Martial Arts. “I think it’s the future of grappling, and so does the team, and we want to really bring both [gi and no gi] to the Bow Valley and not be one or the other.”

The event is all ages and skills, with a maximum of 500 competitors. Matches are won and lost solely on submissions and their appeal is widely growing in the community. Registration is open at

A gi is a traditional martial arts uniform students wear with a coloured belt wrapped around the waist. It is standard attire in grappling tournaments.

While wearing a gi, a grappler can usually fight more defensively due to being able to grab onto an opponent's uniform that runs from the neck to the ankle. However, with no gi, a more offensive and fast-paced approach can be utilized as there is less surface area to snag – perfect for the sub-only format Dark Horse is preaching.

The club is also planning on organizing gi super fights – submission-only jiu-jitsu rules – during the tourney.

“We’re going to have some really good super fights lined up,” Erlam said. “We already have two of them lined up and they were some of the most exciting people to watch in the last one.”

In June, Dark Horse Grappling Series held its inaugural event – a gi sub-only tourney with no gi super fights. With more than 300 competitors, the club was praised for helping the martial arts scene get back on track after COVID.

“We’re definitely going to have a bigger local showing,” said Erlam. “We’re already having a lot of interest in this ... they want to show what we got.”

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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