Gi versus No Gi

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Let’s talk about Gi or NoGi.

Some people ask if they should be training one way more than the other. Or they ask what my preference is.

Honestly, I can handle myself with or without the Gi, which is why I think it’s important to train in both. At least until you’re comfortable with the differences. 


The most common gear for jiu jitsu is the Gi. It’s history stems from the kimonos worn by ancient Japanese samurai. Dr. Jigoro Kano, the creator of Kodokan Judo, developed his own version that would hold up to his unique style of movement. His was shorter, tighter, and much stronger than the traditional kimono. When Judo came to Brazil and morphed into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the Gi came with it. 

There are a lot of advantages that come with the Gi. 

First, the thickness and sturdiness of the material helps protect your skin. Even though wearing a rash guard is still recommended, the Gi itself does a lot to keep your skin clean and intact from the constant contact with the mat.

That sturdiness also provides a lot of friction. And friction slows you down. Especially when you’re new, this is a good thing. It Gives your brain and muscles a little extra time to get in sync about what you should be doing. 

And then there are the roadblocks. Roadblocks happen when the Gi is wrapped around you in a way that prevents you from moving the way you normally would. The Gi creates handles that can be taken advantage of if you know what you’re doing. All of the gripping and lacing and looping that can happen will increase your dynamic problem solving. For example, if someone has you looped one way, you have to figure out how to loop the other way to free yourself. And you have to do it quickly. This creates constant new learning experiences. 

The more you practice like that, the more that kind of automatic problem solving will help you get more submissions and taps. 


With the popularity of MMA, NoGi training continues to become more and more popular. When jiu jitsu first started in mixed martial arts, wearing the Gi was quickly seen as impractical. It didn’t take long before jiu jitsu fighters started competing in nothing more than shorts. 

If competition is your thing, you’ll definitely want to get used to training NoGi. 

NoGi does make you quicker. A lot quicker! You don’t have the bulky Gi to slow you down, so you build up the ability to make very quick decisions. 

NoGi also removes the threat of being roadblocked or wrapped up. Take away the lapels and collar of the Gi, and your opponent will have a harder time getting a submission. Of course, if you don’t train this way a lot, you will too. 


Here’s the thing, neither one is more important than the other. 

I practice in a way that anything I can do in a Gi, I can do NoGi and vice versa. As a rule, I don’t like anybody else to have something on me. So I make sure I’m proficient in both. If you choose to practice only NoGi, that’s fine. But your opponent might have something on you and you’re making the game harder on yourself. Practice in the Gi, and you’ll learn how to nullify the advantages that somebody else will have if they know what they’re doing in the Gi. And if they don’t, you’ll be the one who has something on them. And if you choose to compete, you’ll be prepared either way. 

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