Coach Rob from Baytown here!! We’ve got a good question that comes up repeatedly. What’s better, Gi or No-Gi? Should I do one or the other or both? With our sport becoming more and more popular, there are more choices as far wanting to train one or the other. In here, I’m going to cover a couple of pro’s and con’s for each side and hopefully this shines some light on this topic.
First, we will start with gi. Training in the gi is usually how most students begin their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey. Everyone that starts training at EliteMMA is typically starting in our gi classes. The gi is very similar to an Asian kimono. It has pants, usually with drawstrings, a sturdy top and a belt to keep the top closed. The gi was adopted for training since this is how typical Asian throwing martial arts, like judo, practice. The great thing about training in the gi is that it gives you body sensitivity when someone grabs a grip like the sleeve or the collar to perform a move on you. You can become hypersensitive to weight distribution, develop a good base and finesse of technique because of the pulling, pushing and friction of material. There are also a lot of handles with the gi. The moves and many variations of them can be infinite by just changing a grip from the collar to the sleeve or the pant leg to the belt. The opportunity to really personalize your game is very apparent in the gi.
The downside is it gets very hot and sometimes claustrophobia can set in if your top covers your face. Also, sometimes when you are training, those dang drawstrings can come undone and its very tough to tie them while trying to stop someone from flipping you or submitting you. Also, the same thing about really being creative with your attacks can be made into a con. Sometimes all someone must do to stop your progress is stall you out with an unbreakable grip that stops all momentum in a match. It can be very frustrating.
Now we will get into No-Gi. Training in No-Gi, or what is basically board shorts and rash guard or t-shirt, can feel very liberating. You don’t have to wear that heavy gi where every piece of fabric is a handle for someone to slow you down. You also can have variety in training techniques. There are some moves that work better or you’re able to escape more easily because of the lack of friction. I have many tough training partners that have technical games that change due to wearing the gi or not. Variety is the spice on the mats.
Now a couple of things that I hear when I encourage No-Gi is the sweat. With more movement, of course, comes more sweat. You get more than just your own sweat on you by the end of class. The training mat also typically looks like a swimming pool which could be a bit of a slipping hazard when training No-Gi. As I also touched on the lack of friction can make moves happen, it also sometimes gives students a false sense of confidence on escaping a position by sheer athleticism and speed instead of the focus on being technically sound.
Now that I’ve covered the pro’s and con’s of both, I will tell you what I tell my students. If you love jiu jitsu, just train jiu jitsu. Whether in the gi or without, as much training time as you can get in your schedule will make you that much better. Don’t limit yourself to one or the other but focus on being the most well-rounded practitioner on the mats. Encourage others to train with you! You’ll will only make them better as you get better! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get advice from your coaches! I’ll see you on the mats!!