Gi or No-Gi?
To gi or not to gi, that is the question. This million dollar question has been more prevalent these last few years with the ever-growing popularity of no-gi tournaments and competitions. Though no-gi submission grappling is certainly not something new, it certainly has grown a lot in popularity in recent years. So what’s the right way to go? Both if you ask me, let me tell you why.
Give It 100%
If you’re going to commit yourself to submission grappling you better do it with a full commitment. There’s no submission easier than one performed on someone who really isn’t there on the mat with you. What I mean by that is that it’s very obvious when someone’s head isn’t in it because they make careless mistakes time and time again, leaving themselves open for everything under the sun. My suggestion is that if you’re going to try submission grappling, commit yourself 100% to the art. And if you’re committing yourself 100%, then you should really try both gi and no-gi.
When I started training submission grappling close to ten years ago, no-gi wasn’t really a thing but it certainly has changed recently. I feel like ONLY training with a gi really holds you back but the same can be said with ONLY training no-gi. I think a combination of both really helps you become a better fighter in both styles. Because training with gis has been the standard practice since the dinosaur days, it’s usually where anyone new will start, and that’s completely fine. I started with a gi as well so that’s where I feel at home. However, I certainly understand why anyone would want to exclusively want to train no-gi. It’s cooler, faster, and doesn’t require you to have a pair of gis, one always air-drying while you use the other. The thing is, after trying both methods, I think I’ve become a better fighter exactly because of that.
- Improves Upper Body Strength
- Improves Your Defensive Awareness
Training with a jiu-jitsu gi will has many advantages. First, it certainly demands, and therefore improves, your upper-body strength. Constantly having to grip your opponent’s trousers, lapels, or sleeves requires a lot of strength from your fingers all the way up your arms and even back. Second, it requires you to be better at escaping. Since it is much easier for your opponent to hold you down with a gi, your defensive awareness will improve. Escaping will certainly be harder, but you’ll be better for it. Third, fighting with a gi is generally slower than fighting no-gi. The reason for this is simple, more friction due to the gi. Though that is a simple answer, I’ve found it to be true over the years. Wearing a gi forces you to be more technical and think about your moves a bit more than without one.
- Improves Reflexes & Speed
On the other hand, no-gi certainly has it’s own advantages as well. I like to think that because there is a lot of grip, due to the lack of gi and the addition of sweat, the no-gi game is certainly much much faster. It may not seem like it to those fighting, but for those watching, it certainly looks like it. Training and fighting no-gi improves reflexes because you’re going to be moving a lot more and a lot faster. It also improves your positioning because you know the scramble with be fun and sweaty.
So to say that you’re only into no-gi or gi alone really leaves you missing out on a part of your grappling game. I have been able to go back and forth and can see the differences, why would you want to limit yourself to just one side?