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BJJ: Why you should train No Gi too

Like all martial arts, there are certain arguments within Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) that will never get resolved. Sports vs. self-defense Jiu-Jitsu is a big one, but perhaps the most common is Gi training vs. No Gi training.

Which is best for self-defense development? Which is best for competition? Wherever you train Jiu-Jitsu, you’re sure to encounter people arguing over these points. 

But you don’t need to get caught up with one side or the other. The truth is that there are benefits both to training Gi and No Gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Unless you’re an aspiring MMA fighter, where you’re best off practicing No Gi at basically all times, Jiu-Jitsu practitioners should integrate both Gi and No Gi sessions into their routine.

At Gracie Miranda, a Jiu-Jitsu academy in the Sutherland Shire, we offer No Gi training three days a week to supplement the Gi classes we hold every day. Here’s why you should attend both types of classes.

gracie miranda no gi class group photo

What’s the difference?

Gi and No Gi Jiu-Jitsu are far more similar than they are different. No matter which style you’re training, it’s still Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The idea is still to use technique over power. The goal is still to assert dominant position before applying a submission. Most of the techniques are similar.

But there are some major differences. Simply put, Gi-based Jiu-Jitsu allows you to grab and hold your opponent much more easily than No Gi BJJ. Gis have collars and lapels that can be used to control and choke an opponent, and it’s much easier to maintain arm control by grabbing a Gi sleeve than holding onto a sweaty wrist. 

Sweat is another big factor. No Gi BJJ is much more slippery than Gi-based Jiu-Jitsu. As a result, No Gi grappling is more dynamic and fast-paced. That’s great for your cardio and fitness goals. 

No Gi benefits

Training in a rashguard and shorts isn’t just good for your cardio, it’s good for your Jiu-Jitsu. Here are a few reasons why.

It improves your pins. Because it’s easier for opponents to slip out from under you, No Gi BJJ forces you to improve your pins. In top positions like side control and mount, you have to be more conscious of where your body is in relation to your opponents, particularly in regards to the hips. A little bit of space opens up a lot more wriggle room in No Gi, as the person in top position is unable to hold the other practitioner down with collar, leg or sleeve grips.

More realistic self-defense. People who criticize Gi training often do so by saying techniques learned in a Gi aren’t applicable in the real world. That’s unfair, because those techniques easily cross over if a real-life combatant is wearing a jacket, hoodie or even a thick shirt. But it’s certainly true that grappling learned in No Gi training is more easily transferred to self-defense. The whole point of No Gi training is that you don’t have to rely on grips to take an opponent down – a handy skillset for sure.

Makes you think fast. No Gi Jiu-Jitsu moves a lot faster than its Gi-based counterpart. Crucially, that means you not only have to move quickly, but think quickly. Gi Jiu-Jitsu is often compared to a chess match. Because it moves more slowly, you often have time to think critically about how to move best. That’s valuable training, but so is the scramble-heavy No Gi grappling, which over time hones your BJJ instincts by forcing you to move and think faster. 

Gi BJJ training has plenty of benefits too

As beneficial No Gi training is, none of what’s written above is an indictment on Gi training. In fact, many of the benefits of Gi training are the inverse of No Gi.

As noted, the slower pace of Gi training allows you to think creatively and critically. Because you have grips to work with, training in the Gi has extra layers of technique available to practitioners. Of particular note are entire open guard systems that are available to practiced Gi players, and which can’t reliably be replicated in No Gi. 

And while No Gi may be better for your cardio, Gi training offers its own health benefits. All that grabbing, pulling and pushing is great for your grip strength, and for your upper body strength. Don’t throw away your Gi just yet!

If you’re interested in training Gi or No Gi BJJ, come into Gracie Miranda for a free trial class.