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Gi vs No Gi

Since opening Gracie Miranda, we’ve had people from Cronulla and all over the Sutherland Shire start training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Every now and then we have students come in who only want to do no gi. They often site various reasons why they prefer no gi. Is no gi more practical? Let’s explore this topic.

Why beginners love No Gi

If you have been doing Brazilian Jiu jitsu, the moment you start doing No Gi, or submission grappling its a revelation. You seem to get stuck less. This makes sense as you have less grips. Less grips mean less control. Less control means its not as easy to hold you down. This all adds up to not getting stuck in places like under mount or side control. Not getting stuck avoids that feeling of helplessness that usually accompanies beginning bjj. Its also harder to finish as the sweat adds a slip factor. This makes controlling limbs much harder. Being submitted less and being able to move more feels much better. This gives a feeling of improvement and immediate gratification. Hence a preference for no gi can develop.

There are various reasons why BJJ academies use the Gi


The more layers you have between you and your training partner, the more protection you have. The more skin to skin contact there is the more likely an infection can pass from one person to the next. The use of Gi’s and Rash guards can reduce the likelihood of infection. Provided all equipment is cleaned properly after each use.

It teaches you about leverage

The Gi allows you to grab wherever you like on your opponent’s body. But not all grips are good. The Gi teaches you if you grab a bad spot that certain outcomes happen with a grip in the wrong place. It also shows you a small adjustment can have a large impact on the success of a technique. Knowing how to maximise leverage is made possible from getting an understanding of the right grips.

It improves problem solving

The amount of possibilities that the gi gives a BJJ player is endless. Getting stuck in places is annoying. But after a while you start to develop some problem-solving abilities. Understanding complex problems and resolving these issues is an important skill to learn. Being able to do this quickly, under pressure is a great addition to any grappler’s skill set. When I was rolling my Coach Bruno, I started working out a small part of his game. Over the months I refined an escape till one day he didn’t catch me. The following week we rolled again and he adjusted, taking my progress all the way back to square one. My problem-solving skills took months to work out a solution. As he had spent far more time than me on the mats, his ability to work out a solution was much faster.

brazilian jiu jitsu gi rolling gracie miranda

Advantages of No Gi


If you watch a No gi match, the amount of movement is different to that of a gi match. This amount of movement over time ensures that you are efficient with your movements. Making precise calculated movements to put yourself in position on a moving body is hard to do. Even more so with limited grips. Your movement needs to be excellent to capitalise on any mistakes you opponent makes.

Speed of decision making

As the speed of no gi matches is faster you need to also make faster decisions. Getting used to the cadence of a no gi match makes you make fast decisions. The quality of these decisions often determines the outcome of the match. Practising this skill is invaluable in a high paced Brazilian Jiu jitsu match.

Spatial understanding

Having fewer grips in no gi makes controlling an opponent difficult. But if you watch a skilled BJJ athlete compete in no gi, you will be amazed at the amount of control that they can exhibit. Understanding how to use your body to control theirs, using the body’s geometry is a hard skill to master. The Gi sometimes inhibits this due to an over-reliance on gripping as the main form of connection.

Self defence situations

Advocates of No gi often site the fact that you won’t be wearing a gi if you get in an altercation. While this may be true, there are times when you might be wearing a hoody, or jacket. So this renders that argument invalid. I’d also like to point out the fact that whilst gi grapplers can switch to no gi with a minimum of fuss, the same can’t be said in reverse.

Closing words

I’m a grappling fan. I like and appreciate what each style of grappling can give to me, whether its the problem solving abilities of Gi work. Or the speed and decision making skills of no gi grappling. Each has great things to offer. Focusing on one over the other is great if you are aiming for a particular short term goal. On your path to black belt, give attention to both and it will surely round out your skills.