To Gi or not to Gi?

To Gi or Not to Gi?

I have had a number of parents ask about the differences between the “gi” and “no-gi” disciplines in jiu jitsu. Some kids have expressed a preference for one over the other, and will alternately rejoice or bemoan one class over another. Is it really necessary to do both?

I strongly believe that there are great benefits of both “gi” and “no-gi” jiu jitsu, and that consistently training in the 2 disciplines will ultimately enhance one’s overall jiu jitsu game.

“Gi” training
The “gi” is a kimono that is often worn in Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Sambo, and many other grappling arts. Wearing a gi opens up a wide array of grip positions not available without a gi. The constant gripping of your opponent’s (and sometimes your own) collar, lapel, sleeves, and pants creates many opportunities for chokes, as well as the ability to manipulate your opponent to give you better positional advantages.

There is more friction between you and your opponent when wearing a gi, which slows down the movements and forces the kids think methodically and to be extremely technical in certain positions.

Being able to choke your opponent using the fabric of the gi also means that one is more at risk of being choked. With this constant threat, gi training promotes a greater awareness of working on defensive techniques such as protecting the neck.

Wearing a gi also build a great deal of grip strength in the fingers, as well as durability in the the hands, forearms, back, and shoulders.

“No-gi” training
This type of training involves no kimono but rather shorts and a t-shirt or rash guard. No-gi training often has a much faster pace without the resistance of the additional fabric. Grabbing or gripping the clothing is not allowed in no-gi, therefore training focuses more on positional scrambles and wrestling positions and utilizing control techniques such as wrist control and collar ties. Speed, reactivity, and explosiveness becomes more imperative.

With less to grab, limbs become slick and difficult to control. As a results, submissions and holds are easier to pull out of. No-gi forces kids to learn and utilize proper techniques of correct body position and staying tight to their opponent to not lose their submission techniques to slippage. Offensive strategies relying on specific and proper techniques will be the only ones that lead to success, and therefore kids learn to be nuanced and detail-oriented with their movements. The flow becomes more intuitive, one position moving into another, all the while developing body and positional awareness.

We need both “gi” and “no-gi”

As coaches, one of our main goals have always been to teach the kids life skills that they can practice and develop on the mats. We are constantly striving to promote confidence, resilience, work ethic, humility, and much more. These ever-valuable development goals are a huge part of training jiu jitsu, and they are strongly intertwined with the REAL self defense aspect of jiu jitsu and submission wrestling. For example, it is much easier to develop confidence and resilience when you have the skill set and training to defend yourself in a real-world situation. Many times, simply having these skills will be enough keep you out of more physical situations.

Now back to my point…………We train in both “gi” and “no-gi” so the kids have proficiency in both disciplines. Practicing “gi” will enhance “no-gi” and the reverse applies as well. As it relates to self-defense scenarios, if having to defend oneself against a bully or attacker, your kids are prepared to use shirts and sweatshirts against them. They can also use their own jacket or clothing to help attack the person if needed. If ever in a situation where the person is wearing shorts and a t-shirt, again the positional skills, body weight, control grips, and wrestling are there to handle this scenario.

Reminder, we are going to train “no-gi” on Mondays and Wednesdays and train with the “gi” on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This schedule is subject to change and we will announce any changes as they occur. On “no-gi” days, please do NOT wear shorts with any zippers or pockets as they can be dangerous when training. Any t-shirt or rash-guard is fine. We always have Danville Jiu Jitsu gear for those that need or want it.


Coach Mitch