Last Updated on February 11, 2021
When it comes to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, you might think that wearing a gi vs not wearing one is just a stylistic choice.
But you’d be wrong.
For Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, gi vs no gi changes the style of fighting with different rules and strategies. But which one is the best for you and does wearing a gi change anything?
Main Differences Between ‘Gi’ vs ‘No Gi’
The main differences between ‘Gi Jiu-Jitsu’ vs ‘No Gi Jiu Jitsu’ are:
- “ ‘Gi Jiu-Jitsu’ is much easier for beginners, whereas ‘No Gi Jiu-Jitsu’ is for more advanced fighters.”
- “ ‘Gi Jiu-Jitsu’ focuses more on grappling with the Gi, whereas ‘No Gi Jiu Jitsu’ is more about strength and leverage.”
- “ ‘Gi Jiu-Jitsu’ improves the muscles in your arms, whereas ‘No Gi Jiu Jitsu’ focuses on improving your speed.”
Before we delve deeper into the differences, let’s figure out what Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is and why gis are crucial to the sport.
What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a type of martial art that focuses on self-defense and grappling. Rather than causing pain to your opponent or focusing on attacking first, Jiu Jitsu focuses on knocking your opponent to the ground and keeping them there. You grapple, wrestle, and try to gain dominance over your opponent while forcing them to surrender.
The sport and martial art also focus on leverage and bodyweight to defend yourself. Rather than trying to defeat a larger person in straight combat, a smaller person can use jiu jitsu to turn a foe’s size and strength against him. By taking the fight to the ground and using different locks and chokeholds, a smaller person can defeat a larger person.
Anyone can do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, regardless of size or strength. The biggest obstacle standing in the way of anyone wanting to learn is whether to do BJJ gi vs no gi.
Wearing a Gi or No Gi?
So what is a gi in jiu-jitsu? A Gi is a cotton garment that consists of a jacket, trousers, and a colored belt. They are typically worn during martial arts training to provide light and breathable clothing during training. Gis aren’t heavy, enable full freedom of movement, and are durable enough to last for countless hours on the mat.
I mentioned "colored belt" above. The best BJJ belt you can wear is not limited to being colorful only. You can find ones that are tournament-level belts and don't forget that you want to look for the best quality.
There’s a lot of advantages to using a Gi, especially within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, not wearing a gi can be beneficial as well. If you choose to go this route, then you’ll typically wear a rash guard, shorts, and yoga pants (spats.) It almost feels like wearing a wetsuit or bodysuit.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu without Gis still provides most of the same benefits as using a Gi. They aren’t heavy, are breathable, and are pretty durable on the mat. While the benefits of each clothing type are the same on the surface, they each have some differences that need to be examined before you get started with the sport.
Differences in Combat
The one benefit that a Gi can provide both you and your opponent in a fight is something to grab onto. Gis aren’t skintight, and the loose fabric can aid in grappling your opponent. It’s often much easier to get a hold on clothing than to hold onto skin, and you can easily use your opponent’s Gi against them.
Wearing a Gi greatly expands the tactics you can bring to the fight, but your opponent can use those tactics against you. Gi Jiu Jitsu is often much slower paced than No Gi because there’s more to grab onto quickly. Most Gi matches end with one fighter gripping the collar of the Gi to force a surrender, and many techniques revolve around using your opponents’ clothes against them.
For No Gi training and combat, the clothing is very skin tight. With less loose clothing to grab (if any) speed and gaining the initiative over your opponent is very important. The No Gi matches are often much faster as both opponents try to grapple with one another and force each other to the ground.
There’s also a greater dependence on body weight and proper leverage since body grips are easier to break than a tight grip on someone’s clothing. With a Gi, you don’t have to rely solely on strength and speed, but with No Gi, it’s just you and your opponent without any extra advantages. You can do BJJ gi vs no gi, but most of the tactics will stay the same regardless of which one you pick.
Which One Is Best?
It’s a very fierce debate over if you should do BJJ gi vs no gi, but you can’t deny that each one has some advantages and disadvantages for beginners to the sport.
Gi’s are often the first choice for many beginners, as it’s easier to learn different grips and techniques if you have something to grab onto. Plus, you’ll understand the importance of seizing the lapel and collar during your matches, something that doesn’t apply to No Gi training.
Since it is easier to grip your opponent in Gi training, the muscles in your arms, chest, and hands will help you grow your skills and strength before you make the jump to practicing without the gi.
No Gi Training
Training without a gi is much faster-paced and designed to help you improve your speed. No Gi training can help you test your endurance. Also, since you’ll always need to be on the lookout for your opponent’s next move, it can help with your awareness.
You’ll need to learn takedowns and other wrestling abilities because you won’t be able to rely on merely pulling clothes. Training without a Gi is a lot like real life, especially if you find yourself in a position where you need to use jiu-jitsu to defend yourself. The chances are that your opponent will not be wearing a Gi!
Which Is Better?
Sadly, the answer to this question of should you have a gi vs no gi jiu jitsu is, it depends. Most professionals train in both styles of Jiu-Jitsu, and both types of training have their benefits. Training with a Gi will increase your muscle strength and improve your technique while working without a Gi will enhance your endurance and speed.
You can also focus on where you want to go in your Jiu-Jitsu career. If you’re going to make it more than a hobby, figure out what that looks like. Do you want to focus on winning Gi based competitions or look into other forms of wrestling? That will certainly influence which side of the debate that you fall on.
Going with a Gi or without one both have benefits. Before you decide to pick a side in the gi vs no gi debate, taking a few classes in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu styles will make you a well-rounded fighter. Why not do both and see which one works for you?