Gi vs No Gi is one of the most polarizing topics in BJJ. We are all familiar with the terms gi and no gi in BJJ. Some people prefer to wear a gi while others don’t, and this will always be one of those never-ending topics in the world of BJJ.
This article is going to shed some light on the subject of Gi vs No Gi for those who are interested in knowing more about this topic.
What are the Main Differences between Gi and No Gi BJJ?
While many people initially may think that the differences between the two are not that big, they are wrong. Let’s go over the main differences between Gi and No Gi BJJ.
The most obvious difference between Gi and No Gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the clothing. Gi Jiu Jitsu is the name of a style of BJJ where the grappler wears a gi, which is a traditional cotton jacket with pants and a belt. Gis were worn in BJJ since its beginning in the 1920s, and they are very much inspired by judo gis. However, there are differences between those two, which you can learn about here.
No-gi, on the other hand, doesn’t involve the wearing of the traditional gi, but rather a specific outfit consisting of the rash guard and the no-gi shorts. A rash guard is the top part of the outfit, a garment made of thin, lightweight material, very similar to compression shirts.
Rashguards come in both bold, colorful, and simple designs. Most people prefer to wear rashguards under their gis, as the cloth feels too heavy on the skin, and rashguards help in preventing any possible skin irritation and making you feel more comfortable.
No-Gi BJJ shorts are the bottom part of the no-gi outfit, and they are designed specifically for no-gi. High-quality shorts are made from lycra and polyester, as it allows for more stretching.
How does this affect your training? That brings us to our next big difference, which is the techniques.
Rolling in a gi means that you can grab different parts of the gi, most often the collar for a takedown or a choke, but also the sleeves and the pants. No-gi excludes that possibility and relies only on techniques that don’t involve the pulling of the gi.
While they both share a lot of common techniques, when you look at the professional gi and no-gi matches, the differences are seen from a mile away.
There is a significant pace difference between no-gi and gi BJJ. Comparing the two side by side, you can see that BJJ gi is a lot slower-paced than the no-gi.
A BJJ gi, since it’s made from much thicker fabrics than a rashguard, creates a lot of friction, which drastically slows down the game.
Therefore, we can conclude that gi jiu-jitsu is much more tactical than its no-gi counterpart. No-gi is a more explosive version and the strength of the practitioner is more expressed, and the movements are much faster.
If you’ve trained in a gi for some time, switching to no-gi for the first time will be a big difference, mostly because of that lack of friction, and the fewer chokehold opportunities.
Rule Differences in Gi and No Gi Competitions
Now we’ve come to the last big difference between the two BJJ styles, and it’s the rule differences in competitions. The largest BJJ organization in the world, IBJJF, creates tournaments for both gi and no-gi, but there are also organizations like the ADCC, where competitors mostly wear no-gi gear.
A major rule difference is that you can’t grab the clothes of the opponent in no-go matches, and the leg attacks are strictly regulated in IBJJF gi competitions. A heel hook, for example, is forbidden in gi matches, but it isn’t in no-gi. ADCC, for example, has a ruleset that is a mixture of points and submissions, which promises for more attacking action.
The conclusion is that no-gi BJJ has a much less strict ruleset than gi jiu-jitsu, but it mostly depends from competition to competition.
What’s Better for Self Defence?
Now a very popular question is which of these two BJJ styles is a better option for self-defense. As Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was founded by the Gracie brothers specifically as a self-defense martial art, it was trained in gis, therefore many people tend to say that gi Jiu-Jitsu is a better option for self-defense.
However, as gi jiu-jitsu has a lot of techniques that rely on grabbing the lapel and other parts of the gi, on the street you may find yourself in a situation where the opponent doesn’t wear clothes that you can easily grab.
Therefore, there is a strong case to be made that no-gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a better option for self-defense since you don’t rely on gripping the opponent’s clothes. In our opinion, the best solution is to train both gi and no gi BJJ, but choosing between the two is a personal preference, and there is no definitive answer, as both styles have their advantages and disadvantages.
What’s Better for Beginners?
This brings us to our next question, and that is “Which BJJ style is better for beginners?”. This is a tough question to answer, as there are many different aspects that contribute to the quality of training and the level of experience that you will get.
In general, we can say that for absolute beginners who have never tried any BJJ, a good option is to start with gi jiu-jitsu since it is easier to learn. However, after some time you’ll probably be interested in a more dynamic BJJ style, which will require a bit of adaptation and experience.
It is possible to do both styles at the same time, and you can progress your way through both styles while gaining experience and skills. Therefore, we think that the best option for beginners would be to train both styles, and as John Danaher said, training in gi will develop your defensive techniques, while training no-gi will develop your offense.
Gi or No Gi for MMA?
Now, training BJJ for MMA is a bit of a different story. Since in MMA matches you can’t wear a gi, logical thinking is that the no-gi is a better opinion. But, that doesn’t mean that training in a gi doesn’t have its benefits when it comes to MMA.
So, if you aspire to be a great MMA fighter, training no-gi BJJ resembles more the situation you will encounter in the octagon, but it’s also important that you train in a gi from time to time.
The advantages of wearing a gi offer the fighter more submission options and build a better defensive base than wearing a rash guard. It’s still the more popular style, and it’s much easier to find a gym that trains gi jiu-jitsu than the ones that train no-gi only.
Starting in a gi, and mastering its techniques over time, you will be able to transfer those techniques into no-gi BJJ if you want to try a different style.
The disadvantage of training in a gi is mainly related to the pace of the game and the comfort. A gi weighs much more than the rashguard, which slows the game and requires you to adapt your training to the extra weight.
No Gi BJJ Advantages
The advantages that no-gi brings to the table are the development of offensive skills and techniques that can be applied directly to MMA. It’s a much faster style, and that will require you to think much quicker so you can beat your opponent.
No Gi BJJ Disadvantages
On the other hand, there is a disadvantage to this style, and that is if you are training no-gi only, you won’t be able to use the same defense techniques as you would in a gi.
With all this being said, it would be silly to think that one style is superior to the other. There are advantages and disadvantages to both styles, and it is up to you to decide which ones you are willing to take on.
As we said before, it is best that, if you can, train both styles so you can get the best of both worlds and make the most out of each style.