Pajamas or Tights? The Dreaded Gi vs No Gi Debate

What's up guys! This has been a heated debate since the beginning of time. Ok maybe not that long but I have gotten into these debates since the beginning of my training.

Why Does It Matter?

Well, here's what it boils down to...IT DOESN'T! For those of you that don't know me, I started off training No gi almost exclusively. For about 8 years I really didn't like the gi. So since I didn't like it, I didn't train it. No gi is what made me happy so that's what I did. I trained in the 10th Planet system and got up to brown belt before I decided to strap the gi on. I ended up working swing shift so it didn't make sense to continue paying for the 10th Planet affiliation, so that was the moment I decided to start training in the gi. Mat time is mat time. That's when I absolutely fell in love with the gi. If training gi, no gi, or both makes you happy that's what you should do!

Your Technique Is Better In The Gi

Something the gi heads like to say is, "training in the gi makes your technique tighter." I only slightly agree with this statement. When you are rolling No Gi it is a little easier to slip out of submissions so being able to do this means not having to have perfect technique. The friction from the gi makes it pretty difficult to just rip out of submissions. Not impossible but a little more difficult. On the flip side if you're rolling no gi, if someone can rip out of your submissions you have to have tighter control and tighter submissions. So although it might hurt your technique on escapes it may help your technique on the offensive side. Training in the gi allows you to really slow things down and make sure you're using tight proper technique. It doesn't mean just because you're wearing the gi your technique is going to be better.

All The World Champions Train In The Gi

This might be true but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the focus has been on the gi for a lot longer than no gi. The first Gi World Championship was in 1996. The first No Gi World Championship started in 2007. Granted ADCC did start in 1999 and ran every year until 2001, where they switched to the current model of having a ADCC every other year but that is one time a year compared to the multiple tournaments a year that focused on the gi. Also I think another factor is the competitors that enter into Gi Worlds, No Gi Worlds, or ADCC typically do train both gi and no gi.

Is it possible that someone that trains solely no gi can win a World Championship or ADCC? Absolutely it's possible. Geo Martinez had a great showing in the 2015 ADCC. No he didn't win it but for someone that trains and competes only no gi he did damn well if you have the mentality that you have to wear the gi to do well. Gordon Ryan is also a killer and as far as I know he only recently put the gi on and to win his division and place 2nd in Absolutes is pretty damn impressive. He beat guys that have both been training much longer and train gi and no gi. 

Self Defense

"No gi is better for self defense because you aren't wearing a gi on the streets". I can see the view point on this but don't agree with it per se. I've seen street fights where people are wearing coats or hoodies and I've seen street fights where the guys rip their shirts off right before they throw down. This is probably more of an argument to train both because if the dude takes his shirt then obviously you don't have those upper body grips. If they get completely naked you obviously don't have any more grips but I would say don't fight that guy anyways. I'd be running cause he's got a screw loose. If they are still wearing a coat or hoodie you could use that for control or chokes. If you're more used to a no gi game then it doesn't matter what they're wearing you'll still control with over hooks and under hooks. Honestly not everybody knows Jiu Jitsu so even if you've only been training for a bit you should be able to handle most people regardless if you train gi or no gi.

In the End

If you're worried about what you should and shouldn't be training based on others opinions you're doing Jiu Jitsu for the wrong reasons. I say train what makes YOU happy. I train about 95/5 in favor of the gi. Typically I'll train no gi if my gis are dirty. The gi is what makes me happy but in the end Jiu Jitsu is Jiu Jitsu. If you prefer self defense, train self defense. If you're in it for sport reasons, train sport Jiu Jitsu. If it's for MMA, then train for MMA! The only thing that matters is you stick with it and train. 

I hope to see y'all on the mats


Brent Smith

Cauliflower Ear Family


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