As jiu jitsu has grown in popularity, so too has the divide between gi and no gi practitioners. While many people used to believe that if you were good in the gi then you were also good without the gi, this is no longer a commonly held belief. There are many techniques and positions that are different between gi and no gi, mainly because of the differences in how you can connect to your opponent. Although there are distinct differences, it’s very beneficial to train both. Below are some of the main reasons why you’d want to train both gi and no gi.
Training no gi will help improve your takedowns
Training without the gi will help improve your takedowns. In the gi, it’s common to see a lot of judo techniques, but certain wrestling techniques can be a bit harder to implement. In no g the gripping and set ups change, with collar ties, wrist control, and underhooks becoming more important. In the gi, it’s also much easier to pull guard. In many no gi rulesets, the guard pull is much more difficult, forcing competitors to spend more time developing both offensive and defensive takedown abilities.
Gi training will help improve your escapes
When you’re training no-gi, you’ll often notice how slippery it can get and how much easier it can be to escape from bad positions. In the gi, this is not the case. The grips often make inferior positions much more difficult to escape. In the gi your escapes will have to be very technical for them to work properly. When you’re inside control, for example, and your opponent is able to grab the gi, you’ll have to use proper frames and hip movement to create enough space to escape. Without this connection in no gi, it is often much easier to escape not only side control but also other pins and submissions.
No gi will help you learn leg locks
While you can absolutely learn effective leg locks in the gi, there are often rules that make it harder to learn certain ones, like heel hooks. Not only is the heel hook an illegal submission in many gi rulesets, but so is knee reaping, a position often used to setup heel hooks. Learning how to do heel hooks will not only help with your leg lock submission game, but also with your overall positioning.
Gi training will increase your grip strength
Grip and finger strength are essential for effective jiu-jitsu. Grabbing the gi material and not letting your opponent break your grips is a great way to build grip strength. Grip strength is important not only for gi jiu-jitsu but also for general health and performance. The stronger your grip is, the stronger your entire upper body will be, which will ultimately allow you to train longer and improve more.
No gi will give your grips a rest
Although the gi will allow you to create better grip strength, when it is overdone, it can lead to hand and finger injuries. Switching up your training to no gi will allow you to train your hands and fingers in a much different way and thus avoid injury. If you train half gi and half no gi you have a much better chance of maintaining healthy hands and fingers, which will lead to increased longevity in BJJ.
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