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Gi or No Gi?
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Gi or No Gi?

,

Is that the question?

The debate has been a hot one for years, with traditionalists claiming that the Gi produces more technically adept grapplers. In most cases people develop a preference for Gi or No Gi, likely biased by which they are first introduced to and have trained in the majority of the time. Someone with a wrestling background is prone to be more efficient in no gi, while someone that started with a gi dominant jiu jitsu school might feel uncomfortable with the difference in submission availability. What are the benefits and downsides to each style of training and when is each one more applicable? 

In general, there are only a few actual things that change when you remove the gi from the equation; there is less friction present between you and your opponent, there are less grips to choose from, and there aren’t as many chokes available for submissions. Regardless of whether or not a certain style is “better” than the other one, most high level competitors agree that training in both styles is the best option. This allows you to experience them both and develop a variety of approaches to different submissions as well as strengthen both your defensive and offensive strategy. Here is a breakdown of what you will be addressing in both circumstances: 

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Gi: The biggest asset to the Gi is the easy access to grips. You have the option of the lapel, pants, belt, jacket tail and sleeves. This gives you a lot more control during a match and the ability to slow down your opponent when playing defense. The fabric of the Gi will also automatically slow down the movements of the match, allowing a little more time to develop a game plan and react. Grappling in the gi is very helpful if you are much smaller than your opponent, since it can be used as leverage. In general the Gi is best used in defensive maneuvers, making it beneficial to train in when first starting jiu jitsu. The addition of the fabric allows for less precise body placement in submission attempts and body pins, so it helps when learning the overall concept of the sport. 

No Gi: Without fabric you are exposed to much less friction and drag, so the speed of the match is much faster. This enforces high technical skill and quick thinking, especially with offensive moves. Back takes are common in this style, as well as guillotines and leg locks due to the limited submission options. If you are more advanced or looking to increase your precision on any of these techniques then it would be very beneficial to practice without a gi, even if your goal is to use them with a gi. While the gi allows smaller players to submit due to use of fabric, no gi is also an option since back takes and chokes are less strength based and 

more positional. No gi enforces correct body placement and leverage, making it a great option for upper belts to further their skill set. 

Like many aspects of Jiu Jitsu, what it really comes down to is personal preference. If you are a beginner and looking to focus on basic submissions and grips to control your opponent then practicing in the gi would be best. If you are a purple belt that wants to widen their leg lock arsenal, then no gi makes more sense. However; training in both styles is always your best bet, so you can learn and become familiar with both! 

To take a deeper dive into the guillotine submissions and positions from one of the best in the sport, check out “The Headhunter Guillotine Series” – by Neil Melanson.  Not only will you get answers to the question of what to do if they bail out on you as mentioned above, but you will see tons of variations of the guillotine choke submission from various positions.  Your opponent’s in the gym and in tournaments won’t have a chance once you lock in this knowledge. As the saying goes, knowledge is power… The knowledge of how to do a proper guillotine choke from any position is certainly powerful. 

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