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GI VS NO GI JIU JITSU
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GI VS NO GI JIU JITSU

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling based Martial Art that descends from Kano Jigoro's traditional form of Kodokan Judo. The grappling art utilises a traditional Gi which is similar to the old traditional kimonos that the Samurai of feudal Japan used to wear. The evolution of the Gi has seen many practitioners wear the heavy and thick uniform, and use it as a weapon. In the Gi a BJJ practitioner can grab hold of different parts of the uniform in order to pass the guard or execute sweeps. The jacket has a thick lapel that has been designed to be used to choke an opponent or wrap up their limbs. The traditional Gi is very similar to a Judoka Gi as throws are utilised by both judo and jiu jitsu disciplines. 

What This Article Covers:

The No Gi variation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has made significant inroads towards international leadership in the grappling arts. The discipline of No Gi is very similar to the battle between submission wrestling vs bjj, as both arts are descended from Rixon Gracie's era of fighting against pro wrestlers. No Gi grappling has recently exploded onto the world stage with many talented superstars taking the limelight. Athletes like Gordon Ryan, Andre Galvao, Craig Jones, Augusto Mendes, Tye Ruotulo and Felipe Pena have taken the centre stage capturing the imagination of many future athletes. The success of these respective athletes are paving the way for No Gi grappling to become the pinnacle of BJJ worldwide.  

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what is gi in jiu jitsu

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THE ORIGIN OF GI BJJ

The history of the Gi uniform goes way back to ancient Japan, as the Samurai warriors would wear different coloured Gi's to signify which clan they belonged to. Gi's were worn underneath their armour which made hand to hand combat slightly difficult. As the years went on and the Samurai decreased in numbers so did the need for the Gi. It took centuries for the Gi to make its triumphant return as the art of Judo began utilising traditional Gi's as a part of their uniform. 

Jigoro Kano was a prominent teacher of Kodokan Judo, who passed on his knowledge to his most famous student Mitsuyo Maeda. The fame of Maeda became apparent after he made the transition to Brazil and began showcasing demonstrations at the Da Paz theatre in Rio. Maeda brought a style of judo and japan jiu jitsu to the people of Brazil, as the Gracie clan took notice. Carlos Gracie was the first to learn the art before passing it on to his brothers Oswaldo, Gastao Jr, George and Helio Gracie. 

Helio's inability to execute many of the Judo throws forced him to develop his own system of Jiu Jitsu, that would later become famous as Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Helio would teach his sons and nephews his art of Jiu Jitsu and as the likes of Rixon, Rorion, Royce and Renzo Gracie all began to dominate throughout Brazil, Japan and later on in the United States of America. All of Helio's students had to wear white Gi uniforms, as Helio figured that if all his students wore the same coloured Gi then it would help with cultural segregation within his academy. Helio began to modify his uniform making it tighter and narrower, making it more suited to the ground game. During the 1970's Reylson Gracie, the son of Carlos Gracie introduced different coloured Gi versions with longer sleeves, which were a better solution to fit competition requirements. As the evolution of the grappling art began to rise, the Martial Art claimed significant worldwide notoriety and continues to develop on a daily basis. 

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THE ORIGIN OF NO GI BJJ

The history of No Gi Jiu Jitsu runs parallel to that of traditional Gi Jiu Jitsu. Mitsuyo Maeda was an avid traveller and began sharing Jigoro Kano's Judo style with many Brazilians. Mitsuyo never shied away from a challenge, as his focus was primarily on overcoming adversity, rather than winning fights. In 1908 Mitsuyo competed in an unknown Martial Arts contest that was detailed as a mix of grappling combat that included submissions like choke holds, armbars and leg locks. There were no Gi uniforms involved in the fight, which made the contest a more challenging one. 

Mitsuyo was entered into the middle weight and heavy weight divisions at the Catch Wrestling world championship in London. Mitsuyo gained significant notoriety after he executed a series of expert Judo techniques like the seoi nage, and ogoshi without wearing the Gi uniform. Fighting against a 297 pound wrestler, Mitsuyo conceded 140 pounds, and even though he didn't claim victory he was praised by Time Magazine in how he persevered in the event. Mitsuyo showcased the heart of a warrior and a technical proficiency unlike anything that had been seen before. 

Mitsuyo Maeda had developed a strong will and a sense of spirit from his experiences fighting in London. This fortitude he built would later serve him well in Brazil, as he helped many Japanese settlers fight through different conflicts. After hosting a demonstration at the La Paz theatre in Rio, Mitsuyo was introduced to Carlos Gracie who was the son of a prominent businessman Gastao Gracie. Mitsuyo agreed to take Carlos on as a student as a thanks to Gastao for helping him settle into Brazil. Mitsuyo would pass on all his knowledge to Carlos including the hybrid version of submission grappling. The Gracie clan would monopolise the No Gi discipline by hosting a vale tudo competition which sported some of Brazil's finest Luta Livre and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters.

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IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GI AND NO GI STYLES 

There are some considerable differences between Gi and No Gi Jiu Jitsu. The obvious difference is that the Gi discipline uses a distinctive and traditional uniform called a Gi, compared to No Gi which wears a rashguard and shorts. This difference is basically the same as gjj vs bjj, as Gracie Jiu Jitsu utilises the Gi more commonly than BJJ, as BJJ is now heavily aligned with No Gi grappling. The difference in style is all about gripping an opponent vs using underhooks, arm drags, neck ties and overhooks. 

A big difference that serves well for Gi fighters is the ability they have to use the Gi as a weapon. Practitioners will use grips on the pants and the sleeve to control their way into more dominant positions. The use of the lapel in Gi Jiu Jitsu can be deadly as the Gi practitioner will set up infamous choke holds like the Cross Collar, the Baseball Bat, the Bow and Arrow and the Ezekiel. In No Gi the control is different as a practitioner will use a more comprehensive bjj wrestling style, as they shoot in for takedowns and utilise wrestling techniques to help pass the guard. Without the use of gripping a Gi, a No Gi practitioner must rely on strong wrist grips, neck ties, arm drags, overhooks and underhooks to subdue and maintain control.

Another difference in styles is the repouture of movements that each practitioner will use. In No Gi it can be significantly more slippery as opposed to Gi, so escaping positions or submissions are easier in No Gi. For a Gi practitioner it is a lot harder to move as they can be stifled by an opponent's grips. A lot of maneuvers in the Gi rely on gripping the collar, whereas in No Gi it's more about using a solid transition. In No Gi there is a free range on leg locks, compared to Gi fighters who are not allowed to heel hook. There are pros and cons to each style, like the ability to use a broader range of moves in the Gi is contrasted by the fact their opponents can block and defend easier. The same is said for No Gi, as it may be easier to attack with certain movements, but the ability to escape is highlighted.

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DOES A RANK IN THE GI APPLY TO NO GI 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a highly complex belt ranking system that begins at the young age of 5, where a student will start as a white belt. There is no testing in BJJ, instead an instructor will grade students by watching their slow accumulation of skills and understanding of the art. Each student receives four stripes on their belt before they can move up in rank. The order of the kids belt system goes, white, grey and white, solid grey, grey and black, yellow and white, solid yellow, yellow and black, orange and white, solid orange, orange and black, green and white, solid green and then green and black. There are 13 kids belts in total and when a green belt turns 16 they can move straight into an adult blue belt. The adult system is less complicated but they will spend longer in each belt rank, which is approximately two years in each belt level. As an adult starts at white they will then move through to the blue belt, purple belt, brown belt and finally the black belt. There are two coral belts and a red belt, but these rare belts are basically impossible to earn. 

No Gi divisions usually wear a ranked rashguard, which has 10% of their belt colour on the sleeves, but they do not wear their belts in a competition match. All students that earn a belt wearing the Gi are immediately ranked in the No Gi division. In some cases belts are handed out to students that never train in the Gi, although this may be frowned upon there are legitimate claims that a student may be worthy of a black belt in just pure No Gi. With the way the sport has deviated into almost two separate sports it is only fair that a student who has no interest in training in the Gi is still allowed to be graded accordingly in the No G discipline.

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COMPARING TRAINING  BETWEEN GI AND NO GI BJJ 

Training in the Gi takes some getting used to, and after a slight adjustment period most practitioners become very accustomed to wearing a thick and heavy uniform. The major advantage to wearing a Gi is having the ability to utilise grips on an opponent's pants or jacket, this will make it easier to control an opponent and pass their guard. Students have access to a larger amount of techniques, which can result in a more comprehensive game style. Wearing a traditional Gi is also showing respect to the amazing Martial Art that Helio, Carlos and many other Gracie clan members have developed over the last century.

Training in No Gi has its own set of pros and cons, as there is a significant freedom attached to not wearing a Gi. Without Gi grips an opponent must use a tighter set of controls in order to subdue their opponent, which can prove difficult in a slippery No Gi matchup. There is also a vastly different set of submissions that a No Gi practitioner can utilise, as they will often rely on wrestling based movements and leg lock systems. Training in No Gi can open up a student to thinking more conceptually, as the lack of Gi grips will mean they should be getting creative when it comes to controlling, transitioning and setting up submissions.

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GI VS NO GI: WHO WINS

There are a multitude of factors to consider when trying to judge who could win in a fight between Gi and No Gi. The fight will always be close, but there are significant advantages and disadvantages on both sides of the fence. A traditional Gi competitor will always be able to utilise their lapels to wrap up a No Gi competitors limbs, or use the lapels to choke them with. Also wearing a Gi makes it considerably hard to stop a No Gi competitor from escaping from certain control positions or submissions. As good as an advantage can be it could also serve as a disadvantage when going up against a No Gi competitor.

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no gi vs gi bjj

A No Gi grappler can use their opponent's Gi to control them and pass their guard easier. They will also be able to use grips and they will have a bigger selection of chokes they can execute on a Gi competitor. It is hard to call a winner between these two, but the No Gi competitor should find it easier to control a Gi competitor and therefore win the fight.

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