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To Gi, or Not to Gi?
That is the question!
This is a debate that goes back to the beginning of Jiu-Jitsu, and most people have their own opinion on it. Like usual, when it comes to hot topics there are many valid point on either side of the argument, but the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
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First off let’s make one thing clear. Any Jiu-Jitsu (gi or no gi) is better than no Jiu-Jitsu. That said what you prefer to train in will be determined by the type of goals you set for yourself. If fitness is your only goal either Gi or No-Gi will serve you greatly. Winning the IBJJF world championships can only be done wearing a Gi. If you hope to become the next great ADCC star like Gordon Ryan you might want to shed the gi and up your wrestling skills.
Viability of training for self-defense is also a hotly debated topic. Which training is more practical for self-defense. Again the truth lies somewhere in the middle. If you live in Northern Pennsylvania, chances are people are walking around with jackets 7-8 months out of the year. If San Diego is your place of residence they might not know what a jacket is.
Some people believe that Jiu-Jitsu without the Gi is cheapening the overall martial arts experience. Rafael Lovato appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience last week and had a great take on what training in the Gi means for him. Lovato made it very clear in this episode that to him you cannot get the full experience of what Jiu-Jitsu is and has to offer without training in the Gi.
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Other people like Eddie Bravo, who is a Jean-Jacques black belt, feel that although the Gi has its place the sport is heading into a No-Gi direction. With all of the attention that MMA and now combat Jiu-Jitsu has gained it’s easy to see why Mr. Bravo feels the way he does. Gordon Ryan has also been outspoken on his always entertaining Instagram account. He commonly pokes fun at training in the Gi and how much he “hates” it.
In my humble opinion training in both Gi and No-Gi is the best avenue to travel. This will make it so the practitioner is the most well rounded that they could be. Depending on the academy structure a lot of schools will switch back and forth between Gi and No-Gi. Some schools will switch day to day training while others will have miniature “seasons” of Gi and No-Gi. Plus when you train both you are much easier to buy gifts for!