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What’s the best way to train? Gi or No Gi?
A lot of people have strong feelings about training gi or no gi. I have heard many purists express a certain disdain for people who train only no gi, only to lose to those people in no gi competition. On the other hand, the vast majority of winners of major tournaments train in the gi, and there may be a reason for this.
Training in the gi exposes us to something special: it makes us have to contend with friction and added sets of grips. It is a training tool.
Think of a speed bag that a boxer may use in training: the way a boxer hits the speed bag is different from the way that boxer hits their opponent. However, using the speed bag improves eye hand coordination.
In jiu jitsu, true proficiency equals full body coordination, and training in the gi improves on that coordination. We learn to understand grips and how to use them to nullify another person’s movement, and the gi in some ways mimics actual clothing allowing us to learn a bit more about self defense.
Of course, if you only train in the gi you will be ill equipped to handle situations in which the gi is absent, so you should also learn no gi grips and techniques that are more appropriate for no gi.
There is no reason to be stuck training with or without the gi, train both! Your jiu jitsu will greatly benefit.
One of the to best gi practitioners in the world is Bernardo Faria, take a look at how he does when he competes no gi:
Perhaps the most important position to master in both gi and no gi is the back. Check out this DVD by Matt Arroyo covering back attacks