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No gi training in BJJ: A compelling case for training both

Do I really need to train gi and nogi bjj

To gi or not to gi? That is the question when it comes to no gi training. Some people believe BJJ should be trained only in the gi while others believe that the gi is what holds BJJ back.

People should in general train both in the gi and nogi.

I am not saying you have to like both equally, but rather you should respect the value of both. Here’s why:

No gi training: addressing the “gi only” view:

First I want to address the common “gi only” view on Jiu Jitsu. This view is usually backed up by the belief that BJJ is traditional and that the gi is the “essence” of Jiu Jitsu.

However if we truly seek to find the essence of BJJ we will inevitably discover that Jiu Jitsu was originally developed for self-defense and a lot of the newer gi guards simply will not work in a self-defense situation.

But training no gi takes away most of the guards where the uniform is necessary. It seems more realistic for self-defense.  This is not to say that training in the gi does not prepare you for a self-defense scenario. I myself train at a gym that only holds traditional gi classes.

In BJJ I will often choose not to use the material — only using frames and head/arm grips. This helps me broaden my game and keep things fresh.

No gi training: the counter view point

The direct counter for this view is that nogi is the real Jiu Jitsu. In a fight, you won’t always have something that resembles a gi to use against your attacker. This view is also very flawed for many reasons!

  1. The first is that a great BJJ practitioner will have so much knowledge over an unskilled attacker that it simply won’t matter.
  2. The next is that there are many cold places. For example, my own hometown of Portland Oregon has people in pants and a heavy jacket for 9 months out of the year (which is very similar to the gi).
  3. Lastly I feel it also depends on where you train. My team (Team Pedro Sauer/Anibal Lobo Jiu Jitsu) teaches us self-defense techniques that we can use with a simple t-shirt.

What makes Jiu Jitsu great is both styles

Last I want to talk about what makes Jiu Jitsu so great. To me the reason Jiu Jitsu is so great is because of how wide the range of techniques truly are. Unlike many other martial arts Jiu Jitsu is constantly evolving and we are constantly discovering more and more techniques.

Jiu Jitsu is more than just gi or nogi because there are techniques that exist for both just as it’s not just sport or self-defense. For any one person to try and label Jiu Jitsu seems absurd to me.

How can you label something that is impossible to master? We are all students in the art regardless of belt. Everyone is always learning more and more which to me puts Jiu Jitsu above any simple label. We should understand that both gi and nogi are very important because they represent two sides of the same coin and seem incomplete without the other.

I hope I have opened some eyes as to why both gi and nogi are important and deserve attention. What do you think? Should no gi be considered the more practical style, or is it too far divorced from the traditional training method?

About the author: Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt under Anibal Lobo and Pedro Sauer.

3 comments… add one
  • Tony

    Hello, I was wondering, I figured you’d know better then me, what gym would be better to go to, I have two gyms in mind the lobo gym in Gresham, Oregon or Salem-keizer Brazilian jiu jitsu taught by James Puopolo (hope I spelled his name right) which I’ve read on forums he’s a legit black(under Rafael lovato Jr) and very good in competition, he won world championships as a purple and brown belt I think blue too but not sure. Anyways, what do you think about the gyms? Its very tempting to go to the Salem-keizer bjj gym because of James Puopolo and his accolades and I’d like to compete and he knows what he’s talking about and I live in Salem Oregon but I do not want to trade quality for comfort (not saying Puopolo is not quality) then there is anibol which from what I read sounds almost like a Gracie without the name, like Pedro sauer type guy, and what I read about the t shirt self defense sounds so amazing! Also, the thought of getting a black belt from a top notch name in bjj lobo/sauer is very appealing. I’d like to compete at a very high level and learn street bjj and it sounds like Puopolo might be better for competition and anibol for the streets but I could be wrong maybe they’re both very good at both anything information would be very helpful.

    • Not sure! Try a sample class at each and tell me what you think of them and we’ll help you figure it out!

  • Christopher

    I cannot agree more with this article. I would however like to add that as a practical self defense form, Judo can only enhance ones ability to defend themselves. After witnessing, and first hand experience, of the devastating effects of throws, I feel that some of the more learnable and adaptable throws be part of the syllabus of any martial arts program. There should also be more focus on starting from the feet as opposed to the knees.

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