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!
- The first is that a great BJJ practitioner will have so much knowledge over an unskilled attacker that it simply won’t matter.
- 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).
- 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?