Should I Train Go or NoGi?
Nothing raises more eyebrows than the age old debate of Gi vs. No-Gi. I’ve been asked this training question several times, and often earlier in my training I asked myself and others the same. I have slowly come to different conclusions throughout the years of training Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a touchy subject with different answers for each individual grappler. I’m also probably biased towards one form of Jiu-Jitsu, but I feel this way because of my own goals and values as a martial artist.
The pros of training in a GI
Is GI is the answer? Gi, is possibly the better form of Jiu-Jitsu to practice your technique. It teaches you to slow your game down and be more technical in your Jiu-Jitsu. I think Jiu-Jitsu is similar to a car. The more gears and speeds you have control over, the better. This isn’t to say that specialization is inferior, I’m saying that mastering your Jiu-Jitsu to where you have options is a good thing.
If you can roll at a slow methodical pace, but also have the ability to pick the pace up and flow faster when applicable; you are going to be a dangerous Jiu-Jitsu fighter. Gi, also increases your defense incredibly. Before I really started training in the Gi, I relied on my flexibility and slipping out of submissions for my defense. Gi forced me to find the more technical way out and be more patient and calm.
The Cons of training in a GI
But, Gi has its downfalls for sure. If you rely heavily on Gi grips such as the collar, sleeve, pant leg, etc. You are creating bad habits for grips that aren’t always going to be there. If you do MMA, No-Gi, or get into a self-defense situation and have practiced your techniques relying on grips that won’t be there…..you’re gonna be in trouble. If you train with Gi grips, it will also be more difficult to slow the pace down to the gear you are used to, when Gi grips are not available.
The pros of training No-Gi
Then, is No-Gi the solution? Maybe. No-Gi is often a higher paced battle that focuses on wrist control, under hooks, over hooks, and collar ties. These grips are always an option regardless of what your opponent is wearing. You can always use No-Gi grips whether it be MMA, Gi, or self defense. If you practice techniques and submissions in No-Gi, you can be sure those options are available in all scenarios. Also, No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu is a different speed than Gi Jiu-Jitsu, and often that speed is higher. If you can put that pace on someone who is not used to it, you can really open up holes in their game.
The Cons of training No-GI
Then again, No-Gi can create its own bad habits where Gi Jiu-Jitsu does not. You can start to rely on slipping out of submissions and lose focus on important technical details. It’s important to understand, when you are using factors such as sweat, and lack of traction to escape positions or submissions; wearing a Gi would make these types of escapes less effective. Winter Clothes = Winter Chokes.
In the end, it’s important to focus on both Gi and No-Gi BJJ. But, how should you split up your training time? 50% Gi/No-GI? 25% Gi and 75% No-Gi? That really depends on the kind of Jiu Jitsu fighter you want to be. Do you want to be a Gi competitor? An MMA fighter? A No-gi competitor? Or do you simply want to do it for self-defense?
I personally like a 80/20 ratio. Eighty percent of the time I practice No-Gi, and twenty percent of the time I do Gi. I choose that ratio because I enjoy No-Gi more, and I also find it more practical for MMA and self defense situations. Again, each person is different, and you should optimize your training time for your goals. Ask your professor about how to set your own ratio based on your Jiu-Jitsu goals. I tend to not have bad habits when it comes to grabbing on collars, pant legs, or sleeves because of my emphasis on No-Gi. Admittedly, it makes my Gi Jiu-Jitsu game less dynamic. However, I’m willing to sacrifice that dynamic aspect in Gi for the benefits I find in No-Gi.