To train Gi or no-gi Jiu Jitsu has been a topic of heated debate within the Jiu Jitsu community since the dawn of time. Gi BJJ proponents emphasize tradition and using the gi as a learning tool, whereas no-gi BJJ proponents argue that no-gi is superior for real life situations. This can be confusing for novices trying to get into BJJ. But if you want to learn how to grapple, which style is best for beginners to begin with?
Most practitioners of BJJ start by training in the gi, the traditional BJJ kimono. The gi is a great tool for learning and can help beginners understand frames, body mechanics, and how to control their opponent. In the gi, the belt, sleeves, and lapels can be used to control, move, and submit an opponent. This slows down the game and ultimately makes gi jiu jitsu a bit more technical.
No-gi Jiu-Jitsu Practitioners train in rash guards and spats or shorts. In no-gi training, grips on clothing are not allowed so you will have to adapt your style. It is harder to control your opponent in no-gi, so the game ends up being faster and scrappy-ier. No-gi jiu jitsu incorporates techniques from wrestling as well as leg-locks like heel hooks and knee bars. No-gi jiu jitsu transitions well to MMA, so if you have aspirations to learn multiple martial arts disciplines, it might be a good fit.
Both gi and no-gi are important for being a well-rounded jiu jitsu practitioner. They each have different lessons to teach and you will find yourself expanding your “game” and capabilities to accommodate the differences. Ultimately, most jiu jitsu players have a favorite discipline. But you should probably train both gi and no-gi if you want to get good at Jiu Jitsu.
However, if your ultimate goal is mixed martial arts or pure self-defense, training without the gi may be beneficial. Furthermore, No-gi is also an excellent starting point for beginners due to the lower financial commitment required. Gi however, will likely help you improve your jiu jitsu faster.
If you've decided to try no-gi BJJ, the next step is to get the necessary no-gi grappling apparel so you can start training right away. A rash guard and shorts/spats are required for training or sparring. Rash guards and shorts must be well-fitting to protect your body during sparring sessions or competitions. No gi bjj is not kind to the skin, so make sure that whatever you wear protects you from getting mat burns while practicing this martial art form.
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