To Gi or not to Gi
A common question I am asked by beginners is whether they should train gi or nogi. My answer is always the same…both. I always tell them that the gi will transfer over and help your nogi game tremendously; however the same cannot be said the other way around. If you ask any high level BJJ practitioner I’m pretty sure they will tell you the same thing. With the popularity of MMA, a lot of schools focus mainly on nogi and there are many people that simply don’t want to do it for whatever reason. When I started BJJ over a decade ago, classes were always gi and once a week there was an optional nogi class. Little by little more nogi gained popularity and more classes were added. The same change took place at tournaments. Gi divisions were always first followed by the slim nogi divisions and today it’s the other way around. As I was making my outline for this blog, I was writing down the pros and cons of training in the gi, but in reality, there are no cons. Below I will discuss some of the many benefits of training with the gi.
Slows the Game Down
The many grips involved in gi training allow one to slow things down and think. Nogi is definitely fun, however it is very fast paced and difficult for many beginners. When the gi is put on it tends to weaken some of the physical advantages such as athleticism and strength. Anytime something new is trying to be learned, the slow approach is always going to be more beneficial in the long run. The fact that you are able to grab your opponent/partners uniform allows you to slow down their movement and in return take a little longer to plan your next movement or attack and learn at the same time.
As mentioned above, the grips allow one to slow down their opponent/partner, which is showing they are in control. They are controlling resistance, space, and leverage even if they don’t realize it right away. This control helps recognize the momentum changes taking place as two people are rolling. These shifts in momentum are what set-up the many moves involved such as passes, sweeps, and submissions. As people gain more practice and mat time they will start to become more technical and knowing when to execute a certain move base on their opponent/partners movement.
Become more Technical
You always hear about how BJJ is like chess, which is indeed true. The battle is always back and forth until someone simply out smarts the other or catches a mistake. With more practice you start to see and feel what the other is doing based on how they are grabbing and trying to control you. Based off of this you are able to figure out how to counter their objective and create your own. This is the beginning of becoming technical. The gi not only teaches you proper grips, but also proper hand placement which is how it will help in nogi or assist any MMA fighter. You aren’t just grabbing and pulling for no reason trying to muscle your way to victory.. There needs to be a specific reason to why you are placing your hands in a certain position and why you are trying to make them move a certain way. When one knows these reasons they are then becoming more of a technical fighter.
The gi is not only a great learning tool, but also allows one to make-up or figure out new techniques on the fly. This is something that can take place at all levels of BJJ. There are so many different variations and set-ups linked to one move. Just because you learn a move a certain way doesn’t mean you have to do it perfectly that way all the time. Depending on who you are rolling with you are going to have to change things up sometimes.
This is one of the biggest advantages for training in the gi. It resembles everyday clothing which can come in handy in a self-defense situation. I feel that the techniques learned in gi will help in these situations to not only help keep one safe, but also restrain the attacker without using any strikes. This is definitely beneficial for any police and law-enforcement personnel since they deal with these situations on a regular basis. In the heat of the moment your instinct and training will kick in and hopefully prevent anyone involved from serious injury.
Overall, the gi is a beneficial tool for any martial artist whether your train as a hobby or for competition. I hope this blog opened up the minds of those who were turned off by the gi and get them to either put it back on or even try it for the first time. Remember, everything takes practice. If you don’t like it a first, you soon will down the road. Always keep an open mind and don’t get stuck in doing what you are used to. That’s how you will evolve your game as a martial artist. If you don’t have a gi, checkout combatcorner.com for their selection of amazing gi’s and get your learn on!