Gi VS No-Gi: No Difference?

Posted: July 15, 2013 by patrickasay in Uncategorized

Stephan Kesting has a great reputation in the world of Brazilian Jiujitsu, Gi and Nogi (But from everything I’ve known of him he tends to do more instructional videos in Nogi. I Kind of wish he would do some in the Gi just because I find his teaching methods very effective).

Here, in his video, he shows a super cool technique that you can do both with and without the Gi.

Now, what is your preference? Do you think the Gi is more important than Nogi? Of equal importance? Of lesser importance?

I trained in Nogi for about 2 years before putting on the Gi. My personal preference, be it known, and putting aside all arguments for both, is the Gi!!! For three reasons:

#1 I feel it is more applicable to what we do at Applied Martial Arts, because the Gi simulates ACTUAL CLOTHING, like a jacket, hoodie, or even a T-Shirt. Training in the Gi is actually more effective in reality-based self defense than is Nogi, because most of the time people are wearing clothes when they attack you–and you can use that against them, having handle-holds everywhere, effective grips for sweeps and escapes, and TONS of submissions with whatever they’re wearing. If you wanted to be an MMA cage fighter, a sport that is topless, then you would have to train more Nogi than in-the-Gi (in my opinion, but I would still have an MMA guy cross train in the Gi for a more technical game).

Now, here at Applied Martial Arts/Asay Jiujitsu, we do teach Nogi to a very appropriate degree nonetheless, because what if you’re at the beach, where you aren’t wearing a shirt and neither is the guy who comes up to fight you? There are times where Nogi is essential. However, most of the time, Gi Jiujitsu is the way to go for reality-based self defense.

We do have a mandatory 20 hours of Nogi live-grappling (not just a class or demonstrations or drilling) that one must keep logged before earning their black belt in Asay Jiujitsu.

We don’t neglect the Nogi game, we just go by the statistics that, A. in this area it is cold more months out of the year and people wear jackets most of the time (even in summer people wear hoodies or jackets at night quite often). B. Most violent crimes happen at night time, when people are most likely going to be wearing a jacket or hoodie.

#2 I feel like the Gi game is more technical, slower paced, like a chess match.

Allow me to elaborate on that analogy:  If you go to New York City and find “Chess Parks,” you’ll see some incredible talent…but they’re all playing “speed chess” (most of the time). If you take Gary Kasparov (multiple time world champion grand master of Chess) against the best speed chess guy in the parks of NYC, and have them both carefully play out their options, in a normal chess match where you have more time to think about your move, Kasparov would destroy!

Now, put Kasparov against the other guy in a speed chess match and…I still think Kasparov would destroy, but I really a not sure. At any rate, that really isn’t the point!

The point is this: I feel that you get a better grasp of the art of Jiujitsu when you have more time to think. The pace is slower in Gi than in Nogi (most would agree), and thus you are able to get really technical (having enough time to assess your situation and make necessary adjustments to your position).

And #3…

I personally think it is more fun putting on something heavy and learning how to be effectively mobile on the ground with extra weight.

Also, I LOVE Gi chokes!!! Very few things in martial arts give me the good ol’ feeling of satisfaction than to choke somebody (submit them) by using their OWN freaking clothing to do so! HAHAHA I love it! I don’t know why.

On the YouTube comments for the video, I came across an interesting exchange:

xymaster19 said, “great video, in order to have a solid no-gi game, its essential to train in the gi, just that simple, I usually train only once a week no-gi and the rest gi, one translates into the other very well and if you dont believe me just ask marcelo garcia :)”

gun slinger replied, “Really? Most greco Roman and Freestyle wrestlers would disagree. They have great grappling skills and have never trained with a gi. The gi is holding grappling back.”

Now what do y’all think?

What is your preference? Why?

–patrick asay
9th degree Aquamarine Belt in Udinkypoo-Jitzu

  1. Cool video.

    I must say, my preference is towards heavy gi training with occasional nogi refresher training. I too believe the gi makes you more technical, and slows the game down by adding effective hand holds and opening more options for techniques. I also think training with the gi is safer. by simply going slower and having more sure grips, practitioners are less likely to be tempted to jerk their way free of bad positions, and thus reducing the risk of accidental injury. Also, the transition from learning to grapple with a gi to without is a lot smoother than the other way around.

    As for the comment about nogi grapplers like Greco Roman wrestlers being great grapplers, I agree wholeheartedly. However, a nogi grappler would have nothing to lose and much to gain by learning to grapple with the gi. It’s far easier to ignore the lack of hand holds when they’re not there than to ignore them when they are.

  2. if I had to choose, I would say gi training is more appropriate for self-defense training, for sure. Nogi training is usually more essential if you are preparing for a trained, athletic opponent in a sports setting. Gi training is more versatile, less athletically demanding, and more accurately simulates certain conditions of combat than nogi. In most violent confrontations in a non-sport setting, the hand holds will be there, or at least some of them. Even if you’re fighting a shirtless guy, he’ll likely still be wearing some form of pants. Gi teaches you what to do with that. Nogi doesn’t.

  3. I only train in the gi. No desire to do no-gi. When I put the gi on, it pumps up my psyche, sort of like Clark Kent coming out of a phone booth and becoming Superman. When I put the Gi on, I go back into time and now I become Samurai Jack! When the workout is done and the gi is off, I go back to being computer geek Dad.

    • haha, I love the gi transformation! I totally know what you mean about becoming someone else when it’s on.

      • patrickasay says:

        As you, Brock, know: I have an obsession with buying new Gi’s worse than most wives are with shoes!!!! Having said that…I feel like I am resurrected samurai warrior when I put on the Gi. INVINCIBLE!…But then I roll with you and become a human again HAHA! 😉

        Miss ya bro! We need to train soon!


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