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Invest a Little Time in the No Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Game

Updated on November 21, 2016
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Gi or No Gi for BJJ?

Training with the Gi is what really makes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu different from so many of the other arts found in MMA. Other than Judo and Russian Sombo, the arts that comprise Mixed Martial Arts generally do not require a Gi or similar training uniform. For those that enjoy BJJ training, working with the Gi makes training the art decidedly unique. The Gi is not just a uniform for show. It serves to facilitate specific offensive and defensive tactics. Entire guard games are built around wearing the uniform. So, it can be said without very much controversy that training with the Gi is worthwhile.

That said, you should spend some time learning No Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Just as training in the Gi has many unique benefits to it, training without the Gi has much value as well.

The Common Benefits and Differences with Training No Gi BJJ

There are quite a number of benefits to training without the Gi. Listing all of them might require writing a multi-volume book series. (A few of them have already been written) There are, however, a few benefits that are worth highlighting right here.

  • Since the No Gi game is sometimes faster paced, you end up having to learn to adjust to the higher tempo of the game. No, this is not to say that there are no fast paced Gi matches. There are tons of them. Also, not every No Gi or MMA match is super fast. There are a lot of slow matches in those formats. In general, No Gi will be a little faster paced because there is no Gi to hold onto and grip. As a result, you end up having to move more since you cannot always use gripping to slow things down.
  • Your controls will be different in a No Gi game. Since you do not have the collar or the sleeves to grip, you will have to use more wrestling based clinch style controls on the ground. Learning this type of gripping can only help your game.
  • A submission arsenal will have to grow to include leg and foot locks. Not all traditional BJJ practitioners will have to learn a wide variety of leglocks. In No Gi competition, more leg submissions are allowed. As a result, anyone training No Gi will be exposed to learning more leg submissions.
  • No Gi training is more akin to hybrid submission grappling than pure BJJ. No Gi BJJ is rarely pure BJJ. Even if the rules for a No Gi BJJ match are the same exact ones as the Gi division, anyone training for No Gi will want to add components of amateur, Greco Roman and submission wrestling to their repertoire. This will contribute to the overall growth of a serious BJJ player.
  • No Gi training can also open up different perspectives to self-defense training. Often, No Gi apparel mimics what people may wear during certain seasons of the year.


No Gi Jiu Jitsu is Not the Same as Submission Wrestling

One thing necessary to point out here is that No Gi Jiu Jitsu is commonly referred to as Submission Wrestling. The two are definitely not the same art. No Gi Jiu Jitsu is based on the traditional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu strategy, moves, and theory. Submission Wresting is a form of wrestling. This means a submission wrestler is going to employ a wrestling based posture, try to stay on top more than use a guard, utilize more takedowns and positional scrambling, and escapes from the ground are going to be based more on explosively powerful bridging. There is nothing wrong with the approach, but the approach does differ greatly from the theories and game Brazilian Jiu Jitsu promotes. Of course, both arts can be cross trained and combined into a cohesive personal style.


Do Not Think In Terms of Gi vs. No Gi

A common error many will make is they think in terms of Gi vs. No Gi. That infers the infinite and definitive nature of one vs. the other. Rather than following such a paradigm, you may find it better to work both. After all, it is still the same art with or without the Gi.

Cheating by Wrestling

You can cheat a little by learning some wrestling. Cross-train in a wrestling class. By wrestling, it is not meant that you invest all your times learning takedowns. Learn about the referee position, pinning, pin escapes, and scrambling. All these skills will work well as a means of enhancing your no gi game.


How many hours a week do you need to get good at the No Gi game? There really is no definitive answer to this question. One good hour a week might be enough, but two or three classes a week would be preferable.

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