The age old question of whether training gi or no gi is better, has been around since the first Blue belt walked the earth. In this entry I will give my opinion on the topic.
To this day it is still a common question and depending on who you ask, the answer may differ. As it is today there are those that believe gi is superior, and there are those that believe no gi is better. This rivalry of styles has been around since the early days of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In BJJ’s early stages, another art and form of grappling became prominent in Brazil called Luta Livre which meant Freestyle Fighting.
Luta Livre in essence was a style of submission grappling. In Luta Livre the gi is abandoned completely, and the focus is more towards MMA. In Brazil it had a reputation for being the poor people’s choice of grappling art. Many people who couldn’t afford a Gi would train Luta Livre instead. At the height of the rivalry, there was even a battle of Masters that took place between Carlos Gracie of the BJJ camp and Euclides Perreira of the Luta Livre camp.
Through the years many prolific athletes especially MMA fighters found benefits of training both. Today there are many athletes who are Black Belts in both martial arts. Names like Cyborg Abreu, Jose Aldo, Miltion Vieira, and Renato Sobral just to name a few.
In the short film below, Milton Vieira explains how for him there is little to no difference between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Luta Livre.
I’m with Professor Milton. I see no difference in Gi and No Gi. Let me explain.
Of course, like all other grapplers , I have a preference. 8 times out of 10 I would rather train in the gi, but I’ve also put in my hours without the gi. In this moment in my career the gi is my focus, mainly for competiton. I see the two as basically the same thing, and through time I’ve come to understand that not one is better than the other. It’s just a matter of preference and taste. What kind of roll do you wanna engage in. What techniques are your preferences. I believe both styles can be action packed, but also both styles can be boring and stally as hell. At the end of the day it isn’t the art that dictates that however. It is the fighter’s that step on the mat.
What I tell my student’s is that to be a well rounded grappler, you absolutely need to do both. Unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in a lifetime to be really good at both at the same time. This is why you will often see athletes commit to one or the other, either through out their whole journey or in seasons. If they are competitors in both styles of Jiu Jitsu, they will switch between one or the other depending on the competition season.
I believe the best grappler is the grappler who can do both gi and no gi. The grappler who can switch between one style and the other easily. It may take that grappler a few weeks or months to get back into no gi if they have been focusing in the gi, but the best grappler has the ability to do that.
One thing that you will notice is that your game in the gi and your game no gi game might be the same or it could be totally different.
In my opionion the best role model for having a well rounded game in BJJ is none other than Marcelo Garcia. The video below is a highlight of one of the most well balanced grapplers in the history of BJJ.
Marcelo Garcia is an athlete who has been able to achieve great success in both gi and no gi during his time as a competitor. What strikes me most about Marcelo Garcia’s grappling is the simplicity of it. His style and technique doesn’t differ too much between gi and no gi Jiu Jitsu. In fact, the techniques he employs during his matches are pretty much the same in gi and no gi. The main difference being is use of grips. When I watch someone like Marcelo Garcia roll, I see a grappler with amazing understanding of balance and leverage. Many of his techniques don’t require to many steps and are quite easy to set up. In short, he likes to keep things simple. That is something that is extremely evident in the way that he grapples. Whether it is in the gi or without the gi. He is only a few steps away from using one of his favorite techniques.
Bottomline it doesn’t matter which of the two you like more! As long as you are on the mat learning and having fun keep doing what you are doing! Train hard and always keep the good vibes! Osssss!