I hesitated before writing this blog entry… in the grappling world,
the topic of gi versus no-gi can incite as much emotion
as arguments about religion, politics, or how to raise kids,
especially in my MMA gym in Miami!
That being said, I keep getting questions about this topic.
People are curious as to why I train exclusively no-gi…
so here it goes!
The pro gi argument is that the gi is more technical because
there are more techniques needed because the gi itself is
a weapon. The grips, grip breaks, sweeps, and submission
holds that can be executed because of the gi mean there is
going to be a lot more technique involved than no gi.
However… my rebuttal is this… who cares! 🙂 If your goal is to
be ready to fight without the gi, then the extra gi techniques
are irrelevant to me.
For instance, sword fighting is more technical than gun
fighting. Does that mean that our soldiers should be studying
sword play instead of shooting targets?
It is an extreme example but it is to illustrate a point.
In competition, there isn’t a single extra technique that
the gi offers when there are no gis being worn. The extra
techniques being learned with the gi are as relevant to
no-gi competition as sword techniques are to gun fighting.
The next valid argument, the argument I respect most, is that
since there are more grips with the gi, if you are able to
maintain your base and counter submissions with the gi –
then without the gi, it would be even harder for an opponent
to sweep or submit you. I agree with this view 100%!
The problem is now the application though. If you were to
train with a gi on but with only “no gi” techniques, then
I think the gi would indeed be a very valuable training tool.
However, if you train with the gi to rely on grips, sweeps, and
submissions that require the uniform – then I think you are
preparing yourself for “no gi” shock! When you land on the
ground and can’t reach for anything to grab, that initial
shock is taking away a split second of reaction time.
We all have a “Plan A” strategy when we roll… and if your
gi game has a “Plan A” that only works with gi… then when
you are exhausted in real combat without the gi and have to
pull from your training “Plan A” and come up short, that is
To summarize my theory… if you train “no gi style” with the
gi – then I think the gi can be a very valuable training
tool. Just like how no-gi grappling can be a very valuable
tool for developing your ground work for MMA and self
defense… however, even with no-gi, if you get too much into
the sport grappling aspect, like using some of these fancy
new guards that leave your face exposed to punches, then
you are going to be training irrelevant techniques.
For instance, at our Mixed Martial Arts
academy, we do not allow students to
lock their hands from bottom mount to prevent being
submitted. You can temporarily lock your hands to pull your
arm free from an Americana or armbar attempt – but you
cannot get mounted and simply lock your hands together in
an effort to buy time and not get submitted! Why we don’t allow
it? Because in a real fight your opponent would be pounding
your face in while you have your hands locked.
Remember, both gi and no-gi grappling were developed as
training tools for self defense – period! For that reason, I
personally believe that one should grapple in a way that
is most conducive to fighting.
So now you all understand the reason I train no-gi!