If you’re researching Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you’ve probably noticed that there are two variations; gi and no-gi. But what’s the difference? Should you be practicing one over the other?
Of course, the obvious difference is that one style will see you wear a traditional white robe. On the other hand, this ‘kimono’ is removed in no-gi jiu-jitsu. However, the differences run deeper than this.
Firstly, one of the biggest rule differences is the lack of a heel hook. Although allowed in professional and experienced no-gi divisions, this is not allowed under any circumstances in gi jiu-jitsu. Even in no-gi jiu-jitsu, it’s a difficult move to defend and this is why only advanced divisions are allowed to perform the move. Once you introduce a gi and the risk of getting caught and tangled in the pants, it becomes dangerous.
Depending on the tournament in question, you might also experience differences in how points are awarded. If we look at knee-on-belly as an example, those in gi grappling will be awarded two points. In no-gi, this isn’t the case. Similarly, a takedown to side control will get three points in no-gi grappling and only two in gi grappling.
As well as the robe and pants, there are some additions in gi jiu-jitsu that make it very different. Normally, the jacket has a thick collar while the knees of the pants have been reinforced. Of course, we should also consider the belt, t-shirt, rash guard, and maybe even compression shorts. For women, they’ll wear similar under-clothing and sports bras.
In no-gi grappling, it’s more akin to what you might see in UFC. This includes compression shorts, board shorts, and rash guards. For females, you might see sports bras, compression shorts, and a rash guard. Either way, there’s no t-shirt or upper body wear at the professional level. For classes, you might cover the top, but this depends on the jiu-jitsu grappling academy you train at.
For men, there’s an extra layer of protection in both types of jiu-jitsu; the cup. Often, the referee will ask each fighter to knock their cup to prove that they have one in place.
If you’re going to enter a class, this is the most important section. How will your training differ?
Well, in gi jiu-jitsu, there’s an emphasis on grappling while using the collar, pant legs, and sleeves. By using these to your advantage, you can gain control and apply submissions. With the sleeve, for example, it’s possible to remove the opponent’s hand from the fight.
With no-gi grappling, the clothes are out of bounds and fighters take each other on body to body. Although grabbing the elbow, neck, knee, hips, and wrists are also an option with gi jiu-jitsu, it’s the ONLY strategy in no-gi.
Since there’s no material to soak up the perspiration, this also plays a role. Opponents may slip and wriggle from your grip, and the whole pace of the fight will slow down.
When it comes to gi and no-gi jiu-jitsu, there are several differences and they can be broken down into three categories; rules, clothing, and techniques. Which one should you choose? This depends on whether you prefer the rules and techniques that come with having a jacket or not.
If you aren’t sure, you could always take lessons in both. If you aren’t enjoying one, just stick with the other!