Many Jiu-Jitsu practitioners believe that Gi is the base and that beginners should start with the Gi. Once one has built a great base with Gi, then they can transition to No Gi.
GSP’s coach Firas Zahabi is a BJJ black belt and believes that beginners in Jiu-Jitsu are better off starting without the Gi instead of with the Gi.
Firas stated in AMA on Reddit, answering the question “What do you think about Gi training for MMA” :
“People think that it’s better for a beginner to start with the Gi. I’m of the opposite thought. I think starting with No Gi is better.
If I start with the Gi and get really comfortable with these collar and sleeve grips, and develop a whole game based on grips and let’s say a spider. then I go to No Gi. My whole game falls apart because I don’t have my favoured grips.
Take another practitioner for example. I take take a guy who has started with No Gi and his go to move in then collar tie. He likes to grab the neck and wrist. He likes to arm drag. And then I add the Gi and he has all his moves plus the Gi grips. His foundation is there, so he’s not going to be confused. The bad thing is that when he gets gripped, he doesn’t know how to break grips but that’s really easy to fix. Teaching people how to break grips and counter grip is super simple it’s very simple but teaching a guy who plays spider guard and De la Riva and now trying to teach him without this is quite difficult because all his go-to sweeps need a Gi.
The No Gi guy he doesn’t need the Gi to execute his game. The Gi being there is a bonus for him. So if I give Mohammed Ali a knife it’s a bonus for him. He could still hit you without the knife but with the knife he can really hurt you. So fr me, the Gi is an added weapon, and if I learn to fight with a weapon and you take that weapon away, then my whole game hits the dirt.”
Black Belt Dean Lister, who also started training BJJ in the Gi and then focused more on No Gi (winning ADCC 3 times) shares his views on whether beginners should train Gi or No-Gi when first getting into Jiu Jitsu.