Gi and No Gi are the 2 forms of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Gi Jiu Jitsu is grappling with the use of a traditional Gi, which allows you to grab the clothing of your opponent. No Gi is grappling without the traditional uniform, instead you wear shorts and a rash guard. In no gi you cannot grab your opponent’s clothing.
Most grapplers train mostly in one style and by doing so, limit themselves to just one style’s benefits instead of both.
To be a complete grappler, you should train in both. Marcelo Garcia is a good example of a BJJ player that is world class in both. He only started No Gi at brown belt, having built a strong base in Gi Jiu-Jitsu first. Usually if you start training in majority without the Gi, then you will have a much harder time adapting to the Gi. The Gi in some ways is more complex with all the grips but No Gi has many other aspects which are not found in the Gi (for ex: more brabo chokes, guillotines, footlocks than in the Gi).
In Gi, you will of course wear a BJJ Gi. In No Gi, you wear shorts and a T-shirt or rash guard.
The Gi has a huge amounts of grips on both the jacket and pants. The most common jacket grip is the collar/sleeve grip. The grips allow you to have great control on the fight and to submit your opponent using their or your own Gi. It allows a much smaller opponent to control a bigger one. In No Gi you have more wrestling based grips such as neck, and grabbing all joints in the body. It is harder to control an opponent and can slip or power out of controls.
No Gi i BJJ is faster paced. Gi slows things down due to the natural friction of the garment.
While and Gi and No Gi are very similar, the way both styles evolve are very different. In Gi, the numerous grips and Gi material mean that alot of set ups are based on using the Gi matrerial for ex: lapel or worm guard (which is impossible in No Gi). In No Gi, you look more at taking your opponent’s back because mounting in No Gi has limited submisions, and the back position has the rear naked choke and other options. You will find No Gi players using more guillotines and brabo/darce chokes as well as using more foot locks.
It is hard to say what is more technical as both styles are different and you also have much smaller No Gi players that submit bigger ones (taking the back is a great way of doing that).
Most No Gi tournaments have slightly different rules from Gi. IBJJF rules do not allow heel hooks for Gi and ADCC (biggest No Gi tournament) allows them.
Advantages of Gi
– Upper body strength
Non stop grabbing and pulling of fabric will strengthen your muscles and tendons.
– Technical, problem solving approach to fighting
Training with the Gi is like playing chess. The game is slowed down and is more methodical. The Gi and grips can sometimes control somebody’s strength. This forces a more technical approach. You will need to use more technique to escape submissions as there is less sweat.
-Improved Judo (Stand up Jiu-Jitsu)
Advantages of No Gi
You will be using a lot more wrestling based takedowns.
– Improved conditioning & explosiveness
With the game being so much faster because of lack of Gi grips, your conditioning will go through the roof. Setting up many wrestling based takedowns will force you work your explosiveness in a different way than with the Gi.
In No Gi, footlocks are harder to counter because there is no Gi lapel to hold on to. Also, if you train with heel hooks then that opens a whole new set of weapons that you won’t have in the Gi.
What happens when you train both Gi and No Gi
In the long run, training both will make you a much better grappler. It is a mutual benefit. It will correct all your weaknesses. At Marcelo Garcia’s school they train 50% Gi and 50% No Gi.
For example your stand up, You will be using a mixture of Judo and Wrestling instead of relying on just one style. Very often you can beat a superior Judoka by using Wrestling and vice versa.
Also by mixing it up, you can make training less repetitive and more exciting.
You will also be competing in both Gi and No Gi.
Train both and become an ultimate grappler.