MMA Legend Explains Why MMA Fighters Should Train in a Gi

MMA Legend Explains Why MMA Fighters Should Train in a Gi

In a recent video titled “Should MMA fighters train in a gi?” UFC legend and BJJ black belt Chael Sonnen delves into the debated topic of gi training for MMA fighters. His perspective offers a mix of practical advice and personal experience that highlights the benefits of traditional gi training.

Confidence and Psychological Edge

Chael emphasizes the psychological aspect of earning a black belt in jiu-jitsu, noting that the belt system provides a significant confidence boost. He states:

“This belt system is a very real thing at least psychologically. The reality is a pretty good purple belt and a black belt are kind of gonna wash each other out in a mixed martial arts competition, but there’s something to be said to have that confidence.”

Exposure to Higher-Level Competitors

Training in a gi can offer exposure to higher-level practitioners, which is crucial for development:

“To be able to train with brown and black belts, you have to either be a brown or a black belt. So now just in the practice room, you’re being experienced to a higher level of guy.”

Strength and Conditioning Analogies

Chael compares gi training to unconventional strength and conditioning exercises, arguing that not all training needs to directly mimic competition scenarios to be beneficial:

“If I was to put my shoes on and go for a run… there’s no shoes in the Octagon. But I would disagree if you tried to then draw a connection that flipping those tires or running those hills somehow doesn’t give you a strength or a condition or an advantage that carries over to the cage.”

Historical Context and Respect

He provides historical context on how jiu-jitsu evolved and how gi training was traditionally the norm, which still carries respect in the community:

“For the history of jiu-jitsu, you used to only be able to compete in a gi… You couldn’t dream of being a grappler and not just accept the fact I have to put a gi on.”

Real-World Examples

Sonnen cites examples of top fighters like the Diaz brothers and Georges St-Pierre who trained extensively in a gi:

“The Diaz boys trained in a gi. Georges St-Pierre trains in a gi. Khabib Nurmagomedov every now and then goes and throws the jacket on… ultimately you start to defer to some of these guys.”

Practical Considerations

Lastly, Chael touches on the practical side of training, balancing intensity, and duration:

“If you go in and do no-gi training, it’s a little bit more impactful… If you go in with a gi, it’s a little bit less impactful, a little bit more strategic, and you’re going to be able to train for about an hour.”

Chael Sonnen’s insights suggest that gi training, while not directly replicating MMA competition conditions, offers psychological benefits, higher-level training exposure, and practical training advantages. The blend of traditional and modern training methods can provide a well-rounded approach to becoming a successful MMA fighter.

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