Hi and welcome to the first of many Blog posts on this page. This is my little personal space to speak about many of the topics bouncing around inside my head. First of all I know what you’re thinking, he can’t have that much going on in there we have met him. And to be fair you’re probably right, but regardless here is what I’m pondering right now;

These are my thoughts on the whole GI or NO-GI saga.

Now to be perfectly honest with you (after all that’s the whole idea right?) I only train NO-GI at Ronin Academy so this will be a one sided argument.

Let’s start at the beginning, Jiu Jitsu (Ju Jitsu) translated means ‘gentle art’ using the original Japanese words. Today Jiu Jitsu has many forms from the more traditional Japanese version to the wildly popular Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) that has taken the world by storm in the last few years. In the beginning, the arts where taught in a Kimono (GI) as it was the traditional dress at the time. When the Gracie family was introduced to Judo by Esai Maeda this was still the dress commonly used in Dojos all over Japan. Maeda at the time was a Judo champion and a direct student of Jigoro Kano (who had developed Judo in the late 1800’s and it was his version of Jiu Jitsu), at the Kodokan in Japan. This according to my research was about 1914 in Brazil.

So that’s the quick history lesson to set up the rest of my thoughts, because I don’t want to do a couple of thousand words on the history of BJJ. So at the time when Maeda first staring teaching Carlos Gracie (the first of the Gracie’s to learn) they began wearing the traditional GI.

Now let’s fast forward time about 102 years (because we can) and land in a martial arts school in Townsville named Ronin Academy. Here you will find 20 members learning Jiu Jitsu wearing rash guards and shorts and sometimes just rocking tights. Now all these members have excellent technique and can use clinch wrestling and friction grips using their whole bodies to nullify submission attacks from their opponent and execute their own.

Also within 50 kilometres or about 31 miles from that very gym are other members of other gyms practicing similar techniques wearing a GI. Their technique is also excellent but instead of using clinch wrestling and friction grips these students use grips on the GI for control. They are also using their GI for attacks like collar chokes or using the GI for defence.

So here are the two examples of GI training and NO GI training. At a first glance could you tell me right now which style is better suited for today’s environment and self-defence application? Here is a hint, no one walks around in a Japanese Kimono anymore (or if they are, best to probably avoid them anyway). Now let me guess your answer, was it the NO GI version?? I’m going to guess that I’m right unless you currently train mostly in the GI than I realise that it will be very difficult to get my point across here because you already have a strong opinion on the subject.

Now let me be super clear at this point, I do not hate GI training or think that it’s wrong to train that way. I trained in a GI for a few years but did not enjoy the experience at all, it just wasn’t for me. For all those that train in a GI and love it, please continue what you’re doing and hopefully the sport and art can continue to grow. I would like to simply point out that if your training for self-defence than NO GI is clearly a better option.

For the next point, now this one is going to upset some people, is the argument that GI training makes you more technical. I’m going to come out and call it, RUBBISH. It’s the biggest load of garbage that I have ever heard, and here is why.

As already discussed NO GI requires excellent control of your opposition and you only have your body to use as a weapon and tool. Where in GI you have a giant material barrier that is made not to tear and can be held onto by any person with decent grip strength.

So who in this example is using more technique? I will leave it with you.

Regardless of the easier controlling aspect of GI the speed which both different types of training utilise during sparring or rolling are greatly different. During GI rolling, because of all the extra friction provided by the clothing it is inevitably slower than NO GI. This is not saying that GI can’t be a fast paced sport at the higher levels but while learning Jiu Jitsu the ‘new guy’ is always going to be pinned down and stuck under a more experienced opponent. While in NO GI unless you use your body in unison it is difficult to hold anyone down unless you have a considerable weight advantage, without proper technique that is. So the ‘new guy’ can move more freely and learn the transitions and body movement required from the start of their training.

My last point will be simply this; I believe that GI and NO GI are as different to each other as football codes differ but are all still called football. For example here in Australia we have Rugby League and Rugby Union. Both football codes are similar but the rules are different and the basic strategy changes. In the U.S of A they have American Football again another sport similar in ways but vastly different again. I believe the same is to be said for GI vs No GI Jiu Jitsu. So different in fact that I will do a whole new Blog just on this, but for now let’s appreciate the difference. If you can’t see it stay tuned for that one.

So there is my brief overview of GI vs NO GI as a I said at the start I’m obviously biased to NO GI (and proud) but here are some of the reasons why that is the case. I think if you want to be good at NO GI that’s how you should train. But if you want to be good at GI than train with it on all the time. If self-defence is your aim than again NO GI is where you will learn real world application.

If a great NO GI student goes against a similar level GI student who wins? Well I suppose it would depend on whether they are wearing a GI or not right? The GI would be a great advantage for someone that trains with it regularly, but I’m sure the student would sure miss that advantage without the GI on.

OK! Who is better? Well considering that the NO GI students techniques hold up without the assistance of the GI they have the advantage every time. Like I said at the start not many people wearing Kimonos anymore.

Please feel free to leave a comment. I don’t mind if you think I’m completely crazy and wrong, it’s just my opinion and I’m happy to have this discussion with anyone.

Everyone stay safe, dream big and train hard.

Be awesome

Kris Spence




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