If you know what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is, you can clearly picture two practitioners rolling in your head, but when that image comes to your mind, how are these two fighters dressed? Are they dressed in a traditional uniform and colored belt, akin to the ones used in Judo? Or do you picture them wearing shorts and a shirt, looking closer to an MMA fighter?
Which one of these two mental images is correct, you ask? Well, the answer is that both are correct.
Jiu Jitsu is an art that continues to adapt and evolve over the years, and as such, it has developed different ways in which it is practiced; the most prominent, are of course, Gi BJJ, and No-Gi BJJ.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at Gi VS No Gi BJJ, and break down all the differences that you need to know.
Gi VS No BJJ Gi: Clothing
When it comes to what you wear in the academy, you can start training with any type of sports wear. Like a pair of shorts and a shirt so you can get used to what you are doing.
If you go dressed this way, you are practicing No-Gi Jiu Jitsu, and can continue to train with little to no issues, with the option to get a rashguard and combat shorts to improve the experience whenever you are capable of buying a set that you like.
When it comes to the No-Gi Uniform, you can get a ton of different possible designs, as long as your rashguard is either short or long sleeve, and your shorts have no pockets, then you are ready to train in the academy.
These Rashguards and shorts are made from multiple materials, including nylon/spandex blends, polyester, Lycra, and neoprene, which makes them pretty comfortable.
Once we look into the traditional uniform, we have this big “bulky” cotton uniform, that may look a little bit like a Judo uniform, but it opens up a wide range of options and attacks that you won’t see in No-Gi rounds.
They traditionally come in white, blue, and black colors, but you can also see them in camo patterns, other colors like red and pink, and even branding different designs, like Goku’s (Dragon Ball Z) themed Gis.
This Gi uniform consists of pants, a jacket, and of course, a belt, which showcases the level of the practitioner who wears it, while also holding the Jacket together. Gi’s come in a variety of different styles, from lightweight competition gis, to heavy-duty training gis.
Gi VS No BJJ GI: Ruleset
If you go to compete at any tournament, the first thing that you’ll notice is the type of brackets that it has, which will be either a Gi bracket or a No-Gi bracket.
You may be surprised, but the difference is not just in what you are wearing, but how much you weigh with your uniform on. Even the rules behind some moves available depend on if you’re wearing a Gi or not.
Going deep into how a Gi or No-Gi setup works in a tournament, you can see that most open format tournaments will allow you to wear any color freely as long as the uniform fits you properly.
It is, however, when we go into the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) rules that things get a little more complicated.
For one, in a Gi tournament, only the aforementioned Blue, White, and Black Gi colors are allowed to be worn. Besides that, there is a whole list of requirements when it comes to sizes, the areas where patches can and can’t be used, and of course, the considerations of the size of the belt you are wearing to competition.
For No-Gi rules, in federated tournaments, you have to wear a black &/or White rashguard with at least 10% of your current belt rank color in order to compete, with the option of it being 100% your belt rank also being available.
Being unable to comply or having the wrong colors will require you to change your rashguard and even miss out on competing in the worst-case scenario.
Gi VS No Gi BJJ: Techniques
Most people have seen these moves showcased in MMA fights over the weekend, but obviously, more dedicated fans can see more intriguing and exciting moves in advanced BJJ focused tournaments and events.
The No-Gi ruleset limits you to grab whatever you can hold from your opponent, be it the legs, arms, torso, or head in order to pull them in or set him up for your attacks.
However, you are not allowed to grab and pull from his short or rashguard at any point in the match.
It is here, where Gi Jiu Jitsu sets itself apart from No-Gi.
In a Gi ruleset, you have the option to not only grab your opponent’s body but also, grab and use their uniform to get your grips and either hold them or pull them in.
The interesting thing is that you are also allowed to use your own Gi in order to not only defend by holding yourself so that your arms are not pulled away, but you can also use the Gi’s Lappel in order to set up Chokes and other submissions that are completely Legal in this ruleset.
Those that compete in their Gi have a lot more to worry about when it comes to grips and possible submissions than those that are training or competing in No Gi rulesets.
What is Best for Beginners: No Gi or Gi BJJ?
When taking into consideration everything that comes to play when using a Gi, and how it works and affects practice, one could argue that No Gi BJJ might be the easier approach for beginners.
On the other hand, it might be harder for someone to pick up the Gi work later in their BJJ path, so it might be a great idea to start doing Jiu Jitsu with your Gi from the get-go.
One way or the other, it may take a while before you get comfortable doing lapel chokes with your gi, but you can work on stopping your opponent’s knee slice passing by holding their pants as soon as you get on the mats.
In the end, there is an online joke going around, but it goes like this: “Doing Gi Jiu Jitsu is like doing No-Gi, but with a Gi On.”, even though we all want to attribute it to Eddie Bravo, this tongue in cheek statement is definitely right, as you can work and learn everything that you’d need for No-Gi while wearing a Gi, but you can’t work Gi stuff without one.
It will obviously be a little bit more expensive to get a Gi when you want to start, especially as you can actually train No-Gi with any regular sportswear gear instead of having to buy dedicated BJJ Gear.
Alongside being a bit more expensive and a Gi may be even harder to find at first, so if the academy you are planning to go to has a special offer to include a Gi with your membership fee plan, you might want to look into it.
Gi VS No Gi BJJ: Which is Better for MMA?
When it comes to MMA fighting, it is a simple choice though, as in any Mixed Martial Arts bout, the fighters have to enter the cage wearing combat shorts and no shirt (excluding Female fighter tops), the best way to train Jiu Jitsu in that case, is to go for No-Gi classes.
That is one of the reasons that the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu BJJ Program became as popular as it is; it became the preferred way for fighters to practice Jiu Jitsu that is as close to simulating a Cage Fight as possible.
This did give some fighters quite an edge, as their Jiu Jitsu method was directly applied to their cage fights, keeping both things as close to each other as possible.
Which is Better for Self-Defense?
On the self-defense topic, this is a coin toss, as No-Gi comes out as a method of Jiu Jitsu that completely transfers to any possible situation in which you engage in a fight.
For the Gi, recreating the techniques that use it in a live combat situation, might be a little bit more complicated, but it could also help a ton if you’re attacker is wearing baggy clothing and you manage to land the techniques.
Jiu Jitsu is an excellent combat discipline, be it either in the Gi format or the No-Gi format.
If you haven’t begun your BJJ journey, I’d personally encourage you to look around for the closest Academy available to see what’s appealing to you.
From our part, we hope that this article has shed some light on the differences between Gi Vs No Gi BJJ. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out in the comment section below.