Since the dawn of time, the question that everyone wanted an answer to was: Which Martial Art is the best? For years the debate would go on in the dojos across the globe and then in November of 1993 the Gracie Family became a house hold name after Royce Gracie showed the viewers of the first Ultimate Fighting Championship the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Soon everyone was ordering their Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu VHS Tapes from their favorite martial art magazine, because in 1993 we didn’t have YouTube on the phones in our pockets or even the Internet in our homes.
It’s been over 20 years since the first U.F.C and now we have a new question: GI or NO GI? To be honest, going back to the first U.F.C you can see how the GI is a benefit in the numerous attacks you have with the various collar chokes. We also saw the various submissions that presented themselves by the way the opponent would grip the GI; thinking that they were controlling Royce.
Personally, I prefer training in the GI. The reason why I prefer to train in the GI is that I am forced to develop my technique as my opponent will have the same weapons that I have. If we have the same weapons at our disposal, the person who has a better understanding of the techniques will be more likely to be victorious if all other aspects are equal. By working on improving all of the small steps in the techniques, it is easier for me to execute my sweeps, submissions and my escapes.
I never really thought much about this until I made a trip to Tampa, Florida in 2010. I had been training at an affiliate school under Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion, Robson Moura, for several years and was on vacation in Florida; just an hour drive from his school. I had made plans to attend two of his classes during our stay and when I showed up to the first class I was in for a surprise. When I arrived, Professor Robson and his Brown Belt, Lane Andrews, Jr. were on the mat so I quickly tossed on my GI to join them. I was informed the morning class that was about to start was a NO GI class.
Decision time: Change back into my street clothes and drive back to my parent’s house that was an hour away or ditch the GI to train. It wasn’t that often I was able to train with a World Champion so I ditched the GI. Soon there were several other students on the mat and we trained. Robson had us go through a series of drills and the techniques we were going over were similar to the ones we drill in GI, but the grips were different.
When the class was over there was an open mat session led by Robson. Besides, Lane, I had no idea what any of the other guys skill levels were as this was before the ranked rash guards became a trend. I rolled with three guys that I had never trained with and while it took a few minutes to adapt to not having all of the tolls the GI offered me, I relied on my butterfly game and position control.
By not having the GI, I needed to rely on my technique and timing to improve my position. Sure I was put in some pretty bad positions, but all of the training that I did in the GI allowed me to remain calm, even a little more so because I wasn’t worrying about them using their GI or my GI to submit me. I worked my escapes to get back to my butterfly hooks in and executed the sweep to improve my position.
In NO GI and MMA you do not have the GI keeping you dry. While you are working up a sweat, you still have the ability to control your opponent with the GI, while in NO GI and MMA they can slip out of various techniques. This is why it is always important, no matter what you are training, you need to focus on performing the proper techniques. Sloppy sweeps, arm bars and escapes will not make you successful.
I view the GI vs. NO GI in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as the Yin and Yang. One is not better than the other, but training BOTH will make you complete. While you never want to lose your grips, it happens. Knowing that you can execute a similar submission or sweep without your grips will make you more confident and relaxed when in the situation. Likewise, if you spend a lot of time training NO GI and you are competing in a GI tournament, you have plenty of more tools at your disposal.
How does all this training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu benefit the MMA Fighter? Fights are going to go to the ground. You’re both going to be sweaty and the adrenaline will be racing through your body. You need to be able to have composure and the skill set to capitalize on the situation or find the means of getting back to your feet if you are a striker.
Where do you get these certain set of skills? You get them training on the Jiu Jitsu mats and in the cage; with and without the GI.
2 Stripe Purple Belt
Frequency Martial Arts – Bloomington Illinois
Affiliate of Robson Moura Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association