Have To Train With The Gi Or Not?

Want to start a debate in the grappling community?
Make a post on a bjj/ MMA internet forum about the importance of training bjj in the kimono (or NOT!) and watch the arguments start to fly!

There are 3 schools of philosophy:
1) Training in the kimono is absolutely necessary to develop the highest level of technique
2) Training in the kimono is useless if you are training to compete in MMA or submission grappling
3) Train in both because you learn different things in each that improve the other style

The fundamental argument comes down to the question: Why train with a kimono if those kimono grips are not there in MMA / self defence / no-gi rules?
That is a perfectly logical argument and difficult to find fault.
Which other sport can you think of that advocates training in a significantly different method than how you compete / use the skill?

By this logic, no-gi specialists SHOULD be dominating the medals podium at the highest levels of No-Gi competitions.
But this has curiously not proven to be true in reality.

The prestigious ADCC Grappling Championships held every 2 years is considered to be the pinnacle of No-Gi competition and the winner is arguably the best grappler in the world.
The Absolute and Superfight winners have been overwhelmingly athletes who train mostly in the kimono.

Many of those champions insist that training in the kimono primarily develops a sharper level of technique than which is possible training solely no-gi.
That training with the gi requires the fighter to be tighter with technique, is more difficult to escape and has many more submission threats to defend.
How can one argue with the winner with the gold medal around their neck?

Some counter argue that this is because bjj in the kimono has a longer history than no-gi competitions and that we will see the results shift as time goes on.
But the 1st ADCC Championships were held in 1998.
Those rules have been around for a long time,..enough time for pure no-gi grapplers to have 10+ years training for that rule set.

Yet we still see the No-Gi championships dominated by athletes who came from a traditional kimono training origin.

Even more interesting is that UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabrico Werdum has said that he believes that training in the kimono is important for MMA fighters.
The UFC Heavyweight Champion is not alone among professional MMA fighters who insist on the usefulness of training with the kimono to develop the highest level of jiu-jitsu technique.

Many MMA fighters insist this is outdated thinking and reject the idea of training with the kimono as a logical fallacy.

Why is it that bjj guys who concentrate on training with the kimono continue to dominate in no-gi competitions?

What do the Jiu-jitsu Times readers think on this debate?

read also: Are You “Old School” Jiu-jitsu or the New Bjj 2.0?


  1. The majority of guys invited to ADCC are Gi guys, there are more people training gi than there are no gi (exclusively) and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is quite possibly the most marteted grappling art out there. Thats my two cents 🙂


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