Train No Gi to improve your skills in the gi…

Photo by: Stewart Uy

A few days ago I put out this article describing how and why training in the gi improves one’s no gi game (Train in the Gi to improve your No Gi) and then I got to thinking: what about training no gi? I’ve seen far too many people become strictly gi practitioners and they may be missing out on some of benefits of training no gi.

For starters: you don’t always have the same grips available to you. For example: one of my teammates has very thick arms and wears a well fitted gi. Good luck getting a sleeve grip on that guy. Another example: belts may come off during matches making attaining a grip on the other person’s waist far more difficult. Very often if we come to rely on grips, we will be put at a disadvantage when those grips aren’t present.

No gi is more natural. As is very often pointed out by no gi proponents, you don’t always have thick cloth available to you to use at a whim, therefore it helps to know how to use natural grips to control the other person.

Leg locks are more accepted in no gi. I know that a lot of people are scared of heel hooks because they can destroy your knee if you aren’t aware of them, but generally speaking you see plenty of leg locks in advanced no gi divisions, and people who know how to do leg locks tend to be more open about doing them when they aren’t wearing gis. I’m not really sure why, I’ve been told it’s because the gi makes escaping leg locks more dangerous.

I can’t speak for anyone else but I sometimes use the gi as a crutch, that is to say I use it to force the other person to slow down rather than sharpening and speeding up my techniques. No gi is generally faster and more flow-y. This can be super helpful in developing the ability to flow roll.

Rolling without the gi opens up different paths for chokes. For example: we don’t see nearly as many non-lapel chokes when people are rolling in the gi because the lapels are there and are so convenient. I find that when I roll no gi a lot, when I put the gi back on I hit d’arce, brabo and guillotine chokes a lot more. There are of course people who hit these while exclusively training in the gi, but the absence of the gi makes these a necessity.

Neither of these two training methods is better or worse than the other, and one should train both in the gi and without the gi. This will provide you with the widest possible variety of experiences and best prepare you for whatever you are doing jiu jitsu to prepare for, whether it is for self, MMA or BJJ competition. If you don’t train both, why not? And if you do, do you find that they both have major impacts on each other?

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Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio ( and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo ( NottaRookie, YM ( discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap ( discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards ( discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


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