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Gi vs No Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Which Is Better? Which Is Easier? Which One Should You Train?

When it comes to whether you should train gi or no gi Brazilian jiu jitsu there a couple factors to consider. We have them broken down in the table below.

There are benefits to training both:

However, if you want a more fast paced, realistic, and wrestling-influenced type of training no gi bjj may be best for you. No gi has been rising in popularity and is certainly more popular in terms of viewership as well as its use for MMA.

If you prefer a slower paced, slightly more technical game, that may not exactly mirror self defense situations (due to the gi and gi grips), you may want to train gi Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Key Takeaways

  • In gi training you wear a traditional kimonos which allows for many different grips as well as various methods for control
  • No Gi BJJ’s attire leads to a faster-paced and more athletic-centric style.

  • Both are challenging
  • Both have their benefits
  • You should train whichever one aligns with your goals (see questions to ask yourself below)

Table comparing Pros and Cons of Gi and No-Gi training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

AspectGi BJJ ProsGi BJJ ConsNo-Gi BJJ ProsNo-Gi BJJ Cons
GripsFocuses on grips for throws, sweeps, and control Grips may not be applicable in real-life scenarios where thick clothing to grab is not available.Focuses on grips on the body, which are more applicable in real-life self-defense scenarios.Lack of reliance on clothing grips may result in less technical control in certain positions.
Technical SkillsHeavily technique focusedSlower pace might not prepare you for the speed of No-Gi grappling.Scrambles, speed and fluidity are emphasized due to lack of friction or grips of the gi.Techniques relying on the Gi are not applicable, requiring adaptation of skills.
SpeedSlower pace due to friction from the Gi material as well as the use of grips. Faster pace due to lack of gi, which allows for quicker transitions and scrambles.More difficult to control your opponent from dominant positions
RealismThe use of clothing grips may be applicable in self-defense scenarios where attackers wear clothes.Mimics real-life situations where opponents may not be wearing clothes that can be gripped.
Physical StrengthCan be beneficial for those who may not rely on physical strength or athleticism as much due to grips.May favor those who have strong grips and can dominate with gi control.Favors athleticism and physical conditioning due to the dynamic nature of no giMay favor physically stronger individuals as there are fewer grips to mitigate strength differences.

Some Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Training Gi or No Gi or Both

  • What are you goals when training Brazilian jiu jitsu?
    • Do you want to train MMA one day?
  • Do you have a wrestling background?
  • Do you have a judo background?
  • Are you younger or older?
  • Do you prefer a more athletic grappling style or a slower pace?

Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

In Gi BJJ, practitioners wear a uniform called a Gi, resembling a traditional judo kimono. This attire consists of a heavy cotton jacket, reinforced pants, and a colored belt indicating an individual’s rank. The Gi’s fabric allows for a wide variety of grips and techniques, fostering a technical and strategic game centered around grabbing the clothing of the opponent to gain an advantage.

No Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

No Gi BJJ is practiced in form-fitting athletic attire such as rash guards and shorts or spats, omitting the traditional Gi. Without the ability to grab clothing, practitioners rely on underhooks, overhooks, clinches and body locks, making the pace often faster and movements more fluid. The emphasis here shifts to controlling an opponent’s limbs and body rather than their apparel, requiring different strategies and techniques.

Comparing Gi and No Gi

Rule Differences


  • The gi’s collar, sleeves, and pants provide legitimate gripping points.
  • Certain grips or actions, like grabbing the inside of the sleeve, are illegal.
  • Matches are often longer, allowing for a more methodical pace.

No Gi BJJ:

  • Grips are limited to the body and limbs, no clothing can be grasped.
  • Matches tend to be shorter with a focus on quick transitions and submissions.

Strategic Differences


  • Techniques often involve the gi for control and submission, such as collar chokes.
  • The friction of the gi fabric slows down the action, making escapes more challenging.

No Gi BJJ:

  • Without the gi, there is an emphasis on clinch work, leg locks, and no-gi specific submissions.
  • The pace is usually faster due to less friction, requiring a more dynamic style.

Attire and Gear


  • Practitioners wear a thick cotton jacket, reinforced trousers, and a belt indicating rank.
  • The attire is standardized, with requirements for fit and lack of excessive patches or adornments.

No Gi BJJ:

  • Fighters wear form-fitting rash guards and shorts or spats.
  • There is less variety in attire regulations, focusing on safety and hygiene over uniformity.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Pros of Gi Training

  • Increased Technical Proficiency: The gi’s friction and grips allow for a deeper exploration of submission techniques and positions.
  • Tradition and Rank Representation: Wearing a gi is a nod to the martial art’s traditions, with belts denoting one’s rank and progression in the sport.

Cons of Gi Training

  • Dependency on Grips: Excessive reliance on gi-specific grips may not translate well to self-defense situations where such clothing is not present.
  • Slower Pace: The gi often results in a more methodical pace due to increased opportunities for control, which some practitioners may find less dynamic.

Pros of No Gi Training

  • Applicability to MMA: No-gi’s similarity to MMA attire makes skills learned in no-gi training readily applicable to mixed martial arts.
  • Greater Emphasis on Speed and Athleticism: The absence of grips forces practitioners to use speed, timing, and athleticism, enhancing these aspects of their game.

Cons of No Gi Training

  • Limited Grip Options: The lack of clothing reduces the number of available grips, which can make control more challenging.
  • Potential Over Reliance on Physical Attributes: Without the gi to slow down the action, there’s a risk of overly relying on physical attributes rather than technique.

Technical Aspects

The Role of Grips

In Gi Jiu-Jitsu, practitioners wear a heavy cotton jacket known as a gi, which provides a multitude of gripping options. The lapel, sleeves, and collar are crucial for control, allowing for sophisticated gripping strategies. These grips enable a range of maneuvers such as chokes and holds that are specific to Gi.

  • Sleeve and Collar Grips: Often employed for control and leverage.
  • Pant Grips: Used for sweeps and controlling an opponent’s leg movement.

Conversely, No Gi Jiu-Jitsu limits the athlete to grips on the body, such as behind the neck, on the wrists, ankles, and overhooks or underhooks on the arms. This modification necessitates a different set of gripping techniques and strategies.

Submissions Variations

Submissions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vary substantially between Gi and No Gi due to the attire. In Gi, certain chokes, such as the “loop choke” or “collar choke”, are only applicable with a gi collar. Moreover, the friction of the fabric aids in the execution and maintenance of submissions.

No Gi submissions, however, often require a higher level of precision due to the lack of fabric grips, leading to a greater emphasis on limb control and positional dominance. An adaptability to perform submissions like guillotines and various leg locks becomes more prominent without the gi.

Passing Guards

Guard passing in the Gi is heavily reliant on grips to immobilize the opponent and prevent their legs from moving. Passes tend to be methodical, and the friction of the gi fabric tends to slow down the pace, making it a more technical and position-oriented endeavor.

Common Gi Guard Passes:

  • Torreando Pass: Using grips on the pants to move the legs.
  • Knee Slice: Securing a grip on the collar or sleeve to pass to side control.

In No Gi, guard passing is frequently faster-paced due to the lack of grips and reduced friction. Practitioners often rely on speed, agility, and dynamic movement to clear the legs and secure a dominant position.

No Gi Guard Passing Techniques:

  • Leg Drags: Utilizing speed and agility to move the opponent’s legs aside.
  • Pressure Passing: Applying constant pressure without relying on fabric grips.

Competition Scene

Generally, no gi competitions are more popular and more accessible for fans not familiar with Brazilian jiu jitsu. Also many if not most of the top professional athletes focus solely on no gi bjj.

Tournaments and Rule Sets

Gi tournaments such as the IBJJF World Championships follow strict rules regarding Gi specifications, including material, size, and color. These tournaments often feature intricate grip fighting and allow Gi-specific techniques like collar chokes.

In contrast, No-Gi tournaments like ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Submission Fighting World Championship emphasize competition with competitors wearing a rash guard and shorts. They typically have less restrictive attire requirements and may focus on submissions over points for winning a match.

Choosing Your Path

Personal Goals and Preferences

Practitioners must assess their objectives in training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). Gi BJJ provides a wide range of techniques involving the gi for grips, leading to a more technical and strategic style. It is ideal for those seeking a traditional approach linked with martial arts discipline and technique. In contrast, No Gi BJJ emphasizes speed and agility, focusing on the raw application of submission and control techniques without relying on clothing grips. This form may appeal to those interested in a dynamic and fast-paced environment, possibly with aspirations towards mixed martial arts (MMA) competition.

Lifestyle and Training Availability

The choice between Gi and No Gi may also be dictated by practical considerations such as training availability. A practitioner’s schedule and gym offerings often influence their decision:

  • Gi classes are typically more common and may fit better into the lifestyle of someone looking for routine and structured learning.
  • No Gi sessions, on the other hand, may be less frequent but could suit individuals with flexible schedules or those who prefer the informality of training without a gi.

It is paramount that individuals select the path that best aligns with their personal circumstances and goals in BJJ.

Cross-Training Benefits and Considerations

Most BJJ gyms include both Gi and No Gi classes – unless you train at a No Gi specific gym like 10th Planet.

Training both helps expose you to a wider range of techniques and strategies. Gi BJJ allows the practitioner to utilize grips on the gi, which can lead to a more technical and methodical pace. This environment is conducive to a detailed exploration of leverage and control.

In contrast, No-Gi BJJ involves a faster-paced environment where grips are more reliant on body hooks and over-unders. It emphasizes agility, speed, and the application of submission holds without relying on clothing.

Benefits of Cross-Training

  • Technical Prowess: Training in Gi BJJ provides an understanding of complex grips and friction-based techniques.
  • Adaptability: Athletes become versatile, capable of adjusting to varying conditions by experiencing both training styles.
  • Strength and Conditioning: The heavier gi can increase resistance and improve overall strength, while No-Gi can enhance cardiovascular conditioning.

Considerations for Cross-Training

  • Learning Curve: Athletes may find adjusting to the differences in grip and techniques challenging.
  • Equipment: Requires owning both a gi and appropriate No-Gi attire.
  • Training Balance: Finding the right balance between both styles is crucial for maximizing proficiency.

By integrating both Gi and No-Gi BJJ into their regimen, practitioners can develop a well-rounded skill set that is effective in various situations, whether in competition or self-defense scenarios. It allows fighters to be prepared for opponents of different backgrounds and expertise, reinforcing their BJJ knowledge base and improving overall martial arts competence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between training Gi and No-Gi in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Gi training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be more technical and offer more opportunities for control by using the clothing of the competitor (Gi jacket and pants), yet it might not fully equip fighters for the swift transitions and scrambles found in No-Gi matches.

No-Gi emphasizes a more athletic and rapid grappling approach, easily translating to mixed martial arts and self defense scenarios lacking clothing to grip, leading to a more fluid and brisk style.

The Gi’s material adds resistance, tempering the pace of the fight, contrasting with No-Gi’s unencumbered movement where practitioners wear rash guards and shorts or spats.

Should beginners start training with Gi or No-Gi in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Beginners in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can start with either Gi or No-Gi, as both styles provide a solid foundation. Training in a Gi often emphasizes technical precision and may improve one’s understanding of grips and leverage, while No-Gi can develop a faster pace and reliance on movement and transitions.

Is there an advantage to learning self-defense in Gi versus No-Gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Learning self-defense in Gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can offer advantages as it simulates real-world scenarios where attackers may be wearing clothes that can be grabbed. However, No-Gi techniques are also practical as they rely on controlling the opponent without depending on clothing grips.

Does training in Gi or No-Gi offer a more challenging workout in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Both Gi and No-Gi training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu provide challenging workouts and are quite similar. Gi training utilized gripping your opponents gi jacket or pants where no gi training relies on traditional upper and lower body grips often found in other grappling martial arts like wrestling.

If I want to compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, should I focus on Gi or No-Gi matches?

There are many different gi and no gi events help by several different organizations like the IBJJF and ADCC.

So you can realistically choose to compete in either or both depending on the organization.