Gi Vs. No Gi: Which One Should You Choose?

When you hear of martial arts, perhaps what comes to mind is Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), as it is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu is a self-defense martial art and combat sport based on grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds.

The key thing for those who train in BJJ is their preferences on how they like to grapple. This is defined by what they wear during training. There are two main types which are GI and No-Gi BJJ.

So, Gi Vs. No Gi: which one should you choose? Gi training makes you fight more defensively, whereas No-Gi training allows you to focus on a tight offense. Since most people do not wear martial arts uniforms daily, the No-Gi style is more realistic for self-defense scenarios as it makes you not reliant on formal clothing.

In this article, we are to explore the similarities and differences to help you better understand how they work and ultimately make a good choice.

What Is The Purpose of BJJ?

Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) generally focuses on getting an opponent to the ground to neutralize possible strength or size advantages through ground fighting strategies, and submission holds involving joint-locks and chokeholds. Proper grappling techniques can offset or enhance physical strength on the ground.

BJJ’s main focus is gaining control of one’s opponent, gaining dominance over him, and using specialized techniques to force them into submission through chokeholds or locks. 

Over the last few years, Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu has grown exceptionally, with people from all walks of life wanting to participate. 

If you are like most people, you might wonder about Aikido and Jiu-Jitsu; which one is easier?

Gi and No-Gi BJJ Are Different Yet Similar

First, we are going to explain what is meant by Gi and No-Gi BJJ. The Gi is a standard uniform worn in the training and fighting in BJJ. It originates in Japan and is usually worn by other traditional martial arts.

It simply means dress or clothing and is made of a thick cotton jacket, reinforced drawstring pants, and a rank-signifying belt that holds the jacket together. It is also known as a Kimono in other countries.

Gi BJJ means training Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu with the Gi, while No-Gi means having it off. In the latter case, people use rash guards when training as it is non-intrusive when grappling on the mats. 

The aim of participating in BJJ is to improve your position or submit your opponent, which can be done by focusing on the proper body mechanics, whether wearing a Gi or a rash guard. However, it is good to take note that your mileage may vary.

Gi Vs. No Gi: What Are The Key Differences?

Below are the main differences between Gi and No-gi training:

1- Clothing

There are three main ways No-gi changes BJJ;

  • There’s less friction in No-Gi – A Gi causes a lot of friction when worn and especially when it becomes wet with sweat. This slows down matches and forces one to wait for the right time to take advantage of an opportunity. Friction also makes it harder to use strength and speed to compensate for a lack of technique when wearing a Gi.
  • There are fewer grips in a No-gi – A Gi has a collar, sleeves, lapel, and pant legs that one can use to help control their opponent. However, in a No-Gi, students are forced to improve the technical aspect of submissions and pinning as they cannot rely on the Gi grips and friction to work for them. Instead, BJJ practitioners have to use their body position to immobilize their opponents and submit them. 
  • There are fewer stranglehold opportunities in No-Gi – The Gi has a thick collar that protects students’ necks from numerous strangleholds. This benefits beginners are learning the importance of defense. In No-Gi, there are fewer strangleholds options, and the ones utilized are less efficient than in GI. In No-Gi, a student’s offensive capabilities must be good to combat not only the lack of friction and slipperiness but also the fewer options. 

2- Technique

This involves the necessary technical abilities one has to fight successfully. In Gi BJJ, the technique is more important than sheer strength. This is because Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that emphasizes a strong technical approach. These techniques become more powerful and emphasized, especially in Gi training. 

On the other hand, No-Gi allows natural abilities to be of better use if one is to succeed. In No-Gi, strength and speed are huge advantages that allow you to move easily, maintain a dominant position, and subdue your opponent. The downside is that these dominant positions in No-Gi are not nearly as potentially decisive as in Gi. It is hard to secure submission from a full mount in No-Gi compared to that position in Gi.

3- Ways To Attack And Defend

Gi-based attacks involve using fabric to either support or control an attack. Since the Gi provides additional control points, stripping, establishing, and re-establishing grips are important in Gi Bjj.

On the other hand, No-Gi BJJ has a faster pace due to the limited grips available. This means a trainee has to be more active in controlling their opponent. Being athletic is an added advantage in No-Gi grappling, although the technique is still king

One of the greatest advantages of No-Gi BJJ is that it teaches positional dominance independent of using the Gi. A good way to improve is by adding a No-Gi into your weekly routine, especially if you are training in mixed martial arts (MMA).

4- Rulesets

Gi has more restrictions in terms of rulesets, especially in the IBJJF context. It limits leg-based attacks that can be used in Gi-based competitions. As a result, the Gi competitions are not as dynamic as No-Gi. As previously mentioned, the pace is slower as the Gi has more controlling options. 

The no-Gi ruleset is less restrictive as more leglocks are allowed in IBJJF or other competitions. In fact, as of 2021, black and brown adult competitions allow reaping and heel hooks (Source: International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation). This, in turn, allows for more unrestricted movement in the competitions. 

Is Gi or No-Gi Better for Beginners?

Firas Zahabi, a world-renowned MMA coach, recommends beginners in BJJ start with No Gi, but this question is better answered by knowing why you want to train in Jiu-Jitsu in the first place. In many cases, gyms offer both types of training, meaning it is not difficult for one to train in both. Training in a Gi is important in learning defensive principles such as neck defense. 

Training in No-Gi is great for beginners to develop better defensive skills as they cannot depend on grips to pin opponents and finish submissions. However, if your sole reason for starting BJJ is mixed martial arts (MMA), then experts advise you to prioritize No-Gi training.

Is Gi or No-Gi Better for Self-defense?

Nogi is generally better for self-defense because its control, grips, and submissions work well regardless of what your attacker is wearing. It is important to acknowledge that there are differing opinions on this. Some say that originally Jiu-Jitsu was taught in a Gi specifically for self-defense reasons.

However, recently some think the Gi is unrealistic for self-defense situations as street clothing has changed since Jiu-Jitsu was introduced in Brazil. Others feel that No-Gi is more realistic for self-defense.

Is Gi or No-Gi Better for MMA?

A renowned MMA coach in the world, Firas Zahabi, recommends prioritizing No-Gi if you are training in MMA. He reasons that many Gi-specific techniques usually don’t translate well into MMA, and the time spent learning them could be better polishing the many other aspects of MMA like boxing, wrestling, clinching, and muay Thai. He acknowledges that Gi is good for those learning escapes and guard pass prevention. 

Check out this video for more about Gi or No Gi for MMA from Coach Firas Zahabi’s Ask Me Anything.

Gi Vs. No Gi: Which One Should You Choose? –

Gi Pros and Cons

Gi BJJ is when both practitioners wear uniforms that they can grip to help submit or control each other.

Below are the Gi pros and cons:


  • Many gyms offer Gi classes more than No-Gi each week.
  • Gi has additional sweeps and submissions available
  • It helps build better defensive skills as the Gi offers increased friction and grips. 
  • One can easily interchange Gi with No-gi training as one can easily take it off and continue without any problems.


  • Increased friction in Gi can be used to compensate for sloppy pinning and submission techniques.
Gi Vs. No Gi: Which One Should You Choose?
Gi Vs. No Gi: Which One Should You Choose? –

No-Gi Pros and Cons

No-gi BJJ is when practitioners wear rashguards and boardshorts; therefore, they cannot grab during a BJJ practice or competition.

Below are the No-Gi Pros and Cons:


  • It can be sued to build stronger offensive skills due to the lack of friction and grips forcing one to develop better body positioning skills.
  • It is more relevant to MMA training


  • Many gyms do not offer No-Gi only.
  • A person may not build defensive skills as well as in Gi because of less friction and grips. 
Gi Vs. No Gi - Which One Should You Choose
Gi Vs. No Gi: Which One Should You Choose? –

Specialize But Train Both

As we have seen, there are benefits to both training styles. Gi BJJ teaches you to work on grips and to stay technical in all positions. No-Gi BJJ teaches you not to be over-dependent on Gi grips as they may not always be available. Depending on your preference, it is ok to specialize in one style over the other. 

However, you can choose to mix things up by adding one day to the one you are not specializing in to keep things balanced. Training in both styles alongside each other will go a long way in improving your overall game. 

Final Thought

Gi or No-Gi are both Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu and are incredibly effective forms of self-defense. They are both excellent tools for helping one to improve their self-confidence. Whichever style you choose, your intent should be to train and develop a well-rounded game. 

It is important to understand that it will take a lifetime to learn all the techniques in BJJ, prioritizing building a game that involves the best of what both styles can provide.

Remember it is equally important to have fun as you train as this will motivate you to continue training for as long as possible. 


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