The Basics of BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU

tim kee“A belt just holds up your pants” – Royce Gracie

Upon entering into the sport of BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU in St. Albert, you will have many questions which may or may not have easy answers. You will want to know why you wear a gi, the difference between ‘Gi’ and ‘No Gi,’ what to wear, how ranking goes, and so forth. The reputation of traditional martial arts begs these questions.

A ‘gi’ (also called a kimono) is a formal uniform used in many traditional martial arts, which you will wear during most of your lessons. Many forms of martial arts provide soft, thin gis—others such as Judo and BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU provide a thicker type of material for gripping, holding, and applying finishing holds (submissions).

Gi grips and holds can become an important factor in sparring. The gi usually makes for a slower, methodical type of sparring. The gi, and grips in particular, makes it difficult to slip out of positions and submission holds, which can be used for you or against you. Some believe that gi gripping may even be used to kill time for the purpose of resting or holding on to a lead in a competitive BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU setting.

No Gi grappling is very similar in principle to Gi grappling, but put into practice it is commonly a faster-paced game. Practitioners of No Gi typically wear shorts and what is known as a ‘rash guard’ (a tight fitting, sweat absorbing shirt). Typically, in No Gi you can do all of the techniques you can do in Gi except you cannot grab the clothing to help you in any fashion. No Gi competitions currently allow for different methods of leg locks that you are not usually allowed to practice with a gi on (see rules for each specific tournament or academy you attend). No Gi is what is becoming more commonly used in MMA events; the majority of MMA events do not allow for use of a gi at all.

Support both Gi and No Gi training. Both have value and many UFC champions are BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU black belts with their gi on and some are very good without it. Keep an open mind.

In searching for a BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU gi (kimono) you should look at a few things. First look at the sizing that the company uses. In fact, if you were to size a gi, a suggestion I would make is to call the company from which you are buying your gi or write to them asking for specific information that has to do with your body type, their washing recommendations, and potential shrinkage tendencies. Sizes vary widely. Your academy may also have some in stock and your fellow students should be able to help guide you. Sizes usually start with a letter and number. Typically “A” is the adult size depending on how you shop, and then it follows with a number (typically 15). Prices range from about $50-$200, fit may be loose or tight, and the feel may be soft or rough. Another consideration is color. Some colors may not be allowed.

Wash your gi and gear after every training session. Smelly gis can cause the spread of skin and bacterial infections.

If you train with a gi on, you will either purchase or be supplied with a belt when you purchase or are given your gi. It is important to know how to tie your belt for many reasons. First, you may feel awkward not knowing how to tie your belt. Second, it will hold your gi top closed. Finally, it is also used sometimes as a tool to hold onto or manipulate or set up positions in BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU. No, you cannot tie someone up or use the belt to submit someone, but it can be grabbed and pulled during many positions that are intertwined with sweeps, holds, and submissions.

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