Gi vs No-Gi… Do You Need Both?

Image result for gi nogi

At Arashi-Do St. Albert we have several classes in the gi during the week, both mixed and ladies only. Fridays we do submission wrestling in the evening with no gi. One of the more common questions I get from perspective members is what the difference is between gi and no-gi (besides the obvious) and why one might choose one or the other.

  1. Self-Defense – Jiu-Jitsu has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years as a sport, but at its core it is a real world self-defense martial art forged in street fighting and vale tudo first and foremost. This was the first and most important reason for training both with and without the gi. Since we generally not choose the time, place and opponent for a self-defense situation, we never know what kind of clothes they’ll be wearing or if the clothes they may be wearing are strong and durable enough to be used the way a gi might be. Gi’s are essentially designed to simulate normal clothing but also be durable enough to withstand day to day training where normal clothes may survive being used to throw or choke once or twice in a single fight. If your self defense is based purely on being able to grab clothing, you’ll be at a disadvantage against a person wearing light or no clothing so no-gi experience and techniques will be needed.
  2. Sport – When both opponents are wearing a gi, there is a great deal of added friction between them as well as a great deal of different reliable grips available. This generally makes it easier to pin an opponent in a position as well as set up submissions, and as a result it’s much more difficult to simply explode out of something. This sharpens up the defenses and escapes and requires them to be technical. On the flip side, the lack of friction in no-gi makes it much easier to escape so your attacks need to be much tighter and better set up. People who do both will typically have more well-rounded games as a result.
  3. Fitness – The friction and grips of the gi serve another purpose as well – to slow the game down. This means that both fighters will typically spend longer in a given position than they would in no-gi, so you must develop the strength and muscular endurance to maintain your frames, holds and grips. No-gi on the other hand is much faster paced, so it will demand a higher level of explosiveness and aerobic fitness. Training in both will yield the best results for overall jiu-jitsu conditioning.

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Some Helpful Tips for New Years Resolutions

It’s that time of year again! On and around January 1st, many peoples’ thoughts will turn to what kind of 2018 they want to have and what positive choices they can make in order to improve their chances. In his article, “The Psychology of New Years’ Resolutions”, Professor of Behavioral Addiction Mark Griffiths lays out the following helpful tips:

Be realistic. You need to begin by making resolutions that you can keep and that are practical. If you want to reduce your alcohol intake because you tend to drink alcohol every day, don’t immediately go teetotal. Try to cut out alcohol every other day or have a drink once every three days. Also, breaking up the longer-term goal into more manageable short-term goals can be beneficial and more rewarding. The same principle can be applied to exercise or eating more healthily.

Do one thing at a time. One of the easiest routes to failure is to have too many resolutions. If you want to be fitter and healthier, do just one thing at a time. Give up drinking. Give up smoking. Join a gym. Eat more healthily. But don’t do them all at once, just choose one and do your best to stick to it. Once you have got one thing under your control, you can begin a second resolution.

Be SMART. Anyone working in a job that includes setting goals will know that goals should be SMART, that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Resolutions shouldn’t be any different. Cutting down alcohol drinking is an admirable goal, but it’s not SMART. Drinking no more than two units of alcohol every other day for one month is a SMART resolution. Connecting the resolution to a specific goal can also be motivating, for example, dropping a dress size or losing two inches off your waistline in time for the next summer holiday.

Tell someone your resolution. Letting family and friends know that you have a New Year’s resolution that you really want to keep will act as both a safety barrier and a face-saver. If you really want to cut down smoking or drinking, real friends won’t put temptation in your way and can help monitor your behaviour. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support from those around you.

Change your behaviour with others. Trying to change habits on your own can be difficult. For instance, if you and your partner both smoke, drink and eat unhealthily, it is really hard for one partner to change their behaviour if the other is still engaged in the same old bad habits. By having the same resolution, such as going on a diet, the chances of success will improve.

The full article can be found at .

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Is getting in great shape, or learning a martial art your resolution this year? Come and check out our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu programs in St. Albert for ages 5 and up! E-mail us at or give us a call at 780-217-0059 for more information.

St. Albert Location Opening Soon!

We at Arashi-Do Martial Arts are very pleased and excited to announce that the newest Arashi-Do location will be opening soon at 135 44 Reil Drive in St. Albert. An exact date for the grand opening will be announced momentarily but in the meantime we are currently building interest lists for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing and fitness classes for all ages. If you or someone you know may be interested in enrolling themselves or their children, please e-mail Professor Tyson LaRone at or call at 780-217-0059 with your information. We will connect with you to answer any questions you may have about class content, scheduling etc.

Arashi-Do Martial Arts has been providing the gold standard for martial arts instruction in Alberta for nearly thirty years with dojos all over the province. We pride ourselves on going above and beyond to delivery the highest quality instruction as well as a safe and fun atmosphere for everyone. We hope to see you on the mats soon!

Basic Building Blocks of BJJ Class

When you sign up for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you may not know what to expect as far as what classes look like or how techniques are taught. It can depend on the instructor, the group and what’s coming up in terms of tournaments or gradings but these are the basics that make up the average class at most schools:


Technical Practice

This is when the instructor of the class breaks down a technique – the basic movements, things to keep in mind, why the technique works the way it does, and then you’re given an opportunity to try the technique yourself. It’s very important to pay close attention to what the instructor is doing as he or she explains and demonstrates, as you may pick up on some details that they didn’t say out loud. When you and a partner are both trying out the technique for the first time, make sure you aren’t resisting too much and not letting them go through the motion. This is also the best time to ask questions, as it is easier for the instructor to make it around to everyone before hard drilling starts.


Drilling has often been called the lifeblood of BJJ training, where the greatest benefits are reaped. Top level competitors often train 2-3 times a day, and most of that time is spent drilling. Drilling is when you are working on specific techniques or positions over and over against resistance. It’s important because in free rolling, depending on your experience level and the type of game you play you may not end up in certain positions very often. For example, say you don’t get mounted very often in rolling. You may have learned some good mount escapes in technical practice, but if you haven’t practiced them against resistance you won’t be able to rely on them when someone does put you there. Drilling gives you the opportunity to start on the bottom of mount, escape, reset and do it over and over until you have a good feel for the technique, not just the knowledge of what it’s supposed to look like. Drilling is also a great way for beginners to be introduced to the feel of rolling under safe, controlled conditions.


Rolling is the sparring of BJJ. It’s where you and a partner are free to try to beat one another using any legal submissions or positions. While preparing for a tournament, the rolling will be more intense because everyone is trying to sharpen up their best techniques for the competition. Between tournaments, rolling is usually more relaxed and many practitioners will have a few things they’re trying to improve in their rolling. For example, if someone is usually an aggressive top player when they compete, in the off-season they may choose to spend more time on their backs playing guard to develop that part of their game.

Come down to Arashi Do Edmonton and try out one of our great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu programs like Fundamental BJJ, Women’s Only BJJ or Children’s BJJ for ages 4-7 and 8-14.

All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL!  

Gi, No-Gi or Both?

Gi, No-Gi or Both?

Tyson LaRone, SAKC, RMT, YSAS, BJJ Black Belt

BJJ is one of the few martial arts where there isn’t a clear answer on what is worn for training in it. Some schools strictly practice only in the gi, some treat it more as wrestling and train only in shorts, t-shirts or compression gear. Some train both and may slide more often toward one side or the other, and it really boils down to the instructor and the focus of the school. If it’s an MMA gym and BJJ is being taught as only a part of the overall program then it’s more likely to be no-gi. If it’s a pure BJJ school with self-defense as part of the curriculum then the gi is more likely to be the norm. I believe that no-gi and gi are both essential as training tools no matter what your focus, and here’s why:


No-gi is great for developing your attacks and control from top positions, especially when both competitors start to get sweaty because there’s no friction to help you keep your grips and your weight on someone. If you don’t set everything up just right, it’s much easier for someone to explode out of something and escape. If someone is strong, fast or flexible it will be more of an advantage in no-gi, and since it’s easier to escape you’re also likely to spend more time scrambling which means you’ll get in great shape! Even if you like to compete in the gi, it’s good to train no-gi because all gis are different and you don’t want to base your whole game around certain grips that may or may not be easy to get depending on the fit and material of the opponent’s gi. This also makes no-gi training great for self-defense since you never know what kind of clothing an attacker might be wearing.




The gi is an excellent tool for developing the fundamentals of BJJ, especially the guard and escapes. The added friction and grips of a gi make physical attributes less effective so you must be technical to escape submissions and top positions. This also means that matches will be more even between people of different genders, weight divisions and athletic abilities. Positions are easier to maintain and the game tends to be slower-paced than no-gi which usually results in a more cerebral match where no-gi can be more instinctual. Having more time to think during a roll means you’ll be more likely be able to look back and pinpoint how and why certain things happened so you can make adjustments. Finally, since all no-gi techniques can be used while wearing a gi (though some not as well) but gi techniques can’t be used in no-gi, the total number of possible techniques and strategies is much larger when using the gi.

In closing, both gi and no-gi have their pros and cons but totally neglecting either one could lead to some pretty big holes in the game. That is why even many of the greatest MMA world champions of all time like Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva trained extensively in the gi even though they would never wear it to compete. You don’t necessarily have to split it 50/50 and every instructor will have their preference but I believe it’s essential to at least mix it up every once in a while to make sure your skills are well balanced.

Fb 30 day trial profileCome down to Arashi Do Edmonton and try out one of our great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu programs like Fundamental BJJ, Women’s Only BJJ or Children’s BJJ for ages 4-7 and 8-14.

All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL!  

3 Exercises for Hip Mobility and Health

Training in BJJ week in, week out can take a toll on the body in general, but the hips often get the worst of it since they’re at the center of almost every technique we practice. There’s a good reason for that, but we still need to take extra steps to make sure they stay mobile and healthy:

Keep Rollin’… 

Primarily your hip flexibility is determined by how lose a group of muscles known as the IT Band are. The IT Band is notoriously tight, and that can make your hip movements restricted. After each work out or training session, you can use a foam roller (fairly cheap on sites such as amazon) to stretch out and loosen the IT Band. Simply lie on the foam roller, and move down the roller on the outer side of your leg from knee to hip. You should feel the strain and to begin with the first few rolling sessions will be painful. After time the rolling will get easier, and your hips will begin to loosen and you’ll start to feel and notice the benefits.

Just Keep Swinging

Leg swings are also a great way to promote hip flexibility as well as improving control, accuracy and range of your kicking. The exercise is also just as simple and easy to perform as it sounds. Simply swing your legs. Swing to begin with but as you start to feel comfortable instead of swinging, begin to lift, to gain more control over the movement. Swings can be made both to the front and the side. It’s the movement towards the sides that really makes the difference in your hip flexors, so concentrate on this for optimum results.

The Amazing Spiderman

Lastly we’ve got spider-mans. No not that kind of spider-man. This exercise not only helps mobility in the hips, but also works the abs, so is a welcome addition to the normal strength and conditioning circuit. To do the spider-man, take a press up position. From here move your knee to your elbow, mimicking the movement of spider-man climbing a wall. You should move the knee wide of the elbow to make the most out of this exercise. When you feel more confident, try moving your knee to the opposite elbow to work in a twist to the movement. This will work the inside of the hip muscle group as well as the lower two abs, making it a truly awesome conditioning move. Not only will your hip flexibility be improved, but you’ll have a head start if you’re ever bitten by a radioactive spider.

Conditioning of the hips should be done on a regular basis, if you don’t stretch regularly or get slack on the circuits; you’ll find that the hip seizes up incredibly quickly. Work this exercises twice a week and you’ll find you all round game improves dramatically.

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Pain or Numbness in the Shoulders and Arms? You Should Read This…

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – What It Is, and What to Do about It

Prof. Tyson LaRone, BJJ Black Belt and Registered Massage Therapist

For most of you, this will be the first you’ve heard of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. However, if you’re an athlete then there is a very good chance that this happy little guy has either affected you or one of your training partners at some point. When I was working full time as an RMT, so many of my clients presented symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome that testing for it became part of my standard new-client assessment, especially with athletes and anybody with a desk job.
What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Basically it refers to anything that causes pain, numbness and immobility in the chest, shoulders, back and arms by putting pressure on the brachial plexus – a cluster of nerves between the clavicle and first rib. In most cases it’s caused by a muscular imbalance. When the shoulders are constantly rolled forward, the upper back and rear delts can become stretched out and weak while the pecs and front delts become tight and swollen. Poor posture and unbalanced exercise routines are the two most common culprits.

If you experience pain or numbness in your chest, shoulders or arms – especially if the pain seems to start up close to the neck and refer down the arm, you are likely suffering from some form of TOS. The good news is that in the majority of cases, TOS is pretty simple to treat. Not necessarily easy, but simple. The main priority is to deal with the muscular imbalance.

What Do I Do?

If time and money allow, regular trips to some form of manual therapist will be your first and best move. A good RMT or ART will be able to palpate and identify which muscles are presenting the worst of the symptoms, then address them directly. Find one you trust, book 4-6 appointments and make them a priority. Get in the habit of staying properly hydrated, especially on days when you’re going to have treatments as this will have a significant effect on the inflammation and the effectiveness of the work.

When it comes to exercises, there’re plenty that could be helpful but the undisputed heavyweight champion of rear delt and upper back prehab/rehab is the band pull-apart. I would go so far as to say that no matter who you are, what kind of training you do or what kind of life you lead in general, it would be better if you did band pull-aparts regularly. You don’t need a very strong band, and bands can be bought cheaply just about anywhere. Here’s how you do them:


1. Hold a band in front of you with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
2. Keeping your forearms parallel with one another, move your elbows apart to stretch the band.
3. Pause when the band touches your chest, and then bring your hands back out in front until your elbows are just barely not locked out.

That’s about it. This isn’t something you’re going to do with heavy resistance. It works best when you choose a band tension that you can handle for 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions. If you look up this exercise on the internet, you’ll find many examples of people continuing to stretch the band until their arms are straight out to the sides. This involves the triceps more than I would prefer, at least for our purposes but either one will do the job. Seriously though, do them. Even if you’re perfectly balanced and healthy they make a great addition to any routine.

Fb 30 day trial profileCome down to Arashi Do Edmonton and try out one of our great Brazilian programs like Fundamental BJJ, Women’s Only BJJ or Children’s BJJ for ages 4-7 and 8-14.

All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL!