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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Gameplanning for BJJ Competition


Game Planning for BJJ Competition

Professor Tyson LaRone

There are many elements that go into success in competition when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu, or any other martial art for that matter. Many people who compete find themselves scratching their heads after a tournament trying to figure out why something happened the way it did. For example, someone may be notoriously difficult to hold down in side control within their dojo but then in a tournament match they’re easily taken down and smashed there for five minutes. It may also work out positively, where they submit two opponents in a tournament with the same technique that they haven’t hit on any of their training partners in months. Measuring up what you do in the dojo to how you perform in tournaments takes time and repetition just like learning new techniques, ie. doing plenty of tournaments but a lack of consistency or continuity can also come down to poor or non-existent game planning.

Game planning for competition rides the fine line between art and science and can be difficult, but here are some basic guidelines that can help:

  1. Begin at the beginning. “Get a rear naked choke” isn’t an effective game plan because every match starts with several feet between you. You can’t start on their back or teleport there, so don’t get ahead of yourself by thinking primarily about the submission. A gameplan should start with how you want to close the distance and engage the opponent standing.
  2. Be specific. Having a game plan doesn’t mean you can control everything that happens in the match, but you should have a clear idea of what your ideal match would look like from beginning to end. A basic template would be Initial Contact/Tie-up – Takedown – Pass to Final Position – Set-up – Submission. There’s some variability if you pull guard or if perhaps you take them down right into the position you want, but you get the idea. Your plan should include all of these pieces.
  3. Plan for the most likely variables. The intricacy and sheer amount of jiu-jitsu techniques make as many possible matches as there are grains of sand on Earth. You can’t possibly plan for everything, but you should be aware of the most likely deviations you’ll run into and still be able to keep things fairly simple. For example, if your plan begins with Collar Tie – Single Leg Takedown then you should be aware that you’ll likely end up somewhere between squared up with their open guard or knee on belly if you do get the takedown. If your eventual goal is to mount and armbar, then you should drill ways to get there from each of these major possibilities.

Overall competition is nerve-wracking for pretty much everyone, at least at first. That’s part of what makes it worthwhile, as the ultimate test for what you have learned. An effective game plan can be a great way to focus that nervous energy and make it work for you. If you don’t have a game plan, you’re more likely to be reactionary and that not only puts you a step behind but also means you’ll waste more energy on impulsive actions that don’t pan out.

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Give us a call at 780-217-0059 or send us an e-mail at for more information on joining our team and see the life-changing benefits of training in jiu-jitsu for yourself!

“King of the Mat” Drilling – The What and Why


Deighton proudly showing off his “King of the Mat” belt along with fellow contender and brother Nixon

Many different drills and training methods go into a well-rounded education in Jiu-Jitsu, and one of the most common and productive methods is the “King of the Mat” drill. At Arashi-Do St. Albert we use the format quite often, sometimes even officially for the chance to win the championship belt for the day and take some pictures with it.

The basic idea is to take an objective that is relevant to what the class has been working on. If the last few lessons have been on bear hug escapes, the objective may be to escape a fully locked in bear hug. If a tournament is coming up, the objective may be escaping mount, getting a particular takedown or something else the class in general has been struggling with. The class is then split up into groups and take turns trying to complete the objective. In the example of the bear hug, one student bear hugs the other and if they manage to hold on for ten seconds they win but if the other escapes, they win. Each time, the winner stays in the middle as acting King, and tries to stay in as long as they can.

This drill works well for a few reasons:

  1. The matches tend to be short, but high intensity. If two students know they’re going to be doing something for a while then they will pace themselves but if they know they have less than a minute to make something happen they’ll really go for it.
  2. There are always going to be differences in ability and size in any given class, but every student has different skills that they’re particularly good at. Since King of the Mat usually sets very tight objectives and those objectives are different each time, all students get their chance to shine when it comes around to their specialty.
  3. The process is self-regulating for all abilities. If there are multiple kings on the mat that are rotating through opponents, the student that is more athletic or more highly skilled will remain in the middle having to fight fresh opponents every minute until they lose, so everyone tends to get the workout that’s right for them by the end of the class.

King of the Mat can be a tough drill both physically and psychologically, but it’s also a lot of fun and is an excellent way to make great improvements on a particular technique in a short period of time. Don’t be afraid to take chances and lose in class, at the end of the day everyone is on the same team, and training partners that push you to be better are one of the greatest gifts you can have on the mats.

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Give us a call at 780-217-0059 or send us an e-mail at for more information on joining our team and see the life-changing benefits of training in jiu-jitsu for yourself!

Great Read for All BJJ Students – 3 Tips for Smoother Sailing on Your Way to Black Belt

A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a long, difficult journey. It can be incredibly joyous and rewarding as well as infuriating at times, and progress is rarely a straight line. In this article Professor Tyson wrote for, he outlines 3 things you can do to make things a little easier on yourself. Check it out!

3 Tips for Smoother Sailing on Your Way to Black Belt


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!