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

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.

 

Gi

 

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.

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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.

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.

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A Brief History of MMA – From Judo to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Gracie Kimura Poster jpegStarting in the early twentieth century, mixed martial arts events were held in Brazil, referred to as vale tudo competitions. These events permitted all standing and ground techniques just like the ancient pancratium did. This competitive environment attracted the attention of some Brazilian Judo schools, which began to adapt Judo to this kind of “anything goes” event. Judo began in Japan in the late nineteenth century as a form of full-contact grappling wearing garments that represent street wear, called judogis, in order to replicate real-world fighting conditions, which typically involved clothed individuals.

 

Judo combined the fighting specialties of several very old fighting traditions into one all-inclusive grappling sport. Much like other forms of wrestling, and for the same combative reasons, judo aims to throw to the back, pin, or submit an opponent. The separate origins of the two major parts of Judo are still visible today, as throwing and ground grappling are normally practiced distinctly from one another and are kept as two exclusive forms of sparring, known as standing randori and newaza randori, or more commonly simply as randori and newaza, respectively. In addition, the weapon self-defense and striking techniques are kept quite apart from these two major parts.

The Brazilian stylists began to develop a fighting doctrine based on the vale tudo rules, where knocking the opponent out or making the opponent submit in a one-on-one fight is paramount. Thus, the throws and pins, which are dominant but not final actions in and of themselves in a full-out fight, were reduced in value from match-enders to point-scorers. The real challenge became achieving the submission, while winning on points from the throws and pins was a secondary objective.

The rules of Judo were also altered to promote a strategy centered on gaining the submission by progressing through several positions toward maximum control of the opponent. Thus, the ideal progression is to take down the adversary with a throw; pass the guard; establish a side control such as a side mount, scarf hold, or knee on belly pin; and from there achieve full mount. From this pin the opponent can be punched at will, mercilessly, with both hands and submitted with a vast array of locks and chokes. If the adversary turns over to his belly to escape the blows and submission attempts, one is then able to take his back by wrapping the heels tightly into the inner thigh area by the groin and snaking the arms around the neck for a choke hold. Taking the back in this way became a point-scoring move in these new rules. It is then possible to stretch the opponent’s body out by pressing in with the hips and pulling back with the arms and legs, making the opponent totally helpless to strangulation.

This Brazilian form of Judo has become known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and is a unique example of a grappling art whose rules were designed expressly for the mixed martial arts arena. There are two subdivisions of the sport, one that continues to use the judogi, also called a kimono, as an approximation of street clothing better adapted for self-defense training purposes, and another more specific to mixed martial arts that is done without the judogi, often called submission grappling, no gi grappling, or just grappling. Since the gi has been proven a liability rather than a help in MMA combat, training without it more directly prepares one for the kind of grappling situation to be expected in the mixed martial arts ring.

Judo as a sporting form of self-defense training has evolved somewhat in the opposite direction in favor of dominating in the clinch position through throws. For MMA, judo throws are adapted to no gi wrestling grips. Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling have always been seen as the no gi counterparts to Judo, so the creation of a specifically no gi variant of judo was not necessary.

While it is an oversimplification, it can be helpful when thinking of mixed martial arts to think of its techniques as encompassing all those found in boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, and grappling. By no means are these the only sources for MMA competitors developing skills and tactics for the arena, but these are the most time-tested full-contact combat sports, including of course their many modern derivatives as legitimate subdivisions. Combining all these seemingly distinct sets of skills into one art is what makes mixed martial arts such a challenging field of endeavor, but also so interesting.

 

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