Updated June 25, 2019
The 2 forms of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are Gi and No-Gi, and just as the name implies, one form (the original and most common form) uses a traditional “kimono” or gi, while in the other practitioners wear shorts and a rash guard. Most grapplers who train in BJJ train in the traditional style, allowing them to grab the opponents gi to perform techniques. No-Gi BJJ practitioners do not have the ability to utilize the gi, and grip their opponents body instead. Many practitioners liken traditional gi Jiu-Jitsu to playing chess; the art can be more methodical and technical. Here is an overview from Master Marcus Soares on the differences between the 2 forms.
What is the difference between Gi and No Gi BJJ?
This is a question many people ask and in my opinion, gi and no-gi are two completely different universes.
Why do I say that? Because training with a gi your possibilities of variations and reactions are endless and you will prepare your mind to assimilate the techniques with a better understanding. Also, the transition from gi to no-gi is very easy and smooth while the opposite is very complicated and many people get totally lost.
It’s very rare people who train no-gi feel comfortable to put a gi on to spar, and I’ve never heard about a person that only train no-gi to win a gi tournament in high level divisions. Now, when you talk about guys that just train in a gi competing in the most prestigious No-Gi Tournaments (Abu Dhabi) you will find them winning every single weight category.
I’ve been involved with Jiu-Jitsu since 1970 and I’ve personally experienced training without the gi with the best of the best Luta Livre (ground fighting system practiced in Brasil without the gi), and I can tell you that even with only 3 years of experience of Jiu-Jitsu at the time, I’ve had epic battles with the top Luta Livre guys with over 20 years of experience including the founder. Many lacked the confidence to enter the Gi World.
My advice is to start your training in a Gi and focus on the basics always.