Lets talk gi for a minute

So Ive been grappling no gi for about 3.5 years now. Decent at some things but need to get much much better.

Ive been getting some really good BJJ instruction lately. A few guys have been pushing hard for me to start putting in some training time with the gi.

Now besides new things and change in general frightening me I have a few points of concern:

1) Im an mma guy. Im trying to be "the ultimate fighting champion" not win copa de mundial. If it will make me a better fighter, Im game. But being good at doing at a bunch of moves that rely on grabbing the belt or collar has zero appeal for me.

2) Adding in gi time = less no gi time. Between wrestling, standup and strength and conditioning a fighter only has so much time to budget. There has to be a significant payoff for something to be worth working into your routine.

I can fully accept the theory that training with the gi will tighten up your defense and escapes for fighting. Just as no gi makes your offense better by having to deal with a slipper opponent and using overhooks and head control rather than grabbing the uniform.

Like I said, if using the gi as a training tool will improve my grappling ability for mma fights then I will do it. If it will just show me that I stink at a different sport then so what?

Im interested in what guys have to say who have added in gi training after being mostly no gi for a while.


don't train in the gi. too addictive.

wear the gi when u roll no gi. ull get the benefit of both worlds.

Thanks for the replies, TTT for more.

"wear the gi when u roll no gi. ull get the benefit of both worlds."

Thats brilliant!

So far Ive already mastered the art of showing up to gi class in underarmour.


Threads like these make it hard for me to keep putting off training with the Gi again. :(

Guess I'll be putting at least one day a week in.

If Chuck Lidell had the grappling skills of a Carlson Gracie BB, (Lets say Bustamante just cuz they had a great fight)would he be a better fighter?

Point being, how would bjj (with a gi) skills NOT help you?

If you think about it, when u wear the gi. Rolling no gi, u cant rely on sweat to slip out of subs, this will make you very aware of what is happening and moving all the time. thats what I started doing and its been working well.


what is this gi thing you speak of?

as long as you avoid building a game completely dependent on grips (like a heavy gi choke game or lots of cross guard type movements)the gi will make you a lot better.

Quick Example

MMA/NO GI guy 2-0 mma 3-0 boxing and trained about three years and a BJJ blue belt (same weight) with about 1 1/2 years training are sparring (MMA). The gi guy has never sparred like this before but is completely dominating the no gi because his game is much tighter and the no gi had grown used to creating scrambles to escape. I was shocked.

"Might make you reliant on the handles."

Thats my major concern to be honest. That and having to spend time learning clock chokes and stuff that I cant use for what Im doing.

"The gi guy has never sparred like this before but is completely dominating the no gi because his game is much tighter and the no gi had grown used to creating scrambles to escape. I was shocked."

Yup. Almost every time Ive seen BJJ guys go against guys who havent trained gi its ugly. While those scrambles will exist in a fight, having that be what your game is based on can be a recipe for disaster.

Thats pretty much the boat Im in now. I feel GRRRRREAT when theres lots of movement but if someone puts it in park I cant really get out if theyre control to control and stay tight.

I will tell you this. I didnt train with a Gi for five years, Been traiing with it for the last two years. I must say the gi will show you what bad habits or bad technique your using with no gi. Once you correct those bad habbits and transition to no gi, your game improves. It really improves your technique.

The Calf Cruncher

HELWIG, the best example I can think of is Stephan Bonnar. When Carlson Gracie died, he stopped training in the gi. His ground game has gone absolutely to poop. Look at the Rashad Evan's fight for an example.

Also, look at Frank Trigg. Couldn't defend the RNC to save his life. Started training under John Lewis after the Condit fight, IIRC. Mayhem had his back for what seemed like forever and never really threatened him. Why? Because there are about 50+ gi chokes when someone has your back you are trying to defend. In nogi, you only have to worry about one.

Sure the "handles" for offense don't translate to MMA. But they can translate for defense.

Okay Helwig, let's talk.

"I can fully accept the theory that training with the gi will tighten up your defense and escapes for fighting. Just as no gi makes your offense better by having to deal with a slipper opponent and using overhooks and head control rather than grabbing the uniform."

Here's the thing. I've tried to present this idea to many no-gi practitioners, but they are so deeply seeded in their training routines that they bypass the simple logic that I am presenting. I've done a ton of research on this subject including interviewing many of the top BJJ guys in my area in gi and no-gi and this is what I have come up with.

Instead of getting in to a debate of "who trains gi and are they champs?" vs "who trains no-gi and are they champs?" argument ----- I'd rather spend the time giving you reasons why I think training with the gi is beneficial....Even to the MMA fighter as we share some of the same goals.

1) When you begin training with the gi, especially from a no-gi background, do not let the "humbling process" (as one guy deemed it) deter you from continuing to learn.

Let me explain this a little bit further. In the beginning, whether you have been training no-gi for a long time or not, you will get caught in submissions that you can normally escape. It's because of the obvious added constraints to the scenario.

2) Use MMA techniques while rolling with the gi on. For instance, instead of grabbing the collar, go for head control. Instead of grabbing the sleeve, go for a grip on the tricep, etc. If you train with a no-gi/MMA mindset, you can really develop a tight jiu-jitsu game when it comes to MMA.

3) As you stated earlier in your post, your defense most certainly will go way up. Your awareness of submissions escalates dramatically. You can literally feel when someone is going to go for something. The fact that you have already been rolling for a long time will only help you in this quest to better yourself.

4) When you are applying submissions or escapes, the extra grips that others have on you will greatly reduce the ability to power out of a bad position or a submission. Instead, you must rely heavily on employing fundamental techniques in order to escape a bad position or a submission attempt by your opponent. This will sharpen the most important aspect, IMO, of BJJ. Which is DEFENSE. Without defense, you can have sick submissions, but can hit a roadblock in success because you are always in bad positions or getting subbed yourself.

5) The application of submissions also gets sharpened. For example, I rolled a little bit no-gi for a while before I started training jiu-jitsu and one of my favorite subs was the RNC.

I noticed that after training with the gi for a while, I would sometimes struggle to get the submission in because my training partner would have more grips to grab on to when I was trying to apply it. This constant defending of my sub, made me practice my timing more as well as the actual submission itself.

A few months ago, I was rolling no-gi and when the opportunity presented itself to apply a mata leao (RNC), I slid it in so effortlessly and instinctually, that I actually surprised myself.

This could be due to several factors, including practicing the submission more as well as more time on the mat. But I definitely know that practicing the move with a gi on greatly assisted the process.

6) Training with the Gi is not an end all be all decision. It's more of a supplement to your training sessions. If you train BJJ about 4 days a week, break up the week to training 2 days with the gi and 2 days no-gi. This change-up can also keep things fresh and will reduce the chance of getting bored or burning out.

----> There's more if you are interested.


Everybody is leaving out the best part of gi training. No, it isnt how sharp you look sporting one...it is how good it feels to take it off at the end of class.

Plus, I already have a pic of you wearing one...should I post it?

"----> There's more if you are interested."

Please! Youve already swayed me heavily with what youve said.

"Plus, I already have a pic of you wearing one...should I post it?"

Youve got a gun to my head and youre asking me if you should pull the trigger!?

Congrats on Cage Fury BTW...I've heard nothing but good things about that promotion.

I'm going to bed now, but I'll post more tomorrow for you.


Here's an analysis I posted on my blog sometime ago on one aspect of gi training that translates better into MMA:

I had a revelation while watching the Ultimate Fighter Finale Saturday night (great show, by the way, minus the seemingly endless commercials.) There has been a lot of debate about the relative merits of training with or without the gi, and if people could develop as an effective game with or without it. I've always felt that those who train predominantly with a gi have fundamental differences from those who don't, but I've never been able to place my finger on exactly what. Then watching Diego Sanchez versus Nick Diaz it all came together for me. A very tell tale difference in the philosophies and actions of a gi fighter and a no gi fighter is directly related to the ability and willingness to posture in the closed guard.

A basic principle in BJJ is the necessity of proper posture when inside of someone's closed guard. Hips forward, back straight, never letting your shoulders come to far past your waist, and maintaining distance from your opponent. There are some very definite reasons for assuming a proper posture while wearing a gi, firstly because failure to assume a certain type of posture usually leads to disaster (a sweep or submission) and because of the wearing of the gi itself lends to many more handles and levers and submission opportunities. Lean too far forward on in BJJ, and you're likely to get choked with either your own lapel or your opponent's sleeves in some Ezekiel choke variation.

When grappling without a gi, the handles and many of the submission dangers disappear, so the importance of maintaining a proper posture within the closed guard is diminished. As a matter of fact, remaining in very close contact with your opponent (i.e. lying on their chest) is actually a very defensive position to take because it makes it more difficult for your opponent to get an armbar, or to create enough leverage for a sweep.

So you could argue that a high posture is most effective for gi grappling and a low posture is more effective for no gi grappling. Therefore, you might infer that people who train primarily in the gi tend to adopt a high posture, and those who train primarily without the gi tend to adopt a low posture. I would even go as far to say that these people tend to keep the posture they are used to whether they are grappling in the gi or not. However, I am going to argue that in actuality taking a high posture is actually the superior position in both cases. However, I am not going to lay out the details of that point right now, but instead I'm going to make a leap and make an even more startling revelation, in that the high posture is the more effective posture even within MMA.

Why? In a proper high posture one can deliver more effective strikes because it creates the distance needed to create a proper amount of force behind the blow and secondly by maintaining a proper high posture one is set up to deliver the next strike. In a low posture one is only able to use elbows and can strike with much less efficiency, and furthermore a lot of energy is wasted when attempting to create distance for the "big shot" because after that strike is delivered (whether it connects or not), you have to create that distance again.

Let's go back to the Diego Sanchez vs Nick Diaz fight. Diego has primarily been a no gi grappler his entire career, and thus tends to adopt a low posture. Each time he wanted to deliver a strike, he had to stand up, put himself in an awkward position then would come back down to deliver the blow. When he wanted to strike again, he had to put a lot of energy into just getting back to a position where the blow would do some damage, and he had to do this every time. Nick Diaz, who happens to be a very talented gi fighter, was able to avoid many of the most punishing blows Diego looked to deliver. (However, Diego most certainly deserved the decision in that match and this definitely ranked as one of the most exciting fights I've seen).

And who has used a high posture to effective strike from within the guard? Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianeko is probably the best example today, and he is described as a judo/sambo player. I'll assume this means he was a gi grappler, but for a concrete example, let's look at a group of fighters that definitely have a long history in Gi Grappling, the Brazilian Top Team. I think it was AKA jiujitsu instructor Dave Camarillo who first remarked to me how impressed he was with Murilo Bustamante's ability to strike from the guard, because he was able to establish a proper posture first, and then was able to land multiple effective strikes.

So does this mean that gi grappling can actually lead to an improved MMA game? Well this would be one example that would certainly suggest that at least one particular habit gained from gi grappling would make someone a more effective MMA fighter. There are of course many other aspects and factors to the MMA game to consider.