Tuffer Fighting With Gi IMHO

A recurring thread on some of the other forums seems to be gi v. no gi in regard to training, fighting, styles, etc.

Allow me to predicate my take by stating I am a judo man through and through, always have been, always will be. By this I am not asserting that olympic judo is the answer for dudes training for mma but rather I just dig the training and sport more than any other.

I also am totally convinced judo is the ruffest of all the grappling sports in that the world's greatest throwsters partake under rules that require the participant's to stay in a balls to the walls attack mode at all times. I swear to God judo is brutally physical competition.

The gi provides innumerably more techniques than fighting without the gi both in tachiwaza and newaza and I believe this is a given.

The fact that dudes do not wear the gi in mma verifies my above statements, IMHO. They just wear shorts so as to eliminate some of the opponent's techniques in that it makes it much harder to obtain grips to control and throw. If a gi was worn all no gi techniques could still be utilized, i.e. all takedowns, submissions, kicks, punches, etc. So what is the purpose of not wearing a gi other than to eliminate the comp's arsenal? Therefore fighting with a gi would be tuffer to do, aye?

The argument spills over to what is more practical for street fighting, gi or no gi? I say gi for obvious reasons in this scenario also. Must folks wear pants, belts, shirts, sweaters, tees, sweatshirts, jackets, etc. etc. etc. Throwsters in the streeet are deadly.

Whenever I was involved in a brawl when I was a young maniac in the 70's everyone I fought wore clothes that I could grip and use my judo skills. I have never seen a fight where dudes were wearing speedos or like ilk.


When you learn to do no gi, you learn to use a style that CAN be used in any condition. what he's wearing is never a though becuase you don't have to worry about it. a over/under, elbow/ collar etc. is universal.

most of the collar chokes are out the window.

there is no better. thay are both good.

Take off your jacket and practice some judo.

My feeling is that the gi vs. no-gi arguments are overstated. I don't see much difference between the two. Unless the only throw in your arsenal is double-lapel seoi-nage, adapting to no-gi throwing is not that hard.

An experienced judoka has worked all kinds of gripping situations, including those in which you end up working without standard gi grips.

Sometimes you can't get a nice grip on the gi, so you grab a wrist, or wrap the head, or take an over-and-under. If you really understand a technique, you know how to make it work even when you can't get exactly the grip you want. In reality, no-gi grips are a -subset- of the possibilities of the gi-fighting game.

Hell, the traditional kata versions of most throws are practically no-gi versions (look at the grips for ogoshi and harai-goshi in Nage no Kata). Take a wrist instead of a sleeve (not a hard transition at all), and it's a no-gi throw.

That said, I think working no-gi once in a while is still useful -- it opens your eyes to all the no-gi-gripping possibilities and makes you more versatile even in the standard gi-fighting game.

Tell ya what though in mma matches in which a gi was mandatory a world class judoka or sambist would launch the shit out of everyone whereas w/o gi they would not. It is not just seoi that makes a difference. Even world class wrestlers like Coutoure, Kerr, etc. would find themselves flying.

the gi makes everything you do a lot more technical. people who thik that the gi, and use of the gi, means just grabbing clothing are sadly mistaken. the use of the judogi is something that requires as much skill, if not far more skill, than even the majority of throwing techniques.

how is this true, becuase we all know that the smallest motions are often the most delicate and somehow still some of the most effective. in a no-gi situation a lot of these smaller motions are non-existant and the techniques, therefore, are based on a much less technical capability.

if you want proof.. go and do this, take a guy who is a wrestler and try to teach him judo at an average dojo. watch him do really well with some things and just horrible at others until his habits are broken. take a judo player and put him on a wrestling team, he might falter somewhat at first, but as soon as he adjusts to the gripping differences he will excell and have a much wider attack range than the majority of wrestlers. this is why there are a good number of judo players who become high-level wrestlers and very few wrestlers who become high-level judo players within the same time frame. there are always exceptions to the rules, but for the most part this is pretty accurate.

Josh, No doubt about it. Great post.

A great wrestler w/o gi experience putting on a gi and doing randori with a great grip fighter would have almost no offense.Striking and kicks would have to be revamped also otherwise the striker would find himself in compromised positions to be chucked. Submissions would be quantum leaped and much more difficult to avoid.

"I swear to God judo is brutally physical competition."

Nice post, Walt. I find that adapting to no gi pretty easy for throwing. Like Scythrop said, if you understand the techniques, switching grips is not much of an issue.

Yes definitly!

Ben R.

--- "Tell ya what though in mma matches in which a gi was mandatory a world class judoka or sambist would launch the shit out of everyone whereas w/o gi they would not."---

Certainly if gis were mandatory, Judo would become as essential to MMA as wrestling is now.

As things stand, the finesse you develop from gi-fighting is mostly wasted in MMA. It's more efficient to train some basic pummelling and a few solid wrestling takedowns than to spend years mastering the intricacies of Judo grip-fighting.

"Tell ya what though in mma matches in which a gi was mandatory a world class judoka or sambist would launch the shit out of everyone whereas w/o gi they would not."

This should tell you something about the validity of calling judo a gi dependant sport.

take the gi off. practice judo without it. it can still be done and it still works

The gi is more technical as it slows you and your opponent down. not only do you have a handle to throw him, but he has handles on you to not be thrown. this IS hard! that's why the gi makes you technical both standing and mat work (look at how many bjj guys say "learn gi first!")

For the reasons stated above I believe big throwster Yoshida completely altered Gracie's time proving strategies and compelled him to shed his gi.

I realize this is one of the arguments that goes round and round like a dog chasing its tail but I reiterate dudes wear nothing but shorts in mma for the sole purpose of being more difficult to grip.

I also assert that gi fighting is more combat/street related. I feel that it is a given and is obvious.

If you put clothes or a gi on a slippery pig there would be no problem and capturing it and holding it down.

I realize tha dudes that have wrestled all their lives would be much more comfortatble without the gi and visa versa. That is the crux of the argument.

A couple thoughts,

How can you measure something which can't be measured? What is the volume of an ever expanding lake?

No gi technique, just like in the gi, is near, if not, infinite. I don't think we can even begin to say which is more technical.

I like both. I try to split my training with gi and no-gi.

I have tried teaching both ways, and the guys that train with the gi's are much harder to catch than the ones that have never.

Good post Wally,


nowaydo, when I was teaching basic Judo to the police cadets at ISU, we trained in sweats and T/Sweatshirts for the same reasons.

I loved watching them take down the big deputies during their red-suit training. Good thing he had on the suit or he would have been knocked out more than once.

Ben R.


I think Sam would like the new Metro. Bring him along when you come to check it out.

I agree it is far horizon for both as new techniques, applications, combos, etc. evolve. But can't you do every new no gi technique with the gi on also? This however is not visa versa because so many gi techniques involve use of the gi, i.e. chokes in particular.

One reason I like training in a gi is you are more assured of the legitimacy of the skills your instructor claims to have. A BJJ class with a gi will have an instructor wearing a blackbelt with a lineage you can trace. Same goes for Judo. Turn up to a submission grappling class however and the instructor might have never passed bluebelt in BJJ or might only have some high school wrestling.

Also I think it removes a large amount of physical attributes which contributes to the technicality. This is because there's no ego involved in removing the "powering" of techniques to get them to work (often to avoid tapping.)


What were some of the most common strategies taught to the police officers you trained? It is fun figuring out how to transfer your throw from gi to...sweatshirt."

I basically told them to ignore the clothing, and used wrist grabs, headlocks, and the good old head and arm tie, plus limited strikes to throws (the old palm strike to the chin then ouchi or osoto/kosoto trick. I also told them that if they were at clinch range, the perp would like be charging/pushing/pulling them and/or not skilled at grappling, so grabbing clothing likely would not be necessary.

I emphasized that they should explore the options of how to integrate the arrest technique skills they were learning with what I was teaching. For example, I emphasized that they could either control the perps arm/wrist and use a control technique to turn them over and cuff them (they already knew these), or just throw them down/away and draw a weapon. After each throw they did (we did not do uchikomi), they either had to control and cuff, or back off and draw a weapon.

After all, bare hands from the ground vs Glock and a few steps back isn't muc of a contest.

I did not teach any specific arrest technique stuff, as I am not qualified to do so, and their arrest technique teachers were superb (I watched the classes a lot).

On the ground I had them work on escapes from mount, and how to fight from open guard. However, I told them that I thought the best bet was to be able to get up quickly at the corect time, or buy time to draw their pistol, rather than reverse and control or submit.

I'd have them knock each other down, for example, and the officer would be on the ground (sometimes face down, sometimes face up) and have to defend and pick the time to get up, and had them practice kicking (after all, they would all be wearing boots on patrol). I had them do some simple sweeps as well.

Overall, I think they appreciated the training, and had fun as well.

Ben R.

"One thing and Judoka has to realize is it's a lot tougher to throw when you have strong, straight and fast punches thrown at your head and knees plowing into you."

How true. I actually learned this backwards! I came from san shou into judo and was pleasantly suprised that it was easier to throw people when I wasn't being bludgeoned to death with kicks and punches.. and not to mention that I could now grasp with my fingers instead of just using my hands as hooks. (14 oz. boxing gloves)

I'm also of the opinion that Kano would approve of san shou's methods of combining atemiwaza and tachiwaza, which came thru the judo to sambo to san shou influences..