If you are about to start training BJJ you may have realized that there are two versions of the sport. Gi where you wear a kimono similar to a Judo uniform and NoGi where you wear a tight shirt and shorts. As a beginner which should you choose?
Should Beginners Train NoGi BJJ?
Beginners should train NoGi BJJ if they enjoy it as it comes down to preference. If you enjoy a faster paced more athletic version of BJJ with an emphasis on leg locks and wrestling techniques then NoGi is for you.
Old school BJJ athletes will tell you that you should train both Gi and NoGi and that you can only truly learn BJJ by training in the Gi. This is all nonsense. This is just lies Brazilians made up because they never wanted to teach NoGi BJJ and to this day most classes at Jiu Jitsu academies are Gi only.
With the explosion of MMA and the increased popularity of submission grappling more and more BJJ gyms are adding NoGi classes to their training schedules.
It is totally acceptable for a beginner to only train NoGi. At this point I view them as almost two different sports. The strategies and grips are so different that they have become distinct enough to be considered unique sports.
The logic of having to train Gi to get better at NoGi just completely collapses when you look at how so many techniques that are effective in the Gi simply are not possible in NoGi. Would you tell a Greco Roman wrestler that he needs to train Judo before training wrestling?
You combine this with the absence of heel hooks in the Gi which are one of the most prolific submissions in NoGi and you quickly realize that if you want to get better at NoGi you should just train more NoGi.
One of the best NoGi grapplers in the world Craig Jones agrees. He has said that he does no training in the Gi as he does not view as benefical to his NoGi game. He said he would rather train wrestling than Gi as he beleives that has better cross-over.
So not only does one of the top 5 NoGi grapplers in the world do zero Gi training he thinks that wrestling is more effective for NoGi athletes than Gi training.
If you are a beginner who is considering which version of BJJ to train in you should study the differences between the two sports and then choose the one which best suits you.
- Slower paced – The extra friction and grips makes it easier to control people and limits the ability of athletes to explode out of positions
- More technical – The Gi creates an additional layer of complexity, it creates more possibilities which leads to deeper strategy, a game with 3 options is not as complex as a game with 50 options
- Get to wear traditional martial arts uniform with belts – You get to pretend you are a Japanese warrior and show off your cool belt
- More techniques – The Gi can be used as a weapon and allows you to perform far more techniques
- Easier to negate strength and weight advantages – You can slow down and trap heavier and stronger opponents by tying them up in their or your Gi
- Faster paced – In Nogi there is less friction and there is no jacket to grip on to. This makes it very difficult to control people creating scrambles
- No uniform – If you want to leave your karate uniform hung up in your closet you will appreciate this, just throw on your favorite athletic shorts and t-shirt and you are good to go
- Leg locks – Do you dream of ripping your training partners’ knees apart? Then you will love NoGi as heel hooks are one of the most popular submissions
- More athletic – You can use your physical attributes more effectively in NoGi. If you are strong and explosive you will prefer NoGi as you will be powering out of submissions and throwing your training partners all over the mats
- More similar to wrestling – If you come from a wrestling background the transition will be easier if you train NoGi. All your favorite takedowns are effective, the front headlock and bulldog position are very common, riding is similar to back mount
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t just train NoGi. Try out both and see what you enjoy the most. If you like NoGi the best then go ahead and focus solely on it. I only train NoGi, I tried a little bit of Gi but found it too slow and not as athletic. Also the fact that I came from a wrestling background I liked I could use much more of my wrestling techniques in NoGi.