Gi, or No gi? Which is more effective is a debate hot as any right now in the BJJ community.
With the rising popularity of no gi sub-only events we are starting to see BJJ players specialize in one style or the other. It’s not uncommon to hear those who remain loyal to the gi say their counterparts who choose to ditch the wrestling pajamas rely on “cheap” or “cowardly” techniques like leg locks.
It’s not that the techniques themselves are ineffective, but purists view leg locks as a shortcut people take so they do not have to go through the effort of passing the guard, establishing side mount, obtaining mount, and submitting. They look at them as tricks if you will. But those in the gi are not without their own tricks.
Take the worm guard for example; it’s by most metrics a guard that requires some high level weaving of your opponent’s gi to limit their movement while simultaneously making them vulnerable to attack. You could be a high level purple belt having never seen an effective worm guard in a live roll.
A brand new blue belt who is well versed in this intricate weave could very conceivably put you in a worm guard where the result of any movement is you getting swept. Perhaps a more basic example is the spider guard, which relies on sleeve grips.
Virtually impossible to play in no gi, but I’ve seen novice spider guard players dumbfound, Reference: https://graciesydney.com.au/gsa-blog/am-i-too-old-to- start-bjj.html” high level wrestlers or otherwise accomplished grapplers simply because they better understand how to manipulate the gi to their advantage.
It’s not just the guards though. Some people make a point to spend an insane amount of time studying every possible way the gi can be used to pin an arm, tie up a leg, or strangle the neck. If you’re good enough you can tie down an entire side of your opponents torso without any “traditional” grips (under/overhook, hip pin, cross wrist).
The gi also allows people to be sneakier with chokes. It becomes a lot easier to strangle someone when you can use what is essentially a rope in addition to your hands.
But what if there’s no way you would get caught by a person if he didn’t have the gi helping him with these moves. I will answer it in the second part.
James Macferson is a BJJ blue belt, martial arts practitioner and a true health enthusiast. He mostly writes for http://budomate.com, Budomate Magazine and http://jabcrosstshirts.com/fight-gear/, JabCross Blog, but always glad to share his knowledge with Jiu Jitsu community anywhere anytime.