I know how good it is for my gi game to also do no-gi and I do take no-gi class on occasion. For me though....it's not my favorite. I'm sure this is because I started off in the gi, I don't feel like I'm as good or that I can control someone bigger then me without the gi and I kind of feel "naked" lol.
I often hear people who only do no-gi say "I don't need to train in the gi for MMA, I wont be wearing a gi and either will my opponent or if I was to get in a street fight we wouldn't be in a gis.
Well....if you feel this way please read below and see all the benefits of training in a gi.
Why Do You Train In a Gi?
There are several very important reasons to train with a gi.
1.) The gi is intended to be a reusable t-shirt. If a smaller person who knew Jiu Jitsu had to defend themselves from a much bigger, stronger, more aggressive opponent they would most likely need to clinch them. While trying to clinch the larger opponent would be grabbing hold of any material, shirt, whatever on the smaller Jiu Jitsu fighter to keep them from clinching and to control them. This is the kind of thing you see happening all the time in hockey. One guy pulls the shirt over the other guy’s head and starts slinging him around and punching. In order for the Jiu Jitsu student to effectively clinch, he must be used to someone grabbing his clothing and trying to resist him. This is one of the ways we use the gi in class it is basically a reusable t-shirt. We could use t-shirts, but they would rip after a few sessions and need to be replaced. Good for the academy t-shirt sales, bad for the student’s wallet!
2.) Training in a clean gi is the most sanitary way to train grappling. This point is one of the most over looked and most important. All you have to do is turn on the T.V. to hear about someone who contracted a serious and potentially deadly staph infection at a local gym, hospital or wrestling camp. Grappling arts involve lots of skin to skin contact and these types of problems are a huge concern. Fortunately with Jiu Jitsu, we wear the gi all the time and do not have this skin to skin contact therefore reducing the risk for these types of issues.
3.) The gi helps slow the game down for the less experienced student and makes it more difficult for the advanced student. When two students start to spar or roll, the less experienced Jiu Jitsu student is naturally at a disadvantage. To minimize some of that disadvantage they can grab and hold the more experienced persons gi. This gives them increased control and slows down the roll so that they may more easily learn. In addition, with this extra control the less experienced or smaller practitioner gets from holding the gi makes the roll artificially harder for the more experienced player. In this aspect the gi is to both students advantage for training. It makes it slightly easier for the smaller or less experienced guy and slightly harder for the bigger or more experienced player.
4.) The collar choke is used more in real self-defense situations than even the rear naked choke. At first this sounds odd, but when you stop and think about it, people wear clothes. In a real situation an opponent is likely to have on a collared shirt, a jacket, a hoodie or some material that you can use to apply a choke. I have seen over and over that when you put one hand in the collar of somebody’s shirt or clothing they grab the hand instead of throwing a punch. When they grab your hand it is very easy to put your other hand in to finish the choke. If you take the time to master chokes using the gi, you have a huge advantage over someone in a real fight who does not know how to defend these attacks or apply them. If you find yourself in situations where you are concerned about defending yourself from opponents who are not wearing clothing, perhaps you should choose a better environment for yourself or invest in a firearm and the appropriate use thereof.
5.) Training with the gi establishes the Attack, Escape, Stabilization cycle. If you are mounted on a training partner who knows to keep his arms tucked in and is not wearing a gi, you have very few options. When you do not attack it is more difficult for him to escape and then you have no need to work on stabilizing the position. This is a bad habit for a real fight. Training this way in a fight you might mount the opponent start to attack with punches and he goes to escape and you lose the position as you are not used to stabilizing. How do we correct this? In training if I could punch my training partner in the mouth and make him respond by putting his hands up I could then attack for an arm bar. When I attack he tries to escape and I have to stabilize. So you see the cycle remains intact. Attack -> Escape -> Stabilize. Now obviously I can’t and don’t want to punch my training partner in the mouth so what do I do? Go for chokes using the gi that will make my partner respond like he would against punches and create the same cycle Attack -> Escape -> Stabilize. This cycle is why training Jiu Jitsu no gi without punches is one of the worst and least realistic ways to prepare for a real fight.
BTW....Not discrediting No-gi at all. Both are GREAT for your BJJ game!
" To get stronger lift weights, to have cardio, run. To have the best base and best defense. Train in the gi. When you are on top there are handles to disturb your base and move you. Now take the gi off, you become that much harder to move with no handles. To defend, you have to technically escaped because power and slipperiness are minimized by friction and grip on gi. Now take the gi off, no one can hold you down." Rickson Gracie