Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu: the ultimate guide

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Published: February 21, 2023

Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu? This is a quite common question in the BJJ world, especially when it comes to beginners. And you will see fighters from both sides advocating that the technique that they are using is better. The truth is, you will need to learn both techniques in order to truly master the art of Jiu Jitsu. But what path to choose if you are just a beginner? In this ultimate BJJ guide, some of the best personal trainers in Dubai will teach you all you need to know before you start conquering this popular martial art.

Why is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so popular?

In the recent decade or two, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu became one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Especially since MMA tournaments started to become more mainstream. In the mixed martial arts world, fighters from all over the world and with different skills fight each other. Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling, and Muay Thai are some of the most commonly seen, still, in most cases, one technique showed to be dominant over all others – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That and the fact that, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, striking of any kind is forbidden mostly affected the rise in popularity of this art of combat.

MMA fighters in the ring
MMA is one of the reasons why Jiu Jitsu became so popular

Nowadays, you can find people of all ages and backgrounds wanting to learn this fighting skill. Naturally, everyone has a different motive for wanting to learn BJJ. But, most people want to learn it because of its defensive application in the everyday world. Now, if you want to master Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, in the beginning, you will face a common question, Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu?

Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu – how to choose?

When thinking about Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu, first, you need to know that both techniques have their advantages and disadvantages. Also, it is important to understand that there are many differences when it comes to grappling, speed, and overall techniques, which can be very confusing for a complete beginner. That, and the fact that you can find fighters advocating for one technique over the other on both sides can make you wonder even more. So where should you start?

One of the things that can make you take one path or the other is your goal. Do you want to become a black belt in BJJ or do you want to learn this skill so you can defend yourself in the real world? If you want to learn BJJ so you can defend yourself in everyday situations, think, how often will you face an attacker that is wearing only underwear with no shirt on? Also, some of the biggest names and biggest champions in BJJ practice Gi Jiu Jitsu, which, is probably the biggest hint on which technique you should focus on. The general opinion, however, is that beginners should start learning Gi Jiu Jitsu and then complement their skills by learning No Gi techniques.

Advantages of Gi Jiu Jitsu

As we already mentioned, even though both techniques come from the same martial art, the styles are different and both have some advantages over the other. For starters, let’s take a look at some of the advantages that Gi Jiu Jitsu offers:

  • Increases upper body strength
  • Decelerates the game down
  • Endorses better escapes
  • Allows you to use Gi and No Gi controls

Upper body strength

In Gi Jiu Jitsu, there will be a lot of gripping of your opponent’s sleeves, trousers, and collars, which will greatly increase the strength of your muscles, tendons, and ligaments of your arms and back in general. Your hands, forearms, biceps, and upper and lower back will become immensely stronger from practicing Gi Jiu Jitsu. If additionally, you complement this with some intense upper and lower ab workouts, your whole upper body will become impenetrable.

two men fighting while showing advantages of Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu
One of the advantages of Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu is that you will develop great upper body strength

Game speed

Another advantage of Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu is that the game revolves much slower. You have more time to think about the situation, choose your next move, and think of a way to come out as a winner. As a result, the game becomes more technical and methodical, somewhat like a game of chess, which excludes the overall strength of opponents as a decisive factor. This is especially important for beginners that still haven’t had a chance to strengthen their bodies and have low lung capacity. This means that beginners can start practicing BJJ immediately and can slowly build their strength and lung capacity with some additional aerobic exercise or something similar, for example.

Better defensive skills

Escaping in Gi Jiu Jitsu is harder than in No Gi style. Simply, your opponents will have a plethora of ways to lock you down. In return, you will need to learn a variety of ways to get yourself out of the grapples. For example, a grab on the collar or a cloth-enveloped limb on an arm or a leg will require a lot of thinking and a choice of an appropriate technique in order to get out. Speed and explosiveness, even if you a master in crossfit training and you have superhuman speed and strength, won’t make much of a difference when fighting in Gi.

Use of Gi and No Gi controls

In No Gi, you can only use over and under hooks. On the other hand, Gi allows you to use over and under hoods as well as choose collar and sleeve control. This means that if you train only Gi, your No Gi game will develop along the way. At least to a certain degree. Similarly as in kickboxing. If you learn it, you will know to use your arms as well as if you were training only boxing in Dubai. Still, as we already mentioned, No Gi is quite different than Gi Jiu Jitsu and you can learn much more if you focus only on No Gi training.

Advantages of No Gi

We mentioned that beginners should start with Gi and complement their skills by learning No Gi techniques. We also mentioned that the biggest names in BJJ mostly train Gi. However, that doesn’t mean that Gi is that much superior. There are plenty of advantages of No Gi BJJ as well.

  • Better hold-downs and control positions
  • Faster game
  • Better use of legs
  • Comfortability
grabbing an opponent while showing disadvantages of Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu
No Gi has many advantages as well

Mastering hold-downs and control positions

Gi Jiu Jitsu provides you with unlimited options when it comes to grappling your opponent. On the other hand, No Gi is very limited in that regard. Therefore, you need to become much better in hold-downs, and control positions in order to hold down a sweaty and slippery opponent.

Game speed

A No Gi game revolves much faster than Gi BJJ. Simply, reduced friction and the availability of grapples and control position that is much narrower so the games are much faster and more athletic. That is also one of the reasons why No Gi is considered a more advanced technique and not recommended for beginners to start with. Beginners should first start learning Gi BJJ and try to gain some strength and muscles before they try No Gi. If you want that, you will need to head to the gym to lift some heavy weight for strength and, of course, undergo some gym diet plan for muscle gain along the way.

Use of legs

With so many grappling and control options, Gi techniques mostly focus on the upper body part. On the other hand, the No Gi technique will teach you a lot of ways to use your legs. Therefore, fighters that learned both techniques have an advantage over those that had a chance to learn only one.

More comfort

One of the things that can be heard from people that have tried both techniques is that it can get really hot fighting in Gi. That is also one of the not-so-important advantages of No Gi BJJ.

a smiling man in a Gi
It can become very hot in a Gi

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) uniform rules

Now that you know all about Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu, you should learn a little bit about the rules regarding clothing that are imposed by the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). This is the organization that organizes the biggest BJJ events in the world and it follows strict rules and guidelines. Before you step on a mat, it is important to know them all.

Gi uniform rules

First, it is important to know that BJJ requires a special uniform. So even if you attended the best karate classes in Dubai, and you have a quality kimono you cannot use it for BJJ. Your Gi can be made only from cotton or cotton-like fabrics not so hard or thick to obstruct your opponent from holding it. This is mandatory for all juvenile, adult, master, and senior divisions regulated by IBJJF. In certain cases, it may be allowed to wear a kimono with elastomeric (naturally stretchy) polymer (EVA) inside the collar. But only if the measures comply with the Rules Book provided by IBJJF.

Uniform color

When it comes to color, three colors are allowed—white, royal blue, and black. Also, your Gi must be in uniform color and even the collar must match the rest of the top. In certain cases, patches are allowed but only in the places that are explained by IBJJF Rules Book. They can match the color of the sponsor but only if that color doesn’t match the color of the opponent’s uniform.

a boy in a Gi
Gi can be white, black, or royal blue

Belt requirements

Your belt should be 4 – 5 cm wide matching your rank color. Also, the tip of the belt needs to be black unless we talk about the black belt in which case the tip should be white or red. The belt needs to be tied over the top using the appropriate knot with each end hanging 20 to 30 cm in length.


Your Gi needs to be of appropriate size as well. The top should reach your thigh, the sleeves should be no more than 5 cm from your wrist when your arm is extended in front of you, and the pants should reach no more than 5 cm above your ankles.  For male athletes, the use of a shirt under the GI top is not allowed. For women, the use of a stretchy or elastic shirt under the Gi is mandatory.

No Gi uniform rules

When it comes to No Gi uniform rules, you only have to pay attention to:

  1. Shirts
  2. Shorts


Both men and women must wear a shirt that can (but doesn’t have to) completely meet the athlete’s rank. The shirt must be made of elastic material and needs to be skin tight it needs to cover the torso completely all the way to the waistband of the shorts. The allowed colors are black, white, and black and white. Also, at least 10% of the short’s color needs to match the athlete’s rank.  Black belts can have a small red area on the shorts that should not interfere with the rank color.

No Gi fight in shirts and shorts
Shirts for No Gi must be skin-tight and made of elastic material


There are also strict rules when it comes to shorts. Men’s and women’s shorts color should be black, white, black and white, and/or the color of the rank (belt). Shorts can be without pockets or with pockets that are stitched completely shut and have no buttons, strings, or zippers that can harm the opponent. They need to be long enough to cover at least half of the thigh and no longer than the knee.

Start with Gi and once you master it, move to No Gi

As you can see, there is no definitive answer to the question of Gi vs. No Gi Jiu Jitsu. Both techniques have certain advantages and you need to learn them both if you want to become a master of BJJ. Still, if you are a beginner that just ordered your first healthy meal plans Dubai trainers can provide, and you are just preparing to start your first BJJ training, start with Gi Jiu Jitsu. After you master all techniques, try No Gi as it will give you a completely different perspective and allow you to learn additional ways to beat your opponents.

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