Differences Between Gi and No Gi BJJ
First and foremost, let us disclose that at Clear Jiu-Jitsu we train both gi and no gi. In this article we will not be discussing which is "better" (a never ending debate), and will be saving that for an article to be published at a later date. Now for the differences:
The primary and most noticeable difference is the uniform. Often lovingly/jokingly referred to as "pajamas" by those who train, in gi jiu jitsu you will wear the traditional kimono, or more commonly referred to as the gi. A BJJ gi is traditionally made out of cotton in different forms, and has recently become available on the market in a multitude of different colors. If you plan on ever competing, you will want to purchase a white, blue, or black BJJ gi as these are currently the only legal colors for most competitions. The BJJ gi ensemble is finished with a belt indicating the athlete's rank (white, blue, purple, brown or black for adults).
For no gi jiu jitsu the uniform is much more simple. The most common iteration of a no gi BJJ uniform is simply mma shorts (similar to boardshorts and often referred to as grappling or no gi jiu jitsu shorts) and a BJJ rash guard (also called a no gi rash guard, or just rash guard).
The contrast in uniform between gi BJJ and no gi BJJ results in two distinct differences, the first of which is pace. The BJJ gi game involves a significant amount of grip fighting, the struggle between opponents to establish dominant/controlling grips on each others gi. No gi jiu jitsu is usually much faster paced as there is nothing to hold onto, and frequently results in more dynamic training and competition.
The second difference resulting from the contrast in uniforms is submissions. All no gi submissions (or some variation) can also be done in the gi, but there is a plethora of gi submissions that directly involve the use of your gi, or your opponents gi. The significant number of more unique submissions in the gi helps to counteract the slower pace in comparison to no gi, and is frequently the reason that some people prefer gi over no gi. A couple of examples of gi specific submissions can be seen below.
Despite there being multiple gi jiu jitsu organizations, they almost all follow IBJJF Rules (or an iteration of). In the last few years, there has been a meteoric rise in no gi jiu jitsu competition popularity, resulting in a number of different unique rulesets. One of the most notable differences between the gi and no gi rulesets is that most of the no gi rulesets allow many different forms of leg locks (mostly disallowed in BJJ gi competition). As mentioned above, there are many no gi rulesets, but the most popular no gi submission grappling competition is ADCC, whose rules are linked below as an example.
If possible, train both and see which YOU like the best! Or, you may end up liking both gi and no gi jiu jitsu, and appreciating them for their differences. Whether you need a BJJ gi, or a BJJ rash guard, we have you covered. Check it out: BJJ Gi or BJJ No Gi