Posted By: Rob-Kassy
Posted On: 07 Jul, 2022

Gi vs. No-Gi Jiu Jitsu: Which is for You?

If you have been considering training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), or if you have just begun training, you will notice something that should be very obvious: walking into a school- there are people training in kimonos with belts, and some are training in tight-fitting T-shirts and board shorts. Some look like they are making controlled movements along with their grips and throws. Some are moving very quickly, and it’s difficult to see what they’re doing… Welcome to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school that conducts both “gi” and “no-gi” training!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: Kimono Optional?

In the world of BJJ, there’s probably no greater source of controversy and discussion than “Gi or No-Gi”. While the core sport remains essentially the same, there are subtle differences in training, competition, and culture that differentiate the two, and there are practitioners that often gravitate to one style over the other, often while training in both.

The difference comes down to the uniform. Ask the professional training staff at Breakaway if you have any questions of a Jiu Jitsu instructor in Hampton.

The Gi: Tradition and Training

The “gi” is the traditional uniform for training and competition in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It consists of a long-sleeved kimono-like upper garment with a shawl collar, made of a heavy fabric, often cotton that wraps around the torso, and is held together with a colored fabric belt (that indicates rank) instead of fasteners. The pants are of the same material and gathered at the waist with a drawstring. They are usually white, but often appear in other colors. Practitioners are barefoot. Upper-level practitioners often wear sponsor patches in competition because there are no cash prizes awarded in traditional “Gi” tournaments. 

In Jiu Jitsu training with the gi, the garment practically becomes a part of the practitioner’s body, as it can be used to create a “handle” for grips, throws, manipulations, and chokes. It can also be used in a defensive fashion to interrupt or slow the application of techniques, or be used in reversals. 

The gi is often recommended for beginning students not only because of tradition, but because it allows for careful development of techniques. The use of the gi can be an important tool in controlling the pace of a match. There’s a focus on defensive skill development.

No Gi: Fast and Furious

The popularity of BJJ as an integral discipline in Mixed Martial Arts has led to a meteoric rise in “no gi” BJJ. In “no gi” BJJ, the uniform consists of a tightly-fitting t-shirt-like garment called a “rash guard”, and a pair of shorts that fit like swim trunks or board shorts. Practitioners are barefoot here too. The primary difference created in the sport between the different uniforms is reflected here in the absence of any pieces of clothing that can be used for grips or leverage. There is a general focus on offensive skill development. 

While some prefer the traditional gi approach, some appreciate the speed of the no gi training style, and its streamlined uniform has become the basis of the MMA uniform, often minus the rash guard.


Within the competitions sanctioned by the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation, there are both gi and no-gi events. The tournament rules are essentially the same, except for the use of the Heel Hook being banned in gi competition.

Pros Of the “gi”
A wide range of grips and manipulations
Development of defensive techniques

Cons Of the “gi”
Increased friction

Pros Of the “No Gi”
Strong offensive skills
More easily applied to MMA

Cons Of the “No Gi”
Not as focused on defense
No matter where you are in your training, Breakaway Jiu Jitsu provides training in both “gi” and “no gi” Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If you are looking for Jiu Jitsu training for women in Hampton Roads, begin your journey at Breakaway Jiu Jitsu. (757)-798-3380 or visit our Website to sign up for a trial class!