A facebook friend posed this question to me. Below is his full question and my response. Forgive my grammer and punctuation I just wanted to post it as is. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments or twitter or facebook or wherever you’re reading this…I’d like to know your opinions!

Hello Jonathan, this is Anwar, I read your info that you post here on Facebook quite often and was wondering if you would be able to help me out with a question that has come up between my roommate and myself.

He has begun training at Team so and so, here in so and so, NC. As part of their program for grappling, they require a gi (they are a licensed Gracie school). Now, my room mates intentions are strictly MMA related , with no interest in grappling tournaments or anything requiring a gi.

We’re wondering what practical purpose does wearing a gi have for a person that is strictly going to training for MMA purposes of the basic functions. Is it strictly a traditional thing when teaching BJJ grappling or is their some functionality in training/learning that way, even though what you are training for (using UFC/Strikeforce as the basis) do not allow gi’s?

Hopefully this is something you can help us out. Thanks Jonathan, have a good one.


Hey Anwar...I’ve wondered this very thing myself.

I asked Billy Hofacker this who manages Serra Jiu Jitsu up in Long Island…he’s a Matt and Nick Serra brown belt and I also asked Caleb who runs the popular bjj fightworks podcast who is a brown belt as well.

They both gave the same answer…yes it is important to train with the gi even if you just want to compete in MMA.

Now I trust both of them to know way more than myself, BUT neither made a real compelling argument as to why it actually mattered.

My first full year of grappling was all no-gi…only recently have i started to use the gi.

It’s literally a whole other game. No-gi is very fast…gi work is slow and methodical.

What do i think though?

I would think that if mixed martial arts is what you’re interested in and all you ever trained was no-gi then I think you’d be just fine. Obviously it’s more practical considering you dont wear gi’s in mma competition.

BUT coming from working all no-gi to working with the gi has helped.

You can’t make as many mistakes with the gi, you can’t escape from bad positions as easily for the simple fact that there’s more to grab onto, not mention the fact that the gi can act as a choking device…collar, belt, etc.

If you can survive with the gi on then you’ll be more proficient in surviving without the gi.

So if your roommate continues to train at his current facility I don’t think that his training is going to suffer by continuing with the use of the gi. He just needs to make sure he spends ample time working no-gi as well to maintain a realistic perception on the differences between the two.

Most schools reflect that, by training gi and no gi. If not? Then he’ll need to find someone to work no gi with on the side while continuing his gi training at the school.

One thing he does need to be careful about though is all the grips. With the gi you can grab lapels, sleeves, pant legs, belt…to control your opponent. When you switch over to MMA or no-gi work you don’t have all of those so be careful about getting used to having them. You’ll have to switch to wrists, neck, underhooks, overhooks, ankles, etc.

Hope my answer helps!