The term Gi, from Japanese « Keikogi » (literally: practice clothes) is the correct word for what is commonly called a Kimono (Kimono literally meaning « Thing to wear », which denominates traditional daily clothes in Japan).
The fabric is specially woven to withstand hard Training sessions. Let’s have a look on this Topic!
Nowadays, you can find quite a variety of weaves, most have positive and negative points; here is a quick overview of the most popular ones:
- Usually lightweight
- The least expensive
- Great for hot weather training
- May wear out faster
- Makes it easier for your opponent to grab you
- Not recommended for heavy training or competition
- Lasts a long time
- Makes it hard for your opponent to grab you
- Retains more heat
- Adds extra weight for competition
- Tends to be more abrasive on your skin
- Lightest weave allowed in competition
- Allows the air to pass through
- Tend to be in the same price category like single weave, while lasting longer
- None in my personal point of view
In the last years, the materials also became diversified, while there has been cotton since “the beginning”, nowadays you can find fabric made out of bamboo, hemp and other materials.
In practise, you will discover that the Gi in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an offensive as well as defensive Tool, by emphasizing and promoting on safety and technique.
The Gi allows a more technical and complex approach in Jiu Jitsu. By neutralizing many of your opponent’s advantages, it adds more profundity to your technique. Thus without a Gi, a stronger opponent can take advantage of his strength and a faster opponent can take advantage of his speed. Adding a Gi, your opponent’s strength and speed can be handled differently with a good technique. In that way you acquire a higher technical consciousness training in a Gi.
As an offensive tool, you can use the Gi to execute different holds, chokes, submissions and other techniques. There is a very broad variety of attacks where you can either use your own or even the opponent’s Gi to get the advantage on him; thus you can use the lapel (yours or the opponent’s), your sleeve, the skirt or any other part of the fabric (as long as it is legal, if you want to apply it in a competition).
It took me a couple of years to feel comfortable in No Gi. Training with the Gi for many years helped me to trust in my technique, rather than strength. For sure, the aspect of strength and power should never be underrated, but developing my technique, especially as a small guy, helped me the most.
Personally I can only recommend you to get a good set of skills in Gi, and then slowly getting into No Gi.
That may seem a hard thing to do, but simply start by grabbing your opponent’s body parts instead of the fabric. You will quickly figure out a way to correctly positioning your hands. If you have any doubt, ask your Coach or Professor for advice.
Consider the Gi as a vehicle. The more proficient you are with the Gi, the better you will be in No Gi.