About a month ago, we started an evening no-gi class at our gym. The lunchtime class has had a no-gi class at least once a week for quite a while now, but nothing in the evening. So far, I’ve only been able to go to two of the classes because of work and other things. But one thing I noticed right away, it’s a completely different game in a lot of ways.
As the name implies no-gi involves practicing (or trying to practice) jiu jitsu with out the gi or at least without the jacket. Usually guys just wear shorts and t-shirts or rashguards. Additionally, you can’t grab shirts or shorts in no-gi, whereas in gi you can grab both (provided you don’t stick your hands down their sleeves.)
Being able to grab a gi slows things down dramatically. If you want to tie someone up, you can get a grip on their collar and hold on to them, or if they start to pass your guard you can grab their pants and try to move away. But that goes both ways, because it’s also easier for you to escape. There’s less friction which makes it easier to slide your knee to your elbow, or to pull your arm out of an armlock. It’s not simple, just easier.
This also makes it a lot faster. If you go for an armbar, and I can escape quickly, then I can start working a pass, and you can start to shrimp away or escape. All of that can happen in a matter of seconds. It can happen in the gi as well, but it usually takes a lot longer.
The other thing I noticed is that I have fewer attacks from different positions. That’s not saying there are fewer attacks, simply that I have fewer. For example, at one point today I got into side control and couldn’t really get much so I moved to north-south. At that point I realized I only know one or maybe 2 chokes from north-south. Both of which involve grabbing the gi. So I move back to side and think about going to the mount, but my favorite attacks from mounts are chokes that again involve me grabbing the gi (either mine or my partners.)
Those are the two observations I’ve had after 2 classes. I had heard that the two were different games, and there is a lot of truth to that. At the core, though, it’s still jiu jitsu. Things like weight distribution, base and position before submission are still true.