Since I realized how out of practice I am without a gi while rolling with Ken during sparring class on Saturday, for Ethridge Jiu-Jitsu yesterday I asked Amy if we could do no gi. She thought I only wanted to go without a gi because it was hot, but no matter the temperature, I usually like to have a gi on. I’ve written a few times about how I prefer gi to no gi, for various reasons, but I think my favorite explanation comes from leaahh’s blog: “The gi is like a condom. It protects you.” The only time I’ve ever gotten ringworm was during a no gi competition!
I guess I just think gi is more elegant, it’s more refined than no gi, but I do think it’s important to train some of both, so even though I wasn’t really looking forward to rolling without a gi during Ethridge class, I thought that we should. We did full-resistance positional grappling for all of class (most of it was with no subs allowed, we were just working on holding), and I was actually pleasantly surprised at how well I was doing against Joe, especially on the escapes. I guess he uses gi grips a lot more than I realized, and without them (along with being covered in sweat), it was easier for me to get free. On the flip side, it was harder for me to control him, too. One time Joe did grab my shorts and reverse me, but Amy and I yelled at him for cheating! I was afraid my guard passing was going to really suck in no gi, but it was actually decent.
The difference without the gi was most noticeable when we were free-rolling at the end, and I easily lasted twice as long as I usually do against Joe before being submitted! Every time he would try to trap me, I would just slip, slide away! He even had a tight omoplata on me that I was able to turn my arm out of and escape from, which never would’ve happened had I been wearing a gi. The only submission I remember trying on him was a guillotine, but I don’t think the fact that he wasn’t wearing a gi had anything to do with me not getting it.
There is currently only one no gi class on the schedule at Lincoln BJJ, and I have yet to attend it, but I know I should, at least once in awhile. Training no gi can improve your gi game (and vice versa), and doing both makes you more well-rounded. My gi may be useless without me, but I don’t want to be useless without my gi!