Reconsider Training in a Gi (or Kimono)…

Spoiler alert for what follows…training in the gi will not make you a better grappler in mma. Or any other form of grappling/fighting where one is not wearing something akin to a heavy-duty kimono.

Gi versus no-gi shouldn’t even be a debate any longer. The science behind motor skills and how we learn to move tells us why.

A surfeit of peer-reviewed literature on skill acquisition is available, and the library for combat sports is growing. Google it and check it out for yourself. But for starters, consider what researchers term ‘representative learning design’ (RLD).

Essentially, RLD is concerned with ensuring that our practice environment facilitates the development of strong perception coupled with realistic decision-making and skills that can then be applied to future competitions. Think of the sports axiom that ‘we compete how we train.’

Or, more formally, according to Jia Yi Chow, et al. (2016), the “design of representative practice tasks requires that task simulations be based on accurate sampling by coaches and teachers of the informational variables available in specific performance environments”.

These ‘variables’ might better be thought of as dynamics because dynamics are the conditions in a system that drive change, adaptation, and skill development.

So, consider the standard BJJ gi, its materials, and fit—all made to create ‘handles’ specific to sport jiu jitsu, and whether these variables and resultant dynamics are available in mixed martial arts or other grappling situations. I think you know the answer here, but how many lapel chokes, collar drags, worm guards, etc., have you witnessed in mma, or any other grappling that wasn’t a gi-centric competition?

If you love the gi, in all sincerity, keep training in it. The best martial art is the one you never quit. Our claim is not the training in the gi is ‘bad’, per se—only that it won’t make your grappling more ‘technical’, as claimed in the attached clip.

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