Gi training for better MMA

For a long time I was deeply opposed to the idea that gi training improves your MMA. I resented being forced to train in the kimono, which I liked less and was less relevant to my objectives. I was assured by my teachers that it was necessary to get to purple belt level in the gi, then I could pursue no-gi training with proper fundamentals.

The arguments made in favour of gi training are often erroneous, and therefore I was easily able to debunk them, leading me to feel that my conclusions were correct.

 Myth 1- gi training makes you tighter. 

Not strictly true, and can potentially have the opposite results as many open guard positions leave you lost when the abundance of handles disappear with the kimono.

 Myth 2- training gi will stop you relying on strength. 

I’ve been crushed by strong guys in the gi because of the grips, who I have subsequently overcome using speed and flow in no-gi training.

 Myth 3- Gi training is more technical

More techniques does not mean more technical. How ‘technical’ your training is depends on the quality of your coach, and the diligence with which you train.

 Myth 4- the best no-gi grapplers in the world train gi. 

Irrelevant. The best no gi grapplers in the world are not, with a few exceptions, the best grapplers in MMA. You could point to a few world class no-gi fighters who’ve made some disastrous forays into MMA, but that’s also missing the point. Looking at athletes at the highest level does not prove anything. Physically excellent athletes training full time with top coaches and training partners will invariably be fucking good. We could spend all day debating ‘fighter X trained only no-gi defeated fighter Y and he trained with the gi. Fighter Y then defeated Z who was no-gi trained’. It’s a fruitless merry-go-round of an argument that will probably never die, but misses the point of my contention, which is this-

I can get you better at MMA grappling by getting a foundation in gi training, FASTER than by training only no-gi from day 1.

The Gi is an increasingly specialist pursuit with a vast array of techniques that simply disappear when the kimono comes off. However, the majority of technical problems I see in the MMA fighters I meet as a student, training partner or opponent is not familiarity with techniques, but rather with principles.

Gi training is a shortcut to appreciating the principles that govern each position and the distinctions and links between positions. While the collar may not be a relevant threat once the cloth is shed, the perfect posture developed to deal with the collar will become instinctive, as will a base, once drilled to be impervious to the myriad sweeps available to the gi grappler.

Gi training necessitates an analytical approach to grappling from the very beginning, for which you will be rewarded in the long run. You may never be the best in the gi while you pursue MMA, but take the ‘bad medicine’.

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