There are several different types of Jiu-Jitsu styles out there, and you have probably heard words such Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu, Gi Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Each of them is similar in many ways but each of them does have a few key differences.
As an overview, jiu-jitsu originated in Japan as Jujutsu, a combat art where an opponent could defeat an armed opponent without using any type of weapon. The “ju” translates roughly to flexible or yielding, while “jutsu” means art. While each form of the sport is slightly different, the idea of defeating a stronger opponent with a flexible fighting approach is universal in all forms of the sport.
Sometimes you will see an MMA gym that offers both Gi and No-Gi classes on their roster. There are a few key differences. One of the main differences between the two is the uniform. In Gi Jiu Jitsu, fighters wear a traditional belted uniform while in No-Gi, fighters might just wear shorts and a rash guard or a t-shirt.
The uniform is different and because of that, the fighting techniques are a bit different, as well. When you wear the Gi, you can grab onto to the opponent’s uniform, which can be a helpful way to dominate the opponent while you are grappling. However, you are not allowed to grab onto clothing in a No-Gi contest, and instead must rely on skills that help you grab key areas such as elbows, the neck or the knees. In this way, Gi offers a bit more flexibility in fighting.
It might seem like No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu training is less effective since you cannot hold onto the uniform. However, No-Gi is more transferable to mixed martial arts in general because you don’t wear a Gi during an MMA bout. If possible, it is recommended that you take both types of classes as they focus on different types of skills. The more skills you acquire, the better your overall game plan will be, so there is a definite advantage in being proficient in both styles.
When it comes to the differences between basic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Gracie-style Jiu-Jitsu, this is quite subtle. Both styles teach the same skills and you can become just as strong of a fighter at either style of gym. The Gracie philosophy basically teaches Jiu-Jitsu as a philosophy of life and a self-defense tool, rather than a competitive sport. So while there are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu championships, there are not Gracie Jiu-Jitsu championship bouts. Neither one is better than the other, you simply have to find the style that is right for you.