What is a Gi?
A Gi or a Kimono is the traditional training attire of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. In the late 1800's as Jigoro Kano was creating the sport of Judo, he created a uniform that modeled the standard attire of day to day clothing. The Gi was made into three parts...A woven cotton jacket, canvas cotton pants, and a belt. The Gracie's adopted this uniform in accordance with the art they learned from Mitsuo Maeda.
It Looks Like A Business Suit...
You are right! At that time in Japan, that was what men were usually wearing. Although women were not wearing suits, apparel such as jeans, shirts, etc. can be similar. In order to mimic reality in training, they wanted to wear something that restricted your freedom of movement and also, something that felt similar to what you walked around in on a day to day basis. Not wanting to rip or tear their regular clothes, they settled for a cotton uniform that survived the rigors of training. If you look at the makeup of a Gi, you will notice the resemblance of the suit.
Isn't No-Gi A Lot More Realistic For Self-Defense?
NO... No-Gi is NOT more realistic.
It is comfortable to wear shorts, a rash guard, and some compression pants in practice. However, on the street, you do not usually wear clothing that is that comfortable. You will be wearing some type of attire that restricts movement (I.e. Jeans, jacket, collared shirt, polo shirt, hoodie, etc.).
Wearing the Gi becomes unrealistic for a fight when you start using the Gi as a "crutch" to control positions, instead of a tool that leads to an effective finish. If you grab the Gi or use it in training, have a direction and purpose. DO SOMETHING with the grip, otherwise, focus on controlling the human. Get used to wearing something similar to what you will be wearing!
White Gi's Are Not Fashionable
So...since when is fashion the foundation of Jiu-Jitsu? I believe an academy/team must have uniformity. This brings everyone together and creates an enhanced spirit in the academy. The white Gi represents the following.
When Gi Training Goes Wrong
Eddie Bravo is an innovative Jiu-Jitsu instructor that came up with an idea of removing the Gi to be more effective in MMA and made a lot of techniques along the way. He saw a problem and trend, Jiu-Jitsu guys were training in a way where they were becoming RELIANT on the Gi. This reliance came from the practice of the sport/tournament aspect of Jiu-Jitsu. Grapplers were looking for any advantage they could get in order to win a grappling tournament instead of strategies that could utilize more effectiveness to submit the opposition. This created an era of insane grips, stalling, Gi manipulation, etc.
The Gi, didn't ruin effectiveness, the SPORT ruined effectiveness.
When you play a sport or in MMA's case fight in a sport, you need to conform and adapt to the rules to be 100% successful. You need to make sure in MMA that you are used to fighting/moving without the Gi. MMA was also becoming more difficult for strict Jiu-Jitsu practicioners because everybody was becoming a Jiu-Jitsu practicioner! The people that said they weren't, were. Nobody won that didn't learn! When the SPORT became more POPULAR than the ART, effectiveness started being diminished and conforming to the rules to secure victory takes precedence. Evolution increased with tougher opponents, more people training, and other grappling styles adding their flavor to Jiu-Jitsu.
---- > However, not everyone is focused on that sport. MOST are focused on a hobby, or Self-Defense system. The next time you GRAB the Gi ask yourself the following...
The Answer Is...Express Your Art.
Express your art to fit your needs and your personality. While doing this, remember where this Martial Art started and realize that our ART's founders put themselves in positions where they would DIE for the development of Jiu-Jitsu. Their philosophies ideals and values MUST be held in the highest regard, regardless of who's side or what. I believe, that if you forget the past, you will not move into the future in the right direction.
I believe the purpose of the art and all of it's strategies and tactics should be based around a UNIVERSAL philosophy of...
----> The Gi is for realism...
The Gi is our armor and represents the history of our art!
P.S. The next time a Jiu-Jitsu guy, who is basically wearing a body suit of spandex, makes fun or a joke of the Gi...Tell them to tell the same joke to Rickson or Renzo or Roger when they see them and let me know how they make out! :)
Self-Defense, Martial Arts, Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ, jujitsu) in Malta, Ballston Spa, Clifton Park, and Saratoga Springs