No Gi Judo – Does it exist? [Explained]

Judo is a worldwide recognized competing martial art with its own old traditions. Those who train in Brazilian jiu jitsu find quite a lot of similarities between judo and BJJ. But despite the “and” between both combat sports, there is one significant judo vs BJJ difference. It’s the no gi form of training in jiu jitsu. And what about no gi judo?

Does it exist? And are there no gi judo competitions?

Let’s have a short talk on this subject.

What is no gi?

First things first.

No gi is a form of grappling that is practiced without the traditional gi uniform and typically involves a lot of grappling and submission holds, as well as some throws and take-downs. It is a great way to practice grappling combat sports without the limitation of a gi.

The no gi style of fighting is often used in mixed martial arts competitions.

Does judo work without Gi?

Can judo work without gi? Technically and practically, yes.

Judo can be practiced without a gi, so it should be called no-gi judo in the same manner as it is used in BJJ. But still, not the same as the originality of no gi in BJJ has its own context.

bjj gi vs no gi jiu jitsu
bjj gi vs no gi jiu jitsu

Although no gi in judo is not as popular as traditional judo, no gi Judo can offer a great workout and is an excellent way to develop technical skills and timing.

Anyway, no gi judo can be different from traditional judo as certain grips and techniques are not as effective, such as gi chokes, which rely on gripping the jacket to apply pressure.

Still, the same principles of judo apply, such as throws, sweeps, locks, and strangles, so that practitioners can still practice their techniques and test their skills.

Overall, judo without a gi is a great way for judokas to train and stay in shape in between traditional gi classes.

Through drilling and sparring, practitioners can hone their skills, develop new techniques, and gain a better understanding of the art of judo.

But all this is generally speaking.

Let’s name some more aspects of the no gi judo reality.

Is no gi judo a thing?

The simple truth is that Judo without gi makes it a bit different sport that formally is not regulated aka adapted to the traditional or Olympic canon. Unlike the Brazilian jiu jitsu, where already for decades both styles – gi and no gi – exist as self-sufficient regulated units.

Judo movements are mostly about rotations and throws which are a lot harder to implement without gi grips.
Unlike in BJJ, there is no concept of no gi judo as a widely recognized competitive sport.
Anyway, there are a lot of judokas who move grappling martial arts – BJJ, MMA – and successfully focus on no gi. Here are just a couple of well-known examples: Shinya Aoki, Karo Parisyan, Travis Stevens, AnnMaria De Mars, and her daughter Rhonda Rousey.
Judo is a treasure chest in the form of throwing techniques for no gi BJJ, MMA, wrestling, etc. For instance, you can learn from judo how to counter the single-leg takedown with uchimata or the double leg with a backward suicide throw. But still, without a gi it is hard to get the needed control end the throwing techniques properly.
Today, some judo schools offer no-gi judo classes as a separate type of training for those who want to replenish the gaps in their fighting game.

A great opportunity to progress in the fighter’s no gi skills through judo techniques gives Judo Fanatics and BJJ Fanatics video courses taught by the best judokas.

no gi judo techniques
No gi judo video instructionals; BJJ Fanatics image caption

Ronda Rousey’s MMA workout before the UFC 170 fight in 2014

This video has more than 20 minutes of great no gi judo techniques performed by an MMA fighter and judoka – Ronda Rousey.

Are there no gi judo competitions?

No. But, a more correct variant to answer is to say yes, there are no gi judo competitions but in a not significant manner. In fact, it’s hard to find a regular no gi judo tournament schedule. No gi judo competitions aren’t common.

For instance, the International Freestyle Judo Alliance (IFJA) shows this experience of organizing no gi judo competitions. Freestyle Judo tournaments are sponsored by AAU (Amateur Athletic Union).

Midwest AAU Freestyle Judo Championship (gi and no gi), 2015

But, as you can see in the video below, the no gi Freestyle Judo Championship rules allow grips on the gi belt that is still on the athletes. As you probably know, in the IBJJF, the no gi rules prohibit grabbing clothing.

Interesting fact to add here.

The IJF (International Judo Federation) objects to the participation of their athletes who are on the IJF world ranking list in other tournaments such as MMA or BJJ. These judo athletes should first appeal to the IJF for permission to compete in other sports.

Despite these objections, some judo athletes still participate in tournaments of other combat sports.

For instance, Travis Stevens, who is the American judoka to win a silver medal in the Olympics, was a BJJ brown belt to compete in one of the big jiu jitsu tournaments and got banned by IJF.

“IJF put a ban on me personally doing any other jiu-jitsu competitions that’s why after Copa Podio 2 years ago February I stopped”, said Stevens in an interview.

“Because the IJF said , we’re not banning athletes but you have to ask us for permission to go. So I wrote for a permission to go to Worlds and compete as a brown belt and they said no.

I got offered a 10,000$ card so I wrote another appeal to them and said hey you guys are preventing me from making a living because I don’t make that much money in Judo and I have an opportunity to make 10,000$ and build my name up in this country for both judo and jiu-jitsu and they said no.

And then they sent a 3rd letter saying don’t ask us anymore because any further request will also be denied “

No Gi Judo Throw Harai Goshi with a leg pick

No Gi Judo Trows for BJJ and Grappling

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