September 8th Update: No Gi today! But not on purpose.

So today I had an unintended no gi class when I showed up to class with, well, no gi. I started BJJ towards the end of the summer, and now it’s the rainy season — which means my precious karate clothes have not dried yet.

I didn’t worry about this for a pretty simple reason: today was the day my new training stuff was supposed to arrive. A brand new outfit, all in black, thick enough to resist the tugging and throwing of a good BJJ session. However, that didn’t happen — the flight delivering the new batch from the country capital was delayed, and I’ve got to wait a few more days.

Aside from that, I’m still feeling a tad bit feverish and crappy — I had some hot and spicy vegan ramen to fight that a little bit, and I’m about to head off to bed balmed up in Tiger Balm like I’m taking a night-time bath in pure hot magma. So since I don’t have much to talk about today, I’ll talk a little bit about the gi, and where it comes from.

What is a gi?

The term gi in Japan literally means clothes. In the American and general English context, however, it refers to what the Japanese call the keikogi — in direct translation, training clothes. The keikogi is not as ancient as many people might think it is — it was first developed towards the end of the 19th century by Kano Jigoro, the founder of modern judo. He created the judogi and made it the standard uniform for Kodokan judoka as it is today by about 1920. There is no documented reason for why he created it, but as for its inspiration, one martial arts historian speculates that he developed it after the heavy-duty hemp jackets worn by firefighters at the time.

Karate, unpopular at the time for the cultural differences between its originators in Okinawa and mainland Japanese, found success in marketing itself alongside the judogi — and later, they developed a much lighter weave of gi, with strings to tie the jacket up (they’re absent in judo). At the time, karate was practiced in regular clothes, much like kung fu, as a form of self-defense and exercise. Jiu-jitsu gis (also called kimonos, although these are unrelated), are often thicker than the average judogi, made to withstand even more pressure from constant tearing and pulling on the ground.

What is no gi BJJ?

There is the second half to BJJ as a modern sport and martial art that dedicates itself to practicing BJJ in a mixed martial art setting, or outside of a competition setting, and thus, without the gi. I haven’t had any no-gi classes, but they do have different methods to achieving submissions, guarding, attacking, and achieving takedowns due to a lack of general friction and no sleeves, belt or lapels to hold onto.

So that was today’s lesson! I hope I’m feeling better tomorrow.

Currently listening to: Nothing