"This aspect of the sport changes the style and speed of the matches dramatically. Without the gi to control and restrict the opponent, the tempo of movement is often increased."
Nogi Brazilian jiu jitsu is a mongrel of sorts. In its current form, nogi BJJ is an amalgamation of techniques from various other grappling arts. The sport itself stems from Judo, which in turn spawned BJJ after the judoka Mitsuyo Maeda brought it to South America. From that point however, freestyle wrestling, catch wrestling, sambo and others have all contributed their parts to the point where “submission wrestling” might, at some point, become a more apt name for the sport.
Currently, there are various rulesets that determine the player’s style and techniques. Nonetheless, there are some common features regardless of the rules. The player will often wear any combination of fight shorts, spats, and rash guards. The player is not allowed to use the clothing the same way that he or she might use a gi. This aspect of the sport changes the style and speed of the matches dramatically. Without the gi to control and restrict the opponent, the tempo of movement is often increased. That being said, control is not impossible-it is simply different. Grips change from collars, lapels, belts, and pants to wrists, necks, and feet.
Regardless of whether or not BJJ players wear a gi, the match always starts from a standing position. Without the gi to use for grips and throws, the posture and takedowns move away from judo techniques to more of a wrestling-based attack. This is not to say judo techniques are not viable, but the posture tends to be less upright.
As of late, the game has moved towards a more submission-based style of play. With the advent of rulesets such as Metamoris, the Eddie Bravo Invitational and Polaris, submissions have become more important than acquiring points through positional advantage. The submissions have tended towards leglocks as of late as well. This is largely due to fact that leglocks are the only submission that one can complete from outside the guard. In addition, because the gi is not needed for submissions, it is applicable to other combat sports such as MMA.
Despite the changes that BJJ has made since moving away from the gi, the original spirit of the martial art remains within. It is a self-defense system used as a vehicle by thousands to improve their lives. While the sport continues to evolve through different techniques and rulesets, new practitioners will continue to use it as such. For now, nogi BJJ is a dynamic and exciting grappling sport that continues to grow each year.