GSP’s trainer Firas Zahabi is one of the most respected guys in the MMA and BJJ industry. He’s a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a primary trainer at Tristar Gym in Canada.
Recently Zahabi said that he believes beginners in Jiu-Jitsu should be learning the martial art without the Gi.
Firas stated in AMA on Reddit, answering the question “What do you think about Gi training for MMA” :
“People think that it’s better for a beginner to start with the Gi. I’m of the opposite thought. I think starting with No-Gi is better.
“If I start with the Gi and get really comfortable with these collar and sleeve grips, and develop a whole game based on grips and let’s say a spider. then I go to No-Gi. My whole game falls apart because I don’t have my favored grips.
“Take another practitioner for example. I take a guy who has started with No-Gi and his go-to move in then collar tie. He likes to grab the neck and wrist. He likes to an arm drag. And then I add the Gi and he has all his moves plus the Gi grips.
“His foundation is there, so he’s not going to be confused. The bad thing is that when he gets gripped, he doesn’t know how to break grips but that’s really easy to fix. Teaching people how to break grips and counter grip is super simple it’s very simple but teaching a guy who plays spider guard and De la Riva and now trying to teach him without this is quite difficult because all his go-to sweeps need a Gi.
“The No-Gi guy he doesn’t need the Gi to execute his game. The Gi being there is a bonus for him. So if I give Mohammed Ali a knife it’s a bonus for him. He could still hit you without the knife but with the knife, he can really hurt you. So fr me, the Gi is an added weapon, and if I learn to fight with a weapon and you take that weapon away, then my whole game hits the dirt.”