The term Gi, from Japanese « Keikogi » (literally: practice clothes) is the correct word for what is commonly called a Kimono (Kimono literally meaning « Thing to wear », which denominates traditional daily clothes in Japan).
The fabric is specially woven to withstand hard Training sessions.
In practise, you will discover that the Gi in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an offensive as well as defensive Tool, by emphasizing and promoting on safety and technique.
The Gi allows a more technical and complex approach in Jiu Jitsu. By neutralizing many of your opponent’s advantages, it adds more profundity to your technique. Thus without a Gi, a stronger opponent can take advantage of his strength and a faster opponent can take advantage of his speed. Adding a Gi, your opponent’s strength and speed can be handled differently with a good technique. In that way you acquire a higher technical consciousness training in a Gi.
Consider the Gi as a vehicle. The more proficient you are with the Gi, the better you will be in No Gi.
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