What are the big differences between rolling no-gi, versus rolling with the gi on?
Well, the main difference is the grips. There are going to be a lot more grips available to you when you are rolling with a Gi. On top of that, you can have 2 or 3 different grip options for the same body part. You’ll have all your normal No-Gi grips too. Because of this a lot of people say rolling with a Gi is not “realistic”. My thought on this is that in an actual fight, yes you probably won’t be wearing a full Gi, but most likely (hopefully) you won’t be naked either so you’ll have something to grab on too.
Rolling with a Gi allows for more offensive and defensive options. There’s tons of collar chokes, you can grab the bottom of the lapel for some different guard options (spider guard, worm guard).
The rolls with Gi’s are a bit slower in my opinion. Mainly because of the new grips and friction that comes with thick cloth rubbing together.
Now with no Gi the rolls can be a bit tricky. People start sweating which makes you slippery so your grips have to be spot on because it’s so easy to slide out of submissions. So you throw an arm-bar with a Gi on and sometimes the friction of the Gi helps secure your opponents arm in place however, in no Gi you can slide your arm right out if you’re quick.
In the beginning of some BJJ journeys, people really don’t care for the Gi because they haven’t learned as many techniques and can’t deal with their opponent’s grips. Over time many grow to love the Gi because of the the larger pool of techniques to use which makes for a more calculated roll.
The takeaway is with no-Gi you can afford to be sloppier defensively and still escape, but you have to be sharper offensively to get submissions. With a Gi you have to be pretty sharp with your offense and defense.