To Gi or not to Gi?
There is a lot of value in wearing the Gi, especially when first starting out. Apart from the fact that there are many potent techniques that can be used against a gi-wearing opponent, the ost important thing to understand is that the Gi slows the fight down. And when people are startign out, especially in their first year or two of grappling, a slower fight is an easier fight to understand. The Gi affords the same benefits to grappling as 'training wheels' do to learning to ride a bike. Without the Gi, the fight speeds up considerably - grips are harder to get and maintain, and escapes are much easier to execute. With the pace of the fight moving faster, it becomes more difficult for beginners to 'map the fight', to learn 'what usually follows what', to get a grip on both the mechanics and strategical considerations of the fight - it's sort of like playing chess when you only have a three second time-limit to work out each move, as opposed to as much time as you like - mistakes will be many and lessons both harder and slower to learn. For the more advanced grappler though, there are many benefits of the no-gi grapple. With the pace moving faster, there is a far greater cardio benefit to be enjoyed. The controls need to be more exact and the game needs to be 'tightened up' somewhat. The no-gi pace also requires that we 'up' the processing speed in our thinking and well as our physical movement - so we tend to improve on both strategic and physical levels. From a self defense perspective, becoming less-reliant on an opponent wearing a gi, has obvious benefits.
Hopefully these few obvious considerations will shed a bit of light on the subject for the newbies. I must apologize for the skimming over the surface of this complex issue - but I am jet-lagged to the eyeballs right now. it's 4;40pm and my eyes are beginning to closedown hard.
I'll be back on deck in a day or two - my brain still thinks it's in Norway.
best wishes - sweet dreams.