To gi or not to gi…

Yeah.. I’m gonna get hit for that title aren’t I? Ah well, couldn’t resist.

So as of this month, Thursday night has changed from being the hard-core circuits class to being a gi class.

For people of my generation, when you hear the word Karate, you probably, somewhere deep in your subconscious, have this image.

Danny and Carl

Danny and Carl


In my head, the gi and martial arts are intrinsically linked. That’s just what you associate with karate, if you’re as old as me. The funny thing is, when I look around the dojo, I realise that when we vector in the fact that this year is the 20th anniversary of the UFC, a significant number of the people there are young enough to have never known that martials arts existed in any format other than cage based fighting between two almost naked sweaty muscular men, which is clearly not homo-erotic in any way whatsoever…

Its a mans game

Its a mans game


I personally have never really done any martial arts before joining the Dojo, rather late in life, so last night was the first time I had ever worn a gi. Obviously I hadn’t got a clue what I was doing, but it was a lot of fun. The gi basically gives you a lot more to grab on to and it certainly works your grip strength. I’m pretty sure everyone who was there last night will have sore forearms today.


It changes grappling a lot too. If you know what you’re doing I’m sure it’s a dramatic difference, but even for a total novice like me, it was fascinating to see the differences. I actually found that in some ways it allowed me to use the fact that I am pretty big and heavy to my advantage. Of course when paired with someone of the same height and weight and an infinitely higher skill level, i.e. Pete, this resulted in me being pinned against a wall and choked out with the gi itself. I then had something done to me that I remember very clearly from playing street fighter 2 in the arcade in the Belfast Superbowl. That thing that Ken (or maybe it was Ryu) did where he rolled backwards and did a throw with his foot in his opponents stomach really works.


I also learned last night that Rowan has some strange physical or mental instability that makes it physically impossible for him to tap out. Even when Danny had him pinned down with a belt around his neck and no apparent way of escape, he still doesn’t tap. Actually the very notion that you can take your belt off and use it as a weapon with which to choke your opponent is something I find vaguely hilarious. Perhaps I’m the one with the mental instability.


Anyway.. For anyone who fancies trying it out, there are a few spare gi tops down in the Dojo. I had to borrow one last night but I can firmly say that I will be buying one before the next class.

Oh.. and for anyone missing the circuits.. You can get your fix at 8:30am on Saturdays… See you there.