SO, Ash and I are fairly well settled in now here in T-Bay. Interesting note, people here refer to their cottage as their “camp.” Very cute, this takes some adjustment. The city is pretty OK. It's unremarkable in almost every aspect. It feels like it has a lot of un-achieved potential in fact.
The club up this way is going well. They have a very strong MMA team. Easily the strongest one I've been around. Looks to me like they have 4-6 guys who fight and win on the regular. Along with this, they have a lot of no gi grappling and solid wrestling. As Lakehead U has a good wrestling team, the guys who graduate from LU with wrestling experience tend to end up there.
So this is good stuff, there's dedicated guys who want to train. My difficulty is preference for the gi. I really just enjoy Gi a heck of a lot more. This situation has made me think more and more about the cross over-value of training in a gi. It's a common saying that the people who are the best in the world in the Gi are the best in the world at No-Gi. Obviously, there's a exceptions to this. I can think of two guys off the top of my head from Pura who roll at a brown belt level without having worn the gi.
I feel like the Gi game *can be* slower and more technical. This is obviously a function of the combatant's games. More importantly it requires more thought (the game is more complex), problem solving(more complexity means more exposure to unknown positions), and technical accuracy (flailing is far less useful) to do something in a gi than in No gi. While some people want to talk about the specifics of the Gi game and say that it's non-transferable (usually, these are specific position that don't work because of a lack of good grips) the unseen, less obvious bits (thought, problem solving, technical accuracy) are incredibly transferable. I'd argue they are of far more value.
I'd say this train of thought has all been fairly new to me. I'd thought about it at some length the other night when we had to do a drill (start guard, take back, roll back to guard) for max reps. I did this in my gi (it's slightly big too) on a partner wearing their gi. With all the extra friction present, you would think the No-gi fellas would have outpaced me. It wasn't the case. I managed to do it fastest in the class. I was quite surprised.
I am fortunate that this club has a couple of high-belts who are keenly aware of the value of the gi. One, my new pal Keith, lamented that it had proven hard to find gi-partners and sometimes he'd have to roll no gi despite not preferring to. I told him that Ash and I are gi-players first and foremost. We will always be there with our gis on. I'm not opposed to no-gi, and I will roll without (mat time is mat time) but if I can help foster a group of people who train in the cloth by always being present with a gi, I make it my duty.
So that is my plan for now. School starts in the near term and I'm uncertain how often I will be able to make it out. When I am there though, I will be there with a gi on. I also plan on talking more about the value of the gi. I want to get other people thinking about it.