The ancient Greeks utilized training methods similar to our modern day no-gi and gi training.

The better a wrestler is at imposing and negating grips, the more effective they will be.  It is easier to make grips on a dry coarse surface.  Conversely it is harder to make grips on a smooth, slippery surface.  This reasoning led ancient Greek wrestlers to utilize oil and konis (a talc-like powder) as training tools to accelerate their progress.

Dusty.  The ancient Greeks did not wear Gis. Instead, they applied “konis” – a talc or coarse, sandy powder – to their bodies to remove slipperiness, and provide a more grippable, dry surface.  This made it difficult to escape from holds.  Training with konis, or “Dusty” training, was believed to improve ones ability to break grips.

Oily.  In a separate area of the palestra (wrestling school), wrestlers trained with expensive oil applied to the bodies – making them more difficult to grip.  This was believed to increase strength and trained the wrestler to become adept at imposing grips, even in the most unfavorable of conditions.

Ancient Text.  The following is an excerpt from an essay that was written by Lucian of Samosata in 170 c.e.  It is translated by Stephen Miller, from his book, Arête: Greek Sports from Ancient Sources. Stephen Miller writes, “The essay is set in Athens and purports to be a conversation between Solon, the Athenian lawgiver, and the Skythian Anacharsis who had come to Greece from his home on the Black Sea in quest of wisdom.”

Solon:  The mud and the konis, which seemed so ridiculous to you in the beginning, are put down for the following reasons.  First, so that they may fall safely on a soft surface rather than a hard one.  Next, they are necessarily slipperier when they are coated with sweat and mud.  Although you compared this to eels, it is neither useless nor ridiculous; it makes a considerable contribution to strength when they are slippery and one tries to hold on while the other tries to slip away.  And don’t think that it is easy to pick up a man who is sweaty and muddy and has on oil as well.  As I said earlier, all this is useful in war in the event that one has to pick up a wounded comrade and carry him out of the fight, or grab an enemy and bring him back to one’s own lines.  For such reasons we train them to the limits and set the most difficult tasks so that they can do the lesser ones with greater ease.

We believe that the konis is useful for the opposite purpose, to prevent a man from slipping away once caught.  Once they have been trained with the mud to hold on to what would get away because of its oiliness, they are taught to escape from the opponent’s hands when they are caught in a firm grip. In addition, the konis is thought to stop profuse sweating, to prolong strength, and to prevent harm to their bodies from the wind blowing on them when their pores are open. Finally, the konis rubs off the filth and makes the man cleaner.  I would like to take one of those white-skinned fellows who live in the shade and put him next to any athlete you might pick out of the Lykeion after I had washed off the mud and konis, and then find out which you would rather resemble.  I know that you would choose immediately, without even waiting to see what each could do, to be firm and hard rather than soft and like a marshmallow with thin blood withdrawing to the interior of the body.

 Conclusion.  Training in the oily mud and dry konis were thought to compliment each other, resulting in a grappler that is skilled in both imposing and negating grips.

What do you think?  Can the same be true for modern day Gi and No Gi training methods?