16 Nov 2004

Kerpow! Kerching!

I was given a sudden introduction to the lucrative and commercial world of mixed-martial-arts merchandise when I decided I needed a specialist gi to train in BJJ. A brief surf of the net and Geez, you should see the range on offer from like a zillion manufacturers, all hailing to offer the best grappling gear around. Not only is there a plethora of fabric types (Gold, single, double and hybrid weave), then you have to choose colour (white is usual, but black, blue, red, even denim coloured can be bought), and of course size – not immediately obvious as you would think. The general spiel promises to increase your advantage in the fight game with extra breathability, tough stitching, and tight body armour-like fits.

On top of that, you have to decide what patches to have sewn on. Oh yes, patches. It’s all the rage. Top fighters are sponsored to compete professionally so have to wear sponsorship logos, just like any other sport I suppose, but now, you too can emulate your fave fighter by buying the same patches to sew on your gi. These range from simple manufacturer logos to fierce motifs revealing badass and angry intentions. Also, don’t make the faux pas of sewing on the wrong team patch. For example, if you are from Royce Gracie, don’t put on Gracie Barra, even though both sport a similar looking ‘G’ in their design. Confusing? I know!

In fact, the whole story of the Gracies, who’s who and what they have done, is the intriguing subject of a book (The Gracie Way, Peligro). Most are brothers or close cousins, some have fallen out with each other, some are bestest friends, a few are sworn enemies. It’s an amazing story, but I digress. Gi manufacturers fight too, just like their sponsored protégés. One company (Gameness) with the same name is split between Brazil and the USA. Each claiming to be the official maker and warning you not to buy the inferior other version. Some companies claim to offer essential benefits over other ‘named’ rivals. I’m sure you weren’t allowed to mention other manufacturers names in advertising?

All of this points to what is a very lucrative and money-making enterprise. So very different to the more meek and less showy trad martial arts merchandising I am used to.So there I was faced with a huge diversity of choices. I closed my eyes and clicked on the cheapest one I could find. It arrived last week (normal white and minus showy patches thankfully) and I must say, it is a dream to spar in. Though it alone does not make me a better fighter. I don’t think anything can, other than perseverance and hard work.

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


slideyfoot said...

"So there I was faced with a huge diversity of choices. I closed my eyes and clicked on the cheapest one I could find"

Ha ha ha - how things have changed! ;p

Meerkatsu said...

ah, but that post may have seeded the very first idea that BJJ fightwear would be something very interesting to write about...


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