I've mentioned before that I came across a very geeky subset of BJJ gi reviews on the Sherdog gear and equipment review section of their forum. These guys examine their newly purchased gis with the kind of staggering level of detail usually reserved for family cars or a new U2 album. So to pay homage to these reviews, I thought I would do my own. Handily, I have a brand new Faixa Rua Classico gi and a fairly new Vulkan Pro Lite. So here it is in all its quasi-scientific glory [all photos by Meerkatsu, click on pic for larger versions]:
MEERKATSU'S GEEK-GI REVIEW
Manufacturer: Faixa Rua (website: faixarua.net/)
Model: Classico in white
Size tested: A2
Weave: Goldweave top, denim cotton trousers
Weight: 1.6kg (?? with embroidery)
Overarm sleeve: 78cm brand new / 72 after one 40C then one 60C wash
Underarm sleeve length: 55 / 51cm
Sleeve width: 19 / 18cm
Jacket length: 77.5 / 74cm
Trouser length outside: 101 / 101
Trouser length inside: 68 / 68
Trouser ankle width: 23 / 23
Trouser knee width: 27 / 27
Embroidery and patchesThe embroidered pattern on the back is very intricate, and the workmanship to be of a very high standard. I was worried beforehand that it would be too stiff and may even buckle after several washes, but has not turned out to be the case. Some may feel impeded by the obvious presence of a solid patch on the back, but not me. Although I did wear a rash guard during testing. Apart from the embroidery, the gi is fairly minimal in design with red shoulder strips and a small logo on the trousers.
I do not have scales so it would be interesting to see how much the embroidery adds to the overall weight.
TrousersThe trousers are held up by a flat cotton cord.
Comfort during class
Rolling with the gi during class was brilliant. It felt incredibly light and comfortable to wear. The addition of the club embroidery drew admiring comments from class mates. Although the sleeves are a tad long and wide for me (see below), it was not an issue that vastly affected the outcome during sparring. Long term durability may be an issue over a year or two. But, as with any gi, it depends on how frequently the gi is worn and washed. I may report back on this after 6 months usage.
Comparison with Vulkan Pro Lite
My Vulkan Pro lite is about a 2 months old and has undergone about 8-10 washes. Vulkan call their material 'honeycomb weave', but it is effectively a thin single weave. It is advertised as 'pre-shrunk' but most users experience a small degree of shrinkage after one wash.
Sleeve aperture is a big issue here. There is a considerable difference, the Faixa gi being 18cm wide and the Vulkan is 14cm. For those who like to do ezekiel chokes, this is a bonus. For those who get caught in spider guards, this is a bit of a pain.
Interestingly the Faixa collar is much thicker than the Vulkan. This could help defending against lapel chokes.
[CORRECTION: the above photo says 'Ultra' but the gi I reviewed is a Vulkan Pro Light, not the Ultra model]
A comparison of the trousers, you can see the Faixa is considerably longer than the Vulkan. The material is much thicker also. Reinforcements, cords and loops are roughly the same.
Overall, I would rate this gi a 9 out of 10. The high rating reflects the high quality and good value of the product. The lightness and comfort of the gi matches, and even surpasses that of other, more expensive brands. There were a few slight issues regarding the cut of the sleeves and the non-shrinking trousers, but these are fairly minor points. In fact, I after a while I forgot what gi I was wearing. This in the end is what a gi should do - ie to allow you to forget niggly little things and concentrate on your game.
This gi can be purchased online, or from select suppliers at a cost of around £60 (plus P+P if ordering online). This is a 1/3 cheaper than well known brands such as Koral and Vulkan. The downside is that it may not acquire a high resale value. I have for example sold many of my older gis on Ebay (several Atamas and one Koral) and obtained at least 40-50 percent value on them.
I would rate the Vulkan Pro an 8/10 and my Atama Mundial No#1 as a 7.5 mainly due to their comparitavely high cost. The Vulkan pro trousers are much better than the Faixa ones, but the jackets are equally comfortable. Considering the cheaper cost of the Faixa model, it represents a great mid-range priced gi for the beginner and experienced competitor alike.
Embroidery I believe is only available on bulk club orders. More details on this can be acquired by emailing Faixa Rua.