Probably the most common question posed by people on various BJJ and MMA forums is - what BJJ gi do you recommend?, or, is brand-x any good?, or, what do people think if so-and-so brand? etc...


This article is aimed at newcomers to BJJ who are at the stage where they are fed up with wearing their cheap twenty quid judo or karate gi (or even worse the smelly academy loan gi) and have had their eyes lit up by the alluring and colourful 'pro' uniforms that their more experienced team mates are wearing. I should know...I once was that beginner, and almost twenty gi purchases later, I thought maybe it was time to write a few personal thoughts about BJJ uniforms, as well as gather some useful links all in one article...





Why buy a BJJ gi?

Almost without exception, top brand BJJ gis are designed by BJJ players, for BJJ players. After all, only a BJJ athlete could understand all the niggly little details that are needed in a uniform fit for the purpose of day to day grappling.

When you buy your first BJJ gi you’ll notice that the fabric (discussed in more detail later) is made from a woven textile that is very strong. You can pull and tug with all your strength and it will not tear or go out of shape (compared to plain cotton karate gis). The lapels are very thick which helps protect against collar chokes. The sleeves and trousers are reinforced with double, triple, or even quadruple rows of stitching and some brands even offer an extra inner lining on the jacket and taped seams for extra durability and comfort. BJJ gis also have extra material supporting the armpits, the crotch, jacket side-splits and trouser knee pads. All these aforementioned components that make up a typical BJJ gi are designed to reinforce the stress points and make the uniform tough enough for ground grappling. 

Roger Gracie (top) wearing Essimo judo gi

As mentioned before, judo gis are also tough and can quite happily be used for BJJ. But judo gis tend to be a lot baggier and looser fitting than BJJ gis. This, I presume, is to encourage grip fighting. BJJ gis are narrower for precisely the opposite effect – to discourage your opponent from gripping you. Judo gis also have very wide sleeve cuffs. I presume because judo fighters do not hold on to the ends of the sleeves very much, but BJJ players do, so BJJ gis have much narrower sleeve widths. Having said all that, multiple World BJJ Champion Roger Gracie frequently wears a judo gi when competing and it does not harm his ability.


If you want to enter competitions, then a judo gi might not  meet the strict IBJJF criteria for a tournament legal gi. See the IBJJF rules here. Somewhere in the long list is a section that details what type of gi to wear, how long the sleeves should be, what colours are allowed and where you are allowed to sew your patches. At each IBJJF tournament, you are not allowed to enter the matted arena unless you pass the man who can make or break your day...the gi-checker.


The gi-checker does what his job title says. He checks your gi. And if your gi is a bit short, a bit tight, a bit narrow, a bit scruffy, a bit smelly...then the gi-checker will give you two minutes to find another gi, or you go home. A bit harsh when you have flown several hours all the way to another country to compete in an event you have trained exclusively for months previously, but thems the rules. This has actually happened.


Cost
BJJ gis are expensive mainly due to economics – there are more karate, TKD and judo students than BJJ students in the world. But BJJ gis are also a lot tougher than most other types of uniforms. This sport, perhaps more than any other martial art, requires its uniform to be ultra strong in ALL areas of the design – and tough gis cost more. But there are other factors.


It is possible to buy a gi today that costs $250 eg the Marcelo Garcia Signature Gi and yet on the other side of the spectrum, the cheapest BJJ gi I have seen on the market costs as little as £35.


Why the discrepancy? Well to a certain extent, the quality of the cotton fibre used and the attention to detail in the manufacturing process obviously has a bearing. But not as huge as you might think.
Most imported gis, such as Koral, Atama and Vulkan, sell in the UK for over £100. These heavily marketed gis tend to be made in Brazil. Brazilian cotton is purportedly claimed to be of very high quality. Most gis made by UK companies, such as Faixa Rua, Black Eagle, Tatami fightwear and others, are made in Pakistan, which has cheaper labour costs and slightly easier import/export relations with Europe.






Cotton products made in Pakistan seem to suffer from the perception that they are inferior-made products - and this paper seems to support that view. But I know from having spoken to a couple of UK gi makers that they put a lot of effort into the research of their gis and the quality of the source fabric. In my view, gis made in Pakistan are as good for a number of years of regular usage as any other.


If you are thinking of spending £100+ on a BJJ uniform, then my advice for beginners is to buy two gis for £50. After a few years, you'll want to buy a new one anyway (or if you are like me, every couple of months!)


Size
BJJ gis for adults are categorised from A0 to A-5, sometimes you'll get an A6, and if you are bigger than an A6, then you really shouldn't be doing jiu-jitsu...try sumo.


Here is the size chart for Atama gis, which are a very popular brand and is a typical chart for most manufacturers. The thing is, it does not take into account how every one of us is a different size and shape. There is also the issue that what one maker says is an A-2 is quite different (in size and also 'cut') to another.
For me, I have found that buying an A-1 size gi, which most manufacturers state is the correct size for my height and weight, is too small. I have longer arms and broader shoulders than my height and skinny frame might suggest, so I always buy A-2. But I have to shrink them since they are a obviously too big. Apparently, this 'I'm in between gi sizes' is very common with most people I speak to. So you'll probably need to know how to...

Shrink your gi
Some gis advertise their products as 'pre-shrunk'. Don't believe a word of it. Pre-shrunk gis still shrink when you wash them. Just not as much as 'normal' gis. A gi top can shrink as much as 5-10 centimetres after a few washes - over ten percent of the original size!

Most manufacturers warn against using a tumble dryer to shrink their gis as it can warp and melt the rubberised collar. Some of the guys on the forums have done it anyway, and come up with mixed results. If you do use a tumbledryer, use a synthetic setting and check the gi every 5-10 minutes and immediately stop drying once it is the size you want.


For me, tumble drying is too risky to perform on an item I've spent a lot of money on, so I use the warm water route, ie first wash at 40 degrees C, then if further shrinkage is needed, wash at 60 degrees. Then every wash thereafter is at 40. Some people even say this is unnecessary as the gi will shrink naturally over progressive washes. Others strongly suggest always washing at 30 degrees or over-shrinkage could result.


The only gi that has never shrunk ever, despite lots of very hot washes and even, yes god forbid, tumble drying, was my A-2 Koral Classic. It did not shrink one iota. I had to sell on Ebay it in the end. Which reminds me to mention that buying an expensive well-known brand is always good if you sell it second hand, as you get fairly good prices for them on Ebay.


Weave
In general, there are three types of weave: single, double and gold. Manufacturers will dress up these three types with all sorts of fancy names and make it sound like the next miracle of textile technology. I've personally sampled gis made out of: 'pearl' weave, 'carioca' weave, 'crystallised' cotton weave, 'platinum' weave, 'honeycomb' weave and loads of others, and while I am not a textile expert, those amazing weave types are still basically one of the three types of basic gi weaves.


Single weave is the thinnest and lightest of the three types. The weave pattern is fairly uniform as can be seen in the photo of the Vulkan Pro Light below (NB: Vulkan call their weave 'honeycomb' weave but is essentially a single weave). These gis are light, quick to dry, and a bit cheaper than the other types. However, just because they are thin and cheap, they are still very strong and able to stand up to the pressures of hard training. Some gis are labelled 'pearl' weave which as far as I can tell, are basically just single weaves that are a bit coarser and more densely woven than regular single weaves - which you will typically find on cheaper judo gis.
'Honeycomb' weave from Vulkan (a type of single weave)

Double weave is a pretty heavy material. I don't know anyone who wears a double weave but I have read how some people like the toughness of these gis and how they are much harder for opponents to choke you. Pro level judo gis are generally made from double weave as they are much harder for the opponent to grip. Below is a photo of the Atama double weave that I nicked from Sherdog. you can see that the vertical thread is pretty thick and the horizontal thread is not as thick, but still very prominent:

Double weave from Atama



Goldweave gis were designed as a halfway house between a single and a double. They have the durability of the double, but the lighter weight of the single. I have found the fabric to be much softer and more comfortable than the other two 'harder' fabrics. However, goldweaves shrink like Rick Moranis in Honey I shrunk the Kids. My A-2 goldweave Atama Mundial No1, which I loved to bits, shrunk so much, I had to give it away to a teenage girl who weighed 55 kg.
Still, goldweaves are lovely and if you get a good one, that fits nicely and doesn't shrink too much, it'll make you feel a million dollars (which is almost as much as they cost to buy!) Below is a photo of my Faixa Rua Classico - a lightweight goldweave fabric. You can see in the photo that goldweaves have a pattern distinct from singles and doubles:


Goldweave from Faixa rua
There are of course several exceptions to the three-types of weave rule...the Koral Light and the 
Kauai Kimonos have jackets woven from ripstop cotton - which is incredibly light and strong. Other gi weave types include 'hybrid' weaves and 'summer' weaves. At the end of the day, all BJJ gis will be of the 'woven' judo type of fabric, and not like the flatter canvassy type found on karate uniforms. I'm sure there are plenty more weird gi fabrics, but if you stick to the basic single, gold or double weave choice options, then you know what you're letting yourself in for.

Trouser - ripstop material
Ripstop trousers from a Fushida Komodo gi

Weight
A typical single weave A-2 will weigh anything between 1.6 to 1.8 kg. Golds are a little heavier, generally around 2kg and doubles are the heaviest. The excellent Budo Videos store has the weight of each brand of gi it sells - you just have to convert the imperial units if you are like me and can only live in a metrical world.


The trend recently has been for gi makers to offer what they call the 'ultra' or 'competition light' gi. The Vulkan Ultra Light Summer gi, for example, weighs as little as 1.3 kg! Or so they claim. But the record has to go to the Kauai Kimonos Ultra Light Ripstop gi, which weighs in (or doesn't weigh) just one kilogram!


Such super light gis are useful for competitors trying to make weight, and are so thin, dry out very fast after washing. They are also handy to roll around in hot weather. They're also a bit cheaper to their bigger brother uniforms too.


Imagine if you are trying to make super feather (under 65kg)  in a top level comp and you are a couple of hundred grams over in your goldweave, then wearing an ultra light can really set your mind at ease. [If you think getting dq'ed for being a few hundred grams over the weight group is a bit harsh, believe me, it does actually happen.]


Collars and Sleeves
Some users feel that a thicker collar can reduce the ability for an opponent to choke you, however some people have commented that a really thick and inflexible collar can make the user feel like they are choking themselves out at times - for example if the gi is wrapped on their body too tightly.


I personally am not a fan of very thick collars, although I do not experience any ill-effects when I do roll in one. Conversely, a very thin collar can feel a bit cheap, but does not seem to affect my 'getting choked out' ratio. After all, if you are bad enough to get into these positions in the first place, collar thickness is not going to help...but learning the proper escapes will.


These days, all lapels are made from a rubberised polymer and covered with cotton and held by several rows of stitching. Some lapels are sculpted to 'bulge' at the edge, some are the same thickness throughout. The bulging effect I imagine is to create the feeling of wearing a very thick and hard to attack collar.






Sleeves can be a factor when choosing a gi. You would be surprised at the huge variation in sleeve width (at the cuff) between different makes. The photo above are from some gis I have and the two sleeves (right half of photo) are both A-2, both washed the same, but there is a 4.3cm difference in sleeve width between the two!


Wide sleeve cuff apertures can seem a bit baggy and allow the opponent to easily grip for spider and other open guard type techniques. On the plus side, they do allow for easier Ezekiel chokes. It should be pointed out however, that narrow, tapered sleeve designs could fall foul of the stringent IBJJF gi rules, especially after shrink washing.


Trousers
A lot of people place high importance on the comfort, durability, stitching, weight, reinforcements, patches etc of the trousers. To me, a cheap $9.99 pair of judo trousers is just as good as a pair of $59.99 Atama gi pants. A poor pair of trousers can rip easily, but a heavy thick pair can impede movement.




One aspect of trousers that is worth discussing are the belt ties. These are the most annoying thing ever to have been invented by the ancient Japanese. I cannot get through one session without these coming undone, no matter how tightly I tie them. And as for the nightmare of losing one or both ends within the hem of the trousers, that is a serious wardrobe malfunction that need never happen. Some enterprising gi makers have considered this and made their belt ties with knotted ends and much thicker, making it harder to lose or come undone.




Colour
The IBJJF - the biggest organisor of BJJ comps around the world - state that gis in competition must be either white, blue or black. Why then, do manufacturers make red gis, yellow gis, camouflage gis, pink gis, etc etc?? Because they can, and because people buy them, is the answer.


And for some, the range of colours available from gi makers is still not enough. So they dye their own gi in the colour of their choice. Here's one example from fellow blogger Steve Zacher. I suppose it depends on your academy whether such a thing is tolerated or not. At my BJJ academy, my own instructor dyed his gi a very bright purple, so I doubt he would say much if I did likewise with a similarly whacky colour.


Here's an example of a really far out way to personalise your gi, from a company called Happy Kimonos. Their kimonos are tie-dyed to your specification. Hmm, an acquired taste I think.






Nearly all of my gis are white. But when I first bought a blue gi, I entered into the murky world of fixing the gi colour. Here's what Atama have to say about colour-fixing your newly purchased non-white gi, and this is what Kagi advise. I've done the vinegar and salt thing on a new gi and I must say, it made no difference. The thing still faded over time, and to be honest, I like the look of a heavily used, faded gi. It shows you have worked hard in the academy.


One final thing about colour, related to the weight section above. Dyed gis are heavier than white gis. This is because there is a significant mass of dye molecules in-grained into the fibre, and this adds weight - probably as much as 200-300 grams or more.


Brand
I wonder who made the very first commercially available BJJ gi? I can imagine Helio Gracie having a word with some local cotton factory, giving them a home-made judo gi and saying: hey, can you make thirty of these for me...yes I am an instructor...it's called jiu jitsu...well, a smaller weaker man can...


I do know that after the Big Bang (after UFC-1 when America and ROW found BJJ), there was an explosion of gi makers. Suddenly, instead of so and so down the road, Brazilian companies had an export market and a very wealthy one too.


Check out Brazilian Fightwear, to see all the different brands of gis you can buy from them. And that's not even half of the ones you can buy elsewhere. There are gi makers from Guatemala (Sirius), from Guam (Shoyoroll), USA (eg Kikskin), Japan (eg Isami) and the UK (eg Black Eagle) and many, many more.


What is interesting is sponsored fighters or endorsements. How many people are drawn to Koral because Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza looks down on them in their product adverts? Probably quite a lot I would imagine.


Patches
Just brief mention about patches. Some people love all the bling that gis can be decorated with. The photo above is my own hand-painted patch. But see also my post on five blinged up gis. Other people prefer a plain no-nonsense gi. The issue of gi decoration is probably the single biggest factor drawing people to a certain brand or model.


As mentioned before, the gi-checker at IBJJF comps can be very fussy about gi size, the same is true about patches. All motifs, patches, advertising or decoration must conform to their rules on patch placement. See their diagram here.


Each year there are loads of stories of competitors who have had their patch torn off their uniforms by the gi-checker because of the smallest tear or undone stitching. [As a side note, the gi-checker also checks your nails and your belt. If the belt is not the right shade of colour for your rank, or too wide or too narrow, you could be dq'ed - true!]


Most patches are screen-printed logos printed onto a piece of canvas cloth and sewn on to the uniform. Increasingly, gis are offered with elaborate embroidered patterns and motifs. Embroidery does not fade and looks pretty neat. And, just as with gi-colours, lots of people personalise their gi with their own customised embroidery. This pic below of my BJJ pal Oli Geddes (in the black gi) is a perfect example:





Durability
Of course spending half your week's wages on a piece of cloth is a bad investment if the gi you buy falls apart after 3 weeks.


As I've discussed in 'Cost', there is a degree of correlation between the cost of a gi and the quality in terms of durability. But how long a gi lasts depends on more than just the quality of the cotton and stitching. The amount you sweat, the frequency of washing, the courseness of the mats, the style of game you play...are just some of the factors that could affect how long your gi will last before it starts to fray, to tear, or go grey and smell a bit despite repeated washes. In the end, you just know when to put a gi to rest.


Mind you, I've got a ten year old very cheap student judo gi bought from Tao Sports that is tough as nails and has lasted way longer than one of my first ever BJJ gis - an expensively imported M Kimonos goldweave - which started shrinking and the stitching coming apart within weeks (although it was a damned nice gi despite that).
Ask around at your class for views on how well their gi has stood up to regular training.


Womens gis
Companies are never one to miss a trick. Apparently, women train BJJ too...I never knew!
Anyway, a recent trend I have noticed is the increasing shift for gi-makers to design a 'women only' model of gi..and no, not just because it is pink (although they do that too). Obviously I'm not the best placed person to discuss women-only gis, so take a peak at Gringa BJJ's blog on gis for girls, this one for Fenom from Meg and Georgette's gi reviews.

More advice and information
Whatever gi you eventually decide to purchase, it will be a completely a personal choice. What one person finds comfortably roomy, another will find baggy and ill-fitting. Unfortunately, since most people live far away from a physical shop where you can actually try uniforms on before buying,  mail order is often the only route to purchasing a gi. This presents problems, especially for those of us who order from abroad, namely, the costly mistake of getting one the wrong size or one that is faulty. Returning a gi back to Brazil from the UK for a refund or exchange is near nigh impossible (due to customs, postage cost and huge time duration for shipping, and, hence my previous tip about Ebay).


Help is available however. This article for a start I hope might offer useful tips. But the number one place to ask for gi help is your own academy team mates. They are the ones who have rolled in their gis for years, possibly having bought many over the years and they certainly have opinions about which they prefer. I know I do (see My ideal gi). Find someone roughly your own size and ask to see their gi and maybe try it on (preferably before a sweaty session), compare it to a different brand that someone else is wearing and you'll soon get an idea of what you might like.


BJJ and MMA forums, such as the excellent Sherdog Equipment and Gear Review section, can be useful. Beware however that some users are sponsored by certain manufacturers and it is in their interests to give an awesome review to their product. But most forum members are ordinary folk like you or me. If a gi has some bad points about it, it'll usually get picked up and discussed openly. There are also a lot of BJJ bloggers, like me, who review their gis in great detail. I did one last year and the feedback I got was that it was very helpful. And the Joker Jitsu site is a very good reference source which is a little dated now, but still very useful.


Finally, there are vendors and manufacturers who sponsor BJJ events and tournaments. At these events they usually have a stall where you can try on their uniforms and sometimes get a tournament discount (haggle anyway, they would rather get rid of merchandise than carry all that stuff home unsold).







Here's my final thought: a gi that cost £20 or a gi that cost £200 will make absolutely no difference to your skills as a jitsuka on the mat. Believe me, I've been there, it really won't - despite what the manufacturers claim. Look at old photos of Helio Gracie and Carlson Gracie. Were they wearing the latest Hyperweave Titanium-coated Body Armour BJJ gi? No, their uniforms looked awful and were probably made from twenty dishcloths stitched together with a logo drawn on the back with a felt-tip pen. But it didn't stop them from being the most bad-assed jitsukas in town.


So go ahead, indulge yourself and buy your coveted gi and enjoy wearing it. It helps make for a colourful dojo and makes you feel more a part of our big worldwide gang of patched up pyjama wearing warriors. Just take the marketing hype of gi-maker with a hefty dose of salt...and then use that salt to colour fix your new Titanium weave gi.


Peace and out!




NB. For a full rundown of my BJJ gi reviews, see my Reviews page.
For an interesting tale on the perils of gi-addiction, see here and here.






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47 comments:

slideyfoot said...

Awesome: that's going straight on the FAQ. :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

Excellent review my friend. Very personal touch.

Do you have, or have you heard of someone who has, experience with tailored gi-s? I don't but have toyed with the idea of buying a gi and taking to someone who can fit it to me.

Also, gi pants ruin my purchases! I have pretty short legs (32 inch jeans)and arms and when I buy A3 gis (my usual size) the pants are always a luck-of-the-draw situation. What's your take?

Meerkatsu said...

PTG - I've not heard of anyone who has taken a gi to the tailors - dry cleaners yes, but tailors no.

However, my wife is handy with a sewing machine and there have been times where I have asked her to alter the sleeves or the trouser length for me and she has mentioned that the fabric is very thick and on the brink of breaking her sewing machine. I would imagine that a chosen tailor must have the equipment to deal with very heavy material or it could prove fruitless.
[NB I mention the stitching quality in my forthcoming gi review.]
Re: trousers, I generally don't have a problem (it's my arms that befuddle the 'standard' gi sizes). But I do have lots of my old (and very cheap) judo and trad JJ trousers that seem to hold up ok to grappling, so I don't see why anyone would want to buy a £30-£40 pair of Atama trousers when a £9.99 Blitz judo trousers will do (apart from having matching patches of course).

Slidey - that is brilliant mate, thanks for your support. Together -us BJJ bloggers are making the world of BJJ more accessible and hopefully attractive to those who are thinkig of starting or have just begun this fascinating journey.

Jadon Ortlepp said...

I was planning on doing one of these but you have hit every nail right on the head. The only thing I could say that you missed out is the "feel" of the gi. My howard gi is so manly I cant wear it without a rashguard or it starts consuming me but unless you do metal work bare handed, good luck trying to choke me. My padilla however is a playboy smoking jacket compared but the sleeves are so tapered I cant do an ezekial although it nullifies sleeve grips to. My basic black eagle gi is very loose and light but has a collar made out of cheesewire.

Meerkatsu said...

I agree Jadon, the 'feel' of a gi is a very personal thing and that is another reason (probably the main reason) why I love my Vulkan Pros. Actually the M Kimonos had the best feel but I'm not shelling out £150 to import another one just for it to over-shrink and fray like my last one.

Every single gi brand (and even model types within the brands) has a completely different 'feel' and is the reason why finding the right BJJ gi is so incredibly hard - unless you have the OTM shop on your doorstep.

Interesting comment about your Black Eagle gi - is it fairly new or was it one of their earlier batches?
I include a brand new BE single weave in my forthcoming new gi review (where I compare several UK brands at once) and I find the collar so far to be pretty thick, chunky but just squidgy enough to be comfortable on my neck.

A.D. McClish said...

Great article, Meerkatsu! Wish I had this when I started out! I have a few friends who are newbies that I'm going to direct to this post. Thanks again!

Jadon Ortlepp said...

The BE is one of their super cheap basic judo gi's. Despite being a single weave it is invunerable. So I forgive it for its baggy sleeves, emitting an irrestible siren call for gi chokes less so.

Lots of my training partners wear the BE BJJ gi's which seem pretty decent and bare no resemblance to the gi I have.

Stephanie said...

@ The Part Time Grappler - I am pretty sure Georgette has mention have her gis altered before. I would ask her.

And Merkatsu, Thanks SO much! I'm pretty new to BJJ and still have the same gi I bought when I started...a cheap judo gi I bought online.

I train 4-5 times a week now, and having just one gi it is near impossible to avoid going to class smelling a little funky from time to time. hehe

I've been poking around for several weeks trying to decide which gi I wanted to get, and only finding myself with more questions. (It doesn't help that I am female, 5'9 and 140 pounds. Atama's women's F4 is the only gi that my height and weigh both fall under.)

This post has been extremely helpful!

Meerkatsu said...

Hi Stephanie, good luck with your new gi purchase. It took me over 6 years to find a gi I am truly happy with, hope it takes everyone else considerably shorter time.

Elyse said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Meerkatsu!
I'm posting a link on my gi page too.

@Stephanie - I think you'd probably like the Keiko A2. You're about my weight but 5" taller so you're gonna want something longer than an Atama (which tend to shrink in pant and sleeve length). Both my Atama pants are too short for me.

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks for your support Elyse!

Anonymous said...

hi meerkat, nice post, I'd like to ask you, have you tried the gi that roger wears in the mundials? I think is called essimo and I saw roger in the academy and looks great.

Jason said...

I've been looking at the Ripstop gi's from kauaikimonos.com. I think Georgette blogged that she was getting one. Have you ever had a gi with a ripstop in it?

cy said...

Top review, many thanks!! Will post a link from my blog for sure :-)

Meerkatsu said...

Hi anonymous, when I had my ,private lesson with Roger, I remember chatting to him about his Essimo gi and he just told me he liked it because it was a plain but tough judo gi that fitted him perfectly. It certainly felt really hard to grip when I rolled with him (ha! like as if that was my only problem!)

@Jason, thanks for the heads up on Kauai Kimonos, they look really nice! and ripstop too, they must weigh less than a honeybee. Oh just checked, 1kg, that is amazing!

@cy - thanks for your support, let me check out your posts right now.

pete said...

Great post! I wish I had found something like this when I first was searching for a gi. I asked my teacher what his preference in the way of brands was and he said Koral were good. So I went online and bought a Koral Classic A3. I love it and it's hardly had any wear and tear the 7 months I've been training.

One thing I'm confused with is the sizes that list weight along with height. I'm not quite sure if I'm supposed to go by both or just the one. I'm about 184cms tall but I only weight 68kgs which is about 10 less than most people my height. I assume matching the right length is more important. I'll have to try some out before I make my next purchase. Looking for a lightweight one next so I don't have to worry about my weight.

Meerkatsu said...

I know Pete, height and weight often have little bearing with one another when choosing a new gi. I would go always with the height, rather than weight.

However, the only gi I know where weight is an issue, is the
Faixa Rua Gordo kimono
This gi is specifically marketed at guys with a 'fuller figure'!!

Steve said...

Excellent post. Very thorough.

Stephanie said...

Elyse - Thanks for the heads up!

jo said...

Great post! Now I want to get a new white gi and dye my old one. :)

I have a Koral Classic white and an Ouano black lightweight. Both are sharp looking 'low key' Gis. The Koral Classic is pretty stiff - the Ouano a bit softer. The Koral has finally started to shrink a bit in leg length, but the top is still the same. (after a year)

My next will be a super-lightweight since rolling in the Texas summer is HOT.

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks Jo, yes the Koral classic is virtually unshrinkable. I wasn't a big fan myself, and so sold it on, and yet their sister (actually the owners are brothers) company Vulkan is my perfect gi...weird huh?

I've heard good things about the Ouano. My previous instructor has made the Ouano his official academy gi so when I go back to visit, I'll be sure to check that gi out too.

As for extremely hot weather - we in the UK should be so lucky!
However watch this space, there is a chance I'll be road testing the Kauai Kimono which weighs only 1Kg!!!

André Costa Silva said...

Hi Meerkatsu, thanks for a great post and congrats on a great blog.

Something I can't seem to find is specifics on belts measurements. I know they should be 4~5cm wide, but what about the grade patch? how long should it be and how far from the belt's end?

thanks in advance.

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks for your comments Andre.
The IBJJF state in their rules - section 8D "Belt width 4-5cm, with colour corresponding to rank tied around the waist with a double knot , tight enough to secure the kimono closed." but yes there is no rule on the grade patch size.

According to this website:
www.kataaro.com
Their belts have a 4.5inch black rank patch which is one inch from the base. I guess this would be the standard on most belts.

André Costa Silva said...

Thanks a lot Meerkatsu.

ajbjj said...

I was just wondering if you had found out any more info on Kauai Kimonos. I put in a pre-order for a ripstop, but I dont know anyone who has one to get any opinions yet. If you don't know, I guess I will have to be the guinea pig.

I do know that they have sent one of these gi out for ibjjf approval consideration. They are just awaiting results from the commision.

Any info would be helpful.

Meerkatsu said...

@AJBJJ - Georgette Oden has just ordered a Kauai and she's gonna do a review. Mine will be sent to me at some point - so they say, so I'm waiting. But AFAIK the ripstop gi jacket has yet to receive approval.

Alistair Tweed said...

Hi All, thanks Meerkatsu, great article.

@anonymous,

I bought an Essimo Ippon, the same one Roger wears. It is very much a judo gi, not a BJJ gi. It is not a one piece cut, has the longer, lighter weight diamond pattern lower half of jacket according to judo regs. It is VERY heavy - 3.4Kg for me, so not one to weigh in for a comp unless you are way under weight!

It is a high quality, well made gi, very durable, very stiff and difficult for an opponent to grip, nice wide sleeves for Ezekiels. There is a slim fit option too.

Criticisms are:
It shrinks a lot (10-15%), so buy big.
It's easy to overheat in summer.
It isn't cheap...

http://www.essimo.co.uk

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks Alistair!
I gues the incredible toughness of the gi jacket is why Roger chooses to wear it at comps.

Copland said...

Man, what a great article!! That was awesome. I love training BJJ and the more I delve into it the more I love the culture of the who BJJ scene. Love talking gis and patches and the whole thing!

I wear a Fuji in blue. I have 2 of these and love them. I started out (like everyone else) in a cheap 'n nasty Judo gi, but quickly moved on to the comfort of a BJJ specific gi when my training partners started tapping early due to my gi wrap chokes!

Thanks again for a great article... of to read the one about your patch and pimped out gis.

If you're ever in Australia, let me know and we can have a roll.

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks Copland, I got a whole ton of new gis to review and some of them quite pimped out too, so watch this space!

Julia Johansen said...

VERY cool article. I love it.

If your pants keep coming undone, try this technique:
marathon knot

Steve Spencer said...

Excellent writeup Meerkatsu. Thanks so much! I have recently purchased an Atama Mundial #9, and I have to say that I am a HUGE fan of the rip-stop pants (although I don't think I would like it as a jacket material.) Also, in regards to the Judo, Jiu Jitsu comparison: I compete in both. I tend to like my Jiu Jitsu gi's a lot better than Judo ones, but as you pointed out, the sleeves are tighter. I have had a lot of trouble at Judo tourneys nearly rejecting my Jiu Jitsu sleeves. Something to be careful about.

Also, Judo doesn't allow a person to reach into the sleeve. They have to grab the outside of the sleeve. I imagine that's why the sleeves are looser.

Thanks again! Great writeup!!

Anonymous said...

I prefer the Fuji gis, for their durability and comfort.
http://www.grapplingkimonos.com/product/GRKIHAGIFBAD

FudoshinSensei said...

Thanks for your reviews on all the gi's they were all very helpful. As a complete BJJ novice I finally opted for Faixa Rua to get me started. I will be trying it out for the first time tonight at Mill Hill CCA, its got to be better than the straight jacket I've been wearing.

brazilian jiu jitsu gi said...

Its good post about how to buy bjj gi . Thanks for sharing.

MrDinaguan said...

Awesome article! What is your current favorite gi and why?

mitchell singh said...

Awesome article
i was just wondering
one of the coaches at the gym i trained at told me to get a size a3 gi (kingz gi) because of the length
i tried it on and saw that the sleeves where a good fit but everything else was way to big
the gi was ment for 190-235lb
i am only 140 :P
i was just wondering if there are tailors that can take in gi tops?
email me at
mitchell.singh1995@hotmail.com
if you know if they can
thanks

Anonymous said...

Great article.

Would just like to add some comments as an ex-judo player converting to BJJ who owns an Essimo gi.

Judo players would use a suit with similar dimensions to a BJJ gi if they were allowed. In fact, I can remember the days when this was the case with gi trousers that would be half way up the calf.

To make sure that grips could be easily obtained (and in reaction to judoka using suit dimensions to gain advantage) the IJF ensured all gi lengths and widths, especially in relation to the ankle and wrist measurements, had to meet certain minimums.

Saying this I have never found as yet any gi which meets the benefits of essimo trousers (not the jacket). This is because the trousers, even though they have to meet IJF regs are tapered in such a way as to be so comfortable they feel like a tailored fit but don't provide excessive cloth for grip (even though they are judo trousers).

The jacket is another matter. It has highly dense material. And expensive judo gi (£100 range) have a thick triple seem of cloth that runs down the centre of the upper back of the jacket. This reduces the ability of an opponent to gain a dominant grip over the back, enhanced by the thickness of the material (approx. 1000g) of the upper part of the jacket. Overall though this extends the life of the jacket.

The thickness of the jacket makes maintaining a grip on it extremely hard. In fact in my experience if you wear this type of jacket to judo training sessions you will get wining complaints from some lower grade players. Higher grade players obviously recognise the advantages of practising with someone wearing this type of gi.

The downside, you have to be fit to wear this type of gi. It does not breath and if you want to lose weight this is the jacket. Also if you don't know how to break grips on the sleeves this jacket (even though it flirts with IJF regs) is a definite disadvantage with its BJJ equivalent. If you know how to break sleeve grips again the thickness of the jacket provides possible advantages. And it is the upper jacket design that I would suggest as the reason why Roger Gracie wears this gi.

By the way I brought the Gi for Judo and wasn't even practising BJJ or knew about the Roger Gracie link. I brought the gi because I trained at the club of gentleman who owns the import company for Essimo gear in the UK and club affiliates got significant discounts. Otherwise I probably would never of heard of Essimo and even if I had I wouldn't have considered buying one as the real names in judo are Mizuno (for a long time) and more recently Fighting Films. I don't have any links with the Essimo owners anymore.

Again thanks for the article. Especially the parts relating to the weave of the gi, as in judo a lot of these distinctions really don't exist.

My apologies for any repetition of material anywhere on this page.

Pedro Barcellos said...

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Tankard Abbot said...

Meerkatsu, would you be able to recomend some GI manufacturers that offer, well, plus sizes? My son's club gave myself a membership for Christmas, I just need to find a gi that would fit someone with a sleek and svelte build similar to Butterbean. Ok, perhaps not THAT extreme, but let's just say an A5 wouldn't cut it. I see a few posts back that Part Time Grappler was asking about Tailored Gis; it's quite likely I'll have to get an A6 modified, just wondering who offers them.

Meerkatsu said...

try Gorilla fightwear

Can Sönmez said...

Yeah, Gorilla probably do the best gi for a big guy: here. Not cheap, but then if you were willing to get one tailored, probably comparable price to that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Meerkatsu, could u please post your height and weight. I am 178cm, 75kg and was looking at getting a vulcan pro light in A2. I think this will probably be the best size?

Meerkatsu said...

I am 170cm tall and 59Kg weight.

Anonymous said...

Hi Meerkatsu,

I'm from Canada my son is been training bjj for about a year now he weigh 242 pounds and only 11 years old and 5'3 . It's time for him to get a new since he is doing good . I wanted to purchase a Vulkan can you suggest what size should I choose ? Thank you in advance

Siraj said...

wow I am surprised. I am a manufacturer of bjj gis in Pakistan, but you really have much more information than I have, I really am impressed. well done my friend :)

Anonymous said...

thx mate. I was after just this sort of info. Honest and personal. Much appreciated.