In Part One we interrupted our new member of the gi-addicts anonymous clinic. Without further ado, let us allow brother James to continue his gi addict confessional...
Confessions of a gi-addict (Part Two)
By James Carey
2007 was a barren year for me gi-wise. A lot of time was spent looking at them, comparing all the various makes out on the market, contemplating buying another, but in the end, no purchases were made. At this point I would have described myself as more of a gi enthusiast than an addict, but that would very soon change…
Now with the loss of the Sirius, that left me still with only one gi that I was really happy with (my white Koral), and 4 others that fitted me kinda ok, but not great (my 2 Ouanos, the Atama and the Blue Koral). So obviously another one was needed. Gi number 7 was duly purchased in Jan 2008, and that was a Fuji.
The Fuji was a lovely gi - soft, excellent thick collar, great pants… but the jacket fit wasn’t quite right. Sleeve length was great, but annoyingly, the sleeves were a tad too wide for my liking. And that bugged me. It didn’t interfere with my training or anything like that, it just vexed me that the Fuji didn’t fit exactly how I wanted it too. So I still only possessed one perfect gi, and 5 imperfect ones.
Next up was a Toraki BJJ gi. Toraki are a Canadian company who make Judo gis, but have branched out into the BJJ market. I picked this one up at Seni 2008 when I went down to watch the Gracie Invitational. I’d seen a post a couple of evenings earlier on the Cagewarriors forum from MMA fighter and Judoka Chris Milward, espousing the quality of Toraki Judo gis and that they were going to have a stall at Seni and had brought over some of their new BJJ line. So I went over, and of course bought a gi.
Toraki are shrink to fit, but they’d brought over some that had already been washed, which was a huge help in finding a good fit and persuaded me to run immediately to the nearest cash machine. The Toraki is the perfect mix of Judo and BJJ – Judo construction and quality, with a really trim BJJ cut. There’s no way my Toraki would pass muster at an IBJJF comp, but I love it all the same.
So that’s 2 perfect gis, and 5 not so good. But when Shoyoroll announced in mid 2008 that they were releasing a comp legal gi, I had to have it. I’d read all the reviews of the previous batch, and I’d actually enquired about buying one of their earlier models in 2007, but had no luck. So after much stress over sizing and a gi going missing during shipping, I finally laid my hands on a Shoyoroll Batch 4 (white with yellow trim) in Jan 2009.
God it was pretty. And big. It made me glad that the A2 I had originally ordered went missing in the post and that Vince from SYR had been happy to send an A1 as a replacement. So I did the whole boiling/shrinking thing and the result was… a lovely gi that doesn’t fit quite how I’d like. I mean the fit is almost there, it just needs to lose an inch in all directions to be perfect. But it’s a thing of beauty, so I can live with the shortcomings, especially as once again it isn’t a common gi.
So it’s early 2009, and I’ve got 7 gis (I’d sold the white Ouano in late 2008). Time to pick up speed. I sold my Fuji and my blue Koral to teammates as I wasn’t wearing them anymore, leaving me with 5, which is a very reasonable number for the average BJJer. However in 2008 Koral decide to toy with my emotions and release a lightweight gi. Now when I had 8 gis, I couldn’t justify having another gi, but now that I’d sold some, well I’d be stupid not to get one, especially as the preshrunk nature of Korals meant that I had a pretty high chance of getting a good fit (though my experience of my blue Koral was in the back of my mind) So I got the white Koral Light. Great fit, absolutely no complaints whatsoever. And then I remembered that I was heading back to LA in Sept, and as it’s hot out there it would make perfect sense to get the blue Koral Light. I mean, it’s logical, right? So I bought one of those too.
Then during the summer Shoyoroll announce 2 more new gi models. A white with grey trim, and a blue with grey trim. And in my head they were calling me...taunting me...telling me to order them. Which I did, obviously! And they fit great, better than my first SYR, but still not that absolute perfection that I’ve been looking for, though that’s probably me being stupidly fussy.
In early Jan this year I saw a thread on Sherdog about a company I’d only previously heard about on Judo forums - Fushida. Like Toraki, they’re a Canadian Judo company who’ve now branched out. The price looked really good, but what really won me over was the customer service when it came to helping me find a good fit. Sure, there was the usual size chart, but Fushida actually ask you to send a series of measurements, and then they work out the best fit for you.
It’s like they’d heard my prayers about sizing. Gi sizing is the one thing I hate about buying gis. 99% of BJJ companies provide a crappy chart of rough sizes and that’s about it. Compare that to a lot of Judo companies who provide all the dimensions on a gi. It’s not like they don’t have the info – it’s on the pattern they gave to the factory in China/Pakistan/wherever. Or why can’t they all be preshrunk? If Koral can do it, why not anybody else? How crazy are we that we happily pay over £100 for something that’s either too big, or after a couple of washes won’t fit at all? Or are we just stupid in that we keep going back to these companies, rather than going to someone more helpful?
Er, anyway, rant over – back to the Fushida. They took my measurements (and that of my fave other gi – the Blue Koral Light), and responded with their recommendation within 20 mins. And with that, I placed my order. When it arrived, it fitted me perfectly. Just like a Saville Row suit, handmade perfection. Unbelievable!
So there you go, I’ve found it. My perfect gi. It’s everything I want in a gi. Perfect fit, not flashy, and no one’s heard of them. Classic plain white, and with a fit so good you’d have thought it was made to measure. Does that mean I won’t be buying any more gis? Well when the Fushida arrived I thought my buying days were over. But if Fushida release a blue version of my gi, then I might be persuaded to get the credit card out again. And Shoyoroll do have another gi coming soon too….
Here's the full list of all the gis I've ever owned:
- Chien Judo - £35 (bought in person)
- White A2 Ouano - £95 (inc US overseas postage)
- Blue A2 Ouano - £80 (bought in person)
- Blue A2 Atama - £35 (bought 2nd hand with Domyos Judo gi)
- Domyos Judo gi (see above for price)
- White A1 Koral - £90 (inc UK postage)
- Blue A1 Koral - £80 (bought in person)
- White A2 Sirius - £60 (inc US postage)
- White Adidas Judo - £20 (2nd hand off Ebay)
- White A2 Fuji - £65 (inc US overseas postage)
- Blue A1 Toraki - £70 (bought in person)
- White Adidas Judo - £0 (club gi)
- White A1 Shoyoroll Batch 4 - £100 (inc US overseas postage)
- White A1 Koral Light - £90 (inc UK postage)
- Blue A2 Koral Light - £100 (inc UK postage)
- White A2 Faixa Rua Leve - £0 (donated for review)
- White A1 Shoyoroll Ripstock - £150 (inc US overseas postage + customs)
- Blue A1 Shoyoroll Superlite - £150 (inc US overseas postage + customs)
- White A1 Fushida Mantis - £100 (inc Canadian overseas postage + customs)
The meeting ends. Chairs are stacked away and the members leave silently, disappearing into the darkness of the night. Tonight, they will all dream of their perfect gi and of their new hero - James, the gi-addict.
My thanks to James for taking the time to contribute his essay. I've enjoyed reading it and hope you have too. In between browsing for new gis, James Carey does actually train too - at BJJ School in London and he also frequents the various BJJ forums under the alias 'Sir Tapsalot'.