A no-frills light weight competition uniform that blends understated style with a contoured fit and rugged ‘on the mat’ toughness. The A1 jacket fitted me superbly but trouser sizing issues necessitated the need to go one size up.
I’ve been wanting to review the Faixa Rua leve for some time now. Readers may remember my review of the Faixa Rua Classico gi which I really liked, although I found the sleeves to be a tad too wide for my personal taste. The new Leve gi, I heard from many folk, was slimmer, trimmer and a lot better.
I picked up an A1 sized Leve when I visited Carlson Gracie academy in west London (Carlson Gracie is an official distributor). The trousers of the A1 were much too short for me, so for this review, I will be using my older pair of A2 Leve trousers (sadly I have not shrinkage details for this one).
The gi comes with a very comprehensive and detailed 'Kimono Care Guide'. Users should take careful note of the washing instructions.
|Read the care guide|
Shrinkage and fit
|Stats and data1|
My personal body stats (167cm tall, 59Kg weight, wingspan 167cm wrist to wrist) mean that I am very awkward to fit properly. My torso suggests an A1 yet my arms are definitely an A2 and my legs are in between. Brand new, the Leve jacket, being an A1, was reasonably snug around my chest and under the arms. It felt very very close to the fit of my A1x Fushidas. I washed the Leve at 30 degrees to minimise shrinkage - as you can see from the stats table above, the sleeves shrunk by 5 cm and the jacket length by 4 cm. After several washes, the jacket feels perfectly snug around the body and armpits but I would say the sleeves are just a fraction shorter than I would like, but still legal and bearable. For reference, the sleeves of my old A1 Atama single weaves shrunk horribly after several washes.
|Yeah - neat curtains!|
|Simple but bold patch designs|
The Leve - like the rest of the Faixa Rua range - is styled very minimally. The newly designed shoulder patch is however much broader than the other models and continues the strong red theme of the Faixa Rua branding. The trousers have a small patch at the top. Whilst not quite a plain gi, the design is far from ‘bling’ so I think it will appeal to those not drawn to copiously decorated uniforms, yet still want something reasonably stylish..
|Impressively thick collar|
The Classico gi I reviewed was notable for its very thick collar and the Leve is no different. The rubber lining to the collar is quite stiff to begin but softened over several washes. The leading edge of the collar bulges quite considerably. I sparred with a judo black belt during one of my test sessions and said he found it hard to grab and use against me. When wearing the gi, I didn’t notice the collar impeding my movement at all, despite its chunkiness. So all in all, a very good collar that ticks all the boxes in terms of protective function and comfort .
|Tapered sleeve width, in line with others|
The sleeves cuffs are reinforced with tape and are noticeably narrower than the older Classico model. When compared to my other A1 sized uniforms, the sleeve widths are very much the same width and something I personally much prefer than ‘judo’ style wide cuffs. It might mean ezekiel chokes are harder to perform, but I can live with that, as long as they pass the IBJJF sleeve width requirements.
The jacket is light and very comfortable, but like all pearl weave fabrics, it does tend to stiffen up over a few washes. The exterior texture is quite coarse, yet the interior is smooth. Expect some gi friction burn marks on your unfortunate training partners! The cut is the aspect I liked most of all. I was worried that being an A1 it would shrink too much and become unwearable (like my A1 Atamas) but careful low temperature washing ensured that it shrank in all the right places (arm lengths, jacket height) and not where it would impede (eg armpits, torso cavity width). It’s still a snug fit but nicely so. It strongly reminded me of the Fushida komodo’s fit, but slightly shorter in length.
As mentioned before the A1 trousers were too small - smaller than any other A1 uniform I have tested, so for this test I used my older Leve A2 sized pair. I did not include the Classico A2 trousers that were given to me as a replacement.
|Two belt loops, flat cord|
The Faixa Rua Leve trousers are very light and comfortable. Despite having the standard reinforced knees, they still feel as light as my old karate pants. The trousers are held up by a length of flat drawstrings. These are not my favourite material - I prefer the rope cord style of drawstrings as they are less likely to come apart or get lost within the hem. One very interesting point is the extra patch of reinforcement within the gusset of the trousers. This is a nice touch in an area that is under a lot of stress. My Vulkan Pro Light trousers, which are equally thin, do not include such extra reinforcement.
|Extra gusset reinforcements v Vulkan's none|
When the gi was first new, I must admit I found the jacket stiffness a little annoying. But after several washes the stiffness was lost and it became a lot more comfortable to roll in. The snugness of the fit and the lightness of both the jacket and trousers meant that after a period of hard rolling on the mats, the gi felt like a second skin. It did not impede me in any way and did not feel heavy despite soaking up a lot of sweat. I must say, I really enjoyed wearing it in class.
The trend in recent years has been for lighter and lighter gis. But at some point there has to be a trade-off between ultra lightness and long term durability and strength. Pearl weave jackets seem to offer the best combination of both but even here, they do differ quite a bit.
For example, the Fushida komodo is a pearl weave gi that has a lot more reinforcements throughout the design compared to the Leve. It is also a lot heavier (A1x = 2.0Kg) and more expensive (if you include shippnig and tax). The Tatami Fightwear navy competition gi and Zero G gi (both pearl weaves) are fairly close to the Leve for lightness, but they differ in the collar thicknesses and degree of patches and embroidery. I found the Tatami Fightwear and Fushida jackets to be fairly resistant to shrinkage whereas the Leve does shrink - depending on heat of the wash and method of drying. I actually like all the gis mentioned and I would be hard placed to choose between them. If you want a lightweight gi that shrinks to fit, then the Leve would be a good choice, but none of the above named brands would disappoint in my view.
The other factor to bear in mind is cost. The Leve costs £70 with free shipping in the UK. It’s roughly what most other UK brands are charging for their premium pearl weave models, give or take the odd sale or promotion. However if £70 is beyond your budget, then TUFF still sell their budget pearl weave gi for £39.99 plus pp. See my TUFF review.
Faixa Rua have continued to evolve and develop their product without much fuss or marketing presence. Brand recommendation has been largely based on word of mouth and the Leve in particularly was getting great feedback from its users. I found the A1 sized jacket to be snug, nicely cut and contoured for my frame - it felt like a second skin. I personally prefer a gi with a bit more bling but the large red shoulder patches are attractive and stand out reasonably well. The jacket is a good compromise between lightness, without sacrificing strength and the A2 trousers are comfortably thin and fit me better than the A1’s. Overall, the Leve is a functional and well-fitting gi. If Faixa Rua can tweak their A1 trouser sizing issues then they have a very fine product suitable for punters needing a lightweight competition gi that fits very well and is reasonably plain in design.
|Club pal Rob Westney and his Leve gi|
Credits and disclaimer
My thanks to Carlson Gracie Academy west London for supplying me with the Faixa Rua Leve. I am not sponsored by any company nor do I endorse any one brand. I’m not an expert, my reviews are simply my own opinions based on observations and testing out during classes. If you like any of my reviews and are swayed into purchasing a product as a result, please mention MEERKATSU to the vendor - I don’t get any royalties but it helps me get more reviews. Thanks!
**** WARNING: The type of gi you wear may seriously have no impact on your jiu-jitsu skills ;) ****