|Roy Dean Academy custom gi|
A surprisingly lightweight single weave BJJ gi with an extraordinary price tag, the limited edition Roy Dean Academy 'honor' gi with custom embroidered Japanese calligraphy and contrast stitching is a collector's item for dedicated Roy Dean fans and lovers of discrete, traditional and tastefully designed gis.
I first slapped eyes on the Roy Dean Academy (RDA) gi in one of Roy's blog posts. He did not make any mention of the rather swishily embroidered gi, but with all the Japanese writing over it I assumed he had designed it and left it at that.
Then over the nest few weeks, pictures of it started to appear on the gi review forums - and there were two overriding topics of discussion: the cool design, and the slightly uncool price tag.
The gi is available from Budovideos.com and was originally priced with a jaw dropping tag of $249. It caused quite a stir (maybe that was the intention!) but I can see the logic of the high starting price. Roy commissioned master Japanese calligrapher Eri Takase to craft the words 'honor' (for the sleeves) and 'Brazil Jiu-Jitsu' (for the left trouser leg). By making it a small production run, the gi essentially becomes a limited edition collectors item and as such, can feel justified in commanding a higher fee than regular mass production gi models. It's now down to a more sensible $149.95 which puts it in line with most of the other premium level BJJ gis.
|Photos from Budovideos.com|
Size and Shrinkage
Interestingly, this gi is offered in traditional size categories: Size 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. So my size would be No.4 (equivalent to an A2), although when the gi arrived, it confusingly affixes the letter 'A' before the numeral to say 'A4' even though clearly, it is not an A4 when using the Brazilian size system! Anyway, a small observation, here are the shrinkage and weight stats:
|Gi size chart|
A: 165 156
B: 78 76
C: 58 55
D: 15.5 15
E: 27 26
F: 100 96.5
G: 52 51
H: 26.5 26
I: 40 38.5
Weight: Jacket (1.1Kg), Trousers (0.67Kg), Total = 1.77Kg (3.9lbs)
There is no formal description of the jacket fabric but it strongly looks like a regular judo single weave, sometimes known as 'rice' grain. This type of weave is light and comfy although not as densely woven as, say, a pearl weave, it might seem a little less sturdy.
|Double weave close up and embroidery detail|
Probably the most distinguishing feature of this gi is the Japanese embroidery. As mentioned in the intro, Roy commissioned master calligrapher Eri Takase to brush the strokes for his gi design. The arms have the words for 'honor' in kanji, and the leg is adorned with the words 'Jiu-Jitsu' in kanji, and 'of Brazil' in katakana.
|Eri Takase calligraphy|
The other notable aspects to the gi are the brown contrast stitching and Roy Dean Academy patch. I've noticed a recent trend for more and more BJJ uniforms to incorporate contrast stitching - it adds a little 'bling' factor to the design without falling foul of IBJJF regulations. In some gi designs I wonder if this is a good idea, but with the Roy Dean gi, the stitching is very artfully applied and is a very attractive, rich colour. The patch itself is tucked away behind the right calf leg and to be honest, is so discrete, no one would know it belonged to an actual academy.
|light brown contrast stitching|
The collar is soft and light. It does not contain the rubbery inner that most competition uniforms. I guess by comparison you could complain that the collar was thin - certainly compared to Keiko's, Atamas and most other leading brands - but I did not notice any problems when rolling.
I must say that after a couple of washes, the sleeves on the gi are perfect for me. The length of the arms shrunk to the perfect length and the width is neither too narrow or too wide. The cuff is triple stitched and lined with tape for extra reinforcement.
In addition to the sleeves, there are ample reinforcements under the armpit, side vents and, a nice touch this, the bottom edge to the jacket.
|Under arm reinforcements|
|Side vent reinforcement|
The trousers are a fairly heavy twill pattern cotton fabric. The contrast stitching really comes to the fore here as it outlines the reinforced knee area and side stitching. The belt cord is flat and coloured the same rich brown as the stitching. I'm not too keen on the cord as it seems very thin and I much prefer thicker drawstring cords, but its a lovely colour.
|Beautiful colour cord, a bit thin though|
Comfort and Fit
Wearing the gi in class I was surprised how light and comfortable it was. It felt as comfy as a gold weave and as light as my Vulkans. The design itself drew admiring gazes and positive comments without looking too intruding and conspicuous.
|What? No stupid face making?|
It's very hard trying to write an objective review on a gi intended solely as a limited edition collectors item. I could write a review saying it was an awful gi and it would make no difference because this gi is not designed to appeal to the mass market. Fans of Roy Dean will love it. Even if people do not know who Roy Dean is, there are not many gi brands on the market with specially commissioned Japanese calligraphy embroidered on the uniform, so I can see people buying it just because it is (a) limited edition and (b) tastefully classical in looks.
The very lightweight nature of the gi and the breathable nature of the fabric make it a practical gi, especially in warmer weather. I question whether such a gi would be suitable for day in day out regular training as it is quite thin, but then only time will tell I suppose.
The Roy Dean Honor gi is a remarkable combination of bling, without the bling. The design is subtle enough to melt into any academy regardless of affiliation and yet striking enough to draw flattering comments. The gi construction itself is fairly solid, light and comfortable. There are some nice touches regarding reinforcements - especially the sleeves and jacket body. The embroidery is unique and the limited edition status would reflect the (initially) high price. Overall, this is a lovely gi - and with the new lower price tag, an attractive proposition for someone looking for a discrete and tastefully designed BJJ uniform.
Credit and Disclaimer
My deepest thanks to Roy Dean who sent me this gi as a gift and did not ask for a review - but I couldn't resist it :)
Thanks to Christo from Fushida who advised me on technical issues concerning judo fabric weaves.
I am not sponsored by any one company nor do I endorse any brand. The views expressed in this website are my own opinions based on my own observations and personal sizing requirements.
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