UK company Grab and Pull have produced a novel light weight gi made entirely from ripstop cotton. The A2 weighs just 1.38Kg. The whole uniform is cut fairly large to take into account the large degree of shrinkage expected within the first couple of washes. This gi takes a little getting used to but is very handy for tournament weight cutters and those who intend to travel light and represents an interesting rival to the Koral Light and Vulkan Ultra Light gis.
Grab and Pull are offering readers a 10% discount (which ends 1st November 2010) - see end of review for further details.
BJJ instructor Gus Oliveira, based in Brighton, UK, has teamed up with US seller Jiu-Jitsu Pro Gear to create this all ripstop gi. The jacket fabric, Gus tells me, was the result of several years of research, by him, on textiles produced by his family’s factory in Brazil. The entire uniform weighs a minuscule 1.38Kg for an A2 - a vast cut in weight compared to a typical training gi that can weigh as much as 2kg or more. But the incredible lightness does come with a few quirky caveats, which I’ll discuss further on.
Size, weight and other stats
Make no doubt about it, this gi shrinks a lot, so choose your size carefully. Gus advised me to opt for the A2 as he knew it would shrink down after washing - and it did! But it did not shrink in all parts evenly. The arm wingspan length for example shrank by a whopping 7 centimetres and yet the jacket height hardly shrank at all. The trousers shrank by 6.5cm. The torso width did not shrink much - which is a problem for my A1-sized torso, which I’ll discuss later in the comfort and fit section.
For a gi aimed at tournament weight cutting, there are still quite a lot of patches sewn onto the uniform. ‘Grab and Pull’ as a brand name might raise humorous titters, but Gus has developed this brand over the past few years to become one of the main tournament event organisers in the UK. The patches are quite slim and sewn on with double rowed stitches. The overall look is pretty plain with a few nice colourful strips of patchery.
Whenever this gi is talked about, the common misconception I hear is that people think the jacket ripstop fabric is the same ripstop they find on ripstop trousers (eg those found on Black Eagle and Fushida ripstop trousers). This is not the case. The jacket is very soft and light - a bit like wearing a thin summer dressing gown. It is very similar to the Koral Light, although Gus is at pains to point out that the squares on his design are smaller, which apparently make it more comfortable. I do not have a Koral Light so I cannot say whether this is true but here is a comparison picture (not to scale).
Now here’s the really interesting thing with this gi. It has a ripstop covered collar. I’ve not personally seen a collar with this type of covering - but according to one of my fellow gi-addicts, the Shoyoroll batch #6 has a rip stop collar. However it's fair to say that most gis are covered with either cotton twill or canvas. The rubbery core is thick but not too thick. The Faixa Rua Leve for example has a much thicker collar. But the Grab and Pull is thicker than a Vulkan Pro Light.
I was quite surprised at the sleeve shrinkage. Speaking purely in terms of arm length, this A2 gi is now shorter than some of my pearl weave A1 gis. This suits me fine but some might find it shrinks a bit too much for them. The end cuffs do not have any extra reinforced taped seams - presumably to save weight. The cuff width is a bit bigger than my other gis (see photo below):
Ripstop trousers are definitely an acquired taste. Some people cannot stand the waxy texture and overall stiffness of the material. The trousers are also less efficient in wicking away sweat and heat compared with twill cotton. It results in the trouser material sticking to the legs. Dirt seems to become ingrained into the fabric much easier and doesn’t wash off. But there’s no doubt they are light and they are strong. And to be fair, I’ve also read comments from users who state that they love ripstop trousers and can’t see what the fuss is all about. Me personally, I think the ripstop are okay, I mean if this was the only choice available then I would be fine with it, but since I do have a choice, I will always opt to wear basic twill cotton.
One thing I did notice was that the trouser seams were very well reinforced and there were four belt loops - always a plus in my book!
Comfort and fit
I honestly thought I had forgotten to pack my kit bag when I ran out to class such was the lightness of this gi. When I wore the gi during training, at first it seemed a bit weird, like I was wearing my wife’s fine cotton dressing gown (don’t ask how I know what her dressing gown feels like!). After a couple of rolls, I got a bit annoyed at the excess cloth hanging under my belt, and the easy manner in which the gi opened out and became undone. The result was, a lot of gi material flapping about.
It did have some benefits however. The easy availability of the excess skirt material meant I was able to apply gi skirt techniques on my opponents without too much faffing around. It was also a breath of fresh air to wear a gi that did not get so hot during an intense workout - air conditioning in clothed form! And quite surprisingly, it was very sturdy and held up to my opponents’ very vigorous attempts to tear me (and my gi) apart. Of course we’ll see if this is still in one piece after 6 months, but I was impressed with the construction and reinforcements..
This was my first experience with an ultra light uniform. I must say, whilst there was no fault in the gi design itself, I found it a little weird wearing it. Personally I am more used to thicker and stiffer pearl weave gis. Wearing the Grab and Pull all ripstop gi felt like wearing a very thin gold weave gi. The high degree of shrinkage allowed the A2 gi to fit me much better along the arm lengths and trouser lengths. However the jacket width and height did not shrink as much and remained too big for me. This made the excess material of the gi ‘flap around’ quite a bit when it came loose during rolling. The thick, waxy feel of the ripstop trousers are also an acquired taste in my opinion (as are all ripstop trousers). I personally prefer standard issue twill cotton trousers such as the ones found on the Vulkans or Tatami Fightwear Zero G models.
Having said all that, from what I hear speaking to people who own a Koral Light or Vulkan Ultra, they love the lightness of their gis very much. As well as being crucial for weight cutting, these gis also dry very quickly and are a boon during hot weather.
I am also informed by Gus, that they are researching methods of creating this gi in a 'pre-shrunk' form, so shrinkage will be less of an issue. I will update this article when such a product is released.
This gi is carefully designed for the tournament weight cutter and traveller. The amazing lightness of the gi does have drawbacks in terms of shrinkage issues and overall fit that some people (like me) might find awkward. However it is certainly a good quality item, perfectly able to withstand a lot of ragging around in the class and, given the price, is definitely worth considering against other ultra light models, such as the Koral Light and Vulkan Ultra.
Discount code for Meerkatsu readers
Grab and Pull are offering readers a 10% discount (which ends 1st November 2010) - just type MEERKATSU when purchasing on their website.
Credits and disclaimer
My thanks to Grab and Pull for supplying me with the rip stop gi. 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 please feel free to add a comment here and if you 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 ;) ****