A colourful and flamboyantly designed gi by a company that wears its faith based ethos boldly on its sleeve. This gi is well constructed and incorporates a number of novel details in both styling and construction. It was fun to wear and drew many admiring responses from team mates.
Please note: the final model will differ from this review sample.
|Out of the bag: gi and bag!|
Sacrament Kimonos (based in Sacramento, California) rather uniquely brand themselves as a Christian fight wear company - which is novel to say the least and something I knew would excite some debate (I am non-religious btw).
Customers visiting their website are immediately greeted with a statement that "Sacrament Kimonos is a one of a kind gi company based on a common love for God, jiu jitsu and family." There is also some very loud reggae type music blasting away in the background.
Most companies tend to hide personal beliefs for fear of alienating a proportion of their customer base - but not Sacrament. This is brave. I'll discuss more about this topic later, but the main purpose here is to review their inaugural BJJ gi offering - the Enoch ($149.95), so let's begin with the stats...
Size, weight, shrinkage and other stats
|Click for full view|
|Sacrament Enoch gi jacket|
The jacket is made from 550gsm pearl weave, which is medium to medium heavy in the spectrum of most pearl weave gi tops. The collar has a rubber inner core which feels quite soft and spongy even before washing. The collar and lapels are covered with ripstop cotton. The interior of the jacket is screen printed with bright yellow Sacrament bear and star logos (note: this will not appear on the final production model). The sleeve cuffs are reinforced with ripstop seam tape - a sturdy and tough feature.
|Chest patch - a bit pixelated?|
|Yellow side vents with twill reinforcements|
|Cuffs reinforced with ripstop|
The Enoch is a blue gi with yellow stitching and yellow trim. It is a very bright and bold contrast-coloured system that can also be seen on a couple of other brands - notably the Ouano Premium Comp , except that the Sacrament seems a lot bluer, and lot yellower!
|SCreen printed inside logos - not on final model|
The gi carries a number of synthetic patches and embroidered logos. I personally love the bear and star logos, but those featuring the word 'Sacrament' seem a little too pixelated to me. The Sacrament website displays a version of the logo that is not pixellated, so I wonder if the factory did not get a decent vector file to use? Regardless it is still a striking and eye-catching design. My young daughter loved the bear logos and asked me if it was Yogi Bear? I of course replied that it was indeed and that both Yogi and Booboo were expert jiu jitsu practitioners!
|Embroidered bear logo on sleeve (not Yogi Bear)|
The trousers incorporate a number of details worth mentioning. For a start, there are six belt loops! I love numerous belt loops because I hate it when the trouser cord rides up higher than the hem of my trousers. The trouser tie itself is made from flat cotton twill, which I am less keen on - I prefer rope as this comes undone less often and is a lot more sturdy.
The trousers are made from 220gsm ripstop cotton but the gusset panel is very different - it is made from pearl weave gi material. It's also coloured a bright lemon yellow! Sacrament have told me that this crotch panel would not conform to IBJJF competition rules, so the final production model will be coloured blue - however it will still be made from pearl weave material.
|Pearl weave crotch panel (final model will be blue)|
|Rip stop trousers, embroidered logos|
|Ample gusset reinforcements|
|Triple stitched ankle cuffs|
When I turned up at my academy wearing the Enoch I was besieged by training pals who all wanted a closer look at this gi. The general consensus was that the jacket colours and styling looked wonderful but the yellow crotch gusset was off-putting.
This gi was big on me, I knew that from the start when I was told I was being sent an A2...most A2 gis are a little too big. Actually I found the jacket looseness to not be a problem but the trousers were pretty baggy and my opponents were able to grip it with ease. I would normally state that this gi is cut slightly big apart from one thing - the sleeve lengths. As you can see from the stats above, the total arm span after washing measures 154 cm long. Compare that to a randomly plucked A1 gi, say the Break Point Deluxe model, which measures 150 cm and you can see how little difference there is. So for this prototype, it appears that you have an A2 sized body width and length but only as A1 sized sleeve length. This could cause a problem when it comes to passing the gi checker at IBJJF comps. I presume Sacrament will tweak their final gi accordingly.
Overall however, I found the gi to be comfortable to wear and I quite liked the slightly softer, spongier collar. It felt pretty light to wear and I was only encumbered by the trouser bagginess issue. I have no doubt that if I had been sent an A1 with longer sleeve lengths, then this gi would have fitted me very well and would have been perfect to wear in class.
After three washes, I did notice that the little screen printed bear logos inside the jacket were flaking off - Sacrament Kimonos inform me that the final production model (which ships in late April-May) may not contain this detail. That is a shame in my opinion as I really liked them, but I presume there was an issue with trying to get the print to stay permanent so it was ditched. From my ownership of the Bull Terrier Star and Break Point gis, I'm pretty sure this can be achieved so maybe Sacrament can investigate this for future models...yes, I love inside screen printed jackets!
I also noticed the jacket itself faded unevenly in parts - especially along the creases, giving a slightly stone-washed or marbled effect - something I noticed on the Tatami navy pearlweave (under the 'colour' heading). Over time, I guess the fading will even out throughout the gi and look less stone washed. Possibly.
I was not going to originally discuss the company ethos in this review, but since posting preview photos on my Facebook page (please join by the way if you haven't already done so) there has been excited discussion about the mixture of religion with sport with BJJ so it's not really something I can ignore.
Sacrament themselves state that their company name was chosen for its dual meaning:
"We really set out to make a company that had a lot of the elements that meant the most to us. We are all from Sacramento, California so naturally the name took on two meanings right off the bat. We have a very strong pride in where we are from (California) and that explains the bear/star logo taken from the California flag. Our saying (Grace Through Submission), or "motto" if you will, takes on dual meanings as well. Not only does it take on the spiritual meaning of being saved by grace through our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins and in submitting your life to him, being blessed with the gift of eternal life, but it also takes on the literal meaning of submission with the sport as well... The definition of Sacrament is as follows:
A visible sign of an inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace.
This is who we are and the reason for why Sacrament is what it is today."
Some of the comments on my FB page suggested they would be turned off from buying a gi due to the (in their eyes) unsuitable mixing of religion with sport.
One commentator writes:
"I like the look of the gis but I cant help but feel linking jiu jitsu with Christianity seems a bit odd, I mean surely the only religion that could do that would be Japanese Shintoism - it's a samurai art after all. Plus I don't like the idea that this gi is essentially propaganda and I've always had the attitude that if you're doing jiu jitsu then leave work, other training ideals, religion etc off the mats."
Many others however reasoned that the gi itself was devoid of any obvious Christian messages (apart perhaps from the name itself) and most would have no problem wearing such a gi:
"even being of Jewish faith growing up (don't practice anymore), it wouldn't bother me too much about wearing it, and if it did I would SIMPLY NOT BUY IT."
Whether Sacrament chose to publicise their personal beliefs in order to bring exposure to their products (which is working!) or whether, as I believe, it was an honest statement of who they are, only Sacrament can say. Regardless of the messages, I think most people will buy this gi based squarely on whether they like the design or not.
As one Facebook follower stated:
"by some of this reasoning I shouldn't buy "Quaker" furniture (good hand built solid wood stuff) because it is better than what I can find elsewhere, I shouldn't get a "kosher" meal on a plane because it tastes better, I shouldn't get the salad bar because I'm not a Vegan and those ##$% hippies might take over the world...I guess I will just stick to companies/products whose sole "religion" is to take as much of my money as possible for the least effort."
|Note - this pic was before I washed the gi, so gi is bigger than it is now|
Despite Sacrament explaining the dual meanings behind their wording and imagery, it's still pretty hard to avoid when you log on and order from their website. It personally does not bother me the slightest, in fact I think it's pretty bold of them to make such a statement and I warm to (what I perceive to be) their honesty. Most potential customers will probably bypass the faith-based statements and base their buying decision on one thing - the bright and imaginative styling of the Sacrament gi models. Many will love the bold colours and many will be deterred. My view is that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uniforms should reflect the colourful cultural heritage of its namesake - and the Enoch certainly fulfils that brief. More importantly, Sacrament have not forgotten about the functional aspects of the gi and have ensured that it is made with good materials and tough reinforcements. I have little doubt that it will hold up to rigorous and frequent usage. I can only assume that their final full production models will be tweaked to fix the issues I discussed above.
Customers can pre-order the Enoch and other products made by Sacrament Kimonos from their website:
Please remember that this review is a sample of their pre-production prototype and the final version will differ in several aspects.
CREDIT AND DISCLOSURES
My thanks to Sacrament Kimonos for offering me the chance to be the first person to officially review this gi.
This review represents my own opinions. I am not an expert in textiles or clothing etc, just a regular BJJ student who likes a few BJJ gis (okay a lot). I consider myself independent and impartial - I am not sponsored by any one company nor do I endorse any one brand. I have a close dialogue with a large number of gi makers and sellers, some of whom I collaborate with on various projects that are unconnected with this review. If you have any questions about this review, please feel free to email me (see About Me) or post a comment below. I hope this review was helpful.