27 Jan 2013

Gi Review: Enson Inoue 'Spirit of Japan' by Tatami Fightwear

Tatami remakes Enson Inoue's famous walk-out gi when he was a fighter in the Pride Fighting Championships. The quirky patch placements and inner rashguard lining make for an unusual looking gi, the heavy weight of all the adornments and odd sensation of a gigantic fit when worn (though in actual fact the stats reveal it is no bigger than any other Tatami gi) make for a gi that takes some getting used to.

I have worked in the past on a freelance basis to provide Tatami Fightwear with graphic and illustration design. I have had no contribution to this product.

Further Information
This gi will retail for £120GBP through Tatami Fightwear's website (and affiliated resellers) at the beginning of February (possibly even sooner).

Enson Inoue was one of the most revered MMA fighters of his generation. Read more about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enson_Inoue and take time to view his video interview here: http://www.scramblestuff.com/video-enson-inoue-documentary/
These days, Enson dedicates most of his time helping good causes, primarily towards the Japanese people who were affected by the devastating tsunami of 2011. The owners of Tatami Fightwear are big fans of Enson and wanted to recreate his famous Pride FC walk out gi. With Enson's blessing, the gi has finally (almost - it's actually not out until beg Feb) become a reality - proceeds of the gi sales will go to the relief fund for victims of the tsunami.

Photo by Susumu Naga - http://en.susumug.com/event/123/927/8

Size, Weight and Stats

Size sent to me was A1. I weigh 60Kg and am 168cm in height roughly.

                                      Brand new (cm)            Washed x3 at 40 degrees
A                                      162                                   160
B                                       77                                       76
C                                       58                                     57
D                                        16                                    16
E                                        50                                     49
F                                         94                                    93
G                                        21.5                                  21
Jacket weight: 1.4Kg
Trouser Weight: 0.5Kg

Stats discussion
Both the jacket and trouser dimensions for the Spirit gi are very much in line with other Tatami models I have reviewed, for example the Estilo purple. There is however is considerable difference in the feeling of the fit when it is worn, seemingly to feel a lot bigger. More on this issue is discussed later. However, the stats do not lie, this gi is pretty much the same size at A1 as it is on the Estilo gi. The shrinkage is minimal.

Weight is considerably heavier than standard pearlweave gis at A1. If you are used to lightweight gis averaging around 1.5KG then the total weight of 1.9Kg for the Spirit gi makes for a very hefty chunk of uniform.

The jacket is made from cotton pearlweave fabric (500gsm). Most of the patches are very close to exact replicas of the original walk-out gi that Enson wore in his Pride FC fighting days, apart from a couple of patches. I presume these were not cleared for use, instead, they are replaced with Tatami Fightwear patches. The complete package (see photo above) includes the gi, a gi bag, stickers, keyring and postcard with a message written by Enson Inoue.

The inside of the jacket is lined with a rashguard material lining. It is dye sub printed with a tattoo style koi design that I understand is Enson Inoue's personal logo.

Apart from the lining and the patches, the rest of the jacket is very much the same as their Estilo model. The cuffs for example are lined with comfortable and sturdy canvas cotton.

Reinforcements throughout the gi are again, the same high standard as found on the Estilo models. The rashguard appears to be very well stitched into the insides of the jacket.

Like previous Estilo models the trousers are made from a strong but not too thick canvas cotton fabric.
A good quality rope drawstring helps tie the waist  and the woven patches are stitched onto the material to a flawless standard.

As an aside, it's interesting to note the agreement between two unrelated gear companies - Fokai and Tatami - to appear with logos on one gi model. Fokai are from Guam and have been producing a number of very exciting products for several years. I'd certainly like to see more collaborations between them and other brands as it is hard to get hold of their stuff in the UK.

Those unfamiliar with who Enson Inoue is or who have not seen his walk out gi before may raise eyebrows at the odd patch placements, especially the diagonal one on the leg. It may be obvious, though still worth noting, due to the elbow patches and very low placement of the leg patch, this gi would not be legal under IBJJF tournament rules.

Rolling Performance
I wore this gi during a period of extremely cold weather here in the UK. Even then, I did feel that it was a rather hot gi to wear for me. The multiple layers built into the jacket for some reason really do trap the heat. This constrasts with normal gis and rashguards, which do a better job at transferring both heat and sweat away from my body. However the main observation I wanted to report is the immense 'fit' of the gi when worn on the body. It really felt like it was two sizes too big for me. And yet, my stats show, this gi is no bigger than my regular rotation Estilo gi, so why the discrepancy?

I can't really offer much of an explanation here. Couple other people who have worn this gi (or pre-production samples) have also mentioned the same. It just feels really really big and loose on the body. Having said that, it's not like the sleeves are ultra long so my opponent is not getting any extra advantage more than any other gi so during rolling, it did not present any problems. Over the couple weeks I have been rolling in this gi, I kind of got used to the size.

I have reported in previous reviews that I have not hugely enjoyed rolling in gis with built in rashguard linings. The extra weight and limited ability to conduct body heat away compared to standard non-rash gis does become an issue for me. Other users however have no such problems and in fact really enjoy their rashguard lined gis. If you are one of those people, then I can say the Enson Spirit of Japan gi here is about as good a gi as you can buy of this type. With the fine quality that Tatami Fightwear is known for plus the knowledge that revenue raised from the sale of this gi going to charity, then I would say it is certainly worth the money. Fans of Enson Inoue of course will need no excuses and will most definitely  love this piece of replica memorabilia.


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.



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