22 Sep 2013
A sumptuously well thought out and well-fitting gi, the Secret Weapon features a number of lovely stylistic touches and was a joy to wear. And gasp! Here was an A1 gi that had sleeve lengths that were actually perfect (read: long) for me!
I have no business or personal relations with Grips Athletics. This gi was sent to me on the understanding that my report will be based on my own experiences and opinions.
Prior to this review I had never heard of Grips before. When I mentioned their brand name on the Gi Addict Anonymous page several people testified to their amazing quality. Seems like the Secret Weapon 1.0 completely passed me by so I was left with receiving the 2.0. In addition, the people at Grips sent me a Primero, which I haven't worn yet but looks exactly like the Secret Weapon but stripped of all the fancy decorations and minus the extravagant torso section - more about that later.
Dimensions, Weight, Shrinkage and other Stats
Grips sent me a size A1 kimono. For the record, I weight around 59Kg and am around 167cm tall. I normally wear gis in A1 but due to my long arms, not all brands fit me quite as well in this region. This gi was worn and washed at 40 degrees and air dried.
A: 164cm / 161cm
B: 75cm / 74cm
C: 58cm / 58cm
D: 16cm / 15.5cm
E: 48cm / 48cm
F: 98cm / 98cm
G: 20.6cm / 20.5cm
Weight: Trousers 1.0Kg, Trousers 0.5Kg
Made in: China
Looking at the stats, there was barely any shrinkage after three 40 degree washes.
With a wingspan of 161cm the Secret Weapon A1 gi is lengthier than most of my other A1 gis post washing. The Estilo 4 for example (which I wear as one of my rotation gis) is 157cm. The pants, at 98 cm long are also a touch longer than most other gis - the Scramble Athlete for example being 95cm.
The jacket is a sprightly lightweight pearlweave number, very similar to brands such as the Tatami Zero G or the Scramble Athlete gis. What sets this gi immediately apart however is the multiple section tapered pattern of the jacket and the numerous attractive decorative inner patches.
The outside embroidery is minimal. The Grips branding is not the most elegant of logos but it's fairly simple and not too obtrusive.
The sleeve cuffs below feature the most comfortable and luxurious seam tape I have ever encountered. It might not seem like a big deal but countless previous gis I have reviewed have used cheaper scratchy seam tape that is abrasive on my skin. The Grips cuffs are folded over and perfectly smooth.
Inside the jacket there are three areas with an extra, rashguard-like, layer with printed art. Most notable is the inside of the jacket yoke, with a layer that wraps all the way around the neck and shoulder blades. The Grips website mentions CoolMax - I'm assuming the rashguard fabric is made from CoolMax, though the jacket label itself states the whole gi is antimicrobial treated. Users have claimed that the gi does not stink despite heavy usage. I can testify that this model did not smell but then that is not usually a problem I find with any of my other gis as I wash immediately after use and air dry.
Jiu Jitsu kimonos of yesteryear used to made according to the judo cut - thick upper portion of the jacket with a second lower 'skirt' made from thinner material. For quite a while now, I have only seen BJJ jackets made from a single piece. The Grips Secret Weapon 2.0 bucks that trend by incorporating a jacket made up from five pieces (as far as I can work out). This gives the impression of a tapered torso cut (though the overall shape is still largely rectangular when paid flat).
I'm not sure how much these pieces contribute to the 'fit' of the jacket, when I wore it, it seemed ok but not like it was figure hugging any more than my other A1 rotation gis. Still, style wise, it does give the appearance of a slimmer fit than a one piece gi.
The pants are made from very lightweight ripstop cotton. The outstanding feature here is the stretchy drawstring rope. It is marvellous! Easy to tie yet easy to untie, it does exactly what you want it to without coming apart mid-roll.
My only slightly minor quibble with the pants would be that the knee reinforcements do not extend down towards the ankle. Despite this, the knee layer does offer something unusual being made from the same CoolMax type fabric as the shoulder areas are made from.
More attractively decorated CoolMax fabric is featured on the inside gusset panel of the trousers.
I truly enjoyed rolling in this gi. It was slim without being tight and the sleeves are at just the right length for my particular dimensions (maybe even arguably a tiny bit too long). Being quite lightweight (which I prefer) working up a sweat and having to deal with a super drenched gi was not an issue. The added interior lining added a modicum of smoothness on contact with my skin, but without the burden of a fully lined rashguard gi. This gi dries fast after washing too.
I tested this gi every gi session I participated over a three and a half week period. This would not be long enough to ascertain the long term durability - something I will only find out with an update in about 6-9 months time.
The pants in particular were excellent to wear, though I would have liked a touch more room around the gusset area.
This is a gi that is slim fitting, lightweight and laden with beautiful artistic and functional touches. It is immediately obvious that a LOT of work went into the production and design. I really enjoyed rolling in this gi and will happily add it to my rotation.