If I had my way, this Xmas gift guide would be pretty short. It would simply say go buy the amazing products I sell over at my store: www.meerkatsu.com!
But of course, that would be terribly biased of me and a tad limiting - especially when you consider the sheer surplus of amazing goodies out there in the fightgear retail world. So here is my pick of the bunch based on having received the samples myself, and just the general niceness of the items I can see via photos and description:-
(all prices correct as of 7th December 2013)
Gi kimono uniform
Gis are the ultimate BJJ present - some people use this time of year to splash out and treat themselves to a brand new uniform. Here is my shortlist recommendations:
Strike Fightwear sent me a bunch of their latest gis, I haven't published my review yet but I can say for certain the HG13 gi (£68GBP) is a really good lightweight, inexpensive gi. I've been wearing the A1 for several weeks and I really love the fit, feel and lightness. Check them out here. A full review will be published here soon.
Grips Secret Weapon, Gawakoto Kimo-noh, Scramble Athlete, Aesthetic Berimbolo and Tatami Fightwear Estilo 4. All these gis have offered great quality, design and fit. But none of them are ultra cheap. If you want something really affordable, then the following might prove tempting:
Spider Jiu jitsu gi and Valor gi. The former retails for a wallet friendly £49.99 and the latter's basic white model is offered at £54. Both are British companies, I haven't reviewed or sampled either of them. For USA customers, if you can bear the surprise aspect of waiting each day for a new bargain to pop up, then BJJHQ still offers some very well priced deals. But if you prefer to just buy a cheap gi off the shelf, in the US, I recommend the Fuji All Around gi. It is basic and it shrinks a bit but at around $90 it is incredibly good value for a very solid gi.
Fancy splashing the cash? Fancy just flying with the wind and buying something utterly expensive and outrageous? You could try something from the OTM store. They offer various signature Lucky gis for $249 (£150). But that's nothing when it comes to eye-popping prices. Check out the Fuji Sports Nippon Edition BJJ gi. On MMAWarehouse, this little number retails for a jaw dropping $378.99!!!! (£230)...but hey, you get free shipping if you are based in the US.
I haven't reviewed too many rashguards in 2013 but one that did really shine out for me was the Bull Terrier/Gawakoto long sleeve. I don't know what they do to make this product so silky smooth and comfortable to wear but I absolutely love it - for both undergi and as a nogi top. You can buy it here for £35.
Something brand new that I haven't tried myself but definitely looks damned fine is the Scramble Coffee & Chokes long sleeve rashguard (£37.99).
Women have long been ignored or catered for poorly by the fightwear market. I'm glad to say this is changing a lot. One of the companies I have noticed placing a firm commitment on producing womens fightwear is Da Firma Kimono company, aka DFKC. Their products look fresh and are not just the same as the unisex patterns but are specific womens cut rashguards.
T-shirts are an ever changing market in the BJJ fashion/lifestyle world. Both Scramble and Gawakoto again offer unique, original and fresh designs. For Scramble, I really like the Sakuraba tribute t-shirt and for Gawakoto, their Toe-hold ninja offer a cheeky blend of humour and cool comic artwork.
Strike Fightwear sent me their Gentle Art hoodie and I must say I really like it. The hoodie is thick, warm and fits perfectly on me. The ink of the graphics are a bit sticky and plasticky but I like the sharp design. For £22 it is a real bargain!
I did some work for a new company, Combat Skin, but one of their t-shirts was not designed by me so I feel it's ok to give it a plug. It features the stunning work of artist Minoh Kim. You can get it here.
Accessories and misc BJJ products
I haven't tested or sampled any of these, but the following quirky items caught my eye:
BJJ belt Dog lead
The Green Gi Hemp belt
The fightwear and gear retail world is growing daily with thousands of products from hundreds of brands, the above is just a small snapshot. Have a great Xmas and I hope you all get what you wanted.