1 Jul 2010

Confessions of a gi-addict: Part Two

In Part One we interrupted our new member of the gi-addicts anonymous clinic. Without further ado, let us allow brother James to continue his gi addict confessional...

Confessions of a gi-addict (Part Two)

By James Carey

Mount Fuji

2007 was a barren year for me gi-wise. A lot of time was spent looking at them, comparing all the various makes out on the market, contemplating buying another, but in the end, no purchases were made. At this point I would have described myself as more of a gi enthusiast than an addict, but that would very soon change…

Now with the loss of the Sirius, that left me still with only one gi that I was really happy with (my white Koral), and 4 others that fitted me kinda ok, but not great (my 2 Ouanos, the Atama and the Blue Koral). So obviously another one was needed. Gi number 7 was duly purchased in Jan 2008, and that was a Fuji.

The Fuji was a lovely gi - soft, excellent thick collar, great pants… but the jacket fit wasn’t quite right. Sleeve length was great, but annoyingly, the sleeves were a tad too wide for my liking. And that bugged me. It didn’t interfere with my training or anything like that, it just vexed me that the Fuji didn’t fit exactly how I wanted it too. So I still only possessed one perfect gi, and 5 imperfect ones.

Mount Canada
Next up was a Toraki BJJ gi. Toraki are a Canadian company who make Judo gis, but have branched out into the BJJ market. I picked this one up at Seni 2008 when I went down to watch the Gracie Invitational. I’d seen a post a couple of evenings earlier on the Cagewarriors forum from MMA fighter and Judoka Chris Milward, espousing the quality of Toraki Judo gis and that they were going to have a stall at Seni and had brought over some of their new BJJ line. So I went over, and of course bought a gi.
Toraki are shrink to fit, but they’d brought over some that had already been washed, which was a huge help in finding a good fit and persuaded me to run immediately to the nearest cash machine. The Toraki is the perfect mix of Judo and BJJ – Judo construction and quality, with a really trim BJJ cut. There’s no way my Toraki would pass muster at an IBJJF comp, but I love it all the same.

So that’s 2 perfect gis, and 5 not so good. But when Shoyoroll announced in mid 2008 that they were releasing a comp legal gi, I had to have it. I’d read all the reviews of the previous batch, and I’d actually enquired about buying one of their earlier models in 2007, but had no luck. So after much stress over sizing and a gi going missing during shipping, I finally laid my hands on a Shoyoroll Batch 4 (white with yellow trim) in Jan 2009.

God it was pretty. And big. It made me glad that the A2 I had originally ordered went missing in the post and that Vince from SYR had been happy to send an A1 as a replacement. So I did the whole boiling/shrinking thing and the result was… a lovely gi that doesn’t fit quite how I’d like. I mean the fit is almost there, it just needs to lose an inch in all directions to be perfect. But it’s a thing of beauty, so I can live with the shortcomings, especially as once again it isn’t a common gi.

So it’s early 2009, and I’ve got 7 gis (I’d sold the white Ouano in late 2008). Time to pick up speed. I sold my Fuji and my blue Koral to teammates as I wasn’t wearing them anymore, leaving me with 5, which is a very reasonable number for the average BJJer. However in 2008 Koral decide to toy with my emotions and release a lightweight gi. Now when I had 8 gis, I couldn’t justify having another gi, but now that I’d sold some, well I’d be stupid not to get one, especially as the preshrunk nature of Korals meant that I had a pretty high chance of getting a good fit (though my experience of my blue Koral was in the back of my mind) So I got the white Koral Light. Great fit, absolutely no complaints whatsoever. And then I remembered that I was heading back to LA in Sept, and as it’s hot out there it would make perfect sense to get the blue Koral Light. I mean, it’s logical, right? So I bought one of those too.

Then during the summer Shoyoroll announce 2 more new gi models. A white with grey trim, and a blue with grey trim. And in my head they were calling me...taunting me...telling me to order them. Which I did, obviously! And they fit great, better than my first SYR, but still not that absolute perfection that I’ve been looking for, though that’s probably me being stupidly fussy.

Fu's Gold

In early Jan this year I saw a thread on Sherdog about a company I’d only previously heard about on Judo forums - Fushida. Like Toraki, they’re a Canadian Judo company who’ve now branched out. The price looked really good, but what really won me over was the customer service when it came to helping me find a good fit. Sure, there was the usual size chart, but Fushida actually ask you to send a series of measurements, and then they work out the best fit for you.

It’s like they’d heard my prayers about sizing. Gi sizing is the one thing I hate about buying gis. 99% of BJJ companies provide a crappy chart of rough sizes and that’s about it. Compare that to a lot of Judo companies who provide all the dimensions on a gi. It’s not like they don’t have the info – it’s on the pattern they gave to the factory in China/Pakistan/wherever. Or why can’t they all be preshrunk? If Koral can do it, why not anybody else? How crazy are we that we happily pay over £100 for something that’s either too big, or after a couple of washes won’t fit at all? Or are we just stupid in that we keep going back to these companies, rather than going to someone more helpful?

Er, anyway, rant over – back to the Fushida. They took my measurements (and that of my fave other gi – the Blue Koral Light), and responded with their recommendation within 20 mins. And with that, I placed my order. When it arrived, it fitted me perfectly. Just like a Saville Row suit, handmade perfection. Unbelievable!

So there you go, I’ve found it. My perfect gi. It’s everything I want in a gi. Perfect fit, not flashy, and no one’s heard of them. Classic plain white, and with a fit so good you’d have thought it was made to measure. Does that mean I won’t be buying any more gis? Well when the Fushida arrived I thought my buying days were over. But if Fushida release a blue version of my gi, then I might be persuaded to get the credit card out again. And Shoyoroll do have another gi coming soon too….

Here's the full list of all the gis I've ever owned:

  • Chien Judo - £35 (bought in person)
  • White A2 Ouano - £95 (inc US overseas postage)
  • Blue A2 Ouano - £80 (bought in person)
  • Blue A2 Atama - £35 (bought 2nd hand with Domyos Judo gi)
  • Domyos Judo gi (see above for price)
  • White A1 Koral - £90 (inc UK postage)
  • Blue A1 Koral - £80 (bought in person)
  • White A2 Sirius - £60 (inc US postage)
  • White Adidas Judo - £20 (2nd hand off Ebay)
  • White A2 Fuji - £65 (inc US overseas postage)
  • Blue A1 Toraki - £70 (bought in person)
  • White Adidas Judo - £0 (club gi)
  • White A1 Shoyoroll Batch 4 - £100 (inc US overseas postage)
  • White A1 Koral Light - £90 (inc UK postage)
  • Blue A2 Koral Light - £100 (inc UK postage)
  • White A2 Faixa Rua Leve - £0 (donated for review)
  • White A1 Shoyoroll Ripstock - £150 (inc US overseas postage + customs)
  • Blue A1 Shoyoroll Superlite - £150 (inc US overseas postage + customs)
  • White A1 Fushida Mantis - £100 (inc Canadian overseas postage + customs)

The meeting ends. Chairs are stacked away and the members leave silently, disappearing into the darkness of the night. Tonight, they will all dream of their perfect gi and of their new hero - James, the gi-addict.


My thanks to James for taking the time to contribute his essay. I've enjoyed reading it and hope you have too. In between browsing for new gis, James Carey does actually train too - at BJJ School in London and he also frequents the various BJJ forums under the alias 'Sir Tapsalot'.


About the Author


Author & Artist

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


André said...

Blue and Black Fushidas should be "coming soon"... ;)

Georgette said...

OMG. I'm so relieved. I have gone through MUCH the same process!

"Hi, my name's Georgette, I have owned 20 gis in under two years, still have 15, and I'm a gi addict."

Now, I need to try this Fushida thing you mentioned!

LUKE said...

Great write-up as I too have gone through more gis than I'd like to admit to in search of the perfect fit. I've even produced my own gi which was an expensive lesson but am working with a different manufacturing, hoping for better results.

On one end I am looking to produce a quality product that won't break the bank but it's been a huge project in trial and error to fit so many different body types.

For me it's either been the top fits great but the pants suck and vice-versa. Gis that start out great but over time become too small or short.

Love the attention to detail you have in all your posts. Will check out Fushida.


James said...

Thanks for the kind comments guys.

Georgette - 20 gis in 2 years?! I'm very impressed!!!

Liam H Wandi said...

Noooooo it can't be overrrrr!!!!

This was so great to read!!

I've owned a grand total of 4 gi's (in 5 years) of training. I did spend 3 years in the middle just doing no-gi but still!

These storys are great to read!

Liam H Wandi said...

Haha I just realised I just wrote great great great :0)

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks for comments guys.

Okay, my confessional time:

Mkimonos goldweave
Atama Mundial #1 goldweave
Atama single weave
Atama goldweave (not mundial)
Vulkan Pro Light in white
Vulkan Pro Light in black
Black Eagle singleweave
Tatami Zero G
Malvado fightwear gi (old model)
TUFF single weave
Faixa Rua - pearlweave
Faixa Rua - Classico
Koral classic (original model)
Vangaard red (wait for review!)
...plus two prototypes I am testing.

so that's 16 gis in total over a 7 year period. I'm sure I've missed one or two.

1. Tatami Fightwear Zero g in black
but an A1 this time as the A2 was too big.

2. Atama Mundial - the very latest one - will is be as good as my first ever Atama (which shrunk too muc sadly)

3. MKimonos - I loved this gi. I will learn to buy a bigger size though, and wash it cold water.

Ah heck who am I kidding...I basically want to try every gi brand in the world.

Tartovski said...

You wear them so I don't have to...

I own 2 gis. And I already feel guilty about thinking about buying a third. :/

Meerkatsu said...

Any BJJ gi costing more than £50 is a luxury purchase imo. So obviously buying into a brand is all part of the marketing thing doing its job on you. Having said that, nice gis do make you feel happy...for a few days anyway.

James said...

Hmmm, a wishlist...

Gis I'd happily buy right now:
White Toraki BJJ gi
Blue Fushida Mantis
Whatever the next white Shoyoroll is.

Gis I'd like to try, but not (yet) tempted to buy:
Vulkan Pro Light
Atama Summer Weave
Isami Superfly

None of the UK brands really interest me. Style wise they don't really do anything for me, though the A1 Black Eagle Singleweave fits me like a glove, and is much better then I expected (tried on a teammate's one and was hugely impressed).

André said...

For me, anything over one gi for each training session per week is just too much. This includes one gi for each use, say two for hot days and competition (one white, one blue/black), two regular ones (I'd say gold weave one why one blue/black) and a heavy double weave judogi for sadomasochistic uses (doubling as punishment training and protection for the 'corredor' if promotion is on the horizon) :)
On top of that maybe just a pink gi to go with the mouth guard.

But I'm not too picky on fit so I wouldn't have trouble collecting about five gis. And I won't.

Meerkatsu said...

Don't worry Andre, the gi-buying bug will creep up on you when you least expect or can afford it...I'll reserve a seat at our next Gi Addicts Anon meeting ;)

André said...

I will never admit it!!!!

LUKE said...


My name is Luke and I am a gi-addict. It's been 10 days since my last gi purchase.

Koral classic (white, A3)
*my first gi back in 2005, sleeves and pants too long

Atama Gold-weave (blue, A3)
*i still wear this gi today but the collar is falling apart like Ryu's gi and the pants have ripped in several places, all held together with patches

Koral MKM (blue, A2)
*out of the bag perfect fit but within 3 months the lapel and gi-top shrunk too much and was soon labeled a 'cheater gi' at my academy. pants are my favorite cut but production was/is poor and i got rid of both

Keiko Raca (limited white, A3)
*the gi top was good at first but soon it got too tight in the ribs and was not a fan of how it opens so much in the torso area. the pants were very tight over my thighs and much too long for my legs. gave this one away after a year

Faixa Preta (white, A3)
*i believe this a Keiko Raca gi but made for the Japanese market. same problem as my koral classic, too long in sleeves and pants but very well made gi with super comfortable fabric

KF (blue, A3)
*super strong and stiff gi. right away I had a seamstress friend hem both the sleeves and pants for me. wears well but fits more like a judo gi after being altered. unfortunately i lost this one when moving apartments

Koral Classic (black, A3)
*not sure why I bought this again and not in an A2 this time. same problem, ended up giving this to my brother that eventually quit training and gave this away to someone else

Ouano (99 white, A3)
*top fits well but had problems with the skirt being too short, similar to Koral MKM problem. the pant fabric is a bit heavy for my taste and much too tight in the thighs, i have big thighs. drawstring broke within a year, the top is at my in-laws so that don't have to travel with gi

MKimonos (hybrid white, A2)
*really excited for this gi and i have to say it's an excellent gi had it not shrank like a mo-fo. out of the bag the sleeve lengths were iffy and by a few washes they were up midway my forearms. pants, by far my favorite of all pants but i have also left this in cali at my in-laws

Vulkan (lite white, A3)
*3x times stupid i buy this one at A3 and run into same problem with sleeve and pant lengths. covers my body well but didn't bother hemming these and sold to a teammate...

LUKE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LUKE said...


Howard Combat Kimonos (2x single-weave, 5-top/4-pant)
*love the option that I can have different sized top to bottoms on this. i wear a 5-top and 4-pant and eventually bought two of these. still in rotation and they will probably never fall apart.

Storm Kimonos (black, A3)
*a revamped brand from the old days in Brazil this one has a lot of the modern day details. A2 probably would have been a better size for me as its baggy in the armpit/chest area and long in the pants

Shoyoroll (#6 white, A2)
*one of my favorite tops as the sleeve length is good as well as the fit and mobility around the chest but wish the skirt was just a touch longer. i'm sure the A3 would solve that problem but then i'd have trouble with the sleeves. pants are longer than i prefer and tight in the tighs. i busted the pants soon after getting them but Vince hooked me up with a replacement, excellent customer service at SYR

OTM (blank white, A2)
*before they put the 'otm' embroidery on the sleeves. my dream gi of a completely blank gi but shrunk to an A1 size and it was already tight to begin with

Samulime Kimono (white, A3)
*the first batch of these gis from Hong Kong over a year ago. unfortunately same problem as the Koral Classic with lengths but still a good gi

KDTA Kimono (blue, A3)
*academy gi from Malaysia/ fits like an Atama with ripstop details for pants and lapel. pant length problem again and skirt is a touch too long for my liking

BJJ-ASIA kimonos (own brand, A3)
*my first attempt at gi production working with pakistani supplier. huge lesson in what not to do and how much work it takes to get things right and not lose your mind. cut is like a Koral but lengths like an Atama. i don't like the pant fabric and cut is similar to old school judo cut. the gi probably shrinks far too much which is another long story. i like the gi top and the fabric is nice but shrunk way more than the supplier claimed it would which is one part of my issues. these are sold out and i have made good on all issues that have been brought to my attention to the best of my ability

SEABJJ Kimono (new project, TBA)
*small run with different supplier and only for Bangkok BJJ


*Bull Terrier
*new Shoyoroll
*i may even try an MKM again but in A3

LUKE said...

sorry for the long long post but had to exercise some gi-demons. i feel much better now.

Meerkatsu said...

Luke man.... I am not worthy!

Hehe thanks for your post, it made me smile!

LUKE said...

I forgot one more.

Kaui Kimonos (all rip stop, A3 in black)
*Buddy of mine produces these gis in Bali. They are not IBJJF legal so it's left to train and travel with. Due to how light it is, it's one of the most comfortable gis to wear. My only complaint the pants are a bit long for my short legs. Felipe Costa is sporting their test pearl-weave gis. Am not sure when these will be available to the public but the all-rip-stops are great.

PS- I'm looking into the sizing with Fushida.

LUKE said...

Correction: Felip Costa is sporting their test 'goldweave' gi. He's worn them at the recent Mundials.

Junior Familia said...

GREAT ARTICLE!! Im a proud owner of 7 gis with an 8th on the way =)
Darn and i just bought a troia gi..i would definitely love to check out Fushida =)

Anyone have any experience with Troia Gi's ?

Anonymous said...

My name is Saeed, and I'm a gi-addict. Since the day I started training, I have searched for the "perfect gi". Main areas of emphasis have been: hardest to grab collar, weight, and comfort. I am guilty of trying many gis in training, only to sell them on ebay or give them away to family. Some just didn't feel right, so I got rid of them.

These are my transgressions.
Atama Mundial 7
Atama double weave white
Atama double weave black
Breakpoint lite weight
Datsusara titanium weave
Dax Moskito
Dragao Arm lock
Fuji BJJ Single weave
Fuji Judo double weave
Fushida Icon Judo double
Fushida Tournament
Ground Control ultra lite
Gameness Plat
HCK comp single
HCK single weave
HCK comp double
HCK absolute
HCK hot weather
HCK single weave unbleached
Isami Reversal gi
Keiko Raca limited white
Keiko Raca limited black
Mizuno Eurocomp
Padilla and Sons hot weather
Ronin Judo Single weave
Ronin Gold weave white
Ronin single weave unbleached
Reevo Kimura
Sirius Ultra lite white
Sirius Gold black
Sirius Gold weave white
Interested in: Fushida Mantis, HCK comp lite. I think my favorite heavy gi was the Fushida Icon. Crazy stiff collar, excellent fit(sent in measurements), brushed cotton(very comfy yet made it really hot), well-reinforced, and great price. Fave light gi was the Keiko- rubber collar was nice and thick, comfy on the inside, fit well after shrinking. I'm also growing fond of the HCK hot weather gi.

I haven't bought a gi in almost 2 weeks, and I'm living day to day.lol My last purchase was a Ronin single unbleached Judo gi for $38, to remind myself that skill, not the gi, makes the difference. The collection is getting downsized. Great blog, Meerkat.

Meerkatsu said...

OMG, ladies and gentlemen, we have a new champion.
I counted, what...31 gis. Dude - we really DO need to set up a GAA clinic in your area LOL!!!!

LUKE said...


I am both relieved and jealous, hahaha. Saeed, we're here for ya brah.

Anonymous said...

Saeed, tell me more about the howards. I'm thinking of getting one. I had the fushida komodo but the pants ripped after six months and the top shrank a full size-plus after putting it in the dryer.

Anonymous said...

I am primarily a judo player that also trains at a BJJ club. I have always bought judo gis but can't stand how ridiculously baggy the cut can be (like wearing Obi Wan's jedi robes). I like the Toraki gold BJJ gi. Great fit, high quality, and super minimalist appearance. Most important is that other than fitting like a nice suit, you cannot tell that it is for BJJ, so I can wear it in judo without anyone questioning whether it meets judo competition rules and complaining about excess patches and designs. My opinion is that it is the best cross training gi available.


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