5 Sept 2010

Gi Review: Roy Dean 'Honor' limited edition BJJ gi

Roy Dean Academy custom gi

A surprisingly lightweight single weave BJJ gi with an extraordinary price tag, the limited edition Roy Dean Academy 'honor' gi with custom embroidered Japanese calligraphy and contrast stitching is a collector's item for dedicated Roy Dean fans and lovers of discrete, traditional and tastefully designed gis.

I first slapped eyes on the Roy Dean Academy (RDA) gi in one of Roy's blog posts. He did not make any mention of the rather swishily embroidered gi, but with all the Japanese writing over it I assumed he had designed it and left it at that.

Then over the nest few weeks, pictures of it started to appear on the gi review forums - and there were two overriding topics of discussion: the cool design, and the slightly uncool price tag.

The gi is available from Budovideos.com and was originally priced with a jaw dropping tag of $249. It caused quite a stir (maybe that was the intention!) but I can see the logic of the high starting price. Roy commissioned master Japanese calligrapher Eri Takase to craft the words 'honor' (for the sleeves) and 'Brazil Jiu-Jitsu' (for the left trouser leg). By making it a small production run, the gi essentially becomes a limited edition collectors item and as such, can feel justified in commanding a higher fee than regular mass production gi models. It's now down to a more sensible $149.95 which puts it in line with most of the other premium level BJJ gis.

Photos from Budovideos.com

Size and Shrinkage
Interestingly, this gi is offered in traditional size categories: Size 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. So my size would be No.4 (equivalent to an A2), although when the gi arrived, it confusingly affixes the letter 'A' before the numeral to say 'A4' even though clearly, it is not an A4 when using the Brazilian size system! Anyway, a small observation, here are the shrinkage and weight stats:

Gi Map
Gi size chart
                      New        After x2 (40 degrees)
A:        165     156
B:         78       76
C:         58       55
D:        15.5     15
E:         27        26
F:         100     96.5
G:        52        51
H:        26.5     26
I:          40       38.5

Weight:   Jacket (1.1Kg), Trousers (0.67Kg), Total = 1.77Kg (3.9lbs)

Jacket Fabric
There is no formal description of the jacket fabric but it strongly looks like a regular judo single weave, sometimes known as 'rice' grain. This type of weave is light and comfy although not as densely woven as, say, a pearl weave, it might seem a little less sturdy.

SEY_6368 copy
Double weave close up and embroidery detail

Probably the most distinguishing feature of this gi is the Japanese embroidery. As mentioned in the intro, Roy commissioned master calligrapher Eri Takase to brush the strokes for his gi design. The arms have the words for 'honor' in kanji, and the leg is adorned with the words 'Jiu-Jitsu' in kanji, and 'of Brazil' in katakana.

Eri Takase calligraphy

The other notable aspects to the gi are the brown contrast stitching and Roy Dean Academy patch. I've noticed a recent trend for more and more BJJ uniforms to incorporate contrast stitching - it adds a little 'bling' factor to the design without falling foul of IBJJF regulations. In some gi designs I wonder if this is a good idea, but with the Roy Dean gi, the stitching is very artfully applied and is a very attractive, rich colour. The patch itself is tucked away behind the right calf leg and to be honest, is so discrete, no one would know it belonged to an actual academy.

light brown contrast stitching

The collar is soft and light. It does not contain the rubbery inner that most competition uniforms. I guess by comparison you could complain that the collar was thin - certainly compared to Keiko's, Atamas and most other leading brands - but I did not notice any problems when rolling.


I must say that after a couple of washes, the sleeves on the gi are perfect for me. The length of the arms shrunk to the perfect length and the width is neither too narrow or too wide. The cuff is triple stitched and lined with tape for extra reinforcement.

Great sleeves

In addition to the sleeves, there are ample reinforcements under the armpit, side vents and, a nice touch this, the bottom edge to the jacket.

Under arm reinforcements

Side vent reinforcement

The trousers are a fairly heavy twill pattern cotton fabric. The contrast stitching really comes to the fore here as it outlines the reinforced knee area and side stitching. The belt cord is flat and coloured the same rich brown as the stitching. I'm not too keen on the cord as it seems very thin and I much prefer thicker drawstring cords, but its a lovely colour.

Beautiful colour cord, a bit thin though
The ankles of the trousers are stitched with an impressive six rows of stitching.

Comfort and Fit
Wearing the gi in class I was surprised how light and comfortable it was. It felt as comfy as a gold weave and as light as my Vulkans. The design itself drew admiring gazes and positive comments without looking too intruding and conspicuous.

What? No stupid face making?

It's very hard trying to write an objective review on a gi intended solely as a limited edition collectors item. I could write a review saying it was an awful gi and it would make no difference because this gi is not designed to appeal to the mass market. Fans of Roy Dean will love it. Even if people do not know who Roy Dean is, there are not many gi brands on the market with specially commissioned Japanese calligraphy embroidered on the uniform, so I can see people buying it just because it is (a) limited edition and (b) tastefully classical in looks.

The very lightweight nature of the gi and the breathable nature of the fabric make it a practical gi, especially in warmer weather. I question whether such a gi would be suitable for day in day out regular training as it is quite thin, but then only time will tell I suppose.

The Roy Dean Honor gi is a remarkable combination of bling, without the bling. The design is subtle enough to melt into any academy regardless of affiliation and yet striking enough to draw flattering comments. The gi construction itself is fairly solid, light and comfortable. There are some nice touches regarding reinforcements - especially the sleeves and jacket body. The embroidery is unique and the limited edition status would reflect the (initially) high price. Overall, this is a lovely gi - and with the new lower price tag, an attractive proposition for someone looking for a discrete and tastefully designed BJJ uniform.

Credit and Disclaimer
My deepest thanks to Roy Dean who sent me this gi as a gift and did not ask for a review - but I couldn't resist it :)
Thanks to Christo from Fushida who advised me on technical issues concerning judo fabric weaves.

I am not sponsored by any one company nor do I endorse any brand. The views expressed in this website are my own opinions based on my own observations and personal sizing requirements.

If you like my gi reviews and end up buying a gi as a result - please mention my Meerkatsu blog to the vendor. I do not receive any royalties but it helps to spread the word and helps me with future reviews. Thanks!


About the Author


Author & Artist

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


Anonymous said...

Umm not that it makes much of a difference but the signs are kanji and katakana not only kanji ;)

Meerkatsu said...

Yes, i do mention that midway in the review, thanks

fenix said...

Thanks for your review.

I've been eyeballing this gi for a while. With the price drop and your review, my last bit of resistance melted away!


It's ordered :-)

André said...

How is it putting on other jackets now that you experienced the Fushida snuggness?

JayB said...

P-I-M-P...gives my "Elvis " gi a run for the money...
awesome review, yet again.

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks guys!

Andre, the Fushida and Roy Dean gis are two completely different kettles of fish. The komodo is a snug fitting tough armour plated warrior shield. The RDA is the dressing gown to wear to impress your lady friends after the battle is won ;)

AndrewWrites said...

Oh my gosh, that last comment is freaking GOLD!! Why didn't that make it into the article, ha ha ha?

The gi looks great, and the simplicity of it appeals to me (and probably to others that I train with) but for now I reckon I'll stick with the Fujis (the Target brand of BJJ kimonos).

I've heard on the grapevine that Gameness are bringing out a new line of ligh weight, summer gis. Might look into one of them for the warmer months.

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks Copland, I'm always torn when doing reviews - not to write them too jokey - but that is my instinct HAHA. But tbh, it's kinda true in this case, I'm saving the RDA gi for special occasions, like seminars and the komodo will be my winter armour.

I've always been curious about the Gamenesses. Some guys have them at class and they love them although they admit they do fall apart after a bit.

Unknown said...

Meerkatsu - How tall are you? I wear an A2G in the Komodo - you think I can squeeze into an size 4 honor if I wash it cold?

Unknown said...

Meerkatsu - How tall are you? I wear an A2G in the Komodo - you think I can squeeze into an size 4 honor if I wash it cold?

Meerkatsu said...

Hey Kristian,

I think you posted same question on my Sherdog review so if you go there you'll see my answer. Good luck hope it fits!

fusionmma said...

Thanks for review. I saw the gi for the 1st time in Roy Dean's 2nd degree BJJ exam. I even sent him a youtube message asking about the gi. I decide to google it and found your site.

Awesome review. Too bad is a little outside my price range

fenix said...

I got my new gi in the mail yesterday and it looks awfully good. I've washed it (at 30 deg C) and it's shrunk a teensy bit. It fits perfectly.

I have to thank you for the exact measurements you supplied pre and post washing. That made it much easier for me to decide which size to choose. Without your review I might have chosen the next size up.

I can't wait to wear it on the mat. It will go sweetly with my brand spanking new blue belt :-)

Thank you again for that thorough review!

Meerkatsu said...

Goodness CY what great comments, thanks so much. and well done on your blue. What a fantastic way to celebrate than with a limited edition Roy Dean gi, superb!
I figured when I get my brown, I will have to buy THE most expensive and sought after gi in the whole world...The Meerkatsu gi. hehehehe.

Anonymous said...

I had some insurance money from a burst water pipe last winter which wiped out nearly every thing we owned, including a Koral Gi. I read all your reveiws and they were really helpful and I replaced my Koral with the Roy Dean 'Honor' gi. It is a far better fit than the Koral ever was - whose A3s are too small and A4s too large. The Roy Dean shrank a little on the first few washes but as it arrived a smidge too big it is ideal right now. The fit is comfortable and great for rolling. I'm particularly taken with the styling. I'm really not a fan of the current Hip-hop and germanic far-right iconography which seems to be popular in BJJ and MMA at the moment. So the lack of flaming skulls, impaled with a viking sword is a plus. I wish more BJJ gi's used Japanese idiograms like the Roy Dean. It hasn't made my jits any better but it has recieved some nice comments in the gym but more importantly it is now my favourite gi because of the fit and styling. If all my stuff was destroyed by flood water again (please God no!) I would definately buy another. I also own a Manto gi, which is light weight and also excellent but not quite as good as the Roy Dean on fit and comfort - the extra £40 makes a difference. I compete at under-95kg and my weight is usually around the 91-92ky for tournaments so the Manto remains my comp gi due to its slightly lighter weight.

John Logan said...

Nice gi. If anyone is interested who has the gi. The words for honor written on this gi are pronounced "Meiyo" in Japanese.

Anonymous said...

How can I purchase one? Where?


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