3 Nov 2010

Gi Review: Masaru Fight Co, BJJ Kimono in blue

New fightwear brand Masaru launch their debut BJJ gi alongside star name endorsements. With a decent pearl weave fabric, light weight and sensible cut, this gi promises much and delivers in most areas. However my review sample exhibited several quality control issues and I was not convinced by the quirky logo designs.

Earlier in the year someone emailed me. Hey, they said, have you heard about this new gi company with Roger and Braulio endorsing it? Wow I thought this was amazing news - I mean two of the planet’s biggest BJJ stars endorsing a gi brand no one had ever heard of? I had to find out more. And several emails later, I found out how Masaru is the fightwear brand fronted by Victor Estima, younger brother of Braulio, and Rick Cooke. The brand launched by sponsoring the BJJ British Open this year and look set to make a name for themselves by signing up to sponsor a clutch of major BJJ stars who form Team Masaru. They clearly mean big business.

Masaru kindly sent me their pre-production blue gi in size A2. I was informed by the Masaru rep that the item sent to me would be pretty much what the final version would look like except that the trousers in the final version would be one inch longer than my sample.

Size, weight, shrinkage and other stats

Jacket fabric and cut
The Masaru jacket is made from light weight pearl weave cotton - very similar to a Koral gi. It was a little rough at first, but after several washes softened up. After a little shrinkage in the wash, the A2 jacket fitted me very similarly to my Vulkan Pro Light A2 - which is to say it is a bit baggy around the chest and under the arms but the arm lengths are acceptable. It is a smaller A2 fit than say the Tatami Fightwear Zero G or the Koral Classic.

My sample gi had a copious number of loose threads, thread overruns and stray strands of fabric sticking out of the seams. On their own I doubt they would affect durability but I just consider them to look a little sloppy when viewed up close and not something I expected from a £95 kimono.

I questioned the Masaru sales rep on this and he noted that I probably was unlucky to have received a bad sample and assured me that the final production gi would address these issues. But there was another, more serious defect that I spotted which I’ll explain further in the sleeves section.

Styling and patches
The gi jacket is plastered with ‘Masaru’ patches and logos everywhere. It has shoulder patches, logo’ed reinforcement seams and a giant embroidered patch on the back. Masaru, I am told, is Japanese for ‘Victory’ and the design was a collaborative work between the Masaru Team and a designer friend who, in their words, were ‘looking for something a little quirky that people would remember and come to associate with the brand.’

I personally find the design of the Masaru logo to be, well the nicest thing I can say about it is, ‘eccentric’. I’ll be frank here - I really don’t like it. But I was curious what others thought and I emailed a few friends for their opinions. Some, like me objected strongly to the design, others thought it was distinctive but weak, and a very few actually proclaimed it to be an original and funkily attractive piece of work! So I’ll leave you to make your own mind on that one..

The Masaru jacket collar and lapels contain a rubberised inner core and is covered with canvas cotton - a much tougher material than the more ubiquitous twill cotton. It is reasonably thick [comparison photo] and in keeping with the thickness from other brands.

The sleeves of the Masaru were a little bit long for me, not unusual for an A2 sized gi, but certainly within my tolerance limits. I think an A1 would have been too small for me. The sleeve width is on a par with other gis [comparison photo] and is not too wide nor too narrow.

The cuffs are supported by a taped seam that is decorated with the Masaru logos. The right sleeve reinforcement seam was not stitched on correctly and the cuff began to fall apart after just two washes.

I consider this to be a serious quality control defect and cause for a replacement or refund from the manufacturer. The sleeves are one of the biggest stress points on the gi jacket and anyone playing spider guard against me would have ripped the entire cuff apart sooner or later. Not acceptable.

[Note: the final production gi will have trousers one inch longer than my sample]
The trousers are made from a tough canvas cotton - not as thick as the Tatami Fightwear Estilo, but thicker than a standard twill cotton pair. The trousers are held together by flat cotton drawstring. I prefer rope cords, as I found the drawstring to come apart often. The sides of the legs are decorated with a thin strip of logo’ed tape.

Rolling comfort, fit and discussion
I don’t want to give the impression that this is a bad gi. It’s not. In terms of the fit and comfort, the Masaru gi performs perfectly fine - it’s on a par with any one of the leading brands of gis out there. The A2 was a little baggy around my torso and the sleeves were a touch long, but it was light, comfortable and I managed to train without any problems.

Despite its perfectly adequate on the mat performance, I don’t know what it is, but the Masaru is just not a gi I could really get to love. Sure there were the quality control issues (and I hope that the final production version will not have those), maybe it’s the branding thing...I don’t know. It’s just never going to be a gi that I’m dying to wear out of my current rotation of gis.

This gi presented me with a reviewing conundrum. Do I highlight the quality control issues or not? The sample sent to me was from a batch of only 100 pre-production models made and the final version, I was assured, would be better. However, I can only base my judgements on the item that is sent to me, not what a manufacturer might say is hiding in their store room or factory. I’m afraid that this gi, at least the one that was sent to me, simply did not deliver in terms of the quality of construction that I expect from any gi, let alone one that costs nearly £100. The dozens of loose threads and strands of fabric littering the seams is sloppy workmanship. But, to be fair, I have to state, Masaru say their final production model, which is the model you buy when you order from their website will not suffer these quality control issues. As far as the general cut, fabric and weight of the gi are concerned, the Masaru is up there with many of the big name brands but I personally did not like the styling of the logo and patches.

Credit and Disclaimer
Thank you to Masaru for sending me their review sample gi. I am not sponsored by any company nor do I endorse any brand. My views are my own unbiased, independent opinions. If you like what you've read, please add a comment. If you go on to buy a gi based on my review, please tell the vendor. This helps me bring you more reviews. Ta!


About the Author


Author & Artist

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


Ishak said...

Diplomatically done, Seymour. Nice impartial review.

slideyfoot said...

Yeah, good work on the objectivity: I hope they take your criticisms on board and improve the final product.

André said...

Verdi nice my fren. Classy and objective.

SkinnyD said...

I'm sure especially after this review they'll take the quality control up a couple of notches...but it sort of begs the question - why would they send you, a very popular gi reviewer, a sample that has defects? Serious oversight there.

Meerkatsu said...

The answer is pretty simple Daniel - they don't actually read my reviews. Or at least not in any detail. So they don't realise just how much scrutiny I put into a gi review. I really will highlight any errant stitch or wonky patch. People see my photos and think, ooh nice! but the photos are there to illustrate a point I am raising in the copy.

anyway, that's the last gi review for a while I think. No more in the pipeline.

André said...

No K2 waiting in the sidelines?

Galo said...

No more Gi reviews in the pipeline? I was hoping you'd have the Break Point Gi lined up that they're selling on Made4fighters.com. Looks pretty unique.

Meerkatsu said...

Ooh forgot about the K2...well the full production model should be out next month, I'll see if I can wangle a review sample. The goldweave was ace, but K2 is ditching that for a pearl weave so I'd be interested in seeing how the final version compares.

No Galo, sorry but MAde4Fighters don't make much margin on th Breakpoints so I'd have to buy that one. Thanks for the tip however. I might drop Breakpoint a line early next year with some marketing ideas ;)
Watch this space!

Brendan said...

Nice review, very well written.

JiuJitsu4life1980 said...

I would have been a lot more interested in seeing the sizing and material comparisons from pants and jackets of other brands. Instead it was 1 pic like that, and the entire rest of the review about random threads on a pre production model. Heard of a needle and thread? Sometimes I am really ashamed to be an American in this sport. Such a bunch of whiney know it all knit pickers. Mike Butler Madison, VA jiujitsu4life@yahoo.com

JiuJitsu4life1980 said...

The review was 85% about insignificant threads, and your oppinion of the patches. What's about the size, and material comparisons. Terrible whiney review. Prob an internet blue belt.
Mike Butler JiuJitsu4life@yahoo.com

Meerkatsu said...

You gi fetishist hahahaha.


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