5 May 2011

Gi Review: Pin-Up Gi by Tatami Fightwear

Eagerly anticipated contest winning design entry finally arrives and is worth the wait. The cool grey gi fabric and novel stripey inner lining already make this gi stand out above the crowd. The pin up logo and subtle red trim add up to quite possibly one of the finest looking gis on the market today.

This gi is the product of a winning design from a contest that I devised last year and sponsored by Tatami Fightwear. I was among the judging panel that shortlisted this gi design, which was eventually voted most favourite by members of the public. I have not profited from this contest in any way and I am not sponsored by any company.

BOOBIES! Yup, that's what is most obvious about Evan Mannweiler's pin up girl design on this gi. There's absolutely no hiding it, she is a well endowed lady. This gi then, is clearly aimed at the lads. Sorry girls.

When I and fellow blogger Liam Wandi (Part Time Grappler) devised the Design Your Own Crazy Gi Contest last year, we never expected it to be such a massive success as it was. I counted over 450 entries from folk all around the world. It was big news on other blog sites and I was even a guest on the venerable Fightworks Podcast internet radio show.

Before I begin, I dropped Evan Mannweiler a line to ask how he felt about winning the contest and his thoughts on the winning gi design, finally making it onto the shelves as an actual gi that people can buy:

" The gi...I'm excited!! In the past I've never really considered my designs/illustrations/art/whatever real until they become a physical object. For example, I've done a fair amount of illustration over the last few years, most of it digital. I can spend 18-20 hours on a drawing but until I go out and pick it up from the news stand it doesn't feel like it matters. The gi is the same way- the design is one thing but the excitement of doing something with it blows that out of the water. As an artist, I'm used to being really hands on with materials and production so right now I'm definitely nervous and a bit out of sorts about seeing how someone else handled my design. Tatami has until recently had little to no presence in the American market (at least that I've encountered) so I really don't know what to expect from them in terms of the feel and construction of the gi. My apprehensions are multiplied because I know they had to really stretch themselves to accomplish some of the things we wanted to with this design. Everything I've read about their gis has helped put me at ease though.

The real shame of it is that the academy I train at is very...conservative...so much so that I won't even be able to wear my own gi there! Some instructors in the area that I know and train a lot with have welcomed it though; she'll still see some action.

I am really excited to see the thing in action - tell your readers they can feel free to send me pictures of the gi in the wild! Like seeing and illustration on the news stand, seeing the thing in use by real life human beings is the real point for me. Some guys at Marcelo Garcia's Academy already promised me photos when they get in (what's up Craig!)."

Wow! Can you believe that? Evan most likely will not be able to wear his own wonderful creation in BJJ class!

Size, Weight and other info
A full shrinkage chart will be published here in due course. In the meantime, I can tell you that the A1 gi weighs 1.9Kg in total. The Pin Up gi is based heavily on the Estilo model so should fit exactly the same. See my previous reviews of the Estilo in navy and white for some idea of how the Pin Up gi will fit.

One of the reasons that Evans' design stood out among the 450 entries we had to the Crazy Gi Contest was that it was cool, simple and original. Evan stated that his Pin Up girl has been something that he has been playing with for a long time and when the contest opportunity arrived, he felt it was the right platform to finally reveal his lady. I'm rather glad he did. The lady herself is certainly not a shy creature!

Tatami Fightwear have kept pretty much as faithful to the original design as possible, with the addition of a few small branded tags. The Pin Up lady herself is embroidered directly onto the gi back. It is immaculately finished with not a stitch out of place.

Interestingly, the Pin Up lady is a black belt on the gi bag, and yet gets demoted to white belt on the actual gi. It took a while to notice mind, I was too busy staring at her...ahem, moving on...

The pearl weave fabric is exactly the same as the Estilo gi but coloured a very cool light grey. In the flesh, the grey tone looks beautiful however I can understand if some people - looking only as poorly lit photos - might suggest it looks like a dirty white gi. It does NOT look like a dirty white gi in the flesh, I can reassure you!!!

Elsewhere, red coloured thread is stitched throughout the uniform and red tape decorates the sleeve cuffs and borders the base of the jacket.

The only gi that I have reviewed with a rash guard built in was the Gameness Elite. The Elite's rash guard is a lot looser and more stretchy than the Pin Up interior.

Apart from the embroidered Pin Up lady and flag logos, the Pin Up lacks any of the usual branded patches  on either the chest or the shoulders. It is a refreshing change to the high-bling factor of the Estilo gis. Sadly, as the gi does not comply with IBJJF rules on gi colouring, it is not really something you will see at the Mundials or other major events. But for everyday training use, rock on!

Even though I am not supposed to wear my usual impartial review hat on today, I can't help but feel a tiny bit critical of the sleeve cuffs. The Pin Up cuffs are folded over on the exterior of the sleeve and the edge is covered up with narrow red tape and double stitched. Unfortunately, the seam is too exposed and it seems a tad flimsy. I just cannot see the cuffs lasting as long as with the normal Estilo gis - which are folded and protected with a broad tape on the inside of the sleeves.  I've only rolled in it once so will have to update this report in a few weeks time.

The trousers are virtually patch-free. Just acres of that cool grey patina. Bright red rope drawstring and red belt loops keep the pants held up. As often stated, I personally much prefer rope drawstrings to flat cotton ties.

The base of the trousers are constructed in the same way as the jacket sleeve cuffs - with a narrow red strip of tape covering up the fold.

Test Rolling
I have to admit, I ran home from work like an overexcited little schoolboy. I could not wait to inspect the gi and, luckily, I was due to go training that very night. First of all, this gi is not something you can wear to class and hope to just slink into the background. It really stands out. When I turned up to class, literally every single member of the academy present that night came up to me to inspect the gi. There was nothing but high praise for the artistry of the creation, the quality of the components and the general high cool factor. Just wearing the gi alone will probably spark a mini-panic buying splurge from those who take a shine to it!

As with my other Estilo gis, the A1-sized Pin Up fitted me straight out of the bag - ok a little bit big brand new- but with several washes, should fit me as perfectly as a glove and as comfy as a gi can be!

I noticed that as I wore the gi during non-stop sparring practice, the inner lining did a great job of absorbing my sweat away from my skin.

The Pin Up gi is a most innovative and novel model of gi. The design is classy and, allied to the quality materials that are the hallmark of Tatami Fightwear products, make this gi a truly special item to wear for everyday training. I will be interested to see how the grey fades over time and how the sleeve cuffs cope with heavy use.

Further Information:
The Pin Up gi is a limited edition model. I got mine directly from the Tatami Fightwear website on pre-order but, at time of writing, appears no longer available. For USA customers I see you can still pre order it through Budo Videos and for the Far East market, you can pre-order it via the Bull Terrier fight shop.

This review represents my own opinions. I am not an expert just a BJJ student who likes a few BJJ gis. I consider myself independent and impartial - I am not sponsored by any one company nor do I endorse any one brand. I have a close dialogue with a large number of gi makers and sellers, some of whom I collaborate with on various projects including this gi which was a result of my own Crazy Gi Design Contest. I have not profited financially from the contest or resulting products. If you have any questions about this review, please feel free to email me (see About Me) or post a comment below. I hope this review was helpful.


About the Author


Author & Artist

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


AnthonyW said...

stunning-absolutely stunning. Great work brah!

Liam H Wandi said...

"I was too busy staring at her...ahem, moving on..."


She is a beauty. Well done to Evan but also to Tatami for making him proud.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Let's hope the rash guard is just as good :)

Jun said...


Meerkatsu - you have a section dedicated to women in BJJ on your blog, you don't think that this objectifies women in any way?

What's the female equivalent? A huge muscley blackbelted guy, gi open so you can see his six-pack and his massive c**k just poking up through his gi trousers??

Meerkatsu said...

@Jun, thanks for your comment. I respond with an excerpt from an answer I gave on my Facebook profile:

"The Pin Up illustration itself, is what it is - an homage to Varga et al - given a BJJ style spin. It's been six months since the winning design was announced and plenty of time for the publicity machine to disseminate the design across all media. It is interesting that only now, that the gi has been made, that I am getting such an intense range of reactions (not just to the Pin Up, but to the design as a whole).
I certainly 'get' that it offends certain people - and I'm careful not to say it offends just women. Afterall, looking back at the voting 'likes' during the short-list phase, I see that a good number of women voted for the design as well as guys. My own (unscientific) straw poll of women who I showed the design to, including my wife and some of the ladies in the office, saw the design and commented favourably. No one thought it was offensive, but as I say, my straw poll wasn't large. I was just curious to see people's reaction."

I am a fervent supporter of grassroots BJJ - I believe it is a powerful way to engage all sectors of our society in a healthy and energising way. This won't ever change.

I like the Pin Up gi. If this makes me a demon and a purveyor of sexist imagery, then that is your interpretation and you are entitled to it. It doesn't change who I am and what I do and what I support. I believe my tastes and personal preferences exhibit a modest and balanced view of the world. But then I would say that wouldn't I? Upshot is (and at risk of alienating my loyal readers), I think you are over reacting to the Varga style illustration. That's my opinion, I hope you can accept my right to air that view, as I respect your right to post a comment on here.

Thanks and I hope you continue to enjoy my offerings :)

Steve said...

Got mine in the mail today. It's in the wash. I'm not going to review it. I'm going to choke a friend with it as soon as possible! :D

Steve said...

For what it's worth, this is clearly an homage to the nose art found on WWII aircraft. While I don't know if this extends outside of America, the nose art and it's implications to the bomber teams is an important part of the culture of what we call our "greatest" generation. It was, at the time, considered to be a harmless morale booster, even though it was never officially sanctioned.

It's not obscene and is in the spirit of the art that decorated the aircraft of that era.

Personally, I think she's sexy. As hell. As is the gi.

enter the hero said...

thats a sick gi man, i want it lol.
just got my second gi the other day now i just need to get over this fucking flu so i can teast it out.

enter the hero said...

a quick question when i got my new gi there was a leaflet with that gives you instructions on how to clean and dry the gi etc. with my other gi i put it on the radiator to try is this going to ruin it?

Meerkatsu said...

Radiator may shrink your gi a bit but the most shrinkage will be a result of hot temperature washing and subsequent tumble drying. A high temperature water cycle can be as much as 90 degrees C and the tumble dryer almost as much. I doubt your radiator will be as hot as 90 degrees C!!

Meerkatsu said...

I deleted this comment by mistake, sorry Georgette:

"I don't think it's offensive at all. She's clearly a fantasy creature (and I'm happy she's a whitebelt. :) )

I wish more gis came with linings in the jacket. My DOM gi has one and it is absolutely HEAVEN to wear. "

enter the hero said...

oh ok good lol. they just take so damn long to dry

kimatsu said...

I looooove this gi....and i want...But how?

Meerkatsu said...

Word is, they'll do a second batch for pre-order. Stay tuned. I'll probably announce it on my Facebook page soon as I hear news.

SkinnyD said...

Quite possibly my favorite Meerkatsu gi review cover photo. Well done, amigo.

slideyfoot said...

Given that I've written this in the past, it probably won't surprise anyone that I tend to agree with Jun on this one, and not just because that's a rather similar name to my own (Can, which is kinda pronounced 'Jun'). :)

I was disappointed when I saw that a design I feel is sexist won the contest, but it was a public vote, so clearly plenty of people like it and don't see it the same way I do. Like you said, that vote also included women. Can't argue with democracy. ;)

Anonymous said...

Big ol' titties!!


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