13 Apr 2013

Gi and Rashguard Review: Bull Terrier x Gawakoto 'Unleashed'

Typically exemplary quality craftsmanship from Bull Terrier plus the allure of fantasy horror artwork from Gawakoto combine to create the 'Unleashed' gi and rashguard combo (sold separately). Bull Terrier gis fit at the smaller end of the A1 spectrum of sizes. The rashguard however (size medium) fits perfectly and is possibly the finest rashguard I have ever worn, with super smooth material, ultra comfortable fit and eye poppingly amazing artwork.

I have no business of other connection with Bull Terrier. I have known Bong Abad, the artist behind Gawakoto for several years and we have collaborated on a previous project.

Unleashed is a limited edition series of gi and nogi products.
In the UK, it is available through www.gawakoto.co.uk
Gi is priced at: £135
Long sleeve rashguard priced at: £44.95
For the rest of the world, it is sold through www.btfightgear.com
(other retailers may stock this item too)

The comic artist Bong Abad is fast becoming one of the hottest illustrators within the fight gear world with commissions from many of the planet's leading brands. When I heard he was assigned with the task to design a range of items for Bull Terrier I could only wet myself with excitement at what he would come up with. I was not to be disappointed. The 'Unleashed' series of characters is the perfect subject matter for a beast and animal obsessed person such as myself. The application of that art onto these extraordinarily fine quality items is the perfect combination. But would my past experience with Bull Terrier gis spoil the bling gi party? Let's find out...

I will go on record and say, this is the finest rashguard I have ever worn. The silk like quality of the fabric (80% polyester / 20% spandex) feels soft like no other. The flatness of the flatlock stitching is super smooth against the skin, the quality of the dye-sublimation printing brings out the richness of the artwork, the fit of the torso and length along the arms (size medium) is absolutely perfect on my body. Finally, I have to compliment the ability to resist velcro. I attacked a small patch of the rashguard material with the velcro from my fightshorts and it took a lot of effort before a few threads over a very small area started to pill and bobble. In short, this is the most impressively made rashguard I have had the privilege to wear.

Interestingly the Gawakoto websites states that these rashguards fit slightly tighter around the torso compared to most other rashguards, which probably explains why the medium fits so snugly on me.

I can find absolutely no faults with this product, it is amazing. If I could maybe point out the smallest of observations, it would be that the heat transfer inside neck label looks a little cheaply applied as you can see how it is cut out and stuck onto the fabric, but it doesn't affect the quality or function.

This is after attacking it with velcro for ages!
I will be most happy to add this rashguard to my rotation (currently - honey badger v2, Fuji Sakana and Kingz dragon and koi rashies). Heck I would even wear this everyday under my normal day clothes if I could.

Gi Size, Weight and other Stats
For reference, I am 59-60Kg in weight and 167cm in height. I am used to wearing A1 or A1L size gis though I do have long arms. First figure brand new, second figure after x3 mild temperature washes and then air dried.

A: 153/150cm
B: 72/72cm
C: 55/54cm
D: 16.5/16
E: 54/52
F: 94/92
G: 24/22
Jacket Weight: 1.2kg
Trouser Weight: 0.5kg

Stats discussion
With hindsight, based on my experience with the Bull Terrier Limited Edition lightweight Gi I should have ordered the A2s size which is an in betweeny size up from A1. The A1 is simply too short down the arms for me. The 150 wingspan is a magnitude shorter than another A1 sized gi - the Tatami Estilo 4 (157cm). The problem with sizing up however, is that I like the rest of the gi dimensions. Okay the jacket length (72cm) is a wee bit shorter than the Estilo 4 but the trouser length (92cm) is pretty good on me (except the very square cut ankle openings - more about that later). I have in fact reviewed the size A2s Bull Terrier - New Star Single and although it fitted me pretty good, I ended up not really wearing it much and I sold it.

The weight of the unleashed gi, at 1.7Kg is fairly standard for a pearlweave A1 gi. It't not an ultralight model but I wouldn't say it was heavy.

Gi Jacket
The gi jacket is made from 550gsm pearlweave cotton. Out the bag, it is very stiff but softens a little after a few washes.

The package is rather thrill-free. Simply gi jacket and trousers which is perfectly fine, but I think some stickers, postcards, a cool gi bag etc would have added to the whole comic book feel of the theme.

Bong's artwork is allowed to shine on the interior of the gi jacket. The artwork appears to be screen printed directly onto the jacket material. It did not deteriorate at all over five washes, though may do so over a longer period of time, which is to be expected. The outside of the jacket contains a number of woven and embroidered patches and there is ample grey coloured stitching to contrast against the dark black gi fabric.

The sleeve cuffs are pleasingly lined with scratch-free twill cotton tape and triple stitched into place. It feels very strong and resistant to wear and tear.

The side vent is reinforced with a flash of red twill covering and an extra patch of gi material. The base of the jacket is folded over and double stitched.

The armpits are reinforced with an oval patch of gi material and double stitched into place.

The main artwork feels like it has been freshly painted by the artist himself.

 The back of the jacket contains just one patch near the neck.

The collar and lapel contains a rubber core and covered with twill cotton fabric. It is reasonably stiff and thick, much like the majority of other brands.

Black, red and grey is the colour palette that is applied throughout the gi.

The trousers are made from soft twill cotton (not canvas as described on the BTGear website). One notable improvement over the previous models of Bull Terrier gis is the multiple belt loops. This model contains six belt loops which compares to the rather sparse single pair of loops of the New Star Single weave model.

Sadly the double lining covering the knee only stops halfway down the shin. In my experience, these tend to ride up when the knees are bent so offer no protection from wear and tear. Only lining that reaches the bottom ankles really does the job adequately.

The ankle openings are folded over and double stitched. A little extra reinforcement here might be nice but not a deal breaker.

A good quality rope drawstring, which I much prefer over flat ties.

Rolling performance and discussion
I have already commented that the gi is too small for me. But only down the sleeves. The rest of the gi, while smaller than other A1 gis, would still be considered a good fit for my body size. See the photos below:

In relaxed standing mode, the gi arms do appear a bit short and the rest looks fine. This is exactly how is feels when worn during training. The torso is slim but it was not excessively so and did not obstruct my movements. I don't mind the shorter gi jacket but it does make certain gi-based submission attempts much harder as there is less excess material to utilise.

The overall exterior gi design is actually very understated. No one at my academy took much notice until I showed them the interior artwork. All the patches are IBJJF rules legal as far as I can tell. I guess the concept is all about the hidden beast within!

In the photo above you can see that the trouser length looks perfect on me. I loved training in these trousers. They were super comfortable, equal in comfort to my Shoyoroll Count Koma gi trousers, plus they fitted me very well. My only gripe is the Bull Terrier cut - which is very wide along the ankle openings which give it the slightly sailor uniform appearance.

It is only in this photo that the short sleeves are visible. When my arms are outstretched, the gi rides all the way up as far as halfway along my forearm. This would almost certainly be not allowed at IBJJF tournaments. When you compare the Bull Terrier photo with, say, a similar pitched size model like the Fuji All Around gi, you can see how this gi fits along my arms much better.

I really wanted to love this gi. For some reason, the designs that Bull Terrier come out with all excite me visually and with the added bonus of a BT gi illustrated by Gawakoto, it was something I simply could not refuse. Alas the A1 is too small and not something I am going to be able to wear to training any longer. I am making a fairly big deal about this because Bull Terrier gis are expensive (more so if you import from Japan) and if you are like me with long arms, then you have to carefully examine the size chart that Bull Terrier post up on their website and consider the correct size you need.

Having said that, Bull Terrier make some of the most amazingly well crafted and daringly gorgeous gis in the world. The care and quality of the production is among some of the best I have seen in a mass produced uniform. With the quality of materials and strength of reinforcements used, I would say that this gi would prove to be a very durable item over many, many hours and years of training.

About the Author


Author & Artist

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



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