21 Oct 2013

Gi Review: Rei gi Roger Gracie Edition Kimono

Super tough, thick and ultra heavy kimono built to last. The sleeves were sadly super short, much shorter than any other A1 gi I have reviewed. The weight was just too much for my personal preference however there were some quality touches to this gi model.

I have no personal or business relations with Rei gi. Roger Gracie himself is my own instructor's instructor and visits my academy to oversee gradings.

Website - http://www.rei-gi.com/
Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rei-Gicom/164671700217148?fref=ts
Cost of gi - £90

Roger Gracie is regarded as the finest grappler of his generation. Ray Stevens is one of the top judoka from the UK, having won a silver medal in the '92 Olympics and is also senior instructor at the world famous Budokwai in London. Both Roger and Ray have been friends for a long time, Roger training judo under Ray and Ray training BJJ under Roger. When Ray formed his BJJ gi company Rei Gi, the Roger Gracie signature edition was the result of their friendship and partnership. Given Roger's appreciation of judo (he used to wear an Essimo judo gi for tournaments in the past) and Ray's judo heritage, I was keen to see how much of an influence judo would have on the cut of this gi. As you'll see in the following report, quite a lot...

Size, Weight, Shrinkage and other stats
Rei Gi sent me a size A1 kimono. For the record, I weight around 59Kg and am around 167cm tall. I normally wear gis in A1 but due to my long arms, not all brands fit me quite as well in this region. This gi was worn and washed at 40 degrees and air dried.

(Brand new versus  x3 washes)
A: 148cm / 144cm
B: 74cm / 74cm
C: 55cm / 53cm
D: 17cm / 17cm
E: 54cm / 51cm
F: 87cm / 89cm
G: 24cm / 24cm

Jacket Weight: 1.7KG
Trouser Weight: 0.8Kg
Country of manufacture: Pakistan

Wingspan is the standout measurement for the Rei gi. At 144cm after several washes, the sleeve length of this gi is incredibly short for an A1 model. Compared to the Grips Kimono (161cm), Tatami Estilo (157cm) or the Fuji All Around gi (160cm) it is clear that the Rei gi falls way short of the average. By contrast, the sleeve width of the Rei gi is at least 1 to 1.5 centimetres wider than most other A1 gis. All other areas of the jacket appear average in width and length.

The trousers are average in length and width though the ankle openings are much wider than other gis. The Scramble Athlete for example at A1 measures only 18.5 centimetres, while the Kingz Kimono gis both measure around 22cm in width.

Weight is another standout 'feature'. The Rei gi weighs in total 2.5Kg (5.5lbs). Most gis I have reviewed weight between 1.3 to around 1.7Kg.

The Rei Gi Roger Gracie model is made from goldweave fabric. As stated above, the entire jacket weighed a whopping 1.7Kg alone. Being goldweave, it was very soft and comfortable to wear. Unlike goldweaves I have sampled in the past, it did not shrink that much (except for the sleeves).

The entire jacket is decorated with Rei Gi and Roger Gracie applique embroidered patches. They seem solidly affixed with no chance of coming apart or peeling. I like the Rei Gi logotype - simply, clean and distinctive. The Roger Gracie shoulder patch however suffers from distortion. The designer (or the factory itself) has lengthened the height of the text and flag (the egg shaped globe in the Brazil flag is a give away) - this is a big design no no from what I have learned in typography manuals. To trained eyes, it looks poor. Given the prominence of the patch placement, this is not a minor design error.

The jacket sleeves are very short - more about that later. They are also noticeably wider than most other gis. They do however contain a sweet cotton fabric seam tape that is soft and comfy to the touch.

Branded tape is used extensively along the edges of the jacket hem. I am unsure if this trim is legal at IBJJF tournaments, anecdotal reports suggest it isn't though don't quote me on that.

The rear of the jacket is emblazoned with a very large (24cm/9.5inch) circular Roger Gracie patch. I can't imagine people outside of the RGA academies wanting to wear this but then I am sure Roger has enough fans outside of his own network to make this appealing. The quality of the embroidery work on the patch is exceptional.

The trousers are made from cotton twill. It seems a pretty heavy duty weight. Drawstring is a basic flat tie, knee reinforcement extends all the way to the ankle openings. Overall it was very soft and comfortable to wear, if a tad heavy once soaked in sweat.

Rolling Performance
Let's talk about sleeves. In judo, players like to have sleeves that are quite short. I don't train judo and I don't know all the gi rules but I assume short sleeves are allowed up to a certain length. In BJJ short sleeves are not really acceptable. At certain high level BJJ tournaments, gi sleeves that are too short will mean being turned away (to find another gi that does fit or risk being disqualified). So here is a BJJ gi, marketed to BJJ players, that appears (at least in my sample) to be made according to judo jacket specifications. All other aspects of this gi are okay, but if I wore it to an IBJJF tournament, I would be turned away by the gi checker. And before people suggest I try on an A2, I did, it was too big.

This gi is also heavy. I mean REALLY heavy. Two thousand five hundred grams is a lot of weight for little old me to carry around. It is roughly 5% of my entire body weight. If I needed to make weight for a tournament, I would not wear this gi. Being so thick and heavy, it also takes longer to air dry. My lightweight pearlweave gis will typically take two days to dry at room temperature. The Rei Gi was still slightly damp after four days. Clearly this is not a scientific comparison, but it's notable...and worth bearing in mind if you train frequently but only have one gi

But it is a high quality product. The fabric, stitching, reinforcements and patches are all crafted to a very high standard. I have no doubt it will last a very long time.

The photo below provides visual proof to the shortness of the sleeves (or the unnatural length of my arms).

I rolled in this gi for two weeks. during each session I found it got heavier once I sweated into it and it also got quite hot - not a mean feat considering our academy is usually ice cold with the onset of autumn. I enjoyed the softness and the comfort of the fabric. The short sleeves were a pain for my opponents to grip against - which is probably a bit of an unfair advantage!

This gi has potential, that's the best I can say about it. The quality of manufacturing is of a very high standard. I'll be honest however, it's not for me. That's not to say it won't suit other people -
check out Aesopian's review of the Rei Gi in A3 size, he seems to find it fits him ok. But for £90, it's important for the buyer to be aware this is not a light gi and it might have some quirky sizing issues depending on your physique.


About the Author


Author & Artist

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


Anonymous said...

It's expensive, it's heavy, it takes ages to dry...

...but man, probably the toughest gi I have ever owned. Mine didn't even shrink in the dryer. I think this is a competitor for most industructible gi.

lukasz said...

A+ review. I can see he how this gi will weigth a ton after it gets wet during training.


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