Everything You Need To Know About BJJ GI

bjj_gi

The Gi is perhaps the most important gear for any BJJ practitioner – amateur, hobbyist or professional. Like the Samurais back in the day, in the modern world the Gi is a symbol of pride, honor, and personality among many things.

A BJJ Gi is in many ways different from uniforms used in other martial arts like Karate or Judo. It is very tough and durable and can withstand a lot of tugging and pulling without tearing off. A Karate or Taekwondo uniform, on the other hand, would tear off easily in the first session with all the gripping. Depending on the quality and manufacturer, some are reinforced with extra stitches around the sleeves, armpits and also on some places on the trouser. For now, we shall limit our discussion to the Gi top. The lapels are also thicker compared to other uniforms to prevent collar chokes.

How does a BJJ Gi compare to a Judo Gi?

This question might crop up in the minds of those who are aware of the connection between Judo and BJJ. Sure you can train wearing a Judo Gi. But a Judo Gi is designed to be loose and baggy and gives your opponent ample opportunities to get a grip. A BJJ Gi though is more form fitting and when it comes to IBJJF rules for competition, it is finicky about the length of the top and sleeves. It is interesting to note the absence of wide sleeve cuffs in a BJJ Gi unlike a Judo one. BJJ players love to grip the cuffs but this is not so prevalent in Judo where most of the work is done on the lapel and sleeve.

The following image explains the exact dimensions required of a Gi according to the IBJJF rules (source: http://ibjjf.org/uniform )

bjj_gi_ibjjf

Gi Size Chart

BJJ Gis come in a variety of sizes depending on your age and build. Typically, for adults the sizes range from A0 to A6, where ‘A’ stands for ‘Adult’. The sizing for kids varies with sizes starting from M0 to M4, sometimes following different suffixes like 00. An important thing to consider is that these sizes are not standardized and vary across different brands and manufacturers. Whereas an A2 from Vulkan might fit you perfectly, it might be an A3 when you buy one from Gameness. The following chart approximately aggregates the sizes as follows:

KIDS SIZE APPROXIMATE AGE GROUP
M00 under 3 years
M01 under 5 years
M1 under 7 years
M2 under 9 years
M3 under 11 years
JR under 13 years

 

ADULT SIZE APPROXIMATE HEIGHT
A1 under 1.70m (5’8”)
A2 under 1.80m (5’9”)
A3 under 1.90m (6’2”)
A4 under 2.0m (under 6’6”)
A5 over 2m (over 6’6”)

Fabric and weaves

Most BJJ Gis are made from cotton or cotton-like fabric. With a plethora of Gi manufacturers in the market with their own style of weaves and fabric, it is important once again to be aware of the IBJJF and other bodies’ regulations regarding the Gi material. For example, Gis based on the Ripstop material have been disqualified for use from a lot of tournaments. Also, you will have a hard time adjusting to a standard Gi if you have been rolling everyday against Gis that have a different weave and fabric.

IBJJF regulations require a Gi to be made from woven fabric for juvenile, adult, master and senior divisions. Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. There are many different types of weaves that are used for a BJJ Gi. It determines the durability and longevity of a Gi.

  • Single Weave

The single weave Gi is cheap and best suited for someone just starting off in BJJ. It uses considerably less material and is hence lighter and cheaper. It is definitely cooler and very comfortable if you roll in hot and humid weather. But because of the single weave, it’s also easier to grab and grip the Gi. If you are looking to make weight in your division, wear this one.

  • Double Weave

The double weave Gi is made as its name sounds. Simply put, it combines two single weaves together. Hence, it uses twice the material as a single weave and is twice as thicker and durable. But this also means the Gi weighs a lot and you’d be very uncomfortable rolling in it in a hot and humid gym. While it is true that the double weave makes gripping unusually tough, consider saving your money as the chances are slim that you’d be wearing it regularly for either training or competitions.

  • Gold Weave

The Gold Weave is a godsend for BJJ practitioners. It combines the durability of the double weave with the lightness of the single weave. It is very popular among many athletes who compete a lot. If you are also planning to step up and become an exceptional athlete who competes a lot, this can be a worthwhile investment.

  • Ripstop Weave

The ripstop is one of the newer Gi weaves and it was quite superior compared to the other weaves when it was launched. The ripstop weaving technique interweaves reinforcement threads at regular intervals in a crosshatch pattern. The resulting Gis were ultra lightweight and nearly impossible to tear. But this also made gripping very difficult and soon this Gi was disqualified from use in most of the BJJ tournaments. If you train in and against such a Gi, keep in mind you’ll be unprepared for tournaments where other competitors will be wearing materials that will feel completely different, thus rendering you ineffective.

  • Pearl Weave

While the gold weave has been the standard for quite some time now, it seems like the pearl weave is slowly taking over this niche. The pearl weave allows for the lightest Gi allowed in competitions but is also extremely durable. This is why it’s gaining preference among many competitive athletes. The lightness of the material allows free flow of air that keeps a roller cool throughout. A pearl weave Gi is instantly recognizable because of the tightly woven fabric that looks like tiny pearls.

  • Honeycomb Weave

This is a fairly new variety of weave introduced by Vulkan that seems to be lightweight and durable, making it a good choice for competitions like the gold and pearl weaves. For example, the Vulkan Ultra Light Gi weighs only 2.6 lbs. Once again, go for it if you’re close to crossing the weight limit in your division.

Hemp Gi

There have been recent entrants in the market who use hemp as the fabric of choice to weave their Gi. It’s not only Gi makers who have revived the use of hemp as a manufacturing material. The use of hemp goes back as far as 12,000 years and since then it has been used for multiple purposes that include fiber, food, oil, construction among many things. A hemp Gi has numerous benefits over the usual cotton based Gi:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Stronger and more durable
  • Cooler
  • Naturally anti-microbial, eliminating the problem of smelly Gis

Chris Odell owns Datsusara which manufactures Hemp Gis. In this video he explains the use and benefits of hemp, in the context of being a Gi fabric

Bamboo Gi

Like hemp, bamboo Gis are also gaining popularity thanks to their environment friendliness and durability. Lucky Gi is currently the most popular brand selling bamboo Gis. Rafel Levato Jr. even designed a Gi for this line.

Onnit Primal Lucky Gi Bamboo Jiu-Jitsu Gi review || BJJ Hacks

Gi colors

Nowadays Gis come in a variety of colors apart from the vanilla white and blue variations – black, red, navy, purple, camouflage, pink, yellow! You should always check with your academy though before you decide to sport a flashy Gi one fine day. Imagine sticking out like a sore thumb in a red Gi in a class clad in pristine white Gis! A few places are known to be stickler for muted and unassuming gear. Also keep in mind that if you are competing, you can only wear a white, blue or black Gi according to IBJJF rules.

Gi design

Now that you know everything about sizes, fabric, materials, colors etc. you might want to focus on the appearance of your Gi. Having a cool or wacky design on your Gi can psychologically boost you up more than a bland white Gi. Like everything else in life, your BJJ game too is dependent on your moods and emotional states.

Given the burgeoning popularity of BJJ, now you can buy Gis with really ace designs on them, especially online. But always make sure to do your proper research. There have been occasions when someone bought a stylish Gi online only to find out it’s not a comfortable fit. There’s nothing more irritating than to spend hours training, rolling and competing in an uncomfortable Gi.

Gi patching

Gi patching and decoration is one of the major attractions in the BJJ community and rightly so. Patches are used to denote one’s team affiliation, sponsors or something that’s unique and personal. Most patches use a canvas cloth that is sewn on to the uniform. The logo or design is screen-printed on the cloth. Other than that, sometimes the designs or patterns are embroidered as well.

The IBJJF has pretty strict guidelines on the placement of patches on the Gi top and trouser, so be sure to follow them properly unless you want the patch to be torn off during the Gi check. (source: http://ibjjf.org/uniform/ )

Also for painted Gis, there shouldn’t be any color bleed that will mark the opponent’s uniform. You will have to find a replacement Gi fast or be prepare to be disqualified from the competition.

bjj_gi_patches

Apart from these patches, there are quite a few companies that can make a custom Gi for those who are finicky about the dimensions and designs they want on their armor. If you have some extra dollars to spend, go for this. It will be something you will treasure for a long time.

ALMA has an online custom Gi design tool that allows you to specify the color, stitch, emblems among other options. http://www.almaweb.jp/products_order.aspx

Gi shrinkage and caring for your Gi

Most manufacturers advertise their Gi as pre-shrunk or shrinkable on wash. The most common kind is the one that shrinks on wash. The second kind i.e. pre-shrunk also shrinks, maybe not as much as the other one. This is something that most Gi owners should be aware of. It is a rather common occurrence where we have been left with a severely shrunk Gi that no longer fits us comfortably and will probably be disqualified for competitive use.

But if you are someone whose size falls in between the Gi sizes offered by most brands, you have to resort to shrinking a larger Gi. You can carefully control the shrink by soaking the Gi in warm water (between 40 to 60 degrees C) for 20 to 30 minutes. This also gives you the advantage of tapered sleeves and pants which make it harder to get a grip on your Gi. Then again, remember the above mentioned issue with competitive usage. Gi checkers have been known to dismiss those who don’t meet the stringent rules for Gi dimensions.

Regardless of the type, there are a few universal guidelines on how to care for your Gi so it lasts longer.

  • The temperature of the water should be around 30 to 40 degrees. A hand wash for a few minutes is best suited to avoid over-shrinking, damage to the cotton fabric and bleeding of color.
  • Avoid tumble drying the Gi or else you might end up with an over-shrunk Gi. The rubberized collar in some Gis can melt too while tumble drying.
  • Air dry the Gi in a clean and dry area to avoid mold and bacteria infestation that stinks up the Gi.
  • Even if you don’t get the chance to clean a sweaty Gi right after your training, don’t dump it in a corner along with your regular clothes. The stink won’t go away and the sweat provides the perfect grounds for microbial breeding.
  • It helps to have a change of Gis, like 2 or 3 of them. While you have put out one to dry, you need not miss the super important seminar the next day.

You might have already noticed the vast amount of detail that is part of producing a Gi. The more experienced you get, you start to develop your own tastes in Gis. In fact, most BJJ Gi manufacturing companies are run by people who practice BJJ themselves and know the ins and outs of a Gi. Also your exposure to other athletes, teachers and training partners will influence your preference in Gis. In the end, remember that like your own style of game, you will also be proud of the Gi you wear. Make sure you don’t forget to wear your heart on your sleeve!

Speak Your Mind

*