If you’re reading this, you’ve probably just taken the first step of your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey – congratulations! Buying your first gi can be fun yet confusing, because of the many gi types and brands in the market. Here are some things you need to know before you put money down for your first purchase.
1. A BJJ gi is different from a Judo/Taekwondo/Karate gi
As it’s made to be grabbed, BJJ gis tend to be more durable and hardier than gis from other martial arts. As karate gis and the like are usually thinner, there’s a higher chance that those will rip during your first roll on the mat. While some judo practitioners might wear their judo gi to their first few BJJ classes, they will soon find it less than ideal, as the wider sleeves make it easier for their sparring partners to grab.
2. There are a multitude of weaves available for BJJ gis
The weaves determine how heavy, thick and durable your gi will be. The gi you use during a competition probably won’t be the same gi you use during your everyday training. In general, here are the three most common types of weaves that are found in BJJ gis:
Single weave: These aren’t just lightweight, but also more affordable than other types of gis, making them a good choice for beginners. As they are thinner than double weave gis, a single weave is a great choice if you’re training in a tropical climate or non-air conditioned environment. The downside of a single weave gi, however, is that it easily allows your opponent or sparring partner to get a strong grip.
Double weave: These are stronger, heavier and more durable than single weave gis – great for use during everyday training. With a double weave gi, your opponent will also find it harder to maintain a strong grip.
Gold weave: A gold weave gi marries the strength and durability of a double weave with the lightness and softness of a single weave gi, making it a popular choice for those interested in competition. By and large, however, these tend to be more costly than single and double weave gis.
3. Cut and fit are the two most important factors you need to take into consideration
Gi sizes run from A0 to A6, but sizes can vary greatly from brand to brand. Just because an A2 from brand A fits you perfectly doesn’t mean that an A2 from brand B will. If you’re tall and lanky, or short and stocky, you might run into even more problems when buying a gi.
Brands usually list their gi sizes by a certain weight and height range on their websites, but you never know how a gi will fit and fall on you until you try it on for yourself.
A gi that fits perfectly should tick these boxes:
- Sleeves that end just above the wrist bone when you put your arms down
- Pants should feel comfortable around the crotch and hip area – it should fit you well, but not be so form-fitting that you find it uncomfortable to move around in
- Likewise with the shoulder area; it should not be too tight or it’ll restrict your movement, nor too loose such that it becomes easy for your opponent to grab your collar
- The skirt should not be too long or too short. It should be long enough so you can use it to execute certain chokes on your sparring partner, but not too long such that your opponent can use it against you in certain positions (such as the worm guard). The preference for the length of the skirt, however, is highly subjective and dependent on the individual’s game.
4. Women should consider buying gis made specially for them
Women who buy gis meant for men usually find themselves running into problems quite quickly, particularly with regards to cut and fit. The smallest size might still be way too big for most women. Other times, the gi might fit well length-wise, but be too baggy, especially around the waist. Some women have wide hips, and may find that they need gi tops and bottoms of different sizes. Gis made specially for women take female proportions in account. Fenom Kimonos, which only makes gis for women, even allows its customers to buy different sizes for the top and bottom.
No matter how excited you might be about embarking on your BJJ journey, due diligence, research, and a little patience pays off when it comes to buying your first gi. It’ll be with you for the next few months, so you’ll want to make sure you get the best possible fit for your body type.