With hundreds of products available today, how do you go about selecting the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi for your training?
We reckon there are FIVE important things to consider when looking for a new BJJ Gi:
The best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi for you will be the one that fits well. Some people prefer slimmer fitting Gi's as there is less material for your opponent to grip. Others like a baggier Gi that is more comfortable for training in.
Image courtesy of FLICKR user Sylvain
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi sizing uses a two digit system. The first letter ranges from I (Infant), to A (Adult) sizes, followed by a number from 0 (small) to 5 (extra large).
An averaged size man would be approximately an A2 Gi Size for example.
A good place to start is to check the manufactures BJJ Gi sizing chart. This will give you a recommendation based on your height and weight.
Take care however: the sizes are not consistent across different brands, so be sure to check the chart of the specific brand you are looking at buying...
Some BJJ Gi brands sizes tend to suit tall, lean body types straight off the shelf. For me, the Keiko Raca BJJ Gi's are a great example of this and a good choice for slimmer build BJJ athletes. At approx 185 cm and 185 lb's myself, I have found the Keiko Gi's to favor this body type. They also do a specific "Slim Fit" BJJ Gi.
The Keiko Gi Pants do tend to shorten if you use a warm wash or dry cycle. Be sure to only ever cool wash these Gi's and air dry them to maintain the fit.
Perhaps the best BJJ Gi for tall guys option is to go for a custom fit. Many BJJ Gi brands these days offer a custom, L for "long" size, that is tailored specifically. A couple of my favorites are the Kingz BJJ 2.0 Gi and the Tatami Nova BJJ Gi.
The Kingz Balistico 2.0 BJJ Gi comes in custom L sizes
The FUJI Saparaito Gi is a good choice for well muscled BJJ'ers. It is also an excellent quality Gi.
If you are a big guy, you will probably encounter two issues when finding a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi that fits correctly.
1) Finding a top that fits broad muscular shoulders
2) If you have a large chest / belly, finding a Gi top that has enough excess "skirt" material to stay tucked into your belt while rolling.
The tricky part is to find a Gi that fits you without the sleeves / pants also being hugely long! Our best "off the shelf" solution? Select a Japanese brand BJJ Gi. These tend to be a good fit for bigger BJJ'ers e.g. ATAMA, FUJI or ISAMI. Other recommendation are STORM or KORAL Kimonos. These also tend to run with a more baggy fit.
I have also heard of very stocky guys buying a Gi one size too big and then getting the pants shortened. You don't need a flashy tailor for this, a basic seamstress type service should be able to do it for a few bucks!
Now might be a good time to read our site disclaimer! Be very careful when deliberately trying to shrink a BJJ Gi. You can easily ruin them, particularly the Gi top.
Wash you GI on a cold setting first. Some BJJ Gi brands will shrink a little just from a standard cool wash and air dry. Make sure you check how it responds to normal washing first before you decide whether to use more sever methods.
Never use a clothes dryer on a BJJ Gi top that has a rubberized collar. This will ruin the top for ever. I have learnt this lesson the hard way!
Start out slowly. Don't just blast your BJJ Gi with a 2 hour hot wash straight out of the gate. It can be very unpredictable how much a Gi will shrink. My preferred method is to use a dryer while the Gi is still wet but just use 1-2 minute bursts of hot dry cycle. This way you can keep checking / trying on your Gi to make sure it doesn't shrink too much.
There's nothing more disappointing than a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi that doesn't last. Or worse still, has factory defects straight out of the box! Here's how to make sure you pick a quality Gi:
When it comes to choosing a durable Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi, generally heavier Gi's will be more hard wearing (see number 4) below for more on this).
To make sure you are buying a quality BJJ gi that will last, no matter what the weight, look for reinforcements in the following weak spots:
Its pretty rare for a BJJ Gi to have manufacturing defects these days, especially if you stick with quality brands like the ones in this article. Make sure however, by doing the following checks before you use the Gi:
If you're unsatisfied with any part of the Gi, most good BJJ manufactures will happily exchange or refund you if you contact them (provided the Gi is un-worn).
Ok, you might not want to admit it, but I think everyone is influenced by whether a Gi looks cool when making a buying choice! I personally love the "old school" clean minimalist style Gi's. Which ones are you into?
If you want a BJJ Gi that gives a little throw back to the old school of BJJ, check out these brands...
ATAMA is probably about as old school as you can get for a BJJ Gi. They have been around as a brand forever (since 1989). They still make some of the best quality Jiu Jitsu Gi's available today.
Keiko Sports (formerly Keiko Raca) have also been around a long time (1995). They still do great quality Gi's with an old school look with some nice details and patches.
MK Kimonos was started back in 1995 by two brothers that trained BJJ in Rio. They started out selling Gi's to fellow students of the famous Gracie Barra Tijuca gym back in the day.
All three of these brands still produce a great quality Gi today.
They will also get you a little nod of approval from anyone who's been around the BJJ scene for a long time!
A famous no time limit sub only BJJ match: Wallid Ismael vs. Royce Gracie back in 1998 - Note Wallid's ATAMA Gi!
There are some great looking modern style Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi's around today. Three of our favorites from well established brands...
Like a lot of patches? Want to go full pimp style with your BJJ Gi? Or maybe something a little bit more one-off style wise? If you're looking for a more unique BJJ Gi for practice then you could start by checking out the following:
FLOW HEMP KIMONO
A note of precaution on which style BJJ Gi you choose: Check with your academy first that there are no restrictions on what type / color Gi's are permitted. I have heard of some academies having rules about which Gi colors are allowed or even insisting you buy one of their academy branded Gi's.
BJJ Gi single weave, double, gold, pearl weave? 450 or 550 GSM? What do all these specs actually mean?
A close up shot of "Gold" and "Pearl Weave" Gi Fabrics
Theoretically a double weave Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi means twice as much fabric is woven into the same area as a single weave. This results in a much stronger, thicker and heavier base Gi Material.
Most lighter weight or summer training style Gi's are single weave. Ultra light weight Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi's are normally a hybrid weave, to provide as much strength as possible using a thinner base fabric.
Most modern BJJ Gi's use the above weave names to describe what is usually a hybrid between single and double weave.
The names come from the appearance given to the material from the weave e.g. Pearl weave has a "bobbly" look to it like thousands of lines of pearls across the fabric.
GSM stands for "Grams Per Square meter" and comes from the fabric industry as a way of specifying the weight of a material.
The overall weight of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi varies significantly depending on the reinforcements / design. Therefore it is pretty hopeless to base a Gi's weight on the GSM number. You can have 450 GSM Gi's that weight more than a 550 GSM Gi for example.
The GSM is a good indicator of the thickness and weight of the base material however.
Why should you care about all this? Well..
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi's today range from as little as $50 USD for a budget price Gi to $300+ USD for top of the range or limited edition models.
There's good arguments for buying a BJJ Gi thats on the cheaper end of the spectrum.. especially if you're just starting out:
Gi's in the 50-100 bucks price range are great quality these days. Even if you become a BJJ addict you wont regret your purchase. We compiled a reference guide of our favorite BJJ Gi's under $100 USD here...