Choosing the Best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi – Buyers Guide 2018

BJJ Gi

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:

1) BJJ Gi SIZE: Finding the Best BJJ Gi Fit

How Should a BJJ Gi Fit?

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.

If you intend to compete in tournaments, there are often rules as to how your Gi should fit. The most commonly used standard is the IBJJF's which you can read here.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi

Image courtesy of FLICKR user Sylvain

How to Find the Perfect Fitting BJJ Gi:

Bjj Gi Sizes 

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.

So What BJJ Gi Size am I?

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...

Best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi's for Tall Slim Body Type

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.  

Kings Ballistico BJJ Gi

The Kingz Balistico 2.0 BJJ Gi comes in custom L sizes

Best BJJ Gi's for Muscular / Stocky Body Type

FUJI Saparaito BJJ Gi

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! 

How to Shrink a BJJ Gi

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.

Golden Rules: 

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. 

<< Looking for the best BJJ Gi for your kids? Check out our guide to the best Kids BJJ Gi here >>

2) BJJ Gi QUALITY: Pick a Durable BJJ Gi 

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:

Choose a well Reinforced BJJ 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:

  • Sleeve / Pants ends - These should either be folded and double / triple stitched, or have extra material.
  • Pants in-seam - this should have extra stitching 
  • BJJ Gi top armpits - These should have reinforcing material on the inside, triple stitched
  • BJJ Gi top skirt - the bottom edge of the Gi top should be at least double stitched, if there are slits either side, these should have additional reinforcing material sewn in
  • Gi Pants drawstring hoops - If the Gi pants have small material hoops to feed the drawstring through, make sure these are thick material and well sewn on.

Check your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi when it arrives​

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:

  • Check stitching around patches. If the stitching strays outside or too close to the edge of the patch at any point, they will rip off withing a few rolls.
  • Check size of Top / Pants is what you ordered. Sounds obvious but mix ups do happen!
  • Check the stitching around the Gi in general. There should be no loose stitching or fraying of the Gi material itself.
BJJ Gi Reinforcements

Checking the Collar / Arm Pit Reinforcements on the Gameness BJJ 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).

3) BJJ Gi STYLE: Looking Good on the Mats!

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?

Old School Style Bjj Gi's:

If you want a BJJ Gi that gives a little throw back to the old school of BJJ, check out these brands... 

ATAMA

Atama Single Weave BJJ Gi

Keiko Sports

Keiko Slim fit BJJ gi

MK Kimonos

MK Kimonos BJJ Gi

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!

Old School BJJ Gi

A famous no time limit sub only BJJ match: Wallid Ismael vs. Royce Gracie back in 1998 - Note Wallid's ATAMA Gi!

Modern Style Bjj Gi's:

There are some great looking modern style Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi's around today. Three of our favorites from well established brands...   

TATAMI

tatami-estilo-5-gi-white

HAYABUSA

Hayabusa BJJ Gi Gold Weave

VENUM

Venum Challenger 3.0 Gi

Custom Bjj Gi's:

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:

STORM

Storm T3 RS BJJ Gi

VENUM
ltd. EDITION

Venum KOI limited edition BJJ Gi

FLOW HEMP KIMONO

Flow Kimonon Hemp BJJ Gi

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. 

4) BJJ Gi WEAVES & WEIGHTS: Gi Specs 

BJJ Gi single weave, double, gold, pearl weave? 450 or 550 GSM? What do all these specs actually mean?

BJJ Gi Weaves

A close up shot of "Gold" and "Pearl Weave" Gi Fabrics

BJJ Gi Weaves 

What is the difference between single or double weave BJJ Gi's? 

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. 

What is the difference between Pearl, Gold, Honeycomb weave BJJ Gi's? 

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.

BJJ Gi Weights 

What does GSM mean for BJJ Gi's? 

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 are the Weave and Weights of a BJJ Gi Important?

Why should you care about all this? Well..

Thicker, higher GSM, Heavier or Double Weave BJJ Gi's: 

  • ​Typically last longer / harder wearing
  • Warmer, good for winter training / bad for hot or humid training
  • Harder for your opponent to maintain a strong grip
  • Thicker Gi's will take longer to dry after washing. If you train a lot and only have a few Gi's you will constantly have these hanging up to dry!
  • Thicker BJJ Gi's will add more weight when competing

Lighter, lower GSM, Single or Pearl Weave BJJ Gi's: 

  • ​Tend to be softer / more comfortable
  • Good for summer training or humid countries
  • Dry out more quickly after washing. If you wash your lighter Gi after training it will most likely air dry overnight
  • Easier for your opponent to manipulate and maintain strong grips
  • Weight saving is good for competing if you are close to the top of your weightclass

5) BJJ Gi PRICE: The best value Gi's

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:

  • You might not stick with BJJ. Like many hobbies / sports BJJ also has its share of people that decide its not for them. In this case you'll be glad you didn't fork out too much $$$ for your first Gi!
  • Use a lower budget Gi to get a feel for what kind of fit you like. You might want something a bit looser or more fitted next time. You're first Gi can be a low cost point of reference.
  • Check out your classmates Gi's. When you start training in your lower priced Gi, you can then take your time to look around your academy and see which other Gi's catch your eye. You can even try on other peoples tops to see how other brands fit.
  • You might mess it up. Did you ignore our advice and accidentally roast your rubberized collar to the size of an elastic band? Well, if you buy a more budget priced Gi at least you can experiment somewhat without the risk of ruining a $300 Gi!

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...