!NEW! Concept Custom Gis & Rash Guards are now available! Click here!
Here you will find some resources that will hopefully help you find a gi you’ll be happy with.
Some things to know about buying:
- You can’t walk into Academy and buy one of those generic karate gis. It will disintegrate under the demands of BJJ. You really do need a grappling gi.
- You can spend a lot on a gi, but if you’re not concerned about “fashion”, expect to pay between $80 and $150 if buying new.
- Be cautious if buying a used gi. Make sure you know how it was washed and (especially) dried in its former life – it may have shrunk well under its labeled size.
Some things to know about sizing:
- Brands differ. I am 6’1″ 185 lbs. I wear A4 in some brands, A3 in others. Be sure to consult the sizing chart for the specific brand you’re looking at. Amazon has a neat feature where they rate the accuracy of the advertised sizing based on customer feedback.
- If you’re on the border between sizes, go big. You can always shrink a gi (see below). Stretching is harder.
Some things to know about care:
- Wash your gi every time you roll. Every time. Every single time. I’m not kidding.
- As a routine, wash cold, hang dry.
- Use heated tumble dry only if you want to shrink your gi.
- A lot of folks recommend a vinegar soak before you use your gi for the first time. Helps “lock the colors”.
- After you’ve hang-dried your gi, it’ll be pretty stiff. You can tumble it in the dryer on the “fluff” setting (no heat) to soften it up.
- Cotton pearl-weave. By far the most common. Pros: soft, strong, accepted at any tournament or school. Cons: hot, heavy, holds a stank.
- Ripstop. This is a thin, light material usually made out of cotton. Pros: lightweight (think: travel), cool. Cons: doesn’t absorb as much (gets saturated), not quite as strong as pearl-weave (though still usually very strong), may not be accepted at some tournaments like IBJJF.
- Hemp. No, you can’t smoke your gi. Hemp is purported to be stronger and softer than cotton, though I have found both of these claims to be false, at least with Datsusara brand. Also beware of gis with “hemp” in the name that are not actually hemp! Pros: antimicrobial (doesn’t hold a stank like cotton). Cons: shredding, shedding, stiffness/coarseness.
Rules and regulations:
- Some BJJ tournaments are strict about what they’ll allow in their competitions. For instance, IBJJF won’t let you wear rip-stop material, or your pink camo gi, or patches in the wrong places. If you’re planning to compete, best to buy a plain pearl-weave cotton gi in solid white or blue with no patches. And make sure it fits. The IBJJF gi specs are a good common denominator to go by. If you pass IBJJF, you’re pretty likely to pass other competition orgs.
- I don’t restrict what you’re allowed to wear gi-wise (within reason) – but at some point you’re going to be traveling somewhere and want to drop in on a local academy. Though rare, I’ve been to the odd gym that won’t let you wear any color other than white or blue. (Some gyms won’t allow you to wear anything other than their specific gi with their specific patches. Even for a drop-in, they’ll make you “rent” one of theirs. In that case, it doesn’t matter what you own. Generally I would say you should avoid that academy, but if it’s the choice between that and not rolling at all…)
- In summary, if you want to be reasonably sure your gi will be accepted anywhere, buy a plain white one that fits you properly.
Okay, now for some specific brands and distributors:
- X-Guard Brand Premium Standard Kimonos. This is a solid, dependable, no-frills gi for a reasonable price. I have had an A3 “Oakland” for some time now and it’s treated me really well. I have a wholesale account with X-Guard Brand, but I have to put together a large order (around seven gis) to get my discount. Contact me if you’re interested in doing this and don’t mind waiting while I accumulate the numbers.
- The Fuji Victory is, in my opinion, the best value-for-money gi on the market. I’ve had several of these over the years, and they have consistently been sturdy, reliable, comfortable, and well-fitted. If you are willing to be patient and keep your eyes peeled, you can sometimes get one of these on sale for $75.
- 93 Brand is great for basic, inexpensive gis and other fightwear.
- Hold Fast makes some really stylish, well-fitting and comfortable gis and rash guards for prices that aren’t too exorbitant.
- On that note, keep an eye on BJJ HQ. These guys sell one item at a time, usually for a ridiculously low price, and sometimes it’s a gi. When that happens, snatch one up.
- MMA Warehouse also tends to have pretty good deals a lot of the time.
- And, of course, you can find gis on Amazon.
Finally, don’t forget a belt.
Contact me if you want more shopping tips or advice. Good luck!