Choosing a BJJ Gi can sometimes be a daunting experience especially as there are now so many different GI types and brands to choose from.
Below we will outline all of the things that you need to consider when choosing your BJJ GI.
The weave of a GI can determine the weight, thickness, manoeuvrability and comfort of a GI so decide what characteristics you want in a GI and then its easier to choose the weave of the GI. For a more detailed article on BJJ GI weaves you can read our article BJJ GI Weaves Explained.
GIs come in many different colours including white, black, blue, navy, red, pink, purple, yellow and camouflage. White, Black and Blue are the traditional colours and most brands will cover these colours. Also these 3 colours are the only colours allowed for IBJJF competitions like the mundials etc but if you’re looking to enter a comp in the UK you can pretty much wear whatever colour GI you want. Ive never seen anyone refused entry to a UK BJJ comp because of the colour of the GI they was wearing. If in doubt email the event organiser. It’s also good to check with your instructor if there are any restrictions on GI colour for your particular school. Again though in my experience it’s rare for a club to have restrictions on GI colour but it’s always good to check before buying a GI.
Gi lapels are normally filled with either cotton or rubber and covered in cotton or ripstop cotton. Cotton filled lapels are not used on that many GIs nowadays but can still be found on some GIs especially the lower value GIs and are lightweight and comfortable. Rubber filled lapels have the advantage of being lightweight, harder to grip and manipulate and dry faster because they dont absorb water or sweat. Stiffness and thickness of rubber lapels can vary with some being of medium stiffness like the Vulkan Prolight or super stiff like the keiko limited series or the atama mundial 9. Supple lapels have the advantage of you being able to use them easier for lapel chokes on your opponent (can also be used just as easy on you) or stiff lapels having the advantage of being hard for your opponent to grip or manipulate. It comes down to personal preference how stiff or supple you like your lapel to be.
BJJ GIs come in sizes ranging from A0-A6 with the most common sizes a company uses are A1-A4 and most people will fit one of these sizes. The problem that can sometimes be found is that people will fall between 2 sizes and they find it hard to find a GI that fits them properly. Because of this some companies have started offering more sizes. Although currently the other sizes aren’t common place I suspect they soon will be. Also A sizes can vary between manufacturer and can also vary between a brands own GIs depending of the cut and or material used.
The cut of the GI can vary between brands and also between brands own GIs but most GIs fall between a standard cut our tournament cut. The standard cut is found on most GIs and the tournament cut normally is found on the ultralight or tournament GI ranges. The main difference is that the tournament cut GIs tend to fit closer to the body and have tapered sleeves and trousers. The skirt is also normally shorter on the tournament cut.
Shrink to Fit Versus Pre Shrunk
Most GIs nowadays come pre-shrunk and some are ideal for shrink to fit. The preshrunk GIs go through a shrinkage process before the weave is made in to a GI. This will then have minimal shrinkage when you come to washing it. Some pre-shrunk GIs will still shrink a little after washing. Shrink to fit GIs or GIs that havnt been through the preshrink process are sometimes the preferred choice for people because they can get a fit thats perfect for them by shrinking a GI down to the preferred size. The shrinkage rate of a GI can vary between weaves. A tight weave like a pearl weave can have minimal shrinkage whereas a looser weave like a single or gold weave can produce a bit more shrinkage.
Gi trousers are normally made from cotton drill, canvass cotton or ripstop.
Cotton drill - is one of the most common materials used for BJJ GIs trousers and can be found on most BJJ GIs like the vulkan prolight and are my favourite type of material for trousers. The reason for this is that its lightweight, comfortable and very supple making it easier to move about in. Although thinner and lighter than some other trousers they can also be very durable. Look out for trousers that have reinforced areas (extra material) from the knee to the shin.
Canvass cotton - is an excellent material for GI trousers. It can vary in weight from light to heavy and is very strong and durable. A little stiffer that drill cotton, canvass cotton trousers are the best choice if your worried about ripping or splitting your trousers. Notable trousers made from canvass cotton are the trousers that come with Keiko Raca or Tatami GIs. Tatami make some of the best trousers out of any GI company in my opinion.
Ripstop cotton - is a relatively new material for BJJ GI trousers but more and more companies are using it for their GI trousers. The reason for this is that its VERY lightweight and also very strong and durable. The best pair of ripstop trousers ive seen on a GI is the pair that comes with the Atama Mundial 9. They are ridiculously lightweight. They are possibly the lightest pair of trousers ive seen with a GI.
Another thing to consider with trousers is the cut. Some will have a tailored/competition cut that will fit tighter to your body making it harder for an opponent to grip or control your legs. the standard cut trousers can fit a bit bigger but can provide better movement when having a roll.