By Robbin Gray:
What to Look For When Purchasing Your First Jiu-Jitsu Gi
In the early 1990’s the Gracie Family created the UFC as a way to showcase their unique and practical martial art known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. While jiu-jitsu had been around for quite some time it was the Gracie Family that gave it their own particular spin and brought it to mainstream America. Since the inception of the UFC and Royce Gracie’s domination of early events the number of participants in the sport has grown exponentially and a fighter pretty much can’t make it in the UFC without an above average knowledge of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or more commonly called just Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There are two categories within the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu category; gi and nogi. Gi Jiu-jitsu involves training in a traditional uniform which is known as a gi or kimono. Nogi Jiu-Jitsu involves training without the gi (wearing just shorts and a t-shirt).
In the early days training with the gi was a person’s only option, but as the sport grew and BJJ was incorporated into MMA the demand for nogi training became more popular. Essentially gi and nogi Jiu-Jitsu are the same, the only difference being that some of the techniques cannot be applied and some must be modified for nogi. Today there is an equal mix of people training in both types and you will rarely find a person who trains exclusively in gi or nogi. To train Jiu-Jitsu in a gi you will need to purchase one either from an instructor or on the Internet. The Internet is loaded with companies willing to sell you all types of gis, in various colors and with an infinite amount of patches on them. When you go looking for a gi you need to make sure that you are looking for ones specifically designed for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If you already train Karate or Taekwondo or come across a website selling these types of uniforms for a low price then you need to steer clear. Karate and Taekwondo uniforms are made of very thin material in comparison to BJJ gis and they won’t last very long due to the stress that will be placed upon them from regular training.
The first thing you need to do when purchasing a gi is decide what color you want. You will find a wide array out there, anywhere from pink to camo Gi’s. However, some schools only allow the traditional colors of white, blue, or black and if you plan on competing in certain tournaments these will be the only colors allowed. Your best bet for your first gi would be to stick with a white one. The second thing you need to do when picking out your kimono is to look at the website’s sizing chart. It will ask for your height and weight and for the most part all sizing charts are pretty standard. Now that you know your color and size you need to look at things like weight and material. Some companies make heavyweight Jiujitsu Gi’s, some have lightweight, while others have summer weight ones. Your material choices will be cotton or a blended material that is known as rip stop material. Your best bet with these options are to choose a lightweight, cotton gi that costs roughly $100 to $120. It’s good to stick with these options because you never know if you will like the class or wind up quitting 3 months down the line.
Best not to invest too much money into something you aren’t sure you will be sticking with. Now that you’ve made your choices place your order and wait for the gi to arrive. When you get your gi it is a good thing to try it on before you was it, because it will most likely shrink up upon laundering. If you like the way it fits then wash your gi in cold water and hang dry it. If you want a tighter, more custom fit then wash it in warm water and throw it in the dryer on high for 5 minutes at a time until it fits well and then let it hang dry the rest of the way. All future laundry sessions should be with cold water and a hang dry. Once you have completed all of these steps you are good to go and just need to get in the gym and train.
Robbin Gray is a staff writer for the MMA Zone. You can find her at the local Karate/Kickboxing or MMA training gyms when she isn’t writing about the martial arts.