White. Blue. Black. Pink? No, not Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt colors, though most of them are close. This time we’re talking about the traditional jiu jitsu Gi. It can be overwhelming to decide to start training jiu jitsu, and trying to make a decision about which gi to purchase can be a serious source of confusion. We’ve laid down some tips to help you with your purchases, whether you’re just starting out or moving to a new school.
Each school has their specific rules, and some affiliations will have school-wide standards to govern gis. Some academies require students to purchase their in-house gi with the school or affiliation printed on the gi. (On a side note, most schools will ensure their designs comply with IBJJF regulations regarding patches and lettering on gis during official competitions, but check to be sure.) If you attend a seminar and receive a patch, check with your school and the IBJJF rule book to make sure it is acceptable and compliant.
Students also have the option of ordering gi online from a gi retailer. Doing this is tricky, however, as gi fit is very important. Too big, and you risk your gi being used against you repeatedly while rolling in grips and submissions. Too small, and you’re going to find it difficult to do most of the moves. Not to mention that gi must meet measurement standards in IBJJF competitions, and a gi that is too short or too long on the ankles and wrists will get you disqualified from competition.
Another factor to consider is weight. Gis vary in weight from a couple pounds to several. This depends on the fabric used, and the purpose of the gi. Since most Jiu Jitsu competitions require competitors to weigh in before competitions, competition gis are typically a very light weave. For training, stronger gis in a heavier weave are preferred for their durability – they will hold up longer to sweat, washing, and pulling/tugging by teammates.
For those just beginning their training, it may be tempting to find a gi in a cool color or design. After all, a plain white gi is incredibly boring, right? But before shelling out the cash, it’s best to check with the owner of your school as to their rules and traditions. Stricter schools often allow white belts to only wear white gis, with blue gis reserved for blue belts and above, and black gis for brown and black belts (in some cases just black belts).
The options for gis are growing by the day as jiu jitsu gains popularity. Taking into consideration your purpose for the gi and your school’s standards before shopping will make your decision much easier.