Jiu Jitsu Gi Buyer's Guide

If you’re going to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you’re going to need a gi (sometimes also called a kimono). Even if your goal is to be an MMA fighter and not a world class BJJ player, practicing jiu jitsu with a gi on can be a tremendous training aid. Training with a gi on makes grappling a more technical activity and can help you improve your submission defense, your hand placement and grip making and your guard passing to say the least.

We have assembled a guide to give you everything you need to know about jiu jitsu gi and how to get started.

Weaves

Jiu Jitsu gis are commonly classified by the type of fabric “weave” they are composed of. When referring to the weave, we are usually referring to the construction of the gi jacket, not the gi pants. However, buying a more durable gi jacket will usually always come with more durable gi pants.

Single Weave Fabric

Single Weaves

Single weave gis are the most basic jiu jitsu gi. They are cheap and light, but their thin composition makes them easier for your opponent to grip and hold onto. Single weave gis use the same fabric twisting pattern found in double weaves, but due to their lightweight they are often a good choice for extreme heats during the summer. A single weave kimono will be less durable than other heavier weaves, but if you are just starting out in Brazilian jiu jitsu a single weave might be a good idea as there is a lower upfront cost.
Some examples of single weave gi's would be the best selling Fuji Gi available in several colors: Fuji Gi White, Fuji Gi Blue, Fuji Gi Black

Pearl Weaves

Unless a gi is labeled as a single weave or a gold weave chances are these days that it is a pearl weave gi. These gi's are so named because the fabric results in a "bumpy" type of texture that can resemble tiny pearls. Typically pearl weave gi's tend to be midweight gi's that are a little more heavy duty than a single weave, but lighter than a gold weave. The pearl weave gi is typically about as strong as you can get, it resists stretching and while easier to grip than a gold weave is tougher to grip than a single weave or some other ultra light gi's. Examples of these would be the Gameness Pearl Gi, the MMA Outlet Core Gi, and the Koral MKM Gi.
MMA Outlet Pearl Weave Gi

Gold Weaves

Gold weaves are composed of fabrics that are kind of a hybrid of single weave and double weave. They are designed to be durable without adding all the weight of a traditional double weave gi, though they are heavier than a single weave gi. Gold weave gi's tend to shrink a little more than many other weaves so be careful when washing and drying.

Gold weaves were proposed as a way to ensure uniformity for competition by the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, however this is not enforced these days—as long as your sleeves and pants are long enough that is usually sufficient for IBJJF competition.

Gold weaves remain very popular due to their good combination of thickness (which can make it more difficult for your opponent to make good grips on you and choke you) while not being super heavy. A  good example of a gold weave gi is the Keiko Raca Gold Weave.

Gold Weave Fabric

Double Weaves

Double Weaves gis are more expensive and heavier than single weaves, however in recent years they have really fallen out of favor with most BJJ players. Due to their weight and relative stiffness double weaves can be a little uncomfortable if they don't fit just right.

For jiu jitsu competition, double weave gis, can be a better option than single weaves because their thickness and stiffness will make it more difficult for your opponent to hold onto. A drawback for double weaves is that they are usually very heavy and if you’re having trouble making weight for a jiu jitsu tournament, a double weave gi will make it that much harder for you (most tournaments require you to weigh in with your gi on).  

Ultra Light Gi's

Over the past few years, some gi manufacturers have begun offering a new type of lighter gi (even more lightweight than a single weave or a pearl weave). This is because of the greater emphasis on weight cutting for BJJ tournaments these days and because many players in hotter climates would prefer a kimono that isn't as hot to train in as compared to heavier gis.

Many of these new lightweight gi's have a weave that falls in the "other" category. Some resemble a honeycomb pattern, some more like a canvas weave or ripstop weave. Many of these new gis will incorporate ripstop pants (and often times a rip stop covering on the collar) to reduce weight without sacrificing strength and durability. Notable gis in this category include the Vulkan Ultra Light BJJ Gi. The biggest downside to these gi's is that due to the thinness of the material, they can often be easier for your opponent to grip and hold on to.

Gi Size Explanation

Sizing up Jiu Jitsu gis is difficult. Rather than working on a straight measurement method using inches or centimeters to measure gi jackets and pants, manufacturers simply supply a size. The sizes can vary fairly significantly across different manufacturers.

  • Most men's sizes are prefixed with an "A" for adult and range between A0 through A6 with A2 being the most common size.
  • Some gi manufacturers have different scale for their women's gis and are sometimes prefixed with "F".
  • Kid's gi sizing is all over the map

Gi Collars

Some gi jackets will have thicker and stiffer collars than others. This is more uncomfortable to wear, but will make it tougher for your opponent to choke you. Most gi collars are filled with cotton; however some new high performance kimonos are filled with rubber. The rubber has a slightly different feel, results in faster drying times and can reduce formation of bacteria and mildew.

How Many Gis Do I Need?

If you are training a few times a week, you’re probably going to need more than one jiu jitsu uniform unless you are really disciplined when it comes to doing laundry (and have a lot of spare time on your hands). Usually wearing a gi two times is the absolute max before you need to wash it. Wearing a smelly gi is really rude to your training partners and your gym.

What color gi?

The most traditional gi colors for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are white and blue. Most major tournaments will not let you enter without wearing one of these colors.

These days many bjj gi manufacturers are producing gi’s in a variety of colors like black, navy, red, yellow, pink and camouflage. If you are interested in buying one of these non-traditional gi’s it’s a good idea that you check with your instructor first, some schools do not allow them.

Taking Care of Your Gi

  • Always hang up you gi immediately after you get home from training to stop mold and mildew from growing on it as it will be very hot and wet.
  • Wash you gi’s, rashguards, knee braces etc separately from your other clothes; you don’t want your everyday clothes smelling like you training bag.
  • MOST GI’S ARE NOT PRE-SHRUNK! Always check whether or not your gi is pre-shrunk before you dry it. If your gi is NOT pre-shrunk and it already fits correctly, do not put it in the dryer as it can shrink significantly! Instead hang dry it.
  • If you put a colored patch on a white gi, make sure you wash it first. I have seen so many people walk into class with their nice white gi stained totally pink because they put a red patch on it.
  • Strong detergents can potentially be tougher on the cotton and shorten the lifespan on your gi, an alternative is to use a mild detergent like Woolite. If you have blood on you gi though, these stronger detergents have enzymes that will help break down and remove the blood.

Color Setting Your Gi

Some BJJ players recommend washing a colored gi in vinegar the first time to "colorset" it and reduce fading. I have not tried this as risk of having my gi smell like vinegar for all eternity far outweighs the benefit of reducing fading slightly. Do this at your own risk!

  1. Fill your sink or a bucket with enough water to submerge your gi
  2. Add 3-4 cups of white vinegar
  3. Let the gi soak for a few hours
  4. Put your gi in the wash as you normally would. Don't put any other items in the wash. Feel free to wash it again if you feel the vinegar smell is still there.

The vinegar wash only needs to be done once, but always remember to wash your colored gis on the "cold" setting unless you want to shrink the gi to fit you better.