Friday, September 30, 2011

Bleach and vinegar with gis-- sanitizing, setting dye

I bleach my gis. On average, I think I bleach gis (and rashguards, tshirts, athletic bras, etc) maybe once every 30-40 washes. But the last post on laundry safety got me to thinking about vinegar too, so I did a little reading, and here's my report!


After three years of occasionally bleaching my stuff, the worst effect I notice in terms of wear and tear on the material is a spot or two, about 1/2" by 1/2", on the collars of my oldest gis where the material has worn thin or shows the collar "interior" material.

Not even sure this is due to bleaching, as I see the same effects on other peoples' gis. Still definitely tough enough for long classes and rough use.

I know "they" say not to bleach but I have found every once in a while, even a freshly laundered piece of equipment will have a little smell to it... that's true of bathtowels that were left to sit on the floor instead of hung up, too. So whenever I get a whiff of "that smell," I know it's time to bleach.

I have a front loading washer, and I add bleach carefully to avoid weakening the fibers more in one spot than in another (and avoid bleach streaks on colored items)-- I start the washer with the clothing inside and let the water run till it's about to start agitating. I pause the cycle and put 1/4 c of bleach in the dispenser, then start it back up. The clothes don't sit with "straight" bleach on them for any length of time, they immediately start to slosh around in the water, and that seems to work pretty well.

I did a bad job of this with my navy Vulkan; I was in a hurry and decided to put the bleach in from the start. Now I will be dyeing my navy-with-denim-streaks gi a royal purple. So be careful about it-- if you're in doubt, put your bleach in a jug of water first and pour that in.

If you have a top-loader, fill the tub with water first, add bleach, swish around, and then add your clothing.

I described this process to, and got a little feedback from, a chemistry professor who specializes in the effects of chlorine bleach in laundry.

"We have found that bleach creates some potentially nasty by-products in fabrics. However, it is also an extremely effective and useful antimicrobial agent. If you're using it so seldom, you're probably splitting the difference quite well. Your laundering practices sound quite well considered to me.

Best of luck with your laundry!

Yours sincerely,

Alessandra Leri
Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science
Marymount Manhattan College
221 E 71st St.
New York, NY 10021
(212) 517-0661"

I emailed her back to ask: Could you give me an idea of what the "nasty by-products" are when you use bleach in the laundry? I occasionally bleach my sheets and towels too. Is there a way to categorize how much bleach is too much or too often? I googled this and wasn't able to come up with anything truly helpful...

She answered:

"Hi Georgette,
It's true; there's really no scientific research out there on this issue. We've actually just started assembling our results. I will have the dataset together soon, so I will keep you posted on the details!


But what about vinegar? Vinegar is commonly advocated to set the dye in new gis. So I did a little research about that first. A website for fabric designers and dyers debunks that myth:

"The problem is that you don't know what kind of dye was used when you buy a gi. A treatment that will help set acid dyes will tend to strip off fiber reactive dyes, while the carbonate that will set fiber reactive dyes won't do any good for union dyes. You must match such chemical treatments to the exact dye type that was used, for acceptable results. Furthermore, such treatments are best used at the time of dyeing, rather than much later.

Many people recommend 'setting' dye in cotton clothing [like gis] with vinegar. Vinegar is not the answer! In fact, vinegar can do nothing useful for cotton dyes. Vinegar will help set some acid dyes, but only if applied while it is gradually heated to a simmer (generally in the presence of salt), and solely in cases in which this necessary part of acid dyeing was omitted; acid dyes are used on silk, wool, or nylon, but never cotton.

There is only one type of product that you can buy that will actually set dye regardless of its type. A product called Retayne, sold by local quilter's supply shops as well as by most mail-order dye supply houses. Retayne and other commercial dye fixatives are the only real solution to commercial clothing that bleeds.

Retayne is a cationic bulking agent, which acts to seal in the dye by physical means, rather than the chemical bonds which are so dependent on the type of dye. It seems that the particles of Retayne adhere to the dye molecules, effectively making them larger, so they do not come out of the fabric as easily. Note that Retayne is washed in as a laundry additive, and thus can be used only on things that can be immersed at least once without the dye immediately floating off and ruining other parts of the same item. Retayne may be removed by washing with overly hot water, and thus treated items must be washed in cool water."

Huh, so there you go. You can quit marinating your new gis in vinegar!

What about using vinegar to kill bacteria and germs? Lizinha mentioned this on that last raucous post about laundry. I looked at the link she provided, but it didn't say anything about killing bugs-- though it did recommend vinegar for defeating perspiration stains and odor. Next, I hit up wikipedia:

"Vinegar is an acidic liquid produced from the fermentation of ethanol in a process that yields its key ingredient, acetic acid (ethanoic acid). It also may come in a diluted form. The pH of table vinegar ranges from 2.4 to 3.4[1] (higher if diluted). The acetic acid concentration typically ranges from 4% to 8% by volume for table vinegar and up to 18% for pickling vinegar. Natural vinegars also contain small amounts of tartaric acid, citric acid, and other acids. . . .

Vinegar has been used to fight infections since Hippocrates, who lived between 460-377 BC, prescribed it for curing persistent coughs. As a result, vinegar is popularly believed to be effective against infections.

Nonetheless, many sources caution against using vinegar as an antimicrobial agent, even full strength.

While vinegar has some antibacterial properties, they are too weak or inconsistent for it to be used effectively as a disinfectant. William A. Rutala, Susan L. Barbee, Newman C. Aguiar, Mark D. Sobsey, David J. Weber, (2000). "Antimicrobial Activity of Home Disinfectants and Natural Products Against Potential Human Pathogens". Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology (The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America) 21 (1): 33–38."

Here's an article on the pros and cons of using bleach vs. vinegar in a kitchen/food-safety context. The upshot-- studies that find vinegar kills germs are generally vague in terms of how much of the germs are killed and how much are left behind.

Another article suggested using "a few drops" of a natural oil such as tea tree oil in your laundry. They say, "Many essential oils are naturally antibacterial, including peppermint, tea tree oil, oregano, lemon, thyme, and eucalyptus. Essential oils are not safe to consume or to apply undiluted to the skin, but they can be added to household cleaning solutions, soap, and loads of laundry. It is important to obtain high grade essential oils, with only a few drops being needed in a cleaning solution. Consumers should also be aware that essential oils do not kill 100% of bacteria, although many are very effective. Tea tree oil also kills fungus, and can be used on mold and mildew in places like the bathroom."

I find it hard to believe that "a few drops" in your washer would be sufficient and since a tiny bottle of tea tree oil costs about $5-6, I think that would get old quick. Though I think a lemon/tea tree-scented gi would be lovely! That article also pointed out that vinegar in the laundry will remove soap residue and leave your clothing fluffy. Didn't say squat about germs.


All in all, a little bleach every once in a while goes a long way towards killing the bad stuff in your gi, and has the side effect of making it smell summer-y fresh (if you like a faint scent of swimming pool when you get really hot and sweaty.) Vinegar neither sets the dye on your gi nor effectively kills the germs, unless you spray it full-strength onto the fabric and let it sit. But it is less chemical-y that way, which is good for the environment.

One thing vinegar is REALLY good for-- salad dressing!

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional*
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
spring greens
Assortment of salad ingredients, such as cherry tomatoes, chopped carrots, sliced red onion, chopped celery, diced cucumbers, walnuts
Blue cheese, for garnish


If using a good quality balsamic vinegar you should not need the sugar, but if using a lesser quality you might want the sugar to round out the dressing.

Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the optional sugar, garlic, salt and pepper until sugar and salt dissolves. Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.) Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the salad mix and desired salad ingredients, top with blue cheese and serve immediately.

If not using dressing right away, cover and refrigerate, whisking or shaking again before use.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ideal training partner.

I've been thinking about what qualities make up the ideal training partners lately, mainly as I count my blessings for having many many people who fit the bill.

I can summarize it by saying it's kind of like how you know when two people probably have a great marriage-- because they both believe they got the better end of the deal.

I rolled with a guy in morning class today that I'd say is one of my ideal training partners.  We both sat after our roll and insisted that the other person kicked our ass.  Yeah, sometimes that's one person being sincere and the other person being nice (and it could have been that this morning; I was definitely being sincere, and he was definitely kicking my ass.)  But that's still part of the ideal thing.  Every day isn't an ass-kicking day; it's nice to have a partner who is warm and positive about the things we do right even when it's our day to be the ass that gets kicked.

My ideal training partners are a smaller subset of those I consider favorites.  Why?  Well, some of my favorite training partners are years ahead of me in experience and technique; some are enormously big and strong; some are a little newer to the game than me.  I love training with them for many different reasons, and they all share some of these qualities-- but an ideal partner has all of these:

  • Not so physically disparate that one needs to hold back to make it fair
  • Kind, generous, enthusiastic, supportive
  • Aggressive, not timid, so you can be the same way
  • Evenly matched enough that you feel any letting up will result in your loss of position
  • Evenly matched enough that even with best effort and good technique, you might still not get a submission
  • Evenly matched enough that regardless of who gets position/submission in the end, you'll both transition through successes and mistakes on the way
  • Creative and open-minded
  • Clean and well-groomed
  • Finds joy and laughter in the process; isn't too critical of themselves or others
  • Focuses time and energy into efficiently using training time
  • Spends some time off the mats thinking about jiu jitsu
What makes an ideal training partner for you? :)

Oh-- here's a recipe for some good food.  This satisfies ALL my requirements for a "great" recipe: it's quick and easy, inexpensive, attractive to look at, delicious, and very very healthy. It travels AND refrigerates well and it can be eaten hot or cold. I like to double the batch and bring it to work for lunch. Sometimes I add chopped red bell pepper to the onion and garlic saute.  Sometimes I put in halved cherry tomatoes or kalamata olives; basil instead of parsley (I don't care for cilantro) and pine nuts or walnuts and feta or goat cheese.  You can toss in grilled chicken or shrimp, but the quinoa is an excellent source of complete protein. It's also excellent just the way it is!

Black Beans and Quinoa-- makes 10 servings; 76 calories per serving

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.

Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,

Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

Enjoy!  And good luck to everyone competing this weekend! :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Custom BJJ gi?

Any experience with custom gis y'all want to share?

So far I've heard of two companies:  Fushida and Killer Bee.  Looking for input for a friend.

Taking notes.

I used to take notes that were anal in their completeness, every class.  (Like most BJJ bloggers, I started out blogging a mind-numbing recitation of every move, thinking that I could just use my blog as a clever online note review service.  Fortunately that didn't last too long, thanks to Mike Webber in California and my then-instructor Phil.  Long story.  Anyway.)

Now I don't really take notes unless it's a seminar or a private lesson.  This morning, I came to our little jiu jitsu lab session with my notebook, ready to review some things from a private and a seminar with Hillary Williams.

Only it was like interpreting cuneiform scribblings on a temple wall somewhere.  Oh, I could read my writing-- it's just that it seemed to refer to arcane rituals having nothing to do with jiu jitsu.

"Halfway grip- punch through hard- tight under- slide knee."

Or the teaser--

"Counter to counter- americana from armbar."


Some of the stuff was done right thank goodness... the Rafa Mendes pass for the halfguard with their knee in your hip... and I got to practice it a bit on a willing brownbelt.  Scott, a purple, helped me sort out the one that starts with "Halfway grip" though I never did get the counter to counter one.

The nice thing about Hillary is, if she didn't write up a handout with all the techniques, she'll gladly email you an answer to your question later.  She's super cool about that (though now that she's in med school, I think I'll wait till Christmas to ask!)

I wish more instructors would let you videotape seminars and privates.  I get it, some asshole burned them and put it on youtube.  (I wish the most awful karma on whoever does that!)  But I promise, I wouldn't.  However-- what I should be doing is pairing up with a friend from the same seminar, and videotaping US doing the techniques as soon as possible after the seminar.  Ideally, after we have the instructor "vet" our execution just to make sure we have it right.

I owe Monica a typed-up version of my notes from the Hillary seminar, which might help me figure them out.  And I owe Ben my Rodolfo Vieira notes, in exchange for some notes he took at another seminar I can't even remember.  LOL.

Happy training, y'all :)

Oh one more thing-- Cane Prevost did a lesson on mount bottom with some very nice structured teaching, and it happens to dovetail really well with what Donald taught in his last seminar.  Check out the mount bottom lesson here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Great times at another all-women open mat....

Another great Girls in Gis open mat this Sunday afternoon-- and though I missed the Renzo/Sperry superfight to attend, it was worth it.

We had a surprising number of upper belts in attendance-- three brownbelts, at least two purples, and then a horde of blues and whites. (Including three ladies who have been training 3 weeks, 1 week, and only 2 classes!)

This is Gabriela Mueller on the left who, with her husband, runs Team Gacho Jiu Jitsu (Macaco/Chute Boxe) in Spring, TX, and my instructor, Christy Thomas, on the right.  (All photos courtesy of my sweet husband, who came for the last couple minutes because he wanted lunch!)

Many thanks to the host school, Sean Cooper's Trainers Elite MMA for opening their doors to the group (this is where my husband trains, by the way!) and to their resident "head lady in charge" Helen, for running the warmup and teaching some techniques. Helen just got her blue belt so the feather weight blue belt division in Texas is larger by one... I usually only see 2-3 gals in that division at local tournaments and it's nice to see another lady join the ranks.

She taught a single leg takedown to halfguard pass to side control to a clock-like choke using the farside lapel under the arm and behind the head. She also taught a scissor leg takedown, as a counter to a single leg, that ends up with a kneebar. It was something like this:

I partnered up with a visiting brownbelt from New York who's in Texas for work, and had a great time. She and I skipped the scissor takedown; it looked a little iffy and I am happy to have a two whole meniscii right now :)

The open mat portion was fantastic. I got to roll with a brand new girl who has all the right basics and big-picture concepts... then Elena, a blue belt from Austin who trains at Paragon.. that was fun too because I'd never met her or seen her before, and we're about the same size, and she has a spunky, sassy personality. I feel like a little kid on the first day of school sometimes, all excited about making new friends. You think you know "everyone" who does jits in your hometown, until you find out you don't-- and it puts a smile on my face to add to my list.

Then I got to roll with Libbie, the NY gal. Whooooo, we had an epic roll. The kind I love because I feel like my body and brain are connected for once... I'm flowing, for once... things are working and clicking and my inside voice isn't getting in the way, for once :) I think we rolled for about 20 minutes! I finally had to just quit to catch my breath (no damn cardio!)

And then I finally had a roll with Lana, another Texas blue belt I know pretty well but have never rolled with. It was all going okay, she has a good guard and I was struggling to pass, until then, I was all tied up and had to stop a sweep by posting on my forehead. It was forceful enough that my sweaty noggin skidded on the mat a bit-- I actually asked her right then if she'd heard the sound effect of my skid-- but I foiled the sweep and got the pass. But then, cue sad music-- while I held side control I felt my nose start to bleed! Boo! Turns out I probably posted on my FACE. SAD FACE. So I cleaned up and by then it was time to head next door for lunch at an Italian place. Yum. I was good, too, I just had a big salad.

Just a quick comment about ADCC this weekend-- duh, Marcelo Garcia! and duh, Michelle Nicolini!

And last-- why wasn't Caio Terra competing? is it backlash against his outspoken stance regarding the use of performance enhancing drugs? Read all about it in Matt Little's latest interview on

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The dark side of just drying, not washing, your gi.....

Fair warning-- I copied and pasted from various emails into this blog post and screwed up the font color in places, somehow.  Instead of it all being white text on dark grey background, some is black text on dark grey, and I have insufficient HTML skills (and patience) to fix it.  I'm sorry!  please let me know if you can't read the black parts!

Meg posted a fascinating piece on her blog, MegJitsu, about a couple who are exploring a new way to stay clean and fresh in jiu jitsu.    Michelle and Brandon Bledsoe, white and black belts, respectively, out of Wolf Clan Combat Sports in Knoxville, Tennessee, "wash" their gis without water.  Huh!  I checked Brandon out and he is legit-- just got his black belt this year under Helio Soneca and competes in jits as well as MMA.  So this is no random guy training alone in the basement with youtube for 6 months; he obviously cares about his students and his own safety.

Meg says they "tumble dry [their] gi with a dryer sheet for 10 minutes on a delicate setting/very low heat after class. I had to ask Michelle, do gi ‘washed’ in this manner start to stink as soon as sweat or moisture hits them?"  Michelle's answer was:

"Nope, no smell at all. People actually comment on how good they always smell! Because you are evaporating the sweat, there is no bacteria sitting in the fabric. It’s awesome! Brandon has been doing this for years and years. He has gis 8 years old that look brand new!"

Sorry, but among many others, I found this hard to swallow.  I don't know what Michelle and Brandon do for a living, but I know I'm not an expert in this stuff.  So, I found some experts and they say--


I emailed chemists, microbiologists, textile scientists, experts in "linen and laundry management" and the like.  This is what I asked--

* * * *
I train in a martial art called jiu jitsu. We all wear heavy uniforms (called "gi") to train in and they are usually soaked in sweat when we finish a session. Normally we wash in hot water with detergent (some air dry, some machine dry) and count them "clean." But recently someone claimed that the gis would be just as safe if we immediately dried them on hot in the dryer-- on the theory that drying out the sweat at high heat will kill the bacteria, and therefore you could just go a whole week or longer (up to 6-8 weeks!) without  "washing" your gi, saving water and wear on the fibers.

See this article here for a discussion:

Please help me find someone who knows whether this would be safe! I would like to provide a scientific point of view for the discussion, not just anecdotal opinion.

* * * *

Please notice I kind of changed the question.  Michelle and Brandon advocate drying on the gentle/low-heat cycle.  I asked about drying on high heat.  I should have left the parameters the same, but I know I wouldn't personally feel comfortable about drying on low heat absent a wash with detergent.

Here are their answers.  First, from a PhD chemist and professor of textile science in Austria.  (His English is way better than my German.  I am so impressed with him and not impressed with my provincial self.)

"Dear Georgette,

we received your email an I will try to answer.
First I had a look on your discussion page [the MegJitsu blog post and comments after] and found the following comments:

"To achieve sterility, a holding time of at least 15 minutes at 121 °C (250 °F) or 3 minutes at 134 °C (273 °F) is required.  The standard properly functioning in home dryer runs around 175°C."

The general comment on sterility is right and you see, you will need quite harsh conditions to kill all microorganisms.

There is an error in the temperature of a home dryer, which most probably is 175 °F not 175 °C. Thus you cannot expect that your clothing will be free of microorganisms after a tumble drying.

What you will achieve is a reduction in population due to shorter growth time, effect of temperature and removal of liquid water (sweat), thus development of odor may be reduced, however I expect a considerable population to be alive (e.g. in stasis form) after such treatment.  In any case all non-volatile components released during perspiration with sweat will remain in the cloth e.g. salt, grease, ..
Just check the composition of sweat at wickipedia.

So after all you will have to chose between:

Real hygienic conditions e.g. by use of appropriate washing cycle or appearent hygiene, where odor and smell will be the primary quality parameters (not purity of the cloth).

Kind regards

Univ. Prof. Dr. Thomas Bechtold
Research Institute for Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics
University Innsbruck
Hoechsterstrasse 73
A-6850 Dornbirn
Tel.: +43 5572 28533 579
Fax: +43 5572 28629"

Next answer, from a professor of chemistry and environmental science in New York:

"Hi Georgette,

Laundering your gi with soap and water is a key step in getting rid of the microbes that would be festering on them after a heavy workout session. The mechanical action of machine washing loosens the bacteria, and the soap and surfactants in the detergent bind with them so the water can wash them away. If you just dry the clothes, you may kill a large proportion of the microorganisms, but you would be leaving organic residues on the fabric that would basically provide food for microbes to re-colonize afterwards. And the resulting build-up of crud would probably make the uniforms unusable faster than the effects of regular laundering anyway!

Detergent companies are very interested in the idea of cold-water washing these days, both for the purposes of saving energy and reducing wear and tear on fabric from washing in hot water. In fact, there was an excellent piece on that topic in the NY Times this past week:

Perhaps these cold-water detergents, which cost the same as the conventional kind, could provide an effective solution for washing your gi while reducing wear from hot water.

Also, drying on the line in the sun is a great way to kill microbes while saving energy.

A microbiologist would probably have a better answer for you, but I hope that helps. My specific expertise lies in the chemistry of chlorine bleach in laundry applications--I assume you're not bleaching your uniforms?

Best of luck,

Alessandra Leri
Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science
Marymount Manhattan College
221 E 71st St.
New York, NY 10021
(212) 517-0661"

The next is from the president of a company called Aquarecycle. 

"The Aqua Recycle® Laundry Water Recycle System is the only proven system on the market that will reclaim and reuse ALL of your laundry wastewater." 

Sounded like they might have some insight, perhaps less thana microbiologist or textile scientist but what the hey. 
The principals of the company have advanced degrees as varied as Marine Geochemistry, Physical Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Commercial Resort Management, and Mechanical Engineering. 

One dude has "24 year laundry industry experience includes Vice President of Consulting overseeing such prestigious clients as Ritz Carlton, Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott. He also held Vice President and Regional Management Positions for two of the largest commercial healthcare and hospitality linen rental corporations. While with these companies, he had responsibility for 12-laundry plants processing in excess of 200 million pounds annually. He entered the laundry business working for the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida. During his 10-year career with Disney, he played a significant part in the development, construction and operation of one of the largest laundry facilities in the United States processing over 100 million pounds of linen and 13 million garments, annually." 

So I believe they have some chops in regards to the chemistry of clean laundry.  Here's what the company president told me:

Thanks for the email. Its funny you should email me about this. My 26 yr old son is a huge jiu jitsu competitor. He has his purple belt [under Helio Soneca/Ranieri Paiva in Marietta Georgia, at X3 Sports] and competes nationally so I understand better than most. That being said, he has also come home with Staff infections and those are not something you take lightly.

The wrestling process, the sweat, the co-mingling of fluids between wrestlers and the environment produce a lot more than just bacteria. There are all kinds of human organics and fluids there and words can not describe how important it is to insure proper sanitizing of the uniforms. . . you can never cut corners even though the dryers are a good disinfectant; there is never a 100% guarantee of disinfection. I am not a launderer and not really a scientist either (I do have them in my organization) but when recycling laundry wastewater, we have several different disinfection processes going on (Ozone, UV, Active Alkalinity) and this is after the normal washing process that includes chlorine, hot water, detergents and such. Bacteria lives everywhere and each environment has to be handled differently since some can live in each environment. It’s a continuous battle and the best you can do is keep them at bay.
Please make sure these are washed, and always in HOT WATER. 140 – 160 degree [Fahrenheit] hot water for at least 5 minutes is always the safest and the most sanitary process.
Take care,
Jeff Lebedin, President
450 Ridgewater Drive
Marietta, GA 30068
(770)565-8488 (Plant)"

I still haven't heard back from Dr. Pourdeyhimi at the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University or Dr. Fairbanks at the Association of Linen Management, but I think I'm satisfied with what I was able to learn already.

I believe it is unsanitary and probably risking some infections to not wash your gi in water and detergent after every single training session.  I do not think drying on high heat alone (much less low heat or the gentle cycle!!!) is enough to remove the organic materials and the microbes from the cloth.  I love when people smell clean, and when a colored gi doesn't fade-- but even more importantly I want them to BE clean when I roll.  After all, if you stood in front of a fan naked after class, evaporated the sweat off your skin and hair, and then sprayed a little cologne or perfume on.... would you be clean???????

I have only been training three years, but I (until recently) was training 7 days a week, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day, so I am well versed in the demands that laundering 1-3 gis a day can put on the water bill and the laundry room, as well as on the fabric.  (Now you see why I have 18+ gis in the rotation.)  But I'd rather wear the crap out of some gis and frazzle them into uselessness in 2-3 years (though that hasn't happened yet) than have pristine looking/smelling gis with colonies of bacteria and so on in them.

However, to each their own.  So it's worth making sure you're clear with your training partners (and sadly, opponents in tournaments) whether they subscribe to the no-water-wash school of thought, so you can assess your level of risk and comfort, etc.

THANK YOU MegJitsu for the very thought-provoking post and thanks Michelle and Brandon for sharing your method with us!  Maybe this will encourage a re-evaluation of the cleaning process :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Troy Davis execution.

Because I'm a lawyer I have been asked a few times recently what I think of the Troy Davis execution.  People send me links to stories and ask me if I agree with them.  

Keep in mind I'm just giving you my average-Jane opinion without knowing anything about the case other than what I read on the internet.  It's not a Texas case so it's completely outside my realm of information.  I won't repost the links people send me because the articles are usually by these raving lunatics (essentially) screaming about how wrong it is for Davis to be executed.  If you pay no attention to this sort of stuff in the news, the short version is, Davis was executed recently in Georgia, for the 1989 murder of a police officer, over the objections of lots of people, who objected because 7 of the 9 eyewitnesses who testified against him at trial have since "recanted."  I say "recanted" in quotes because the exceptionally poor reporting in all the articles I could find failed to make it clear exactly what the 7 witnesses now say vs. what they said at the time of the trial in 1991.  

Anyway, here's an email I was about to send to my friend, which I wanted to post here as a discussion point/starter with you, my other friends.

* * * * *

First let me say that since it's a Georgia case, I won't know any of the inside scoop.  But I agree, at first glance, 7 of 9 sounds scary.  In fact I'm going to blog about this after doing a little reading, thanks for motivating me! :)

Couple thoughts.

1.  2 didn't recant.  Is 2 eyewitnesses enough? maybe yes maybe no-- what was their testimony?  What if it was a crime with only 2 eyewitnesses?  But something to consider.

2.  Why did the 7 recant?  who were they in relationship to the case? who were they as people, what kind of character, and what about the 2 who didn't recant? why didn't they?

I went to a pro-death penalty site to see what they had to say.   Not that I want bias, but as you pointed out, some of the more mainstream media has its own bias, so I'm looking for a new point of view.  Here's what they said:

"Troy Anthony Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in 1989.

On August 19, 1989, Troy Anthony Davis was at a Burger King restaurant with friends and struck a homeless man named Larry Young in the head with a pistol when Young refused to give a beer to one of Davis's friends. Officer MacPhail, who was working an off-duty security detail at the Greyhound bus terminal next door, heard Young cry out and responded to the disturbance. Davis fled and, when Officer MacPhail, wearing his full police uniform, ordered him to stop, Davis turned and shot the officer in the right thigh and chest. Although Mark MacPhail was wearing a bullet-proof vest, his sides were not protected and the bullet entered the left side of his chest, penetrating his left lung and his aorta, stopping at the back of his chest cavity. Davis, smiling, walked up to the stricken officer and shot him in the face as he lay dying in the parking lot. The officer's gun was still strapped in his holster and his baton was still on his belt.

Davis fled to Atlanta and a massive manhunt ensued. The next afternoon, Davis told a friend that he had been involved in an argument at the restaurant the previous evening and struck someone with a gun. He told the friend that when a police officer ran up, Davis shot him and that he went to the officer and "finished the job" because he knew the officer got a good look at his face when he shot him the first time. After his arrest, Davis told a cellmate a similar story. He was arrested after surrendering a few days after the murder.

Trial began exactly two years to the day of Officer MacPhail's murder. This resulted in Davis' conviction for murder after less than two hours of deliberation by the jury, and in the imposition of a death sentence after seven hours of deliberation. He was also convicted of obstruction of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. One of the two counts of aggravated assault arose from an incident where Davis shot into a car that was leaving a party an hour before the murder of Officer MacPhail.

Michael Cooper was struck in the head by a bullet, severely injuring him and leaving the bullet lodged in his jaw. Ballistics tests matched the shells from the murder of the police officer to shells found at a party earlier in the evening where Michael Cooper had been shot. Cooper identified Davis as the shooter.

Even though the US Supreme Court rejected his final appeal without dissent in June of 2007, Davis received a 90-day stay from the state pardons and parole board just one day before his July 17, 2007 execution date. The stay was granted to examine claims by witnesses that they had given erroneous testimony or were no longer certain about their identification of Davis.

Mark MacPhail's son, 18-year-old Mark Allen MacPhail Jr. spoke against the 2007 stay to members of the Board of Pardons and Parole. "I told them how it felt having him ripped away from me at such an early age. Picture having Father's Day and having no one to give anything to," MacPhail said he told the board. Anneliese MacPhail, mother of the slain officer, commented to a reporter after learning that Davis's request for a new trial was denied in March 2008. "I wonder, what do all those witnesses remember after 18 years? There is no new evidence. No mother should go through what I have been through." Mark's wife Joan MacPhail said she has lost her best friend, the father of her two children and now her peace of mind as appeals for Davis have drawn on for almost two decades. "It's like another punch in the stomach," she said. "You have to relive that night over and over. That's so wrong. Why shouldn't we have peace in our lives?"

About the changing witnesses, the Georgia Supreme Court stated that most of the witnesses who recanted "have merely stated they now do not feel able to identify the shooter." The majority could not ignore the trial testimony, "and, in fact, we favor that original testimony over the new."

The son of a U.S. Army Ranger, Mark MacPhail was a graduate of Columbus High School in Georgia. His mother, Anne, still lives in Columbus, Georgia. Davis received another stay of execution before his September 23, 2008 execution date. UPDATE: After a delay of approximately three hours, the U.S. Supreme Court denied without comment a request for a stay of execution for Troy Davis."

So I read that and then dug and dug trying to find out which 7 of the 9 witnesses recanted.  All I can find is that "some" say they were "pressured" by police.
What if the ones who didn't recant were a) Michael Cooper, the guy who Davis shot in the head just before killing McPhail, with the recovered bullet that matched the one in McPhail, and b) the friend in Atlanta to whom Davis confessed?

In a general sense, without looking at the facts of this specific case, here's what I think.  Most capital murders happen without a bunch of witnesses.  Sometimes the only witness(es) are less than stellar characters.  What if it's a jailhouse snitch, who, 20 years down the road, changes his tune to get some notoriety, some facetime on TV?  can I think of half a dozen reasons even an honorable person with good character would have second thoughts or doubts years later?  sure.  What if their memory is fuzzy now but wasn't so fuzzy then? 

That's all.  It's a little disturbing that these journalists are jumping on the bandwagon and not reporting the bare bones facts that would enable an average reader to assess the importance of "those 7" versus "those two."  These articles are just glossing over what the 7 said versus the 2 said, both at trial and now.  Poor reporting!


Today's deal at is a navy Vulkan UltraLight gi for $120-- shipping only $5.

I love history, I love old stuff, I love sociology, and I love good journalism. That plus a healthy dose of luck can be found in what I consider a great read-- Slate's 5-part series on the Manhattan Trade School for Girls.  The last article in the series came out today and I really enjoyed it.

The New York Times did another cool article about the Gym Jones phenomenon.  I'd love to spend a month there.  I'd probably hate it while in it, but love the result. 

Shoutout to Ryan, another BJJ Newbie :)  Let's give him some props for fighting his "cheeseburger and cigarette addiction" as he puts it... nothing like jits to help motivate you on that score.

I am sore... nothing like jumping back into working out and training when you've been a lazy ass all summer to help you realize the error of your ways.  I realized it's easily been since spring that I really put time or effort into my training.  I had to take time off for my knee, sure, but really it was laziness plus vacation plus work busy time.  Blech.  One 12 minute roll and I need to take a breather.  Some little short sprints in my noontime conditioning class and I'm gasping like a beached fish.  It's pretty sad.  God I hope it all comes back soon!

Recently a brownbelt told me that they noticed when I go to these women's open mats I tend to "play possum" a bit and not exert myself fully.  Although I think it's fine to be mellow and chill, I realized that tendency was partially me protecting myself and my ego-- if I don't try my 100%, then I can't blame my lack of technique or skill when I/if I lose.  Which just reveals the flaw in my thinking-- you can't lose in jiu jitsu.  Especially when it's not a tournament match.  It's just a tap!  Who cares!  So I told myself I would allow myself to try my best more often and if that wasn't adequate, it would be a better use of my time on the mats-- a more pure diagnostic, in a way.

So what happened?  I rolled after class with one of the girls at my academy who just happened to also be thinking she doesn't go hard enough and needs to go harder.  She's very cool, recently got her blue belt but probably has been rolling like a blue belt for a while.  She's maybe 6" taller than I am and has good technique and instincts.  I will admit, in the past I'd never thought she didn't go hard enough-- she's very aggressive and at times I have felt a little afraid.  So it was like a perfect storm-- both of us thinking we needed to go harder, and our mutual energies fed upon themselves and each other.

After about 2 minutes, I accidentally scratched her when reaching for a collar grip and she made a comment, which prompted us to spontaneously pause and collect ourselves.  We briefly analyzed what was going on and it seemed like we were on a collision course for ever-increasing intensity, not to the benefit of my own technique/execution for sure.  That pause and conversation was exactly what we/I needed... because we went on from there much more productively.  It was still very energetic grappling, giving no quarter and asking none, and very exciting in moments-- but without the feeling of franticness I'd had.  And at the end, I had to confront how difficult it had been for me to pass her guard, which showed me some errors in my movement and directions for future work.  All in all, a really good bit of training that left me breathing very hard but smiling.

This weekend is the ADCC! Brackets are up here!  DH and I got the pay-per-view so when chores and such allow, I'll be watching.  There's also a seminar Saturday morning taught by Royler bb Donald Park, which I am eagerly looking forward to, plus UFC Saturday night.. and then a Girls in Gis here in Austin on Sunday which I plan on attending.  And more digging in the garden needs doing... two gis to dye (a friend's, chocolate brown, and my navy Vulkan which got uglified by a bleach accident, which I'm dyeing purple..)  And still nutty busy with work.

Hope you have a great weekend and hope you get to watch some Abu Dhabi!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Get your STYLE here!!!

I have to admit, I'm not a big jiu jitsu reader.  Or watcher for that matter.  The time that I do have for jiu jitsu I pretty much carve out of other responsibilities and it gets spent on the mat.  You know I haven't been blogging as much and that's because work is crazy these days-weeks-months.  Well, I make an exception for BJJ Style magazine.  I like it way better than GracieMag.  I like it because it's like my favorite cooking magazine... it doesn't just give you a recipe, it also tells you why different techniques work, and it covers everything from appetizers to desserts.

They're on Issue Four now and every issue has been quality.

I really enjoy the visual consistency, the typography, the use of white space and color...
Wait a minute... wtf?  Seriously!  I love the content.  It's like a private lesson.  On twenty different things.  That I can keep and refer to later.  (Don't you hate privates where they don't let you videotape?)

Plus, I can access it electronically through the website "pocket mags."  Or I can get it in a glossy fabulous paper version.  You can even get it on itunes!  This is great because I can show a friend something when I'm at their house, or pull it up online at the academy, or (shhh) flip through it on the computer while at work... on lunch break! of course!

So what's in this beauty and is it worth the 4 British pounds per issue price?  (Sorry couldn't find the little cursive L symbol!)  Or almost 50 pounds for the last 6 issues of this year to be delivered outside of Europe?  (For us Yanks, that's $78... but each issue covers two months, so by my calculations, that means a subscription of 10 issues covers 20 months.)

Roger Gracie, the guest editor, shares some personal reflections: "I don't consider myself the best fighter, but I think I am one of the most consistent fighters over the years... Many peoples' lives change and their jiu jitsu may have suffered as a result, but for the past 15 years all I have been focused on is training, competing, and trying to be the best that I can."  He notes that if he had to name one 'best,' "Wellington 'Megaton' Dias as he has been going for such a long time, way before I got my black belt.  He doesn't always get gold, but he is still there fighting, often in the adult division, showing what he is all about; this guy is a better competitor than me!"

The news room shares the ADCC competitor list, a bit about the Swedish Open 2011, and a September/October tournament schedule (UK only, dammit, but they have a market focus, that's cool.  And so many tournaments in the US, the magazine would be a book each month otherwise.)

Big picture: a striking image from the archives-- twins Joao and Paulo Miyao from Sao Paulo, who closed out purple light feather at Worlds.

Ricardo dela Riva- the man behind the guard-- not your typical Carlson bb, only 64kg, "Only so much crushing top game" from this legend.  By our own Can Sonmez (Slidey) and photos by Seymour Yang!  Interesting insights plus a graphic review of a few guards which lists a master of each.  This was very useful for me as I start to catch up on all the amazing jiu jitsu that's come before my first exposure to the scene... will help me decide who to youtube for what, too.

Escapes with Nick Brooks-- Brabo choke escape to modified shoulder or wrist lock.  Escaping side control into americana from bottom or reversal.  Excellent phography, different color gis, no distracting backgrounds... 

ADCC Preview-- listing key contenders, past multiple-champions and competitors discussed.

BJJ Globetrotter-- Christian Graugart's long-awaited article and photos from his trip around the world learning that indeed, we all are one.

Robson Moura-- by Callum Medcraft, head honcho in charge, and photos by Seymour-- red and white letters on blue background is cute but not necessarily the easiest to read.  Also photos a little stiff.  But good questions posed to one of the little guys I'd like to model and one of the founders of Nova Uniao.

Fluid cutting for weighins,  by Stephen McKirgan, a high performance exercise coach, sports therapist and Chek (?) practitioner in London.  I'm loving quality advice by someone more experienced than "I used to wrestle."  Describes a flushing technique for a week out involving added salt to water-- new twist for me.  3 other methods for 0-36 hrs out, 2-48, and 20-72.  Not looking forward to cutting weight but when you gotta, you gotta.

Master Class-- Meo Negao's secret moves.  Single leg defense to omoplata and an adapted armlock from half guard.  Like it.  Like it a lot.

Roberto "Gordo" Correa-- half guard inventor and innovator.  He had a serious knee injury but couldn't stay off the mats (shocking!)  so, he did what any self-respecting injured jitsuka wishes they could do-- invent a new game to accomodate!  He developed meia-guarda and instructor Jean Jacques Machado encouraged him to cultivate this style.  "My game was half guard, take the back and make them tap, not just sweep and two points or an advantage."  Sweet.

BJJ Doctor-- Doctor in the house Braulio Estima answers your questions.  Escaping side control.  Is purple belt too soon to teach? and advice for a new instructor.  How much time spent on "weak" areas? The doctor prescribes 30-40% plus dedicated positional sparring too.  Control for using open guard offensively and not getting passed (transition from spider to DLR).  Whitebelt kept getting caught in triangles = open and closed tri defense.

Review corner-- DVD and app reviews-- Roy Dean's White Belt Bible, Brazilian BB app from Felipe Costa, and "Mobile Black Belt" app BJJ Chokes by Aparecido Faria.  I didn't even read these because I want to watch mine with fresh eyes.

Caio Terra-- the lightest absolute champion-- the TERRA!

He says: "I rather play top than bottom.  The only reason I play bottom most of the times at tournaments is because it's easier to sweep than pass smaller guys' guards.  I think nogi has nothing to do with playing bottom or top and also think that it's a different sport than gi BJJ."  Man got his bb in less than 3 1/2 years!  "If your technique is similar or almost similar to a bigger or stronger opponent, he will win.  If you have a much superior understanding than a larger or stronger opponent, you have good chances of beating him.  I do not train too hard, I study BJJ."  I think it was SUPER cool that the interviewer asked about the beef between Caio and Gabi Garcia (but I'll let you read the issue to hear what he says about it!)

Kit Bag- Bull Terrier New Star gi; Terere limited edition signature gi; Black Eagle Raptor; Break Point limited edition Acai gi.  Not full reviews, just blurbs and photos, enough to whet your appetite.

Shedding the Gi- Nogi with Claudio Silva.  Damn I need to work on my nogi!  And Nogi Pans and Worlds are right around the corner!

Steve Martin-- Brazil's top Brit- 1st brit to win gold at the Brasileiros!

History 101-- Alliance Academy by Can Sonmez.  Geez, I love this.  So much history and politics and who went where when in the BJJ world... this column will help you sort it out.

Your connection to Rio-- live the dream by training a week or a year in Rio.  (I didn't read this either, it made me sad.  But I emailed it to my husband with 'hint hint' in the subject line.  Ahem.)

Fit to Fight- AWESOME!  Great instructions and explicit step by step pictures show you how to make a homemade sandbag and then how to make your life hell... I mean, do exercises with it-- sandbag half mile, sandbag burpees, waiter's walk, suicide shuttle etc. 

Top BJJ Lists-- Seymour Yang on how to write a BJJ blog-- snark!  Love it!  "Better still, stamp your authority by creating your own moves and variations then video them to ensure EVERYONE knows how awesome you are.  Because with one year and 4 months of BJJ behind you, there is plenty of very valuable wisdom you can dispense."  DOH!

So, run out and drop a few bones on these issues, or subscribe to the whole deal.  I dig this magazine and I will be subscribing to it.  I really liked the personal element to the pieces, the focus on every experience level of the potential audience, and the fact that I can get it in paper version or electronic is nice, too. 

Running off to class!  Have a lovely evening!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reviews coming shortly!

After the big work project got finished, I literally couldn't sit down in front of a computer.  So I will be reviewing BJJ Style's 4th issue tonight, as well as the Predator gi by Black Eagle.

I spent the weekend digging some serious clay/caliche in my garden-- at least 4 hours every day-- so I'm quite tired and happy to be back in front of a computer now.

Please check out this fascinating article on Slate this morning-- about a collection of "report cards" and other historical ephemera from the 1910's-30's in a women's trade school in Manhattan.  Even if you don't really dig history, this is cool stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I'm still coughing though less than before.  I will go to the doctor as soon as work lets up (this project is finished on Thursday, hooray!)  I have been working some 12 hour days so I think I'm taking Friday off.  Haircut, work on the blog, and dig in the garden.  :)

On Friday evening, I will be reviewing Issue #4 of BJJ Style magazine... gotta tell you I was reading it last night before bed and I loved it!  I'll also be posting the review of Black Eagle's Predator MK II gi, with input also from my husband since I got him one for his birthday.  We're a Black Eagle family now ;)

Hilarious snarky comments on T-Lo today, regarding the National Costumes event of the 2011 Miss Universe contest.  Really... Bird women??

In the meantime, enjoy some grappling.  George pointed out this good women's purple belt match from the 2011 Euros to me a while ago and I just hadn't had time to watch it.

Another match from the same comp, featuring Sijara Eubanks (Team Lloyd Irvin).

Which leads right into the absolute purple belt women's finals from that tourney... Sijara v. Mackenzie Dern.

And last, some beautiful thoughts from a good friend and trusted mentor....
* * * * *
Dear Georgette,

I was thinking last night about your evolving goals with regard to Jiu-jitsu.  Then I imagined someone (like a respected blackbelt, for example) asking me that question -- and wondered what my goals were.  Almost without thinking it occurred to me that I don't have any goals, it's more like, "what are jiu-jitsu's goals for me?".  That seems a little weird, I thought.  But with more consideration I realized that jiu-jitsu made clear to me when I needed to be stronger, or to become more flexible, and to have faith in others.  I've learned that although I am sometimes afraid that there's no real need to be.

This time period in jiu jitsu is exciting, for all the reasons we've mentioned over the weeks, but also because it offers a wonderful opportunity to listen and learn, to be patient and respectful, and to discover -- always remaining safe and relaxed and alert!  Jiu-jitsu's goals for me!!!!! :-)

P.S. If I also happen to become a world champion I will be very happy with that, too.
 * * * * *
Great way to move forward into the week :)

Friday, September 09, 2011

Lucky Gi "Rude Boy" (bamboo fabric) review

Finally, my review of the new Lucky Gi-- I was entranced by the concept of bamboo fabric for jiu jitsu gis. Entranced, but also nervous about the $289 price tag. Could a gi really be worth that much? I loved my old-version Lucky (the Lovato model) and still do. But I bought it used on ebay for $67! Still, I was pretty curious when I read what Lucky has to say about it:

"If you live anywhere in the world you can get your new Lucky Gi shipped to you for free. We really want everyone to see how great this new Bamboo Fabric is. It has some amazing properties. Your gi will always smell better, it will be cleaner and much softer too. Best of all you will always look great and feel great!"

Well hey, if I always look and feel great, that $300 would be worth it.

Lucky also says:

"The original Lucky Gis were redesigned starting from the cotton it is made from, to the weave of the fabric. The fit of the gi was very different and the styles are very unique. But I still wanted to do more. I could see where the problems with Pakistan were. The worst part was the blatant dishonesty.

After Pakistan I visited some very good factories in China. These factories have been making gis forever and that is where all the Japanese brands have been made for years. They have a strong background in Martial Arts in China over a very long time, so they are very very experienced.

Along with more knowledge they also have a much higher quality machines than in Pakistan. This improves the quality a lot.

China has also allowed us to create the first environmentally conscious designed Jiu Jitsu gi. The gi is using a new fabric for Jiu Jitsu gis. This fabric is new to us in BJJ, but in China it is an old fabric they know all about. It is Asia! The new Lucky Gis are made from Bamboo. Bamboo is much more environmentally friendly than cotton and even hemp.

Welcome to a new era in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gis."

Googling some info on bamboo fabric, I learned that "it is soft like silk. The fibers are naturally smoother and rounder with no sharp spurs to irritate the skin, making bamboo fabric cause fewer skins reactions than to other natural fibers such as wool or hemp. Bamboo is also antibacterial and antifungal."

"This is because bamboo possesses an anti-bacteria and bacteriostatic bio-agent called 'Bamboo Kun,' allowing it to naturally flourish and grow in the wild without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. This beneficial quality of the plant remains in its textile form, killing all bacteria keeping the wearer feeling fresher and odor free for longer, making the garment healthier and more hygienic."

"Unlike many of the other fabrics, bamboo is extremely breathable. The natural bamboo plant keeps itself cool in the heat and like its other properties, is also maintained in its fabric form. The cross-section of the bamboo fiber is covered with micro-gaps giving the fabric better moisture absorption and ventilation. As a result, it is able to keep the wearer almost two degrees cooler in the heat and noticeably warmer in the cold. Bamboo fabric is also anti-static and UV protective as it cuts out 98% of harmful UV rays, providing the wearer with another beneficial quality from bamboo made clothing."

This sounded even BETTER than my hemp gi.  Woot!

But then I also read some disturbing things about how some bamboo fabric is made. Delia Montgomery is a freelance journalist in Hawaii, writing about environmental design and fashion from both consumer and supplier perspectives. She wrote:

"The bamboo species for textile production is Phyllostachys heterocycla pubescens, commonly known as Moso bamboo. It is primarily grown in China where there are the most textile mills. Moso bamboo is the largest of the temperate zone bamboo species, is grown on family-owned farms, provides edible shoots, but is not what beloved panda bears eat. All sounds good until the manufacturing process is investigated.

Common production from plant to fabric is not as green as eco-minded people would like. Michael Lackman of contributes to an impressive blog his family originated. He shares some interesting facts from extensive research.

. . .  [H]eavy and toxic chemicals are typically utilized to process bamboo into fabric. The alternative to chemical is mechanical processing. The mechanical method means crushing the woody parts of the bamboo plant followed by natural enzymes to break the walls into a mushy mass so that the natural fibers can be combed out and spun into yarn. This is essentially the same eco-friendly manufacturing method used to develop flax or hemp linen. . . .

In reality, bamboo fashions are mostly produced by concocting the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH which is also known as caustic soda or lye), and carbon disulfide in a hydrolysis alkalization chemical mechanism combined with multi phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide are linked to serious health problems. Because of the health risks and damage to the environment, the chemical method is not considered sustainable.

Bamboo garments are praised for design characteristics similar to lyocell. The lyocell process is used to manufacture the Tencel® brand which is considered eco-friendly because their formulations used are supposedly nontoxic to humans. Lyocell processes are closed-loop so that 99.5% of the chemicals are captured and recycled to be used again. In comparison to chemical bamboo fiber production, it’s greener.

A new technology worthy of mention is from Greenyarn where they make fabric made from nano particles of bamboo charcoal. They deny use of harmful chemicals, but the actual process is vague. Stay tuned.

Conscious fabric retailers need to look for certification from an independent and reliable certification company. Currently, Oeko-Tex is the most comprehensive label for insuring that the garment is healthy for consumers. Other certification bodies are Soil Association, SKAL, or KRAV. Bamboo fabric buyers are wise to ask specific questions about textile development in addition to a label demand."

Well, I had previously had excellent communications with Scott, owner of Lucky Gis and a super-helpful guy, so I sent him questions about the fabric certification. He was awesome to work with on my purchase of the gi, and as always, his response was friendly and lightning quick.

"No they are not certified in any way.  I didn’t know about these certifications till after I already had the gis made.  This is my first time working in bamboo and I learned  a lot.  So I am going to go back to the fabric manufacturer and see if they can certify it or not. "

At least Scott is aware and on top of his game.  Great customer service, for sure.  Double plus good.

So.... here it is-- the "Rude Boy" or rasta version of the new Lucky Gi.    This is the embroidery on the back of the gi jacket, across your shoulderblade area.  It's attractive in its own way, very bright and blingy, and the embroidery is tight and smooth.  The fabric is ridiculously silky soft, almost velvety, and very "fluid" under your fingers.

I don't like the font as much as the old Lucky, seen here, but what the hey:

It comes with a gi bag.  (Sorry the picture is a little blurry, I wasn't being careful.)

Lots of cute touches like this interior label reveal the personality of the gi (if gis have personalities.)

I liked the nice thin line of color around the lapel and contrast stitching.  Also there is a regular stripe of sparkly thread running throughout the fabric.  You can see it horizontally under the words here on the chest area.

Closeup of pants cuffs and embroidery.  The cuffs of sleeves and pants are all triple-seamed.

Here's a glimpse of the interior lining of gi jacket -- it's not separate fabric, just dyed designs on the inside side of the fabric.  Plus you can also see the interior taping of the sleeve cuff.  The taping is smooth, but the edges of the tape were scratchy.  Not my fave.

For comparison on lapel thickness-- Vulkan Ultralight (blue), Lucky Gi (black), and Atama Mundial #9 (white). The shadow between the pieces makes it a little tricky to tell which is thickest, but in person, the Lucky is as thick as the Atama. Atama covers its lapels in ripstop; Lucky, in the same twill as the pants. I don't know that it makes much difference.

As far as texture goes, the Lucky lapel is just how I like it-- a little softer and more flexible, because I like to play games with my lapels and theirs, and I figure if it comes down to being harder to choke because the lapel is really thick and stout, I'm already screwed.  But if you like a HCK-like (or old Atama-like) monster lapel, you won't really care for this, imho.

Here's the back of the gi jacket, showing the repeat of the lion emblem.

Each sleeve cuff is in a different color from the trim on the bottom of the jacket. You can see that the vent is double seamed and reinforced well at the point where it would be most strained.

But some of the "cutesy" things didn't make so much sense to me. This interior label states "The harder they come the harder they fall" -- either I didn't get it, or it wasn't funny. [edit:  Marie helpfully explains the origin and reference of this statement, below in the comments.  Yay!]  But whatever, it shows some attention to detail.  And, sadly, some lack thereof-- look at the knot of threads bound together in the seam to the right. It doesn't really matter, as that triple-seam is on the edge of the jacket where it won't really get much action, but I looked at it and thought "I paid $300 for this and the guy who sewed it made $.30."

Here's another nice touch. They put a satiny tape over the triple-seamed interior of the armpit area, presumably to protect your skin from scratching. I like that kind of consideration.

But the armpit tape wasn't fully sewn down. I didn't pick at it or even wear it at this point.

The way the armpit tape is sticking up, for sure it will get more and more unsewn as you wear it. And the satiny material is likely to "run" or disintegrate, fray, whatever you want to call it.

Pet peeve: there're only two belt loops.

The drawstring works well, sliding smoothly through an adequately-sized "channel", so even those of us who prefer ropes should be happy. However, again, loose threads (though I doubt they'll impair the lifespan or the resilience of the gi, again it's a dang $300 gi!)

More flawed sewing in the inside of the pants crotch.  Probably no big deal. 

More irritating-- the vent on the side of the pants by the drawstring was sewn together. Yeah, you could probably cut it with scissors and be fine, but then you would have to get a needle and thread to lock the seam shut, so to speak. And what if you didn't notice this and it tore while rolling-- I'd worry the seam might ravel.

The knees are padded with a second layer of fabric, but the stitching holding those two layers together was missing about an inch of one of the seams (above the lion's cross).  No big deal, but (broken record) this is a $300 gi. It should do more than just "make it through training"-- it should make me breakfast on the way out the door at this price. It should at the very least be perfect or only have one flaw.

I could live with all the missed stitches, dropped seams, loose tape etc. But I can't live with the fit. Unfortunately I lost my pre-wash measurements so I don't have actual numbers, but I can tell you after two HOT hot washes, and two HOT dries in the machine, it didn't shrink more than 1/4" of an inch in any direction. And that might have been my error of measurement. Seriously, the BIGGEST size A1 gi I have ever worn. I put on my husband's A2 and this Lucky was bigger. Look!

I'm 5'2" and in these photos, weighed 145. Super long sleeves-- fingertips barely peek out when arms down at my sides.

Super big jacket-- seen from back.

Arms from side, arms up

Whole gi from side, arms down.

I was swimming in this jacket!

Pants from rear-- not excessively large, given my fat a$$, but definitely long on me. And if you don't have junk in the trunk they'll be longer.

I'm truly sorry to seem to bash on this gi.  If it were a $150 gi, I'd take it to the seamstress and have the jacket shortened and the sleeves shortened, and I'd be rolling around in luxury with a $200 (total) gi that felt like sinful heaven on my skin.

When I emailed Scott about this, his reply was a paragon of customer service:


Thank you for your feed back. Yes the bamboo doesn’t shrink like the cotton does.

What were the quality issues.  Please let me know so I can fix them. Thank you!

Yes you can return or exchange the gi just let me know.

Hope you feel better!


If the gi had fit, I would have delightedly taken him up on his willingness to make it all good.  I just think I have too big a bum for the size A0, and I have enough gis already.  If you have long arms in comparison to your torso/legs, or if you have problems at IBJJF events with gi sleeves not reaching to your wrists and being rejected... or if you dig their aesthetics ---

here's the old-style font with the new bamboo:

-- and you don't mind spending another chunk of change to have alterations made.... pull the trigger and buy this gi.  Tell Scott I sent you.  I think their customer service is among the best and I love to reward ingenuity and risk-taking in the business world.  To my knowledge they're the ONLY bamboo gi out there.  The fabric really does feel amazingly good, too.

But otherwise... buy a lesser gi and donate the savings to charity, like Give a Gi.