Monday, October 27, 2008

Gi reviews, part I

In this review I'll cover 4 gis for BJJ... I am currently testing a 5th and waiting for two more to be delivered. FYI, I'm obviously female-- 5'2" 125ish lbs, 34-27-36.

A note on my method: I probably should have measured each before washing and wearing them, but I didn't. I do have a good idea of how much shrinkage occurred. I have rolled in these gis for about 3 months, usually at least 3-4x a week. I always wash my gi the same day I wear it. I usually machine dry them a little with a Downy dryer sheet because I love the smell; then I air dry the rest of the way. I weighed each minus the belt on my bathroom scale, so I don't have ounces, just pounds.

1. Keiko Raca childrens' gi: Purchased here at for $130 plus shipping. I have a size M4 and it weighs just barely under 4lbs.

This is probably my favorite gi. It's very soft and fluid-feeling, comfortable in hot weather, smooth and light. The kimono fabric is almost silky to the touch. The collar is firm and surprisingly hard to get a grip on. The pants are extremely comfortable with a typical rope belt that is easy to adjust, and there are two loops, widely spaced, in the front. The pants fit well on me, with enough room for my "junk in the trunk" but without too much extra fabric at the knees and ankles. There were some loose threads but in general the stitching is tight and professional. I like the "hint" of pink it offers, and it's a nice light color, not magenta or Pepto-Bismol. The pink trim is sewn on well too. Keiko gis have a plasticky feeling to the name patches, but unlike cheap rashguards, the words haven't been flaking, peeling or otherwise damaged. My only complaint is that it shrunk a bit, so the pants are a touch on the short side, but the kimono fits perfectly. Also if I had my 'druthers, it would be available with other trim colors too (light blue? kelly green?)

Grade: A-

2. Gameness Pearl gi: I bought it here from for about $95 plus shipping. I have a size A1 and it weighs 4lbs.

This feels heavier than my pink Keiko. The kimono is slightly stiffer and feels more heavily woven/thicker, but is still quite silky to the touch. The collar is more flexible than the pink Keiko, but the Gameness sleeves are harder to grab. I'm not as crazy about the pants, which I think have less room for my rear, and also have a self-fabric drawstring that's harder to adjust. I also dislike the belt loops, which are set about 2" apart in the center (I'd prefer them more widely set.) The pants fabric is a little thicker, rougher than the Keiko ones. I like that it doesn't have the big dog patches. I do wish the trim on the pants wasn't fraying though. It didn't shrink much at all, maybe 1" in pants length. The kimono is pretty much the same size it started as.

Here's a shot of the fraying at the edge of the trim down the pants leg...

Grade: B+

3. Atama summer weight: bought for about $80 at too. I have an A1 and it's just 3 lbs.

I loved this gi during the summer; at a school without A/C it regularly reached 100-110 degrees inside, and even with industrial fans on, it was super hot. This is very comfortable in the hottest weather, but I suspect people who grip fight with really strong opponents would be unhappy. It is made with the same sort of fabric a normal karate gi uses, maybe a bit thicker, but definitely not the thickness of a BJJ gi. However, the collar is just as thick and stiff. The pants fit fine; the drawstring is also self-fabric, but is narrower so it adjusts more easily. Unlike the other two, though, these pants feel better when tied at your actual waist instead of a little below it, because they have a longer rise. The downside to this gi is the sleeve length (I used to roll them up about 2-3"). I tried to shrink it more without success.

Grade: A for the heat of summer; B- for the rest of the year.

4. GTMA pink gi: This Golden Tiger Martial Arts gi came from this little place in Madison Wisconsin. It was only $95 including shipping and they have both pink and purple gis, also available in adult sizes (even BIG adults.) It is a heavy little sucker at about 4, maybe 4 1/2lbs. They are sized a little differently than ordinary gis, so I think maybe I wear a 3? You can email the owner, Mark Severtson, with your measurements if you want to be sure. Tell him you read about his gis here!

I like the color (a light "carnation" pink, if you remember the old Crayola 64s). The kimono top is super thick and stiff, so that might be a plus for competition.I like the pants better than the kimono top. They're smooth but very sturdy feeling, and they make a nice change to the omnipresent white. The top is just a bit thick for me, which means I should probably train in it all the time. I did notice about 1-2" shrinkage in almost every dimension, but no color bleeding onto other items. (The color isn't perfectly even on the kimono, but you wouldn't notice if you weren't being picky.) The pants are comfy after being worn for a few months, but I would say the heavier padding around the knees/shins is a little higher up on the leg than I would expect/like, and these are a little flatter in the rear than I would prefer. Also, they only have one belt loop, right in the front:

I do think the fabric drawstring is a little stiff and hard to adjust.

Grade: B-

Based on these experiences, I decided to get another Keiko Raca, this time their limited edition double weave... an Atama Mundial #7... and another GTMA gi, this time the purple one.

The Keiko has already arrived; when I get the Atama and the purple one in my regular rotation I will have another set of reviews.


Elyse said...

Why do you need so many gis???
lol... just teasing you.
Seriously though, do companies actually just send you gear?

slideyfoot said...

Cool reviews! Look forward to more. :D

Personally, I like to have a gi for every day I train and then an extra one to cycle when washing. Of course, as I only train twice a week on average, that doesn't result in too many gis: I'm up to four at the mo, although two of those are from judo.

Steve said...

Can't have too many gis. I have five I wear regularly. Nice reviews.

I love mu mundial 7 so far. Think you will too.