Welcome, to your new addiction.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may be one of the healthiest obsessions you can take on.
There is a reason that it is still one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.
Whether you are still mustering up the courage to take your first class, or you’ve already embraced the grind and have some stripes on your white belt, keep reading to get the scoop on finding the best BJJ Gi for beginners.
We’ll review my top 5 recommendations, a little information on caring for your gi, and some tips and trivia for beginners new to grappling in the Gi!
A Little Background on the Gi
The BJJ gi is composed of 3 parts: the Jacket, the Pants, the Belt.
Usually you’ll wear a good rashguard and spats underneath the Gi as well.
Traditionally, most students wore a white or blue Gi.
Nowadays it is not uncommon to see a black, grey, brown, and even pink Gi in class.
These early events that pitted one martial arts style against another were the foundations of modern-day Mixed Martial Arts. If you haven’t heard of the Gracie Family, look them up.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi, like the martial art itself, comes from the Japanese art of Judo.
The gi design itself was developed by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. He based the gi on the style of the Japanese kimono. But he made it from a heavyweight and durable woven cotton to stand up to the rigors of the constant gripping and tugging on the sleeves and collars of the gi jacket.
There are differences between the BJJ Gi and Judo Gi, however. The Judo Gi is made from a softer fabric than the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi and is said to be less durable.
The huge growth of the sport of BJJ has spurred many innovations and advancements in the design and production of Gis.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the Gi, both yours and your opponent’s, is part of your arsenal. You can choke or control your opponent with your Gi or theirs, using the collar, sleeves, pants, and lapel.
What Makes A Gi
Generally, most BJJ Gis follows a similar design style, but there are still many things that set each one apart. Most Gis are made from cotton or hemp, but what really makes a difference is how the fabric is woven. Single Weave, Double Weave, Gold Weave, and Pearl Weave, all with their own Pros and Cons.
The fabric used can vary with each model and brand of Gis, but cotton is by far the most popular. You can also find Gis made from hemp, ripstop material, even polyester. You will also see companies list the gsm of their Gi (Grams per Square Meter). You can use this number to determine the weight and thickness of the Gi.
The type of fabric and weave will account for the weight, look, and feel of the Gi, but the stitching is what will account for the durability. Premium stitching keeps your Gi from literally coming apart at the seams.
8-10 years is the minimum time to receive a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The belt ranking system goes: White Belt, Blue Belt, Purple Belt, Brown Belt, and Black Belt. It typically takes a student around 1 to 2 years to earn a Blue Belt, depending on how often you train, so get after it!
Breaking Down the Best BJJ Gi for Beginners
These are not listed in any order necessarily, except for number one, that one is my personal favorite. Each of these Gis has its merits, and ideally, the more your train, the more Gis you will have. These are just my personal favorites, check them out, and read on below for info on how to care for your new Gi.
Keep in Mind, One Gi Is Usually Not Enough
When you are first starting out on your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey, one Gi is all you need. Most new students attend class 2 or 3 times a week for the first month or so, depending on their work, school, or family obligations. As you begin to absorb more and more grappling knowledge and your body adjusts to a regular training regimen, you will undoubtedly want to go more often.
Once you seriously get into training 5 or more times a week, I recommend having one Gi per day of training. It will lessen the wear and tear on each individual Gi, and give them a longer life. Also if you attend both morning and night classes, it will be hard to keep up with the laundry, so buy more gear!
I suggest purchasing one or two higher-end Gis like the Gold BJJ Aeroweave or the Flow Kimono Air, along with a cheap Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi like the Sanabul Essentials Gi to give your laundry a break, as well cut back on the number of washes you put your Gi through. The more you wash your Gi, the more wear and tear it goes through. Once a week is 52 washes a year, twice is 104. Well, you get the idea.
More on washing your Gi below.
Make sure you check with your academy on their uniform policy. Some schools prefer students to use specific color Gis or have other regulations as far as uniforms go. Most schools require that you not wear patches on your Gi from other schools or martial arts as well.
Finding the Right Fit
All of the BJJ Gis listed above have a size chart available on their sales site, sizes are typically A1-A5 for Adults. Some companies offer half sizes to help you find the perfect fit, but there is a wide variety in the human body type. Refer to the sizing chart for each company, as some brands run longer or shorter in the pants or the jacket. The size chart will cross-reference height and weight to give you your ideal size, but be aware of your own body type. Someone short and stocky might be the same Gi size as someone tall and lanky, but the way the Gi fits could be quite different.
Luckily, there’s a fix to fine-tune your Gi to your body type. Keep reading to find out.
Wear your GI the right way! When putting on the Gi jacket the left lapel goes over the right one and the jacket sits over the pants. It would be worth the time to learn to properly tie your belt before you get to class. It will be just like tying your shoelaces in time, but for now, check out this video.
Caring For Your Gi
Keep in mind that your Gi requires a bit of special attention when it comes to washing and drying. As a general rule, you’ll want to wash your Gi as soon as possible to keep it from getting really rank smelling. Your sweat and your training partners’ sweat get absorbed by the fabric, and the longer you let your Gi sit in your gym bag, the more stench and bacteria grow.
Always follow the recommendations of the retailer, but most Gis have similar care instructions. Wash in cold water on a normal or delicate cycle, and hang to dry.
I recommend washing your Gi the night before if you are planning on attending morning or afternoon classes. Hang your Gi to dry in a well-ventilated area if possible. Hang with sleeves down if possible so that it will dry evenly.
I’d also avoid washing your Gi with bath towels or other linty types of material. Your Gi will attract all sorts of lint, fuzz, and hair in the wash and you’ll need a lint roller or damp rag to get it off.
If you don’t own a rashguard (sometimes they’re called “spats”), consider getting one soon. Head over to this guide on how to choose the best spats for bjj. Rashguards are compression athletic shirts that you wear under your Gi jacket that is an extra layer of protection and comfort. They are sometimes called spats and if you don’t ownTraining in “the gentle art” can sometimes be a bit rough, and you will find that you get some friction burns here and there when training in the Gi. A rashguard can minimize that, and can also be another barrier between your body and the sweat-soaked mats and training partners in your gym.
I like to wash all of my combat sports gear with laundry detergent as well as fabric softener to keep all of my Gis and rashguards smelling fresh. Your training partners will thank you. Once you get into a serious training regimen, your Gis and rashguards will get some serious odors working. The sooner you wash, the better. Whatever you do, don’t be the guy or gal that shows up to class with a stinky unwashed Gi! Nobody likes that person.
Hang To Dry!!
I made this mistake myself once. I was waiting for my Gi to dry before class ( I had only two at the time, and had just washed them both) and my Gi jacket was still pretty damp with only an hour before class. I figured I’d just throw it in on medium heat for a few minutes to speed up the process, then let it air dry the rest of the way.
10 minutes later my Gi was 1/3 sized smaller. The sleeves stopped just past my elbows. I had to give it away to a much smaller training partner. Don’t make the same mistake!!
You can use your Gi jacket to work out your grips, even when you’re at home. If you’ve got a pull-up bar handy just hook your jacket over it and use the collars to work your grips and for pull-ups. Alternatively, you can use the sleeves to work your sleeve control and spider guard.
Adjusting your Gi Size
In some circumstances, you can disregard the Hang to Dry instructions, but that trick works only once. If you find yourself with a Gi that is size or just a half size too big in the pants or jacket, sometimes you can do some “selective drying” to shrink it down to size. Be warned though, this process is not reversible!
You can put your dry Gi in a dryer for 3 minutes on HIgh, and check repeatedly until the desired fit is achieved. It’s a solution, but a risky one.
A better option would be to return and re-order if possible before you try to “resize”. The manufacturer most likely will not take back your shrunken up gi.
In most Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, and also most schools, White Belts cannot do any leglocks at all. Not even anklelocks. Focus on the fundamentals, and don’t try out your Youtube moves during class.
All of the Gis listed above are unisex as far as sizes go, but if you are looking for woman’s Gis specifically check out Pressure Grappling. They offer high-quality Gis catered specifically to women. They are a bit more pricey than the ones listed here, but they are a great company and if you are a female student it’s worth checking them out.
Do your own research, read the reviews, and ask around your gym when you are ready to buy your next Gi, but I really think these 5 are the best BJJ Gi for Beginners on the market. Keep in mind, you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg right out the gate when you start training. Reward yourself with new training gear as you progress rather than splurging on all the things, all at once. Climb the ladder slowly, and enjoy the grind. Don’t spend all your money on martial arts gear, as tempting as it is…
But really, you do need at least two Gis.