Category: Reviews

Giving an Honest Review

As you do the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey (take it if you haven’t yet!), you are asked to rate each gi by price, durability, style and fit using a 7-point scale from Very Satisfied to Very Dissatisfied. This is a big improvement over past surveys because now we can track each brand (and even individual models) to calculate valuable stats like price-to-quality ratios and find out if expensive brands really deserve their price tags and reputation.

But looking at submissions so far, I fear some people are quickly clicking “Very Satisfied” all the way down the chart without giving each point much thought. People may also be giving generous reviews to justify their purchases to themselves (especially with the more expensive brands) or out of “peer pressure” to not give a low rating to a popular brand. (It could also be that “Very satisfied” is the first option and people are too lazy to move their mouse over.)

Maybe I’m wrong and these are honest reviews, but if liking a gi a little earns it “Very satisfied” and 5 stars, it defeats the purpose of having a flexible ratings system. This guide was written with the purpose of helping you accurately review yours BJJ kimonos.

“Why did I buy this gi?”

Before you review a gi, think about why you got it in the first place. Different gis can have different purposes, and knowing why you bought it will allow you to fairly appraise it.

For example, you may buy a double weave gi that’s as thick as Kevlar knowing that it will be uncomfortable and won’t win any beauty contests, but you accept that because you want something that will last forever.

Or you may pay extra for a hot brand because you like their style even if they aren’t built like a tank because you enjoy lightweight gis and want it for tournaments.

Did you buy it because you’re a white belt and it was just what your school offered at a fair price? Or is it the seventh in your collection because you enjoy owning every high quality gi?

Figure out what you were hoping for when you got the gi, then you can see if it has lived up to your expectations. Just because a gi is cheap and generic doesn’t mean it can’t do everything you need from it.

Price

Price can’t be judged as an abstract number. Your feelings about price are effected by each other factor—quality/durability, style/design and fit/comfort—as well as by the brand’s marketing and reputation and your personal financial situation. I believe the most important factor to weigh against price is durability (how much you spent compared to how much usage you got), but it really goes back to the original point of knowing why you bought the gi in the first place.

The main questions to answer are:

  • Was your money well spent?
  • Could it have been spent better somewhere else?
  • Would you spend that much for this gi again?

Quality / Durability

The quality and durability of a gi is the easiest aspect to objectively review because it is mostly a matter of looking at the physical object. Answer these questions:

  • Is the stitching neat and unfrayed?
  • Has anything torn or ripped?
  • Have the collar, sleeves or jacket frayed?
  • Have the drawstring or its loops broken?
  • Has the color faded too quickly?
  • Has it shrunk too much from washing/drying?

If you had any of these problems, how soon did they happen and how much stress did the gi survive beforehand? Tearing after years of hard training is expected. What we are looking at is how satisfied you were in the time it took to happen.

Style / Design

Style is a subjective topic, because what’s being asked is basically “Do you how this gi looks?” Each person has their own likes and dislikes. From past surveys, we know about 30% of people love gi patches, 25% hate them, and the rest don’t care. Some people like the “zen” of a plain white gi, while others proudly wear urban digital camo. So you have freedom to use personal preference here, but there are a few things you can consider:

  • Does the gi have cool patches or embroidery?
  • Is the stitching a special color?
  • Do you get compliments on how the gi looks?
  • Does it have special features other gis don’t have?

Fit / Comfort

As with style, judging comfort is mostly a matter of preference, but you can consider these points:

  • How soft or stiff is the fabric?
  • How smooth or rough is it?
  • Is the gi too baggy and loose?
  • Is the collar too thick or stiff?
  • Are the sleeves too short or too long? Pants?
  • Did it shrink more than you wanted?
  • Does the drawstring stay tied?

Overall Rating

The overall rating gives you a way to sum up your opinion in a simple 1-5 star score. Take all of the above factors into consideration, turn that into a gut reaction and see where it lands on this scale:

1 – Terrible. You hate this gi and will never buy this brand again.
2 – Bad. You are disappointed in this gi and don’t recommend it.
3 – OK. You haven’t had many problems with this gi, but it’s nothing special.
4 – Good. You are happy and would buy another by this brand.
5 – Excellent. You are extremely happy and it is among your favorites.

I hope this guide helps you give better reviews. The more accurate the data is that we collect, the more clearly the results will represent the current BJJ gi market, and the more informed you’ll be when making future purchases. Share this on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below to help us out!

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BJJ Gi Survey FAQ

This FAQ clears up common issues with the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey. If your question isn’t answered below, please contact me for help.

Don’t see a brand listed?
Pick “Other” at the bottom of the brand dropdown and write it in.

Don’t see a size, color or weave?
You can pick “Other” for all of those too.

Don’t know the weave?
Pick “Don’t know” at the bottom of the weave dropdown.

Reviewing your school’s brand?
Pick “Other” and write in your school’s name.

Reviewing a generic gi?
Pick “Generic” in the brand dropdown.

Reviewing a judogi?
Just pick a judo size from the size dropdown.

Don’t know the model name?
It isn’t required, so don’t worry.

Didn’t pay for your gi?
Answer “0” as the retail price.

Want to review more than 10 gis?
Contact me for assistance.

Can’t remember when you started training or got promotions?
Give your best estimate.

Does teaching count toward hours spent training?
Yes, if it causes wear and tear on your gi.

Uncomfortable sharing your age, gender or email?
That’s fine. They aren’t required.

Get errors like “We are sorry but your session has expired”?
Try refreshing your browser. Contact me if that doesn’t work.

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Take the New BJJ Gi Survey

It’s time for the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey! (Direct link: aesopian.com/gisurvey) This is the latest in the series that has generated the popular BJJ gi ranking charts.  Take 5-10 minutes to do it, and your answers will help map out the modern BJJ gi market.

Start the BJJ Gi Survey »

What’s New and Improved in 2011’s BJJ Gi Survey

  • “To-the-point” questions and a customized survey interface.
  • Over 100 brands from Adidas to Zombie (and you can write in any that got missed.)
  • Women’s brands and sizes included after being omitted last year.
  • Same goes for UK brands like Black Eagle and Faixa Rua.
  • More sizes, colors and weaves to choose from (plus you can add your own.)
  • “Generic” brand and judogi sizes are officially listed.

I am very excited about this year’s new survey! Much more planning, development and testing went into this one than any previous survey, and the data collected this year should be the most interesting and informative yet.

A big thanks goes to members of the Sherdog grappling forum for volunteering to test the survey, and to DSTRYRsg, Slideyfoot, Georgette, Adam Adshead and the mysterious unnamed statistician for their contributions.

Spread the Word

The goal is to get 1500+ responses before crunching the numbers and releasing the results publicly. The more answers we can get, the more accurate the results will be and the sooner the results will be released. Purchasing a BJJ gi can be a hefty investment, and with prices continuing to rise, knowing which brands are worth it and which are hype can save $100’s. Use the sharing buttons below to post to Facebook, Twitter, etc.

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Kauai Kimono Gi Review

Now that I’ve got my no-gi gear out of the way with the reviews of Rupture’s Signature Fight Shorts and Kikskin’s grappling leggings, let’s switch over to gi.

The guys at Kauai Kimonos sent me a Royal Blue Ripstop BJJ gi and I’ve been using it for much of the past year. Here’s my review.

Like with all gear, the most important factors to consider are durability and if it delivers what it promises. Here Kauai wins with tiger blood and Adonis DNA. This gi hasn’t torn, frayed, faded, shrunk or gotten a stinky “funk” like other brands have. They guarantee it will never rip or they’re replace it if it does. It is super lightweight so it stays cool in the summer (I train in Florida in a warehouse without A/C so that’s important) and it dries off quickly.

To be balanced, I will answer “So who wouldn’t like this gi?” That comes down to personal preference. Some people want to feel like they’re wearing Kevlar armor like HCK double weave judo gi. Some people like a luxurious gi with little bonuses like built-in kneepads and softer cotton fabric like a Shoyoroll. If you’re used to gold or platinum (or whatever precious metal they are naming it after now) weave, you may feel a little naked in just ripstop fabric. It took me a little to get used to the feel after wearing thicker gis like Gameness and Shoyoroll, but now I prefer it.

Another hitch is their questionable legality in competition. Here’s what they had to say about it:

Our ripstop gi pants are definitely legal, but the jacket is unfortunately not allowed for IBJJF comps. Other organizations may vary. We’ve had a ton of reports of people competing in their ripstop gi’s all over the world. Most recently NAGA and Gracie Nationals.

So that’s a bummer, but if you plan on wearing it to your academy most of the time then it’s not a deal breaker.

Despite any of those issues, my Kauai kimono is my favorite gi based on its durability and comfort when training gets hot, beating out even Shoyoroll (which is a great gi in itself.) Contact the Kauai Kimonos guys when you need your next gi.

Pros

Cons

  • Maybe too lightweight if you have a preference.
  • Not IBJJF tournament legal.
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Kikskin No-gi Grappling Leggings/Spats Review

A long time ago, the guys at MMAOutlet.com sent me a pair of Kikskin grappling pants to try out and review. After about 2 years of regular use, I figure it’s time to weigh in.

No-gi grappling leggings (AKA spats) are marketed as helping with high/rubber guard by adding friction so you can cling to your opponent better. Honestly, I’ve never really noticed that much of a difference once things get sweaty, but I suppose there is truth to the claim if you measure it against the lengths Eddie Bravo goes to look like a scuba diver when he trains.

The biggest benefit I have enjoyed from wearing the spats is not getting mat burn on my knees and being protected from the little cuts and scratches that come from sparring. I have an old scar in my knee shaped like the front tooth of the white belt that tripped and fell and bit my leg, and while I doubt there is an epidemic of white belt vampirism, protection like these leggings would have prevented it.

Examined for wear and tear, the only noticeable change is that the knees have gotten a little “nubby,” i.e. rough and bumpy. I think I’ve made this worse by wearing the leggings under gi pants and washing them in the same load as my gis. (It could be that I just made the wear more apparent when the white lint got rubbed into the material.) This is minor though, and otherwise they have retained their elasticity and have not faded from washing and they have no tears or runs. High marks here.

People have wondered if they make no-gi training too hot, and the answer is no. Gi pants are much worse if you are worried about overheating. I’ve noticed an opposite effect since the leggings are so quick to dry off and don’t hold any heat, so they can actually become chilly if there’s a breeze (I do train in a warehouse with two bay doors and no A/C.)

Overall, I am happy with the leggings: they do what they are supposed to do and they haven’t fallen apart despite a lot of use. You can’t ask for more than that. The $40 price tag is a little steep for me personally (but I am very stingy) and wish they were closer to $20-30, but to be fair you’re going to be paying $50-70 if you buy Under Armor compression leggings, so all things considered it is a fair price for a specialty sports item that will withstand constant use.

Pros

  • You feel like a ninja.
  • No more mat burn or ingrown hairs on knees.
  • They dry off quickly.

Cons

  • You look like an interpretive dance instructor.
  • You’re paying $40 for tights.
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Ranking Gis from Best to Worst

After reading the results of the gi survey from last year, a reader sent me an interesting series of emails about running an analysis of the data. Here’s what he had to show and tell:

I stumbled across your gi survey a while back and came back to it this weekend as I was looking for a new gi to buy. I decided to have a quick crack at analysing your dataset (actually just the question about favourite gis).

I cleaned up the data by using only responses from people who owned at least 2 gis, and who had listed one of those as their favourite. After that, for each pair of the 21 gi brands that were owned more than 10 times in the dataset, I counted the number of time the 2 brands were owned together and one of them was listed as the favourite, and which one was the favourite. I then ran a quick statistical test on the pairwise comparisons. I also summed up the numbers for each brand, to get an overall value of a brand versus all the others and ran a statistical test on that too.

According to the study:

1) Shoyoroll seems to be the best brand overall by quite a margin, so if you want the best gi no matter the price, this is your best bet.

2) Sirius and Padilla & Sons really stand out as the best deals by far given their high ranking and low price compared to every other brand analyzed. They both have very comparable rankings and prices so it’s hard to recommend one over the other.

3) If you want to try something different, go for Isami (but consider Shoyoroll, Sirius or Padilla & Sons first).

4) Of the 6 major brands identified in the survey (Atama, Koral, Gameness, HCK, Keiko Raca and Vulkan), Vulkan seems to be the best, followed in order by Koral, Keiko Raca, Atama, HCK and finally Gameness. So if you want a gi from one of the big brands, go for a Vulkan (or perhaps a Koral if you really don’t want a Vulkan).

5) At the other end of the spectrum, Krugans, Adidas and Kikskin seem especially bad.

This is a quick and dirty analysis but I hope you’ll find the results as interesting as I did. It actually made me buy a Padilla and Sons straight away, given the overall results above versus the price of the gi (plotting proportion against price would be an interesting graph too).

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BJJ Gi Survey Results

Here are the results of the BJJ gi survey. A second survey will be coming out soon that fixes some problems with the first. For example, you couldn’t match durability or sizing problems to a specific gi (since they were all lumped together).

The data collected could be sliced and analyzed in more ways than I’m showing below, so I’m offering it in CSV for anyone who wants to crunch the numbers. Here’s an example: The top three favorite brands were Atama, Gameness and Koral. But that’s not a big surprise when they are the three brands most people own and most people only have 1-3 gis. What would be interesting to see is of the people who own these brands and others, are they still their favorite?

BJJ Gi Survey Spreadsheet — Download CSV · View as HTML

(Email addresses have been removed.)

BJJ Gi Survey Results

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What do you like in a gi?

I’ve been wondering what people like and dislike about BJJ gis, so I put together a survey. If you include your email address, you’ll have a chance to win and have me record personalized instructional video on whatever you want.

 

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