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 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?
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!