(This is about designing the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey. Go take it, if you haven’t yet!)

In 2009, the first BJJ gi survey grew out of my curiosity about the kimono market, and was put together in a few days, then released to the public. The survey got 900 responses before the results were published, and the number has since grown to 1300 as people keep stumbling upon it. A statistician interpreted the raw data that created the popular BJJ gi brand ranking chart.

In 2010, I received an email from a BJJ blogger who wanted to run the next survey, and I encouraged him to do it. You can see his work here.

While these surveys gave us interesting data, when I approached 2011’s survey, I knew there were problems I wanted to fix. Here are the main changes to this year’s survey:

The Big Problem

The major flaw in the last two surveys was the inefficient manner in which they collected data about individual brands and gis. They asked broadly about the brands, sizes and weaves participants owned, and which were their favorites, but the results weren’t cohesive. While we could figure out a few things like the overall rankings, it was hard to draw further conclusions. This was caused in part by the limitations of the Google survey software, and partly, by my inexperience in making surveys.

To fix this, the 2011 survey is running on my own server, which allows me to ask about each gi individually and collect scores for price, quality, style and fit. This will give us more comprehensive data about each brand. We can chart out stats like price-to-quality ratios and how much people are willing to pay to look stylish, as well as create a more accurate brand-vs-brand ranking chart.

Who are the Heavy Hitters?

Which of these people would you want to get your gi recommendations from?

A white belt with 1 month of experience that trains 2 hours per week and owns 1 gi and has never competed vs A black belt who started 12 years ago and trains 10 hours per week and owns 8 gis and has competed twenty times

That’s what I thought.

That is why the survey gathers data about…

  • Belt rank
  • Years of experience
  • Hours of training per week
  • How many competitions the gi has been worn in
  • How many gis are owned

Once we start doing data analysis, this will help us spot trends, like whether certain brands are preferred by competitors (and if they are willing to pay more for them), if people who train more per week prefer sturdier “workhorse” brands, and if certain brands are more popular as participants move up the belt ranks. (If you have an idea for something we should look for in the data, let me know.)

What Didn’t Make the Cut

Just as important as what went into this year’s survey, is what didn’t make it in. The past surveys asked many “wouldn’t it be nice to know” questions that didn’t result in interesting answers. This included questions about laundry habits, what special features you want in a dream gi, pre-shrinking preferences, summer vs winter gis, etc.

Now we want to tackle the core issues: what gis are people buying, what gis are people wearing, and how much do they like or dislike them?

Surprisingly, some of the cuts made to the 2011 survey included questions about height and weight. It seems like such data could highlight the best gis for unique body types, but when you look at last year’s results, it shows that tall, skinny, heavy and light people don’t really rank their gis very differently.

I think that to get truly valuable data here, we’d need to ask detailed questions about suit measurements, body type (ecto-, endo- and mesomorph) and preference (some people like baggy judogis—others like tight competition cuts), but that is tedious information for people to answer.

Not Forgotten

We also corrected last year’s omission of women’s brands and sizes and UK brands. (You can write in “Other” for many questions, if you still don’t see what you are looking for.)

In the previous two surveys, people commonly answered that they use a “generic” gi (or judogi), so “Generic” is now listed as a brand to simplify responses. Judogis were also common, so you can choose judo sizes from the size dropdown.

Spread the Word

I’ve been asked why I am conducting this survey. I don’t make or sell gis, and I’m not profiting off the information, so this survey is mostly a hobby that I picked up because I thought the answers would be interesting, and because I see a desire for this information in the online BJJ community.

If you want to help spread this survey, please copy/paste this URL and post it on your school’s Facebook page: