Category: Gear Reviews

Inverted Gear A2 Tall-Slim Review + Predictably Irrational Price Anchoring

Snag any good Black Friday BJJ deals? Post your new threads on Aesopian BJJ and brag to the world.

In today’s video we’re reviewing Inverted Gear’s A2 Tall-Slim gi, also known as “the gi with the cute upside down panda logo.” I also talk a bit about the silliness of gi pricing and the theory of price anchoring.

Watch “Inverted Guard A2 Slim-Tall Review” on Youtube

The book I mention is Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. It’s worth picking up a copy. Here’s Ariely’s TED Talk:

You Are Not So Smart also has a great article about anchoring. They describe Ariely’s auction experiment and other examples of the effect.

Kauai Kimonos review is up next!


The Best (and Worst) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gis

Price to Quality Ratio

BJJGEAR.AESOPIAN.COM is down until the switch over to the new web host is complete. But for now, here’s what most of you came here for any: the gi rankings chart!

These rankings come for the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey and it’s 1500 responses. A new survey is in the planning stages 2014. Stay tuned!

Here is how to read the chart:




Gi survey is done! Results coming soon to

We got there! Thanks to everyone who pitched in, the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey passed its goal of 1,500 responses. Here’s where we stand:

If you want to know the best gi brand now, sorry. The reviews and rankings for gi brands are still being analyzed. The results will be published at, along with other interesting data we collected about BJJ, like this:

You can sign up at to be emailed the brand reviews once they are published.


The FightWorks Podcast #251: BJJ Gi Survey!

2011 BJJ Gi SurveyIn this week’s FightWorks Podcast, Caleb and I talk about the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey and how your participation will help the BJJ community (and your checkbook.) Here’s what Caleb wrote:

You spend a lot of time on the mats. It’s what Brazilian jiu-jitsu people do. You also may spend a lot of money to train BJJ. For example, we know that even two years ago more than half of the people who train were paying more than $100 per month for classes!

In the same way you want to make sure you get the most value for your training dollars, you want to also know that the gi you buy is going to give you exactly what you expected. Gis are expensive too, right? And the average price of a gi seems to be going up every year though many would probably say that the quality of the average gi is not changing very much.

Luckily there is someone very passionate about gathering information about gis out there. Aesopian, aka Matt Kirtley, began collecting information about jiu-jitsu practitioners’ opinions in 2009. And he’s now collecting data again!

This week on the “audio home of Brazilian jiu-jitsu”, we’ll speak with Matt and learn a little about this year’s gi survey, including:

  • why you should participate
  • how long it takes
  • what’s new in this year’s survey
  • what we can expect to learn from it


Even if you never get a chance to listen to today’s show, it’s important to take the 5 minutes and participate in the survey. Knowledge is power, so help make the jiu-jitsu community stronger by sharing your information in his survey!

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (recommended)
[mp3] Download the show


The Underdogs

Followers of may have spotted their recent coverage of the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey. If not, go read the full interview.

One part that deserves extra attention has to do with the complaint that the survey is flawed because smaller brands will get pushed out by the bigger companies. From

Q. What brands are you including?

A. Over 100 brands are listed, but people are welcome to pick “Other” and write in any missing brands. We tried to gather up as many brand names as possible from online retailers, gear forums, BJJ blogs and the past surveys, but people are still sending in brands I’ve never heard of, especially outside the US.

The trouble for these smaller brands is that unless they get enough reviews, they won’t make it into the final charts. One or two reviews out of thousands of gis isn’t statistically significant. People have complained that the past surveys just promote the top brands and neglect the little guys, but I can only show what’s in the data. If they want to help these underdogs out, they need to represent them by adding their honest reviews.

The gi market seems to be growing steadily, and new brands are popping up all the time, but this has its pros and cons.

Anyone with the money can have a manufacturer in Pakistan, China or Brazil make a batch of uniforms with whatever logos they want. (Thanks to running a martial arts site, I get spam about this all the time.) This gives us flash-in-the-pan companies that disappear after their first batch of knock-offs gets stuck in customs.

(There are also the concerns about sweatshop conditions in these factories, which I don’t know the facts about, so we’ll save that debate for another day.)

On the positive side, we get startups that genuinely do bring cool and creative gis to market, raise the standard for quality and style, or just make a good gi at a fair price. What they lack in sales numbers, they make up for in innovation, attention to detail, specialized designs and materials, excellent customer service and more.

We’d like to see these underdogs get the attention they deserve (as well as the fly by night companies), but as the survey’s administrator, I’m in a peculiar spot when it comes to spotlighting certain brands. Basically, I can’t.

In promoting this survey, I have to be careful not to skew the results or ruin its impartiality. For example, I try not to mention any particular brands, and I haven’t asked any companies to promote it to their customers, fearing a flood of overly positive reviews (though we can account for this bias on our end in the analysis.)

That said, I do want to see more reviews for certain smaller brands so we can see how they rank against the big dogs. In fact, I have a whole list of them, but I’m not sure I should share it.

So what can I do? The strategy is simply to push the overall number of responses up (by doing things like the interview) and hope that with enough people giving reviews, the little companies will get the reviews they need.

How can you help? If you are one of the brave souls that took a bet on a small gi company, make sure to take the survey and give your honest review, good or bad. Then share the survey with your teammates on your gym’s Facebook fan page.

We are getting closer to the goal of 1500 responses—more than any previous survey—and once we hit that magic number, we can crunch the data and publish the results.


Building a Better Gi Survey

(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:


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 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!


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.