Category: Gear Reviews

Take the New BJJ Gi Survey

It’s time for the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey! (Direct link: 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.


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.



  • Maybe too lightweight if you have a preference.
  • Not IBJJF tournament legal.

Kikskin No-gi Grappling Leggings/Spats Review

A long time ago, the guys at 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.


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


  • You look like an interpretive dance instructor.
  • You’re paying $40 for tights.

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).


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


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.