Category: Reviews

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.


A Guide to BJJ Books for White Belts

Years ago, your choices for a basic BJJ book were limited to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique by Renzo and Royler Gracie and… that’s about it. Kid Peligro’s work on that book was groundbreaking, and he created the blueprint for the big, modern BJJ books we enjoy today. In the decade since then, dozens of instructional books were published—some better, some worse—and now beginners have a dizzying array of books available to them.

This guide was made to help beginners pick out the best books to start with, and to show the smartest way to use them. The list of recommendations is short, and I’ll tell you why.

As a white belt, once you catch the bug of buying instructional books and DVDs, it can be hard to stop. Beginners often try to collect every technique they can, because much of their early success comes from learning new techniques. They figure they can just keep studying every technique, and then they’ll be good. This is when people spend the most time and money on instructional books and videos.

The problem is that they quickly reach a point where more techniques won’t help. They already “know” what to do in every situation, yet they still aren’t good at doing it. That’s because there is much more to “knowing” a technique than simply seeing it performed. Students need years of drilling and sparring to develop their skills.

Let’s forget books and videos for a moment. You can get good without them, as many people do. Here’s how:

Train regularly under a qualified instructor.
Get enough sleep.
Eat right.

Stick to that routine, and you’ll be on the right path. So where do instructionals fit in?

Books and videos are supplements. They’re like vitamins. You can’t make a full meal out of them, but they help on the side. You’ve just got to know how and when to use them.

Most of your techniques should come from your instructor. But your instructor is charged with the task of covering a complete BJJ curriculum, and that takes years. It isn’t possible to go over everything at once, and there will always be things you have more questions about. Your instructor probably hasn’t sat you down and told you “Here’s the hierarchy of positional dominance…” or “Let’s talk about what I expect out of you at each belt…” This is where instructionals come in.

A good book for beginners should do these things:

  • talk about the right approach to take toward learning, drilling, belt promotions, competition, and other common issues
  • explain the underlying concepts and theories of the art of BJJ in a way that simplifies one’s understanding rather than complicating it
  • feature basic techniques for a wide variety of common positions and situations

If you have a book that does these three things well, it should add to the training you get at the dojo, rather than distracting from it. When you turn to it for help on a trouble spot, the techniques will be appropriate for your skill level, and you’ll be able to learn them without going too far off your normal training routine.

Now that you have the right mindset, let’s get to what you really want—the books. Here’s a countdown of the top three books I recommend for white belts.

#3. Mastering Jujitsu by Renzo Gracie and John Danaher

Mastering Jujitsu was published in 2003, a lifetime ago as far as martial arts books go, and it is easily overlooked for the glossy, full color books available today. It’s printed in black and white, and it doesn’t show many moves in great detail. So what’s its appeal?

For starters, it was written by John Danaher, a Renzo Gracie black belt, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest minds in BJJ. He does an excellent job of telling the martial art’s history and explaining its fundamental principles, strategies and techniques. Renzo and Danaher teach the modern “3 ranges” theory of hand-to-hand combat (stand-up, clinch and ground), and while this has its roots in BJJ, you can see the influence MMA has had on the book.

A hidden gem is the self defense section, which is one of the best you’ll find. Danaher takes a more intelligent approach toward confrontations than the “grab my wrist, no, the other wrist” techniques you get in most martial arts books.

#2. A Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Stephan Kesting

A Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the cheapest book on the list with its price tag of “free.” Kesting has created some of the best grappling instructionals on the market, and and this free book are right up there. The newsletter is also worth subscribing to.

The Roadmap is a short read, and it’s better described as a booklet (or an e-book if you download the PDF), but it still contains a lot of good advice. I wish I had read this when I was a white belt, and I recommend it to new students at my school.

#1. Jiu-Jitsu University by Saulo Ribeiro

Saulo Ribeiro is among the best competitors and teachers in the world, and you can see this in the quality of his book, Jiu-Jitsu University. With Victory Belt, the top dog in martial arts books, as its publisher, it has all of the niceties we’ve come to expect: good writing, clear photos, thoughtful organization, the works.

The first chapters on survival and escapes are tailor-made for white belts, and they are a good place to pick up tips on things often considered “too basic” to get much attention in class. This isn’t strictly a beginners book though, and it makes for a good investment because you can keep turning to it for more advanced topics, like closed and open guard, guard passing and submissions.


Review: Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques

Marcelo Garcia’s holds two honorary titles.

First, he’s arguably the best pound-for-pound Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter alive.

Second, he’s the nicest guy ever. That’s less debatable.

Marcelo’s newest book, Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques, opens with an introduction by Josh Waitzkin that tells wonderful stories that illustrate both of these points. Here’s a personal story to attest to Marcelo’s niceness.

In 2006, I attended a two day seminar by Marcelo in St. Augustine, FL. If I remember correctly, I was one of about 30 people there. I may not be remembering correctly, because the gym was over 100 degrees and didn’t have any A/C or ventilation, and I was on antibiotics after having the flu, so I almost passed out from heat stroke. Marcelo was an attentive instructor and went around the room to check on everyone’s drilling, but other than that, I didn’t have any special interactions with him.

A while later in 2007, I had a chance to go to a second seminar in Hollywood, FL that was hosted by my friend Leo Kirby. Right when I walked in the door, Marcelo beamed a big smile at me and said he remembered me from St. Augustine. He even remembered who I had come with to the seminar, and how hellishly hot that place was. He told me that the purple belt who had hosted that seminar was also an Olympic long distance runner, and he’d told Marcelo that getting a purple belt was as much work as getting into the Olympics.

It surprised me that Marcelo remembered me at all. After all, he’s one of the greatest submission grapplers of all time, and I was just another random blue belt that happened to go to one of his countless seminars. But that’s just how friendly Marcelo is, and he was happy to see me again like no time had passed.

To give you insight into how Marcelo approaches BJJ, Waitzkin writes about how Marcelo is driven to learn and perfect every physical activity he tries. I have a dumb story about that too.

During a break in the seminar, I twisted up a water bottle and shot the cap at a friend. Marcelo’s eye lit up when he heard the bang and came running over to see what I’d done. He wanted to learn how, so we scrounged around for empty bottles, and I showed him how to twist it up and pop it. When I left him, he was still gathering bottles out of the trash to try popping them.

The next morning when I came into the gym, Marcelo ran up to me with an empty bottle already in hand. He wanted me to show him more details because he couldn’t get it to shoot as cleanly as I had. What followed was a surreal exchange where I’m giving a black belt world champion a serious lesson on how to get the most power and range out of his water bottle caps.

While I went to get changed, my teammate stayed with Marcelo and his wife Tatiana, and later he told me how Marcelo kept grabbing up bottles and carefully twisting and shooting them while his wife shook her head and said “Why did you show him this? He’s like a big child!”

That pointless story out of the way, let’s get to reviewing the book. Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques is split into six chapters, as follows:

  • Armdrags
  • Establishing Back Control
  • Submissions from Back Control
  • Takedowns
  • Attacking the Guard
  • Submissions

(Note that x-guard isn’t listed because his aptly titled book The X-Guard already covered it.)

Each chapter is organized by related techniques (such as counters to counters) or attacks from the same position, and each technique follows a logical progression. You can see the efficiency in Marcelo’s style even in how well each move he shows fits together.

Chapters start with an explanation of Marcelo’s philosophy towards what he’ll be showing, and this offers great insight into how he thinks about his jiu-jitsu and picks or rejects techniques. For example, at the bottom of “5 Lessons Learned from Writing Marcelo Garcia’s Next Book” by Marshal Carper (one of the book’s coauthors), you can see a video from the book’s photo shoot where Marcelo takes the controversial stance of not doing any arm-in chokes (like the d’arce) because he feels they use too much strength.

Throughout the book, Marcelo’s technique is, of course, flawless. Marcelo teaches his best techniques and zero fluff or filler. If you own his DVD sets or subscribe to, you’ll have seen most of the material before, but despite that, I found it pleasurable to see Marcelo’s extremely refined game clearly explained in one place.

Speaking of, they promote Marcelo’s subscription-based instructional site at the start of the book and have little “helpful hints” on using throughout. Those of you with memberships can tell me how helpful they really are.

The book’s photographs and writing are excellent, as we’ve come to expect from the publisher, Victory Belt. Marcelo wears a white gi, and his partner wears blue, and the photos are big and clear, so it’s easy to see what’s going on. They got everything right putting this book together.

All in all, Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques is fantastic. It’s easily one of my favorite BJJ books, and at about $20, it’s very affordable. Make sure you buy a copy or put it at the top of your holiday wishlist.


How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting – Bonus DVD 1: Q & A Session

Over the past week, we’ve been reviewing How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, the latest BJJ instructional release by Stephan Kesting and Emily Kwok. If you missed them, here are reviews 1-3:

Today we’ll look at the first bonus DVD, which is a Q&A with Emily. It is edited together from footage taken of a semi-private class that Emily gave to brown belt Ritchie Yip, the head instructor at InFighting in Vancouver, along with Stephan and several other students. Ritchie asks most of the questions, but there is an open Q&A at the end.

I really enjoyed watching Emily run a class, and it’s evident how talented and passionate she is as a teacher. The warm-ups looked fun, and I will definitely be borrowing her drills. She has good command over the room, and is very hands-on while taking questions and answering them. Watching it, I’d have liked to been in this class too.

Because she is answering questions, Emily covers a wide range of techniques, including ways to salvage failing butterfly guard sweeps, how to pass x-guard, what Marcelo taught her about back control, finer points on the guillotine, and even how she does the Ezekiel choke. A few techniques from earlier in the set make a reappearance, but that just proves Emily shows what she gives her real students.

As you can tell, the material covered is all over the place, but everything is well taught. Emily always ties back into her core philosophies about efficiency of movement, staying on the offensive, and not letting your opponent decide the terms of the fight, which saves the lesson from feeling scatterbrained. Even if individual techniques don’t interest you, her advice in between should.

If this lesson were 30-45 minutes longer, I could see other publishers releasing it as a standalone DVD, as is often done for seminars. As it is, this DVD makes a great bonus to an already good set, and gives me even more reason to recommend it.

My final verdict on How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent is that it is a well-crafted instructional set that showcases Emily’s skills as a teacher and Stephan’s as the creator of the best grappling videos on the market. Beginners around white or blue belt will benefit from these DVDs the most, but higher belts can still pick up techniques and learn Emily’s philosophies on studying, training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

(Note: I doubt I’ll be reviewing the last bonus DVD, “An Introduction to Total Body Stability by Roy Duquette,” or at least not any time soon. Fitness programs fall outside my area of expertise, so I’m not comfortable reviewing this one without putting it into practice first. I suspect the material is fine, and from what I have watched, Roy is a good trainer, but I’d like to try the program before I review it.)


How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting – DVD 3: Top Five Moves

Today we’re going over “DVD 3: Top Five Moves” from How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting. In this disc, Emily shows her favorite five submissions, sweeps, and transitions or escapes, for fifteen moves total. At 1 hour, this is the shortest of the 3 core DVDs (discs 4 and 5 are “bonuses.”)

This is an exciting DVD, and it’s my favorite so far. All of the submissions are sharp and high percentage. Emily’s setup for the north-south choke is stellar (and even works in the gi), and I liked her details on familiar moves like the baseball bat and bow-and-arrow chokes. She shows creative ways to combo her sweeps and attack from unconventional angles without being needlessly complex. The escapes and transitions are similarly creative while being safe, solid moves.

If experienced grapplers are looking for a reason to be excited about buying this set, this DVD is it. The first two discs lay out a beginners curriculum that higher belts or DVD collectors will probably be familiar with already. That’s not a complaint—white and blue belts need instructionals too, and Emily is a phenomenal teacher. (Higher belts can benefit too by studying her mindset and strategies or picking up extra details.) But this DVD rounds out the set nicely by broadening the scope and giving Emily a chance to break out of the structure and go over specific situations or plain ol’ “good moves.”

With each DVD, How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent gets a better and better, and now I can wholeheartedly recommend it not only for beginners, but intermediate and advanced grapplers too.

Next time, it’s “Bonus DVD 1: Q & A Session.”


How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting – DVD 2: Compensating for Strength

It’s time to continue my review of How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, the latest BJJ instructional DVD set by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting. We now move on to DVD 2, “Compensating for Strength.”

That vague title doesn’t give any hints to its contents, so I’ll spoil it for you: Emily teaches 1) open and half guard, 2) guard passing, and 3) escapes from side control and mount. At nearly 2½ hours long, this is the longest of the 5 discs, and it is crammed full of techniques.

To start the DVD, Emily shows her guard gameplan that includes butterfly guard, one legged x-guard (AKA leglock guard), x-guard and half guard. She presents a good primer on each of these guards, explaining its core strategy and teaching 3-4 solid sweeps. Like always, Emily’s technique is crisp, and her explanations are clear and detailed.

Her one legged x-guard material is especially interesting because you can’t find this guard covered in much depth outside of some Marcelo Garcia’s videos. I picked up new details on it that I’m excited to put into practice.

Speaking of Marcelo, you can see the mark he’s left on Emily’s style, and she points this out herself. The lists of guards above could easily have been taken from Marcelo, and if you are familiar with Marcelo’s game and philosophy, you can see parallels in what Emily teaches throughout this set. More than the individual techniques, I enjoyed hearing about Emily’s attitude towards jiu-jitsu practice and competition.

This next point will help you decide if this DVD is for you or not. You can find more in-depth instruction on most of these guards in other DVDs, which may be good or bad for you.

If you don’t already own instructionals like Kesting’s butterfly and x-guard DVD or half guard DVD, then you’ll be happy with Emily’s condensed explanation of these guards and how she lays out a cohesive gameplan where every move is high percentage and dovetails into the next.

But if you already own DVDs on these guards (by Kesting or another BJJ black belt), then you’ll be familiar with most of this material, which may be disappointing if you are looking for new techniques.

That said, there is a danger to always seeking “new” techniques and not being happy with the old faithful ones that work. And it’s also not as if Emily is teaching boring closed guard and cross collar chokes circa 1995—she shows modern, advanced open guards. It’s just that other DVDs have taught them too.

The sections on guard passing and escapes follow the same story: the quality of instruction is very good, all of the techniques are high percentage, and if you don’t have the time or money to watch a bunch of instructionals, this is a smart buy because it packages a lot of good material in one place. If you are experienced or watch a lot of instructionals, you’ll likely have seen most of the moves already and may wish for more.

To be fair to Stephan and Emily and their intention for making these DVDs, their target market is clearly beginners who are still struggling with the fundamental problem presented in the set’s title: “How do I beat someone bigger and stronger than me?” As a brown belt who has seen dozens and dozens of BJJ DVDs, I’m not who this set was created to help.

That’s not to say it’s worthless if you have seen most of the moves before. Higher belts can benefit from seeing techniques explained by a skilled teacher with lots of tips and tricks, and it’s valuable to hear an experienced black belt explain their mindset and why they choose certain moves and strategies. There are certainly techniques I want to drill again thanks to Emily, even if I have seen them elsewhere in the past.

My overall opinion of this DVD is the same as the first disc. It’s a very good resource for beginners, especially white and blue belts, and I’d recommend it to them with no reservations. Experienced guys may want to take a look over the chapters first to see if enough of it catches their interest. There is no faulting the quality of the instruction, so it simply comes down to how much you need what Emily and Stephan offer.

Next time, we’ll review “DVD 3: Top Five Moves.”


How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting – DVD 1: Drills, Gi and No-Gi Gripfighting

My copies of Stephan Kesting and Emily Kwok’s latest instructional DVDs, How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, arrived earlier this week. I will be writing down my impressions and doing a preliminary review as I watch the 5 DVDs, starting here with Disc 1, “Drills, Gi and No-gi Gripfighting.”

Emily teaches the techniques while Stephan plays the role of the “bigger, stronger opponent” and demonstration partner. Emily’s instruction is enjoyable to follow because she is descriptive in her explanations and doesn’t commit the mistake of just doing the move and saying “you grab here, you go there, you go like this…”

Stephan isn’t mute either, and he chimes in to say what the moves feels like if there is a detail or pressure that isn’t obvious, or to ask questions and get Emily to explain points further.

The topics of this first DVD—drills and gripfighting—are unrelated, and you can treat their sections like two separate instructionals.

The drills start simply with basic breakfalls and shrimping, and if you have seen Kesting’s Grappling Drills DVD, you will be familiar with many of the other drills. The material is well taught, but I found it dull until Emily started showing the advanced drills (the granby roll in particular is very good) and the partner drills, which I did enjoy.

I ran a beginners class right after watching this section of the DVD, and I had people doing Emily’s partner drills like the partner drags and crabwalks, and they were a lot of fun.

Like with the drills, the gripfighting section starts with basics, but eventually builds up to advanced strategies. The grips and grip breaks are high percentage, but they’re nothing new, especially if you have any judo experience.

The part I found most interesting was where Emily showed how all the grips and grip stripping acts as your first line of offense and defense (a point that Marcelo made to her, and one I have heard from many other black belts), and demonstrated it by fending off Stephan, and answering his questions about specific grips.

This first DVD is fairly basic but very well taught. Keep in mind that I’ve watched tons of instructionals and have seen most basic moves many, many times, so I am hard to impress at this point. There is also a danger to being “unimpressed” with basic moves, because I believe Emily is honestly teaching what she would teach to a flesh-and-blood class, and her instruction is very good.

I had a similar attitude toward at first too, thinking it was “too basic,” but then I found myself returning to it and finding value in its very good explanations of the fundamentals, and now I always refer beginners to it.

This is also the first out of 5 DVDs, so it is understandable that it would be the simplest. Looking at the chapters of the later DVDs (and watching the preview clips), I see the topics get more advanced, so I am sure my overall opinion will change once I have seen all of the material.

Who would I recommend this DVD to so far? This disc would be most interesting to white and blue belts, since most of the material is fairly basic. Higher belts can find value in it too, especially those who runs classes like a college grappling club or garage training groups.

Next time I will review “DVD 2: Compensating for Strength.”

(If you want to get How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, you should act fast because there are only 40 copies left at the $97 price tag, then it jumps up $50 with the second batch. Stephan is also offering free shipping and an unconditional 365 day guarantee.)


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: