We're not going to rehash gi basics or what gis will be good for beginners. That's been done really well here, here and here. And if you're into more heavy reading, subscribe to GiReviews.net here and receive a free copy of their comprehensive eBook.
We’d be willing to bet that buying a gi is harder than buying a car. Why? Because when you set out to buy a car, you’re reasonably sure of what you want to invest. You know what you’ll be using the car for and you’ve spent a lifetime watching people owning, selling, replacing and repairing cars.
Gis…we see posts from confused newbies all the time… “My academy wants to charge me $145 for a gi. Is that too much?” “I’m tall and lanky, what gi should I buy?” Unfortunately, searching for help online can be daunting. The world of BJJ gis houses more than 200 manufacturers with LITERALLY thousands of models. The upside is that there’s almost certainly a gi out there that will work for you. The down side? Good luck finding the best one without investing a ridiculous amount of time and money.
We’re hoping the steps below will make the process a little more clear:
Phase 1: Looking at Limitations
Step 1: Talk to your instructor-If they haven’t told you already, ask your instructor what kinds of gis your academy allows. Some schools require you buy from one manufacturer, others don’t care as long as it’s got lapels and pants.
Step 2: Figure out what you’re willing to invest-This one’s tricky. Just like the rest of jiu jitsu, gis aren’t exactly cheap. Be prepared to invest around $100 for a decent one (though there are less expensive models out there). The BJJ uniform takes a lot of abuse and unlike the latest Pumas, you’re putting that cash out for a functional reason.
Step 3: Check yourself-You want a good fit. Don’t even start drooling over a Rio Koi until you know if Shoyoroll’s cut works for you. Your height, gender, age, weight and proportions will guide you in finding the gi that works best for you.
Phase 2: Making Decisions
Step 1: Decide use-Will you just be using this gi for training? Do you plan to compete in it? Will you be going on a six month trip around the world, training in places you won’t have access to washing machines? Decide what it’s used for then start researching what fits your needs.
Step 2: Narrow it down to 3-4 choices-Use our GiSearch function to find gis that match your ideal.
Phase 3: Due Diligence
Step 1: Do your homework. Search our review database. Throw the gi name into Twitter and a couple of forums. You want to find out about experiences others have had with the gi and how their investment has panned out for them. Contact us…we’ll put out feelers for you and will get back whatever info we can.
Phase 4: Purchase
We recommend buying directly from the manufacturers. It’s the best way to get information, but there are a lot of retailers out there that offer sales. (Side note: The “Where to Buy” section on each one of our listed gis is entered directly from the manufacturer and their preferred method of purchase.)
Phase 5: Repeat
This is where it gets good…and messy. Some people wish for a gi that will last forever. Not us. The culture around the uniform of our practice is a reflection of the personality of BJJ overall and that’s why we love it. This is where you start tuning into podcasts, subscribing to newsletters and watching the performance of your favorite brands on different competitors. Here are some of our favorite resources for getting your feet wet.
1) GiReviews.net- The newsletter, the podcast, the much anticipated e-Book…we’re still not even close to having read all of the information on the site.
2) BJJGearJunkie.com-Tons of reviews and info, we especially love the guide by body type.
3) BJJSales.com-Self explanatory. Stay up with what’s on sale. Especially useful if you’re wanting to pick up a budget buster.
4) Meerkatsu.com-Check the blog for the most extensive and detailed reviews out there.
5) A clean explanation of the basics of gis from MMA Outlet.
Phase 6: Reflect
If you’re going to be doing this for more than a few months, pay attention to how the gi’s working for you…ease of care, how it feels while you’re training. Talk to other people at the gym and online and keep an eye out here for all the innovations and changes that are happening in the world of BJJ gis.