A thoroughly riveting account of Judo gi shopping

Gi Number 1

Back in the 90s, when I was a young lad in college and failing at my sole task of winning women over, I took up a martial art at my university gym called Jitsu. I did this for a number of years, and had it’s plus’s and minus’s (see Bullshido’s reference to form your own opinion) .

While there I picked up a judo-like gi which had a shoulder-pleat reminiscent of a Sambo gi. It’s interesting to find that the shoulder-pleat thing seems to be quite prevalent with the uniforms of traditional Jiu-Jitsu type places. The gi didn’t last long – I took up Judo and tearing started to become a regular thing, giving me the appearance of a faux Ken or Ryu from Street Fighter II. 

Shoulder pleat thingy that came with my original Jitsu gi. My gi was actually white, I’ve just taken a Sambo gi picture here for reference.

Gi number 2

I then embarked on the acquisition of a second gi.

My judo coach at the time was doing a mass order from a martial arts supplier (Blitz) and I picked up one from there. It was a very heavy material, polyester stiff. So heavy a material that my washing machine would complain. When in randori I would notice I would out-grip more people because my opponents’ attempts at gripping my lapel was akin to gripping one of those plastic curtains you see at an automatic car wash, but with less give! This gi lasted me for 20 years.

Moving back to Judo, I pulled out the old gi. Its location in the loft for two decades meant that the rodents took first dibs. Like many rodents, squirrels exhibit chewing behaviour and when not chewing on my TV aerial or the loft timber they attacked this well-cherished gi with vigour. There is much to be said about the chewing power of a squirrel, since that plastic-fantastic gi that I would literally walk into rather than put on) became shreds.

Gi number 3

So now I’m back to Blitz and I’ve picked up a Judo gi for £10. You heard this right. £10! Granted, it was an end-of-season sell-off, but £10 doesn’t even get you a hamburger from Five Guys..

The gi may not have the perfect fit but it doesn’t look odd either. I’ve read stories of elite players spending excessive amounts for their custom fit gi – fair enough. Judo is a sport where you don’t need to buy much ‘gear’ hence a frivolous purchase here and there won’t break the bank.

Judo is also one of those sports where getting a top-of-the-range uniform is well within the realms of many practitioners’ budgets. Mizuno seems to be the brand that a lot of the elite players go for (does it help that it has a Japanese name?). Their flagship store in Tokyo appears to be raved about on a couple of Reddit forums. The IJF seem to have specific contest regulations for judo gis, but given I don’t expect to be invited to a Grand Slam any time soon that’s probably not something I should be aiming for.

On the topic of IJF regulations, I see there’s a specific regulation set for belts that are used in competition. It makes me curious as to how someone could craft/source a judo belt that provides them with an unfair advantage..

Gi number 3.5

I say ‘Gi number 3.5’ as I picked up a Tatami Jiu-Jitsu gi when I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu albeit on a very casual basis (mid-life crisis alert!?). It’s been worn a couple of times to a Judo session when my normal Blitz gi is in the wash. I note that BJJ gis are different in that:

  • They usually have a bungee cord for a waste band in the trousers. Very comfortable for those with bulging waist lines (obvs not me).
  • They’re usually more form fitting, making them more difficult to grab. This is incredibly beneficial for Judo.
  • The sleeves and trousers are usually shorter, making you look like a poorer representation of your bank account.
  • There are at least 5 bazillion options with regard to the weight/weave/fabric. Honestly, BJJ companies have really cracked it with regard to their marketing. I should write an article on this at some point but they’ve flooded the market with options. You can easily go down an internet rabbit hole when shopping online, trying to figure out which gi to get. You’ll be flustered by decisions like “is it pearl weave that’s more appropriate?” “oh but what about double-weave?”. It’s reminiscent in the scene in The Hurt Locker when the bomb disposal expert in the movie comes back to civilian life and gets sent to the supermarket aisle to buy some cereal; when he reaches the appropriate aisle he almost has a meltdown when presented with the choice available.
  • They usually have many, many patches. And colours. And themes (Iron Maiden anyone?).

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed my judo gi rant for today. If you did, please consider subscribing to this blog (link at the bottom of this page).

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