Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a very challenging martial art with immense benefits if you dedicate yourself to it. But besides the obvious hurdles, there are a few additional small challenges that you might not have considered when choosing to train BJJ. One of these is choosing the right gi for you.
BJJ is practiced in a uniform called a gi and it’s very important that you choose the correct size for your specific body and build. To help you do that the manufacturers created gi size charts. This is a very good solution, but it would have been much better if they used a universal standard sizing system.
There are frequent problems people face like falling between sizes or being too big or small to fit into some of the charted categories. On top of that, each brand has its own size chart and in this guide, we will help you decipher the most important aspects of them and pick the perfect gi for your BJJ practice.
BJJ GI vs Judo GI
All gis derive from the traditional Japanese keikogi, but each is adapted to better suit the respective martial art they are used in. The most frequent comparison is with the judogi simply because judo is the other prominent martial art that is grappling based. At first glance, the judo and BJJ gi may look the same, but if you take a closer look you will find that the judo uniform is a lot looser and with wider sleeves. The BJJ gi on the other hand is more fitted.
The differences are rather functional, not just mere aesthetics. The tighter fit of the BJJ gi makes it much more comfortable for extended rolling where the wide sleeves of the judogi tend to get in the way. The BJJ gi is designed for the intense action the sport is known for. In contrast, the judogi is made from a much lighter and breathable canvas-like material, that’s very comfortable but nowhere near as durable.
If you have any previous knowledge and experience with gi size charts from other martial arts, don’t rely on it, or you’ll end up with a very inappropriate sized gi for BJJ. Now, let us navigate you through the BJJ gi size charts
Understanding the BJJ size chart
As we said each brand has its own size chart, but generally all of them consist of a letter and number. The letter shows who the gi is made for like A for adult males and F for females etc. The number is indicative of the size most often ranging from 0 to 6. Other brands use fewer numbers, but offer half sizes like 2.5 or 3.5. Sometimes additional letters may be added like “L” for long or “S” for short.
The main consideration in the size charts is the height and weight of the user. They serve as the main reference. For a better understanding, we’ve included the Venum size chart. In this example, if you are 6”1’ and weigh around 200 lbs your size is A3.
However, If we include another chart like for our own GBJJ Charles Gracie gi (https://gbjj.org/products/adult-uniform-gi ) uniform we will see that the same person will fall into the A-4 size.
What to do if you end up right between two sizes you ask?
It’s often the case that when you take your measures you will find that you fit in two different sizes and feel unsure which to choose. In this case, it’s almost always the right decision to go with the one that will fit your body tighter, even if you have to deal with slightly longer sleeves and trousers. You can always roll them or get them shortened by a tailor.
If you choose length over width from the size chart the gi will be looser and baggy and this can become a nightmare when you start training. Don’t forget that a snug fit also looks much nicer.
Everybody has a different build and the chart cannot accommodate everybody perfectly. So always choose with comfort as your highest priority.
Important Factors To Consider When Choosing A Gi
The market is very saturated and there is an overwhelming variety of gis to choose from, so we need to discuss a few more things worth considering.
The most important characteristic of a BJJ gi besides the size is its weave pattern. If you don’t know what does this means the easiest way to look at it is that weave equals appearance. The type of weave also often signifies the weight of the gi.
The lightest one is made in a single weave. This is the simplest weave and the fabric looks smooth and flat. This weave is great for hot weather, but if you intend to roll every day it will most likely not endure for too long.
|The Pearl weave is by far the most used fabric for BJJ gis. It strikes the perfect balance between weight and durability.|
|The gold weave is preferred by some practitioners because it’s lightweight, but also durable. The big drawback of gold weave is that it tends to shrink a lot.|
|A double weave gi is made like the single, but with twice the amount of threads used. This makes the fabric extremely strong, but also heavier, more restrictive, and more expensive. The heavier gi also prevents the opponent from securing a tighter grip.|
There are more types of weave, like the crystal weave and honeycomb weave, but they are less popular, which does not mean that they are worse.
It’s All Personal Preference
Finding the right gi presents some unique challenges. If you ask the more experienced guys in your gym you will get contradicting opinions that may confuse you even further. After all there is no “better” weight or weave. It’s all up to you to find the one you feel and perform the best in. This may take a couple of tries, but we hope this guide made it easier for you to navigate the different size charts and material specifications.