Like other martial arts, jiu-jitsu requires the right attire for its participants. This combat sport involves a lot of contact, so there are necessary standard garments to play the sport safely and correctly. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, requires a gi in particular. Many players prefer a thick GI.
For both beginners and professionals looking for the best BJJ gi, read on to learn about the importance of the garment and how to pick the best one for your next event.
The Jiu-Jitsu Gi: What it is and Why it’s Worn
Martial arts and combat sports all require certain uniforms, with the designs depending on how each sport is performed. For example, the dobok used in Taekwondo is pristine and lightweight. It has traditional roots in martial arts and is lightweight for practical purposes. Taekwondo requires a lot of flexibility and rapid movements, so a more maneuverable uniform is essential.
Then comes the gi, made for Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It’s the standard attire for both international events and local competitions. A gi is a traditional Japanese outfit and is usually used in combination with the name of the martial art: jiu jitsu gi. It’s made of a heavy jacket and trousers, along with a belt that denotes the rank of the wearer.
While this configuration of clothing is standard among most other martial arts as well, the gi is distinct because of how tough and heavy the fabric can be. BJJ is a contact-heavy sport, with a lot of grappling and pulling motions during matches. Gis have to be extra durable against these movements.
Beyond the protection they provide, gis are worn as a sign of commitment to the sport and respect for the tradition of jiu-jitsu. The practice establishes the ranking of every competitor, whether they’re a student or a sensei. The belt in particular serves as a marker of skill level and how well the wearer has mastered the art of jiu-jitsu. Lastly, the gi serves as a useful identifier for those who belong to the same organization, often through the use of patches.
Choosing the Best BJJ Gi
Selecting the ideal BJJ gi takes a bit of research. There are a few factors you need to consider when shopping for one:
Jiu-jitsu gi can be made of different materials, which affect the overall feel, comfort, and thickness of the garment. The most common one is cotton, which offers durability and breathability. For those who train in hotter or more humid climates, ripstop fabric is better since it’s much cooler and dries more quickly than other materials. There are also denim options, which some prefer for the material’s toughness and longevity.
The weight of gi uniforms plays an important role in a player’s mobility and endurance. Many prefer more lightweight options, but that might mean sacrificing durability and thickness. So you might need to make a few compromises here and there, depending on your preferences.
Gi uniforms in the past came in three weaves: gold, single, and double. However, many companies have created unique designs, such as the hugely popular pearl weave. It’s now the most used in competitions thanks to its incredible toughness, lightweight structure, and shrink resistance.
Tournament officials strictly regulate the thickness of gis. Anything too thick can make an opponent’s attack ineffective, so there are certain standards to follow. International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s uniform requirements only state that the gi must not be too thick to grab. The material and weave will affect the durability, so take those into account as well.
Gi Thickness Levels
At the most fundamental level, we can classify gis based on their thickness.
Thinnest: Single weave and ripstop weaves belong to this classification. The former is one of the weakest configurations on the market and won’t last long, hence the lower price tag. On the other hand, ripstop weave gis are some of the most durable. Still, having thin fabric makes the garment easier to grab and pull. Because of this disadvantage, thin gis are used mostly in training. They’re also more breathable, making them ideal for long hours of use.
Medium Thickness: Pearl and gold weaves belong to this category, and so do gis made from cotton, canvas, and rashguard lining. Gold weaves used to be the standard in most BJJ tournaments, but that status has since been taken by pearl weaves. The latter is named from the pattern of the weaves, which resembles a string of pearls. This configuration is also extremely durable while still being relatively lightweight.
Thickest: Regardless of the material used, double weave gis are classified as the thickest. Since these garments use more fabric, they are heavier, more expensive, and much harder to grip. Your opponents will have a difficult time trying to use grip fighting tactics on you, which gives you an advantage. However, the weight can affect your mobility at first, and the thickness can make the temperatures uncomfortable. Still, it is a good investment for those who participate in major competitions.
Why a Thick Gi Gives You an Advantage
For those who want to upgrade their uniforms to the next level, we highly recommend getting a thick gi. We’ve mentioned a few disadvantages above, but those are insignificant compared to the benefits you will gain from wearing one.
At the forefront of these advantages is how a thick gi can make it harder for opponents to grab you. Because grabbing is such a fundamental move in jiu-jitsu, disabling it will take a huge toll on the other side’s gameplay. The extra padding will also soften blows and make you more resistant to chokes and tackles.
While we did mention that your mobility can be affected by a thick gi, it still provides better stability for some maneuvers. You’ll also be training under heavier material, which helps in building your strength. Many athletes report that they feel faster after switching back to thinner gis. This increase in power and stamina will help when you face other experienced competitors.
As expected, a thicker gi also means increased durability. Not only does this apply to what happens on the mat, but also during cleaning and storing. Thick gis are made to last, making them a good investment for those who plan to be involved in BJJ professionally or for many years.
One other unexpected benefit of thick gis is how they can make players look more imposing. The added volume makes them look bigger, which can help intimidate opponents. At the same time, thick gis provide a professional and dignified look thanks to their premium weaves and clean appearance.
The Bottom Line
Jiu-jitsu gis come in many shapes, thicknesses, and materials. But a thick gi is one of the ideal options when choosing the best BJJ gi. Not only does it offer a tactical advantage against many fundamental moves, but it also makes players look imposing and professional. Use this guide to help you learn more about thick gis and why you should choose one as your next upgrade.