After you’ve been BJJ training for several months, you’ll eventually want to test your skills in a BJJ competition. This, at least, is what I found.
For those in a rush, here are my recommendations on the best Gis to compete in:
I had been training consistently for about 11 months before I decided to enter my first competition.
I was training, on average, three times a week and had rolled with everyone in the club. I was consistently being beaten by the higher belts, which was only to be expected.
However, there were only about five white belts in the club I went to. After a while, it became somewhat monotonous to train with the same people over and over again.
As a beginner, you’re limited in the number of techniques that you’re competent at. I certainly found that I knew the repertoire of those players who were at the same newbie level as I was.
I knew that one guy loved to try scissor sweeps, whilst another always tried the triangle choke from guard.
I soon learned to anticipate these techniques and to thwart their attempts. Our bouts often ended up in a stalemate.
After a while this became quite frustrating. I was being beaten by all the higher belts and I didn’t feel I was progressing by rolling with players at my own level.
After talking to some of my team mates and the coach, I decided that entering a BJJ competition could be the answer to super-charge my BJJ game.
Reasons why I decided to enter my first competition
To provide focus to my training
Part of the reason was to have a specific goal in mind to channel my training towards.
The competition I signed up for was taking place in three months time. It was a local competition attracting participants from the surrounding area.
I now had something to work towards.
I upped my supplementary fitness training and even started going on evening runs to build up my stamina. I also spent time working on my isometric strength training to further enhance my performance on the mat; you can read more about that here.
I also found that mentally I was much more focussed during my BJJ training. I was well aware that I had to improve my technique if I was to stand a chance in the competition. I found it so much easier to retain the subtle components of each technique. I think subconsciously my brain realised that what my coach was demonstrating was important information that had to be retained.
During free rolling sessions, instead of trying to subdue my fellow white belts, I would instead work on one or two of the techniques I wanted to focus on. My colleagues were quite willing to support me knowing I was entering a competition in a few months.
To test my training
At the time of entering the competition, I felt that my skill level wasn’t really progressing.
At my club, each BJJ session was attended by about 25 people on a good night and the vast majority of these were at a higher level than I was.
I had no idea where I was compared to the other five white belts or indeed, with other white belts at other clubs.
Was I actually any good at BJJ compared to my peers?
I wanted to find out.
To be inspired
I wanted not only to compete but to also see some of the best BJJ players in the region.
The good thing about going to competitions is that there is plenty of time to see other players rolling.
It’s such an exciting sport to watch and I wanted to be motivated by seeing competitors who were at a much higher level than I was.
I was indeed inspired. At the actual competition, there were some fights where there was a genuine flow of movement: attack was thwarted by counter attack, only to be met by another offensive technique.
Part of me thought that perhaps one day, I could attain that level of skill.
I get this same feeling from watching matches like the one below on YouTube.
Before I actually attended the competition, I decided to purchase another Gi only to be used for competitions (since I was confident that this wouldn’t be my last).
Why I decided I needed a seperate gi
To look the part
The months of training in my first Gi (you can see my review on the Valor Bravura Gi here), was beginning to take its toll.
Gis go through a lot of punishment, being pulled, stretched and twisted during every training session.
To avoid being that “smelly Gi guy”
I washed mine after every training session. I therefore wasn’t surprised that the continual washing caused the colour to fade slightly.
This was fine for my weekly training sessions but for the competition, I wanted to look sharp. It was like putting on a suit and tie for a job interview.
To have an advantage
Many competition Gi’s are very well fitted. This is to cut down on the amount of fabric your opponent can grab hold of.
My training Gi was fine for my weekly rolling sessions but I wanted a slightly tighter fit to have as much advantage as possible.
What I looked for in a competition BJJ Gi
Typically BJJ Gis are made from either Hemp or Cotton.
Hemp is a more expensive material but its proponents argue that it’s stronger and more hardwearing. Most Gis are made of cotton and for the vast majority of the BJJ competition Gi’s, this material is perfectly adequate.
BJJ Gis come in a variety of weaves. The main difference between the weave types is the amount of fabric used: the higher the amount, the heavier and more hardwearing it becomes. Heavier weaves are also easier to grab onto.
Roughly speaking at the opposite ends of the weave spectrum are the single and double weaves. Gis made using the single weave are made of less material which makes them cheaper and therefore an excellent buy for the beginner.
Double weave Gis use twice the material used in the single weave, which makes them much thicker and heavier but also much easier to grab onto.
Sitting in between these two ends of the spectrum, sit a number of other weave types: the Gold Weave, the Pearl Weave, and the Honey Comb Weave. All of these represent a compromise between durability and heaviness.
Competition BJJ Gis are designed to be lightweight and durable. For this reason, they are normally made from a single or pearl weave. This not only helps the competitor make the correct weight when they stand on the scales but also serves to keep them cool during the rigors of competition.
This is one of the most important considerations when purchasing a Gi, particularly for competition. Indeed, competition regulations specify the amount that the Gi sleeves and pants can be above the wrist and ankle bones respectively.
Generally speaking, adult male Gis come in sizes ranging from A0 – A6. Female Gis are marked with an “F” before the number.
Each manufacturer will have its own sizing details but, typically, the sizes will be as follows:
- A1: under 1.70m (5’8”)
- A2: under 1.80m (5’9”)
- A3: under 1.90m (6’2”)
- A4: under 2.0m (under 6’6”)
- A5: over 2m (over 6’6”)
It’s important to note that many Gis can be shrunk to fit. Whilst this can achieve the perfect fit, it can also result in Gis being over shrunk. To avoid this ‘pre-shrunk’ Gis can also be purchased.
Many competitions only allow certain colours of Gi to be used: usually blue, black and white. Other colours, whilst looking fancy, should be avoided. It no good having the coolest BJJ Gi around if you’re not allowed to compete in it.
Adherence to the Regulations
When selecting a competition Gi, you need to keep in mind the regulations governing the uniform.
Outlined below is an extract from the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s rule book:
“Gis and uniforms Gis should be tailored using cotton or cotton-like fabric. The fabric should not be so thick or hard as to impede an opponent from gripping it. For juvenile, adult, master and senior divisions, a gi fashioned from woven fabric is mandatory.It is permitted to wear kimono with EVA or similar material inside the collar, if the measures of size and rigidity regulations provided in this Rules Book are followed.The GI should be completely white, royal blue or black. No Gi’s will be accepted with different colored jackets or pants nor will we allow the use of GI’s with different colored collars. It is not allowed for athlete’s to wear shirts beneath their GI (except for females, which must comply with [the point below]).In the female divisions, it is mandatory for the use of a stretchy or elastic shirt that hugs the body beneath the GI; It can be short or long sleeved, without the necessity to follow the color requirements. It is also permitted for athlete’s to use a one piece swim garment (bathing suit) or gymnastics top.In the adult black belt divisions (mens and women’s), the event’s organizers may demand that athletes have two gis of different colors (one royal blue and the other white), in order to distinguish between the two athletes in a match.Gis may not exhibit mending or tears, be wet or dirty or emanate unpleasant odors.The gi top should reach the athlete’s thigh and the sleeves should come to no more than 5 cm from the athlete’s wrist when the arm is extended straight parallel to the ground.GI pants should reach no more than 5 cm above the tibial malleolus (ankle bone). For male divisions, wearing pants of any kind under the GI pants is prohibited. For female divisions, it is permitted for the use of elastic fabric pants (that clings to the body) under the GI pants, as long as they are shorter than the GI pants.Athletes should use a durable, 4- to 5-cm-wide belt colored according to the athlete’s rank, with a black tip – except for black belts, where the tip should be white or red. The belt should be worn over the top, wrap around the waist twice, and be tied using a double knot tight enough to hold the gi top closed. Once tied in a double knot, each end of the belt should hang 20 to 30 cm in length.Painted gis are forbidden, unless the paint is designed in the form of an academy or sponsor logo – and only on regions of the gi where patches are permitted. Even in cases where they are permitted, the athlete will be obliged to change gis should the paint mark the gi of the opponent.Prior to weighing in, an official gi inspector will check to make sure gi measurements comply with the official measurements stipulated by the IBJJF.
- The inspection will verify whether the following official measurements are met: maximum gi collar thickness (1.3 cm), maximum width of gi collar (5 cm), minimum opening of sleeve at full extension (7 cm).
- Athletes have the right to 2 (two) follow-up gi-measurement inspections, should they fail to pass the first inspection.
- The gi-measurement inspector will also verify the overall state of the athlete’s belt.
The measuring stick used will be of the regulation measurements below:
- Total length of measuring stick: 15.0 cm
- Measuring stick width: 3.5 cm
- Gi lapel width: 5.0 cm
- Gi lapel thickness: 1.3 cm
- Gi sleeve opening at full extension: 7.0 cm
After weighing in, athletes may not change their gis for their first match, under penalty of disqualification.
- Following the first match, athletes may request of the Ring Coordinator permission to change gis. The new gi will undergo a new measurement inspection.
- Athletes will be subject to disqualification should they not undergo a measurement inspection of their new gi prior to the first match wearing the new gi.”
Looking after your Gi
This sounds like basic hygiene but always wash your Gi after you’ve trained or competed wearing it. A sweaty, dirty Gi is a prime breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to some funky smells being emitted.
You also won’t be allowed to compete if your Gi is dirty, smelly or in poor condition.
The Best BJJ Gi for Competition
After much research, I decided to buy this Gi.
It was pre-shrunk so that I didn’t have to worry about it shrinking in the wash. It was also made from a light-weight 450 gsm fabric which I found to be extremely comfortable. It also prevents me from getting too hot during the match.
The exterior fabric is slightly rough which is designed to prevent opponents from grabbing hold of you too easily.
The pants have a rope drawstring and allow for ease of movement.
However, it was the striking design that first caught my eye. I went for the blue design with the striking green highlighted logo.
It had a nice tight cut which wouldn’t restrict my movement but, at the same time, there wouldn’t be any excess material for my opponents to grab hold of.
I paid just under $100 for it but you can check the price here on Amazon.
You can see 8th degree red and black belt, Rigan Machado, sporting this Gi in the following video (albeit he’s gone for the black and red version):
Since I first purchased the Sanabul Professional Competition Gi, I have entered a number of different competitions and I’m currently saving up for my next Competition Gi.
I plan on upgrading to this Gi
In my opinion this is of a slightly higher quality to the Sanabul and features 550 gsm GOLD weave cotton. I’ve seen a number of my team mates in this Gi and I really like the design. They all comment on how soft and comfortable the material is.
The quality of the reinforced stitching is impressive and gives the impression of being built to last.
Below is what this Gi looks like on:
I think this is going to cost me about $150 but you can see the price for yourself on Amazon here.
Can’t afford these Gis?
I really love this Gi and you could use it for competition: it conforms to the IBJJF regulations.
The jacket is constructed from 400g cotton and features a highly durable gold weave. You can really feel the quality of the material when grappling and I was never worried about the material ripping mid-roll.
The Gi collar is also quite still. The marketing blurb for the Gi said that it was rubberized to prevent sweat and bacteria absorption. Whilst I have no doubt that this is true, I also found that it was also much harder for my opponents to grab hold of it and obtain a tight grip. Consequently, it’s that much harder to be choked out. This means I found myself lasting slightly longer when fighting higher belts as their technique had to be spot on in order to be effective.
I should also add that whilst the collar is stiff, it’s not something you actually notice when you’re wearing it.
Here’s my review (sorry about the music!):
I paid around $90 but you can check the price on Amazon here.
I would strongly urge any BJJ player to enter a competition. The adrenaline rush is crazy and it’s really good to test your skills against different opponents who you’ve not rolled with before.
I definitely think my BJJ game has come on in leaps and bounds since I started competing.
If you are going to compete then you may want to consider purchasing a competition Gi that is used only for these events.