Starting jiu-jitsu as a brand new beginner is often intimidating, even to the best of lifelong athletes. Your first few weeks can feel a lot like getting fire hosed. There’s mat etiquette to learn, sport-specific conditioning to develop, and cleanliness protocols to adhere to – and that’s not even getting into the seemingly endless repertoire of supposedly “basic” technique you’re expected to pick up.
Before you – our scrappy, aspiring new white belt – dives into any of that, though, first thing’s first: assuming that you’re not at a no-gi exclusive academy, you’re going to need a training uniform, more commonly known as a “gi” or occasionally, “kimono.”
Buying your first bjj gi inspires almost as many anxious questions as picking a jiu-jitsu academy. Do I need a designer brand, or can I get away with pinching pennies? What color should I get? How many will I need to buy? Will I need a whole new wardrobe? Just how much money is this whole hobby going to end up costing me?
Slow your roll, and relax. For your first ever jiu jitsu gi, you don’t necessarily need anything fancy. If you’re training more than a couple times a week, it may be wise to invest in a second kimono sooner rather than later – but it’ll be helpful to understand what to look for first. Here are a few points to take into consideration.
1. Price Point and Quality
While you probably don’t want to drop over 250 bucks on your first ever gi, you don’t want to pinch pennies at the expense of quality either – the last thing you need is to immediately rip up your uniform, and end up spending designer-worthy money to replace a cheap, poor quality gi over and over again.
Luckily, there’s a happy medium when it comes to both quality and price point. The Hooks Ultra Light, for example, is a generally affordable option – it costs literally half of what you’ll spend at some brands – with guaranteed durability through both many rolls and many wash cycles.
If you’re at a super traditional dojo, the safest color is always going to be white. It’s what the old school Gracies wore back when Brazilian jiu-jitsu was taking off back in Rio, and it remains one of the three competition-legal IBJJF uniform colours today (the other two being black and royal blue). For aspiring competitors, a gi in one of those three colors that matches uniform requirements under the IBJJF may be the wisest investment.
Check out, for example, Atlas’ Pro Standard ‘23 gi in white.
For hobbyists with no interest in the IBJJF, on the other hand, the world – and the jiu-jitsu gear marketplace – is your oyster. Grey? Navy? Hot pink? Zebra stripes? Camo print? All are options for you.
Want to get more fashionably adventurous? Consider this gorgeous Prolight II gi in forest green with black trim.
Sizing can be tricky when it comes to buying your first gi, and every brand has a slightly different standard for its size guide. In order to ensure the best fit, make sure you consult the size guide for whichever brand you pick – and use measurements to make your purchase decisions accordingly. If you are still unsure of the best size for you or would like some further assistance, please reach out to our friendly Customer Service Team who would be glad to help!
Beyond those three factors, a lot of the decisions you make about your jiu-jitsu wardrobe will depend on individual preference! Talk to your coach or black belt professor about what – if any – uniform requirements your academy imposes. Upper belts are also great resources for providing tips on what qualities to look for in a first gi purchase. Beyond that, it’s largely up to you. Happy shopping!