If you have just started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu then you’ll soon need to start thinking about buying a gi. Buying your first gi for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be intimidating because you might be surprised by how much they cost. Generally BJJ gis start around sixty dollars and can go as high as two hundred dollars!
If BJJ is just something you are “trying out” you might be concerned about investing in something you may never use again. What’s the difference between gi and no-gi Jiu Jitsu anyway? Most importantly is a more expensive gi actually a better gi?
This article will offer answers to all of these questions as well as provide a few top picks for the first beginner BJJ gi you should buy!
What’s the difference between Gi and No-gi?
If you don’t own a BJJ gi, you might be confused why you even need one. But practicing BJJ with the gi is very different than without. The first difference is that the gi offers a number of chokes and techniques that can be done with it. The lapel on the gi can be used to choke an opponent, as well as a tool to control your opponents’ posture.
Your opponent’s gi can be a very useful tool when trying to pass their guard. You can grab your opponent’s pants and use it to force their legs to one side. You can also grab their gi from standing and use it to perform Judo throws. You can also grab your opponent’s sleeves and set up advanced guards like “collar sleeve” or “worm guard.”
What’s the difference between a BJJ Gi and Other Martial Arts Uniforms?
Unlike Tae Kwon Do or Karate, the gi in BJJ is made to be used. It is much thicker, like a Judo gi, and built to take a lot of abuse. It can be grabbed, yanked, pulled on, or even wrapped around someone’s neck. If you are someone who primarily has trained without the gi; you might find it frustrating when you first roll with someone who is good at utilizing the gi.
The best BJJ gis for beginners
Most BJJ Academies have gi’s you can borrow or rent for a gi class. But if you are trying Jiu Jitsu, eventually you might want to have your own because constantly using your academies might feel gross, or become expensive. Luckily there are high-quality gi’s that are not priced at two hundred dollars.
Sporting a sleek design, Sanabul gives you a lot of colors to choose from! The lightweight, single weave design is breathable and won’t break the bank for your first gi. Also, Sanabul will also offer you a free belt when you buy their Essentials gi.
Elite makes an affordable pearl weave brand gi that is IBJJF approved (depending on the color. See our IBJJF rules page!). This gi also is made with antimicrobial and anti-odor fabric that may help fight against the bacteria that can build up in BJJ gyms. (Yes you still need to wash it!)
Fuji has an excellent reputation in the martial arts world. They make all kinds of martial arts gear, and BJJ is no exception. This is a “mid-weight” kimono and according to Fuji the best-selling kimono in the world. This gi is also IBJJF-competition approved.
Does gi weight (GSM) matter?
All fabric can be described by a metric called Grams per Square Meter, or GSM. Most BJJ players opt for a lighter gi because you don’t tire as quickly, and it’s easier to make weight if you are on the edge of your weight class. However, there are advantages to a heavier gi such as it is much harder for an opponent to grip a heavier gi.
Some BJJ gi’s are actually made to be difficult to grip! If you discover you like training in the gi you might want to look into getting one of these! However, when you’re first starting out you don’t need to give this much thought.
What’s the difference between BJJ gi weaves?
There are many different kinds of weaves when discussing gis. While discussing all of them could fill up a whole article, the three types are the most common: double weave, pearl weave, and single weave.
For your first BJJ gi, you shouldn’t worry too much about the weave you have. However, pearl weaves are considered to be a good compromise between weight and durability. Double weave gis are generally stiff and heavy while single weave gis are lightweight but may not last as long. Most Jiu Jitsu gis sold today are pearl weave.
Can you exclusively train gi or no-gi?
While some practitioners DO only train one or the other, it’s understood that if you want to be a well-rounded player you should train both. People who only train no-gi at gyms which offer both are known for being promoted late. Most BJJ competitions have a gi and a no-gi bracket. You will be able to get more mat time in competitions if you are able to compete in both!
It should be noted that recently Gordon Ryan stated that in the future gi competitions will be phased out. Currently, no competitions have made any announcements that they will remove their gi division. Whether this prediction will come true remains to be seen and at this time seems unlikely.
Is training in the gi realistic?
If you got involved in BJJ for self-defense, you might be concerned that training in the gi isn’t realistic. However, as is the case with any question involving self-defense, the answer is; “it depends.”
You might be surprised to learn that some black belts consider the gi even more realistic than no-gi. After all, when was the last time you were worried about getting in a fight with someone not wearing any clothing
It should also be noted that many of the collar chokes in BJJ can be done with a t-shirt!
First BJJ Gi For Beginners – FAQs
Why should I train in the gi?
While you don’t necessarily have to train in the gi, to be a well-rounded BJJ player it’s best to train both gi and no-gi! The gi will open more opportunities for you in competitions, and you will learn some cool collar chokes!
What’s a good price point for my first BJJ gi?
You can find some high-quality options for under one hundred dollars. Gis go on sale fairly regularly, so keep an eye out for deals!
Does gi color matter?
Most BJJ gyms have no restriction on color. However, if you are looking to compete the most common colors permitted are royal blue, black, and white. Some gyms only permit their students to use white BJJ gis, while others permit any color imaginable.
How do I get my first white belt? Do I have to wait for my coach to give me one?
If your gi comes with a belt, then that is how you get your first belt! If not, feel free to order one while you’re ordering your gi!
A white belt is the only belt you can award yourself. If this is your first belt, check out our guide on how to tie your Jiu Jitsu belt.
When can I buy an expensive premium BJJ gi?
Right now! Feel free to treat yourself if you see something you like. However, if you are new to BJJ you might want to think about getting something affordable just to make sure you are serious about training!
When you’re ready to move up, check out our gi buying guide for some premium ideas.
Buying your first gi can raise a lot of questions! Thankfully, your training buddies at the gym will have many recommendations. Don’t be afraid of getting the gi that catches your eye! Buy one you’ll like and you can show off! If your gym has patches you might consider sewing one on, so you can represent your team.
Jack is a BJJ purple belt who holds a bachelors degree in English Literature. He enjoys traveling, reading, and the Bow and Arrow choke. One day he hopes to teach English overseas and become a published author.