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Starting Out in BJJ - you'll need a gi

Updated on February 21, 2015

Getting started in BJJ

Are you just now starting out in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? If so, it pays to know just a few things. First, you're going to want to find the right gym for you in your area. Be sure to actually try the class, and don't just pick a gym because it's really close to your house, or because it's $10 cheaper than the gym down the road. This is an important decision you'll want to put a bit of thought into, and actually take the time to check out the atmosphere and the instruction.

Second, you're almost definitely going to need a gi - the uniform, also sometimes called the kimono. Here's a quick overview of a couple of different types of gis, and what you really need just to get started vs what you may want (the "bells and whistles" concept).

Great starter gi

If you're looking for a "bells and whistles" overpriced BJJ gi, then this is not the gi for you, my friend. If, on the other hand, you're on a bit of a budget, and would like to purchase a very durable, very high quality gi, then Fuji is a great brand to choose. My gym has nearly 200 students, and of those 200, probably a solid third to half own Fuji gis. I can say with all confidence that Fuji stands behind its product, with actual thought given into not only the fit, but also into the stitching itself.

The A3 fits extremely well, even after being washed. Be forewarned: they do shrink a bit at first, but only if you dry them in a clothes dryer. I'd say the "shrinkage factor" might be around 7% (that's a number I've heard thrown out there, and it doesn't seem to far off. The styling is minimal, so again, if you're looking for something that looks more like a NASCAR jacket than a traditional kimono, you may want to do some searching elsewhere.

The gi is IBJJF and US Grappling competition legal, so if you're concerned about that aspect, you can rest easy (just be sure to get the right size!). If you're about six feet tall and 170 pounds or so like me, A3 is an easy choice. Bank on this thing lasting for several years, likely until the fabric itself finally begins to wear out. I've seen students wear their Fuji gis upwards of five times a week for 4 or 5 years.

Revolution BJJ gym picture - lots of different types of Fujis, Shoyorolls, and other gis


I love my Fuji gi

Bells and whistles

On the other hand, if you're looking for a "bells and whistles" type gi, you're probably interested in the "Shoyoroll" brand. These gis are always in demand, made in very limited batches (so they sell out every single time), and they'll actually be sold out even before they go into production pretty much every time! That's right- you can't even pick up one of these gis from the company by simply ordering it, because by the time the gis come in from the production companies overseas, they're already sold out. However, there's eBay for a possible solution - just be sure you're purchasing the best deal, not just a random buy. Do some research; Shoyorolls are notoriously overpriced some of the time when purchasing them from online auctions.

The jiu jitsu gi: an essential part of training


On a tight budget?

If you're on an even tighter budget than purchasing a Fuji gi will allow for right now, you're going to have to first take a hard look at whether you can actually afford to be doing BJJ at all right now. However, if you've got your heart set on it, there are three additional tips to overcoming this potentially tough obstacle:

  1. The gym you join might offer you a free gi for signing up. At Revolution BJJ in Richmond, we offer students a free gi when they sign up for a year pretty frequently, and we also offer an introductory program (a six week intro to BJJ) that actually includes a gi. Shop around, but please don't make the determination about where you train simply based on who gives you the most free stuff.
  2. You might actually be able to find a really good deal on eBay. Be careful, as always, and make sure the seller has a reputable shop and an excellent feedback reputation, but there are often some really great deals, if you know how to shop.
  3. You can find gis that are even cheaper than the Fuji, but don't expect them to last too long or fit nearly as well. Having said that, if you do a little research, do make sure it's a BJJ (or at least judo) gi, and not a karate or TKD gi. You'll at least be able to get started.

Additional resources

Once you're started training BJJ (or maybe even before you get started), you're likely to have a bunch of questions. Whether you would like to know about gym hygiene (and I highly recommend reading up on that as soon as possible, for very good reasons!), or how to tape your fingers if they are injured (and they will be!), or where to get a good deal on the aforementioned tape, you can rest assured that I have written extensively on many of the topics that will be of interest to you.

If you can't find what you're looking for, just let me know right here in the comments section! I personally read and respond to all comments, and I'd be glad to help you figure out whatever it is you need to know about training BJJ!


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