Confessions of a Gi Addict: Nicole Kirk

Confessions of a Gi Addict: Nicole Kirk

Confessions of a Gi Addict: Nicole Kirk

by Nicole Kirk

I Heart Gis: My Gi History

A little while back, one of my training partners, upon hearing about this blog thing, suggested I include a gi review section.  A lot of people out there already do gi reviews, some semi-professionally (C'mon Nicole! I'm totally a pro! ~ Brendan), so at first I thought it would be a pretty colossal waste of time.

The more I considered it though, not too many people like me are doing them. Couple that with the fact that my teammates are constantly asking me about whatever fancy-pants piece of cloth I'm donning and then I tell them and they forget and then I end up linking it on Facebook for them and in the end, it just seems simpler to say “Dude, just go read my blog. It's got links and stuff.”

Helpful links:

You can grab most of the gis mention here at MMA Warehouse, Fushida, Ouano, CTRL Industries, and Killer Bee.

So, without further ado, here's a semi-detailed account of the gis I've owned in the past few years:

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Sirius Ultra Lite

Note: This gi is no longer available. 

These were my first four (4!) gis. Calling them “ultra lite” should have been at least a misdemeanor offense, as it's not only a gold weave, but also more bulletproof than the Popemobile. However, I was coming from Judo at the time, and these suckers felt feather light to me back then.

Simple gi, few frills but amazing reinforcements, and shrink to fit, which was important because I had to order an A2 for my weight (I'm barely an A0 nowadays in most brands) and shrinking the extremities was very necessary. Eventually, they were all too big and I sold two to a friend, donated one and loaned the other to a friend to try out a class…never got that last one back.

Break Point Limited Edition

I mostly bought these (twice) because the school I was training in was pretty gross (I distinctly remember break falling over a pile of cheetos there once) and the mat had turned the knees of my white gis gray. One of my only black gi outings, I remember really being into the extra pair of pants made of gi material, even though I almost never wore them because they were stupidly heavy, especially after they'd accumulated some sweat.

Break Point Women's Gi Dragonfly

The top was way lighter than my Sirius, which was like a brave new world to me. I liked the lightness so much that I added a blue one when Budovideos did their Mundial sale back in '10. I was pretty content with these guys for a long time, though they also require some shrinking (biggest A1 ever!).

Over time I really grew to hate their wizardly sleeves because I was always losing the grip game against bigger opponents who would just wrap their entire fists in the sleeves and play spider guard until I cried. Gave one away to a training buddy, and recently sold the other to another training buddy who had borrowed it and loved it.

[thrive_link color='orange' link='' target='_blank' size='small' align='full']Purchase Break Point women's gis at Amazon[/thrive_link]

Fuji Single

Pink Fuji Single Weave

My other foray into black gis, for the same reason as the first. This gi was soft but strong, not unlike a single weave version of the Sirius. No frills, build like a brick house and shrink to fit (I can't remember if that one was an A1 or A2, but I remember shrinking it a ton, even after I wasn't trying to anymore). Interesting thing about the Fuji is it may be among the last in BJJ to have a cloth filled collar, as opposed to the new standard rubber or foam filling. I gave to another teammate who is a bit taller than I. It's her favorite gi.

[thrive_link color='orange' link='' target='_blank' size='small' align='full']Purchase the Fuji BJJ Single Weave Gi at Amazon[/thrive_link]

Fushida Mantis

I'd had my eye on Fushida since my judo days, but never had the guts to pull the trigger. On their first try at BJJ gis (which I think might make up the majority of their business nowadays), they released the Mantis and the Komodo. I picked the Mantis, as it was the lighter model.

The top on that gi is one of my favorites still today, in no small part because of its narrowness through the shoulders and upper back. Lots of dudes disliked that cut and they widened the shoulder for their second release, but I wish they hadn't. It's tough to grab, but not uncomfortable for me to wear.

The pants, on the other hand, were some of the worst I'd ever owned. It was the early days of ripstop trousers, and no one had quite nailed them yet, except for maybe Atama. They felt waxy and stiff and were cut very narrow through the hip for a lady and, because they were ripstop, had absolutely zero give.

The result? I ripped my pants from above my ass to mid-calf while visiting another academy. Thank god for compression shorts, amIright? Eventually I replaced the pants with some Jiu Jitsu Pro Gear (JJPG) ripstops and still wear that combo today.

You can find out more about the Fushida Mantis here.

Jiu Jitsu Pro Gear Ripstop

Bought a JJPG gi based on a friend's recommendation and discount. I think I paid $70, but instantly hated it as soon as I started warmups in it. It was too big out of the bag and didn't shrink an inch, so I was once again very easy to grip because of the lethal combination of light fabric and bagginess. Oddly, the website stated that it would shrink lots, suggesting people order up a size from their norm.

At that point I learned that I should never trust the weight specifications a gi company gives me. Because of my muscular build and broad shoulders, I now tend to estimate 10-15lbs under my actual weight when assessing potential fit. I sold this to a teammate, who, come to think of it, never paid me!

Atama Mundial no. 9 Women's Cut


Found great deals on these gis at two separate times. Got one from bjjhq and loved the tailored top and crazy-light pants, picked up another one on Atama's Black Friday sale. Still some of my favorites, though the F3 sized pants are a touch large nowadays.

[thrive_link color='orange' link='' target='_blank' size='small' align='full']Click here to read more about the Atama Mundial #9 gi[/thrive_link]

Fushida CompGS

The first gi I ever pre-ordered, Fushida made some improvements and some less awesome changes from the Mantis to this. First, the pants are a very thick drill cotton, which couldn't be much further from the wax paper ripstop from before. They let out the upper back (bummer) and the sleeves and pantlegs got a little longer.

I've shrunk my A1 (should have held out for an A0, but they don't make them in this model, I think) as far as it will go and while it's not my most tailored, it's nowhere near the BreakPoint or JJPG in terms of being oversized. It's a higher-end workhorse of a gi that I love to wear on judo days.

You can visit the Fushida store to read more about the COMPGS.


Kingz 420 Women's Cut (F2)

The Kingz 420 was another bjjhq adventure. The lightest gi I've ever bought and my first and only experience with the rashguard material gusset. It's a great gi to use for weight-making purposes, and it is comfy, but honestly, it's nothing too special. It's clearly cut for a more lady-shaped lady than myself as there's ample room in the jacket for the boobs I don't have and in the pants for an ass that just won't quit. In the end, I'm giving it to my girlfriend as her first BJJ gi (she's got a lot of boob).

[thrive_link color='orange' link='' target='_blank' size='small' align='full']Click here to browse for BJJ gis from Kingz Kimonos[/thrive_link]

Killer Bee Gi (A1)

KBG was having a huge inventory clearance which gave 40% off. They were already one of the cheapest buys on the market at $112, so I took a chance and dropped the $67-ish dollars on a blue A1. It arrived when I was at a pretty rough point in my training, so it sat unworn for over a month. Now it's another go-to for Judo days as it's a little larger and heavier (not Sirius heavy, but on the beefier side) and is just plain cozy to wear. Plus it guarantees that everyone on the mat will refer to you as “KillahB” all session long, so that's fun.

Ouano Women's Gi

Apparently, Ouano plays by their own rules when comes to sizing because this F2 would be called an F4 by any other brand. I got it in the mail, got really nervous about size and shot an email to Ouano asking if it would shrink and how much. The guy who responded (not Ouano himself) said that it would shrink, possibly a lot if I really tortured it.

I soaked it in near boiling water, washed hot, dried hot, set it out in the July afternoon sun and a weird thing happened: while the torso shrunk significantly, the sleeves and pant legs shrunk very little, if at all. I ended up having the sleeves tailored to the specs of my Mantis, but the fit was still a little off. Again, I sold it to a teammate who is just a little bigger and way better-endowed than I. She's enjoying it, which is great because it's a pretty cute gi.

Ctrl Carioca 1.1 (A0)

After my Ouano-related heartbreak, I decided to get back in the saddle with Ctrl, a brand I had oft made fun of for its goofy name (you're supposed to pronounce it “control” but I insist on “kit-arl”) and Shoyoroll-esque pre-sales.

But, I had read great things about it and was lusting after something Brazilian flag colored for some time (I basically wanted a gi version of their national team's away soccer jersey). I'm really glad I pulled the trigger because this may be my most-tailored, comfiest gi. Plus it's sexy as hell. Shrunk the top just a touch and it fits like a sexy, sexy glove.

[thrive_link color='orange' link='' target='_blank' size='small' align='full']Shop for women's gis and more at Hypnotik[/thrive_link]

So, I think that's everybody.

I've had some close calls on KoralBad BoyIsami and Vulkan (I think a Vulkan gi may be stalking me) but I've never quite pulled the trigger on these bad boys. I also got really close to picking up a SYR Yank when I ended up grabbing my second Atama, but this is my only close call with SYR.

I have two more gis in the pipeline. My second Ctrl (the Knight) will be here in about a month and a half and I just grabbed a Tatami Estilo 3.0 (Women's Cut) in white. Later on, a small gi company called Da Firma is coming out with a slick-looking women's gi and I'll likely get one of those, since I love supporting the little guys (see Killer Bee entry above.)

At this point, my top 5 gis for my body type and fit preferences are:

  • Atama Mundial no 9 (only truly worth it if you catch it on a sale, never retail)
  • Fushida CompGS (favorite?)
  • Fushida Mantis
  • Killer Bee Gi
  • Ctrl Carioca 1.1 (favorite?)

Yes, I am a crazy person. No,  I don't spend money on regular clothes. That's how I afford gis. It should also be pointed out that with the exception of my Mantis and Ctrl gis, I have never paid full retail price for a gi but have instead opted to check bjjhq vigilantly, troll Sherdog for coupon codes and hit the Black Friday sales. If the BJJ industry sent out newspaper coupons, you'd better believe I'd be clipping the hell out of them.

You can grab most of the gis mention here at MMA Warehouse, Fushida, Ouano, CTRL Industries, and Killer Bee.  Make sure you adhere to what Nicole said above.  There's a TON of great tips for every BJJ gi buyer in there!

Our email list doesn't have coupons you can cut out, but we try to send out all of the coupon codes we come across.  Join in the big red box below.  Warning: BJJ gis are highly addictive.  Don't join the email list unless you you are certifiably awesome (or crazy; preferably both).

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  1. Guess I am pretty bad on the gi thing as well, not just for me but my son as well. I have had a Gracie Barra, Ronin Insignia, Ronin Fighter (x2 first cut and second cut, second cut way better), and now . American Stand Up. Oh yea I bought a A3 insignia to see if it would fit and ended up selling to my professor for a months worth of training. He loves it and it is in his regular rotation.
    My GB gi sucked never like anything about it, except that I did not have to patch it up. The Insignia is my second favorite as of right now, only been training about 10 months. The 2 fighter gis are good gis for what they are. The first cut was huge and I did not like it, the second cut was more athletic and I really like it the material is soft even after hang drying. The ASU gi I picked up on eBay for like $65 shipped could not pass that up, glad I did not as it is now my favorite. Probably get promoted around the first of the year and to celebrate I will be splurging on a new gi. Looking at Origin, Break Point, Contract Killer and Control. Will figure it out when the time comes. Entering the world of “premium” gis is a lil unnerving as if I get hooked it could kill my bank account. LOL

    • If I could recommend any of those, I would go with CTRL and maybe Break Point or Origin. What CTRL gi are you looking at? Haha, nothing wrong with higher end gis! Some of them are worth the money!

      • Not a fan of Contract Killer? Really the only reason I’m looking is the embroidery on the bottom, “thou shalll not pass” classic! Gotta love it.

        • Me too! I’m going to run a patch of it. I have a few ideas that will make it pretty cool. I’m just so turned off by the name of the brand. Just a personal preference 😉

      • Indeed. Just make sure you check the reviews before you buy something on the higher end. Just like there are the occasional super quality gis in the lowest price tier, there’s some amount of garbage at the top, too.
        As I noted above, Ctrl and Fushida, are, in my experience putting out some of the highest quality gear which is well worth their respective price points.

  2. The only problem I see with Ctrl is that they are going to way of Shoyroll and doing the preorder thing and not having anything to buy off the shelf. I really like the Knight tho. But the Rook would be nice to buy if you could get one. Ill check out Fushida have not really looked into them. Thanks

    • Yeah, I’m still not in love with their system of stocking and ordering, but the quality on Ctrl is pretty much exactly what I’m looking for, so that narrowly outweighs the drawbacks.
      Fushida is great, it’s a gi you could wear day in and day out and never break, plus their customer service is solid.

    • I think we tend to forget a lot that CTRL is a big name, but is still very small. They still order in batches of a couple hundred gis at a time (I assume) and once they get near selling out, they order more. Every company does this, but most of the time people don’t notice a lack of product. But, I remember not too long ago my friend wanted a Tatami Zero G v2 and nobody had them in stock because Tatami sold too fast and couldn’t get their factory to resupply fast enough (again, I assume).

      I second Nicole’s recommendation for Fushida and CTRL, as well! Let us know which one your get Kerry!

      • Yes, they are definitely still little guys, despite their large presence in the scene, which is a pretty big accomplishment. Part of what I love about supporting smaller companies is that while all their stocking issues can be irritating, they love and respond to feedback from customers/fans much better than mid or large sized manufacturers. Every question I’ve ever posed to Blayne and co has been answered within the day. I’ve never tried to ask Atama a question, but I don’t think I’d get that same attentive response.

    • I actually have their light battlepack on the way, and their midnight blue gi is on my long term wants list, especially if they come out with women’s specific sizing.

      • I got the big Battlepack and I gotta tell you, you are in for a treat.

        The Bag is super awesome and thanks to the Hemp Material,the Bag doesnt smell like crap even if you keep your sweaty Gi in there for a few days because you forgot about it (happens to me all the time).

        I also got the Datsusara MMA Shorts, but I ordered them many many sizes smaller than I am so I have motivation to lose weight to fit in them 😛

          • I can’t wait for mine. Rumor has it they’re stuck in customs right now and might be late coming in. Bummer. I hope it makes it to me in time for Veteran’s Day weekend Women’s Grappling Camp in Arlington, it was supposed to be my carry on…

  3. I currently have 5 gis (all have been won INCREDIBLY LUCKY ME).
    My favorite right now is Origin 550 comp “12. Incredible cut, a little bit warm and pants a little bit tight but it’s an incredible Gi, I would love to buy another one of those but I hate contrast stitching (not only me I hope) so white is the one I have and the only one I like (design wise).

    My runner up gi is as of a couple of months a tie between a Ronin Fighter (which I one with GiReviews) and Lucky Gi Fleru-de-Lis. I love the ronin fighter (the pants are kinda stiff but its a great gi) but now the Lucky Gi has been growing on me and now really like how it moves with me when I train, the design for me is to “look at me” but I’ve come to cope with that. Both incredible Gis

    The other one I love is my Black Gameness Air, it’s incredibly light but tough (pants feel like really confy jeans) it’s incredible although I have a White Gameness Air and kinda hate it (pants feel like doctors scrubs and jacket is a little bit on the fllimsy side) anyway still use it ’cause lately been training 4-5 days a week so I need to have all my Gis on rotation.

    • Damn, that is lucky. I have now won one gi (as of yesterday) which was really cool. I’ve never gotten into Gameness myself (their sizing looks off for my frame) though I have had many a training buddy who loves them. I’m also not too into Lucky Gis, as I just don’t think the price point matches the quality. I have a Ronin Insignia I traded a too small Tatami Estilo for and I like it. Not as tailored as my favorite gis, but very comfy for Judo days where I like a little more mobility. All in all, not a bad collection you’ve got going, especially for free!

  4. I’m new to BJJ and primarily train No-Gi (Combat Submission Wrestling), but am always looking for another gi (that I definitely don’t need). Why are these things so damn addicting?!?!

    Let’s say Georges St. Pierre is right, and “if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good.” Then maybe we should just consider each gi purchase a way to improve our performance (that is of course unless you buy something ugly). Maybe that’s just wishful thinking because I already want another one…

      • It’s also important to note that a gi that fits you well is less distracting than one that doesn’t. If you’re going to spend quite a bit of time on the mat (I average a class a day) then taking the time to find a gi that isn’t uncomfortably big or small, baggy or tight, etc. can really help keep your mind of the task at hand, which, to me, is the best part of BJJ. Being comfy in my gi is one of the easiest ways to help me make sure I’m present in the moment.


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