CTRL who? I ain't ‘controlling' anybody. I suck!
If you think your ground game is as bad as mine then you probably had the same initial thought when you first heard of this up-and-coming brand.
CTRL Industries has unleashed a flurry of kimonos in a relatively short period of time (only being founded in 2011) and already they have begun to carve a niche for themselves in the BJJ scene by successfully combining quality and style without too much flash.
The second chess-inspired release by CTRL, The Knight immediately caught my eye for several reasons; while I am particularly partial to navy colored gis what really lured me in was it's features, construction and overall design. (Read my review of CTRL The Rook here ~ Brendan)
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That being coupled with a desperate need of having to add another gi into the rotation I knew right away that I had to have this kimono. But with a price tag of $178 after shipping my biggest question before I forked over the cash was still, “Who is ‘CTRL'?”
At 5'8” and consistently between 185-195 lbs. rarely do I fit into both the height and weight categories of most companies' sizing charts, each A2 fitting different from the next. Given CTRL's chart for the Knight I knew my main concerns would be:
1) Length of the pants,
2) Fit of the jacket and
3) Shrinkage; arguably the most important for those of us who are between sizes
Out of the bag the pants were what I expected with a decent fit on the waist and through the legs but a little too long in length. The jacket was surprisingly baggy given the weight range, particularly in the shoulders. While I prefer a roomier jacket this gi definitely required a shirk-to-fit wash cycle, two in fact.
The first drying cycle on low with 5-10 minutes checks for 50 minutes did not adequately shrink the top or bottoms enough for my personal comfort. The pants did not shrink enough to come off of the floor behind my heal, the sleeve length was just past my wrists with my arms extended and the shoulders were still baggy.
A second drying cycle on medium for 40 minutes with a check at the midway point seemed to do the trick and brought everything into a more comfortable range. While the cut is noticeably different, those who prefer the larger fit of Shoyoroll would not be displeased with the sizing.
A – 6.25”
B – 29.5”
C – 19”
D – 25”
E – 21.25”
F – 10.5”
G – 7.25”
H – 38 .75”
The Knight's gray contrast stitching is subtle enough to be noticed but not too light to stand out and offset the darker tone created by the rich navy color. The green and yellow Cristo Redentor patches also provide a small amount of color relief that I think compliments the gi nicely. As opposed to it predecessor The Rook, the Knight features more embroidery while the ankle and shoulder patches have been totally removed, another personal preference.
What is most unique is the chess design that CTRL has decided to continue which I absolutely love! The inner taping along the jacket bottom and inside the arm and leg cuffs features a chessboard pattern along with their “Always 3 Moves Ahead” maxim, which is pretty badass unless you're me… then it's just ironic.
Completing the theme is the knight piece embroidery on the arm and a seemingly cryptic pattern on the pants bottom, but any self respecting wood pusher should recognize it as the knight's movement in game play.
The jacket is made of a nice smooth pearl wave that is almost identical to SYR's Yank and is a single piece so there's no back seam. It also features a EVA foam collar of similar thickness. One up-side to being an inch out of the height range is reaping the benefit of a skirt designed for someone slightly taller.
I personally prefer a longer skirt and the front and back of the jacket rarely came out from under the belt when training. The downside was trying to shrink the sleeves to a length that was comfortable and didn't allow for easy gripping. The taping in the cuffs is silky and lat flat on the edges and don't cause any irritation.
The pants are made of ripstop which I would consider of medium weight. They are much more durable than the SYR's Yank but are not as stiff as the likes of the Gameness Elite.
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The knees are reenforced with an added layer of ripstop that allows for a noticeable difference in thickness but doesn't create bulk. The seams are inside the legs which is great because it helps prevents the stitching from getting tugged or snagged when training and ensures durability.
While the pants are still slightly longer than I'd prefer because of the sizing, the cut of them are nearly perfect. They have a nice tapered fit that still leaves enough room when needed.
The belt has 4 loops and comes inserted with a rope drawstring. If that's a downside for you then the upside is that CTRL also includes a extra canvas drawstring for preference or replacement purposes which I definitely consider an awesome thought on their part.
As stated earlier the shoulders were pretty roomy out of the bag but came in a bit after two drying cycles. I found this to be definite check in the “pros” column as it allowed me to have better movement and range of motion and was far less restricting that I found my A2 Gameness to be after a couple washes.
The pants while having a tapered fit are still cut to have room where needed most and I didn't find any them to be limiting in any position. If you find yourself on the sizing fence and you think the fit may affect your performance then move down or up a size accordingly.
While it's only been a few weeks there haven't been any signs of wear in durability or construction, however there were a couple aesthetic issues that I personally consider minute and inevitable. After two laundry cycles there was a noticeable amount of fading which seemed to be a result of drying more than washing (how and if this could be prevented I plan on writing about in detail in the near future) and I haven't noticed any more significant fading with cold washing and hang drying since finishing the shrink-to-fit process.
The other issue is the some of the embroidery stitching seems to have some napping, specifically the left arm, chest and lower right leg logos, but nothing I deem to be indicative of poor quality.
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If you're still asking yourself who CTRL is and what they're all about at this point then I can't help you and don't know who can! Not only did the Knight meet every reasonable expectation I had for it but I was extremely impressed at how accurately CTRL was able to bring their vision to fruition and delivered what they promised.
Who is CTLR? – They are a quality company with excellent online customer service and a fresh outlook on design.
The Knight was limited to strictly 250 pieces but if you missed out on the initial pre-order no need to worry! CTRL has released them in waves and the second and final batch of 100 gis are still available for grabs and are being released within the next 3-5 weeks in mid-to-late October.
I would personally recommend that you get one while you still have the chance as it has quickly become one of my favorite gis and will be for quite some time to come. If you miss out there's no way of knowing how long you'll have to wait for The Bishop. Oss!
Update (January 2017): This gi is no longer available.
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