This new offering from Ronin Brand is very ambitious and definitely shows a big move outside of the standard Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi market and into the market for more stylish BJJ kimonos.
Ronin Brand owner Douglas Lee has been running Ronin Brand from Kinji San Martial Arts for years. He and I first met when I reviewed the Ronin Insignia gi as one of my first ever gi reviews (don't laugh at the pictures. Gi Reviewing is serious business!). When I first saw the design for the Ronin samurai posted online, I knew that I absolutely had to try one out, but I heard that the fit was different from the Insignia. Since the A3 Insignia fit me so well at 6'1 and 200lbs, would the Ronin Samurai be the same?
I previously published this article as a separate review of the navy Samurai. But we had a guest review by Jorge Galvan about a month after my own review came out. So I thought it best to place Jorge's review of the white Samurai here with my own review of the navy.
First, How I Almost Died Making This Review
I thought it'd be super funny to do a photo of me wrestling my dog, Phoenix. Well Phoenix is (I think) a boxer and pit mix. And by that I mean he is the cuddliest baby you've ever seen. Until he turns into his alter ego Rufus. I wanted to wrestle with Phoenix, but apparently other than Rabbits, Squirrels, and the mailman, one thing that makes Rufus come out is a white belt tied around my head like a karate headband.
Phoenix/Rufus lunged at the belt and I pulled my hand away, forgetting the belt was attached to my head.
Luckily, after the first good yank, it slid down, but then I forgot that it was still around my neck with super ninja crazy murder-death-dog yanking on it. At this point, my wife is laughing hysterically and struggling to keep the camera still. Please note: At no point is she attempting to save me from being strangled by a karate white belt by my dog.
I would win a Darwin Award for sure.
So I'm about 6'1 and 200lbs and I wear an A3 in most gis. I have recently found through experimentation, that I wear an A2 in Shoyoroll. So when looking at sizing for the Ronin Samurai, I decided to go with their A2L (A2 Long) size gi. It fits perfectly. And I mean it's probably one of the best two or three gis that I've found to date. Don't be surprised if I get this gi later on in white as well!
The colour stands out and holds true after a lot of abuse. I've put this gi through about 20 hard training sessions and haven't found the embroidery to wear out prematurely. In fact, it still looks great despite all of the abuse. I always wash my gis on cold and hang dry so I can't make any notes about shrinking it, but for a look at the gi, as well as other thoughts of mine about it, check the video below.
I originally tried out the A3 in the Ronin Samurai and it was just way too large on me. It fit me similar to how my Shoyoroll A3 Ring and my Moya Brand Bill Cooper gi fit me. I spoke with Doug (if you order from them, definitely give Doug a call as he's super freaking helpful) and he advised me that the A2L (A2 Long) would fit me perfectly. He was right! The measurements below are for the A2L.
B – 30.75
C – 20
D – 25
E – 21.25
G – 9
H – 39
The Navy Samurai features full embroidered pants, chest and rear skirt designs. It is also embroidered on both arms.
All of the white contrast stitching is immaculate and the embroidery is TOP notch. I also love the contrast drawstring, belt loops, and white side vents. Very clean design from Ronin Brand.
In addition, I really like the samurai that is printed on the inside of the jacket. As you can see, it has held up fairly well after 30+ washes (and note, I was my gi inside out so this takes the brunt of the agitator in the wash).
PLEASE NOTE: The images are what the gi will look like after you have tried to tear it apart for 30+ training sessions. The embroidery holds up extremely well under duress and I am very pleased with it.
Some people steam the wrinkles out and/or iron their gis before they review them. I prefer to give you the natural look of the gi. I think it helps you make a better decision because this is what your gi will actually look like. Not what it looks like after being professionally laundered, steam cleaned, and then lint rolled. That's just not how we roll at GiReviews!
The jacket is made of 420gsm pearl weave material. I would wear it for competition and in daily training, year-round. The lapel is wrapped in duck canvas and filled with EVA foam.
In terms of weight and lightness, it feels very akin to the lightweight ripstop on my justgipants and CTRL Rook. I would say these are definitely in my top 5 favorite pants.The trousers have a stretchy rope drawstring and 6 belt loops that are located perfectly so that the drawstring never rides up. Also, I really like the 11oz. duck canvas that was used here.
I've never had a pair of BJJ trousers made of duck canvas before, but it feels very solid but also thin enough that I can wear it without feeling weighed down.
The rolling in this gi was an absolute pleasure. As noted previously, the side of the gi fit my body VERY well and I never had any issues with any fraying, tearing, or scratching with the Ronin Samurai.
I've had the pleasure of wearing the Ronin Samurai for over a month and I must say that it is fastly becoming one of my favorite gis. It's got the right amount of bling on it and I love the design (I hear the designer knows a thing or two about gis). I would highly recommend this to anybody looking for an affordable option for a stylish and well-crafted BJJ gi. I think that, especially in terms of price, it is one of the best gis out there in terms of value.
At time of writing, Ronin Brand is selling the white version of this gi for $140US (plus free shipping!) and that is a steal considering other brands with similar styling are selling for nearly $200.
Now let's look at what our guest reviewer Jorge thinks about the Ronin Brand Samurai gi.
Guest Review by Jorge Galvan
Let me start by saying that I really like the look, style and the feel of the gi. It is great to roll in especially in hot humid weather. The material breathes really well and dries quickly. The artwork is top notch; the stitching, embroidery and patchwork are simple, clean and very Japanese-like.
The more you wash it the better it looks, almost like your favourite pair of faded blue jeans. A really salty look!! The fit is also spot-on with very little shrinkage. I really like this gi and if I were to judge it on style and the feel alone (not to mention price $139.00) it would easily be my favourite.
Sadly though, after a few washes some defects in the material were revealed. Overall the Samurai kimono is good but could be better.
Up until July, I had never heard of the Ronin Brand, but after a little research I found that the Ronin is made exclusively by the Kinji San Martial Arts Company. A family owned business based out of Brooklyn, New York City that has been at the same location since 1970’s.
It was not until 1981 that the Ronin Brand stated producing judo and karate gis, and only recently did Ronin start producing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gis . The Samurai is the second iteration of their BJJ exclusive gi’s, originally and only produced in white, but can now be found in blue and black.
My first impression of the gi was from the 2-3 min video on the Fighters Market website. I liked the whole marketing bit and was sold after seeing the video. Once I got it home from the post office I noticed it was cleanly and professionally packaged in a clear plastic bag. The additional large Samurai patch was loosely packed with the gi.
Right out of the box, I thought it was simple, clean, and aesthetically pleasing. I was also a bit surprised to find out that 50-60% of the artwork was done by Meerkatsu.
Ok the fit. I fell right into the A2 which is pretty standard no matter what gi I buy. I own several gis already to include: Koral “MKM, Break Point “Deluxe”, Ground Star, Keiko Raca, Shoyoroll, CTRL, and Gracie Barra’s official gi. The difference between the Samurai and the rest of the gis is that even though they were all preshrunk. The Ronin fit me perfect from the get go. Even after washing and drying it for the first time shrinkage was very, very minimal. Which really surprised me considering that the jacket and pants are 100% cotton.
To me this is the best part of the whole gi. The design of the gi is simple, but effective. It has a strong durable collar and lapel, the sleeves are cut perfectly and the cuffs are cut nice and tight. The trousers are great, the fit is roomy and comfortable.
The artwork can be summed up into one name “Meerkatsu.” (Check out Meerkatsu's online store here!)
I’m a big Meerkatsu fan; his artwork and creativity are arguably the best in the business. His use of the Japanese blood script lettering really gives it a nice touch. The Ronin emblems on both sleeves are really cool and kind of have that old WWII Japanese Imperial look. The samurai on the inside of the jacket is a really cool design.
Lastly the gi is not overloaded with patches and designs, but what it does have is really cool and perfectly placed.
The jacket fits really well, not to big or loose fitting, but still roomy enough to be comfortable while rolling. Its 420gsm tradition pearl weave. All stress points are triple stitched and very clean. The skirt and sleeve cuffs are short and tight just what you would want in a BJJ style gi. The collar and lapel are made of EVA foam, which is anti-bacterial and wrapped in 11oz duck canvas.
However this is where I began to see problems. The first issue I noticed was after the first wash. The weave seamed to be come start to unravel a bit. Fortunately it has not gotten any worse since then and I have washed it quite a few more times.
The big issue is in the skirt. After rolling in it on Wednesday I noticed a small hole on the left side up and to the right of the “R”, not sure how this occurred.
The second was on the same side were in V where the gi goes from the front to the back, again same thing there I noticed a hole start to open up right at the seam where black piping meets the main fabric of the gi. To me this clearly speaks to durability of the entire gi.
The trousers are made of 100% cotton 11oz duck canvas. The rope is the heavy-duty stretchy type, which personally I’m not a fan of, but is becoming more and more popular these days. To secure the stretchy rope are six belt loops and they do the job quite well. Now this is something I think should become the norm.
What I did not like about the trousers is that seem to be a bit stiff and the hem seems to stick out more than on other gis. The knees are reinforced and triple stitched on the outer edges and double stitched on the side seams. The crotch is pretty standard with a canvas panel and triple stitched all around.
I have no issue rolling in this gi, it’s comfortable breaths really well, and in the hot humid weather of Okinawa, Japan this gi is light enough to keep you cool.
The jackets pearl weave fabric does not stretch when soaked in sweat like the Vulcan Ultra Light making breaking grips impossible. For the most part the stretching rope stays tied tight keeping the trousers up on the hips and not around the butt.
In conclusion, I really like this gi it does need some improvements but the company is new to BJJ style gis. However, in the future I do see them addressing the issue of durability. Lastly Koral is still king in my closet, but I really do like my Ronin Samurai and would recommend it to anyone looking for a descent, good looking affordable gi.
Disclosure: All right moving on, I came across this gi on the Internet back in July while shopping for the The Ring” by Shoyoroll. I found it on the Fighters Market web sight paid $139.00 for it. I was impressed with the price and style of it.
REVIEWS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN DEC 2012 AND JAN 2013