Shoyoroll Fifty/50 Special Edition Gi Review
The Shoyoroll Fifty/50 RS Special Edition gi is like suit of heavy armor, and a very good-looking one at that. Its killer performance feature is a huge, foamy collar that is wider and thicker than those on other gis from the same brand. It has a very clean and nice look, which is supported by the unique-to-brand grayscale color scheme, and it contains some of the standard Shoyoroll embroidery and patches along with several custom aesthetic features designed specifically for this gi. Although there are some things about it that I would change, I definitely won’t be getting rid of this ultra-rare gi anytime soon.
[I love the GiReviews community and am truly thankful to feature guest reviews on the site but I have never had anybody send me a review quite like this (just wait, you'll see). The following gi review is an exceptional piece of hard work by Rich. I am honoured to feature it on the site and I am truly blown away by what he's done here. ~ Brendan ]
The Shoyoroll Fifty/50 Special Edition gi was released between Batches 6 and 7, which could account partially for the gap between Shoyoroll batches that lasted most of early-to-mid 2010. For this release, they brought back the big Shoyoroll lapel patch that had been used in the Batch 3-4 gis; to my knowledge, they didn’t bring it back again until they conceived the GUMA-only Navy and Black Skies releases recently, making any Shoyoroll gi with these big lapel patches difficult to find. (In fact, Jen from Fifty/50 BJJ, who was involved in the design process of the gi, told me that some of the lapel patches from this gi were removed and sold separately for over $200 each!) These gis came in two color ways: the black/gray/white and red/blue versions. The total production run for both color ways was only about 150 pieces total; that combined with the fact that they were never sold online or at any public event has made their circulation extremely low.
I am generally a big fan of the clean-but-nice look and the fit of Shoyoroll gis. I generally tend to purchase gis with understated external markings, so I was happy that the Shoyoroll Fifty/50 gi is black, white, and gray only, which hasn’t been the case with any other Shoyoroll gi.
I am 5’11½” and weigh 210 lb. Height-wise, I would be between an A2 and an A3, but I always wear an A3 because of my relatively broad shoulders and super-long 77.5” reach. (Fun fact: the average person's reach is 1.023 times his/her height; this gives me the arms of your average 6’4” person). Some of my A3 gis’ sleeves end several inches from the bases of my thumbs.
However, the sleeve length on this gi is perfect for me, as the arms end just above the bases of my thumbs when held straight down. The pants lay well on my legs despite being somewhat baggy. The leg length is perfect, hovering about an inch above the mat when I stand straight, even though I am low in the A3 height range; sadly, this probably means that I have a proportionally short brain.
I gave the gi a warm wash and a 30-minute warm dry to tighten up the fit. After that, it became slightly snugger without any significant reduction in arm length. Now, happily, the overall fit is very nice on me because of the longerthan-average arms on this gi.
I also noticed that there is a large amount of extra room in the front. I usually like the extra front room, because I can (and unfortunately, sometimes do) twist my arm straight across my back; the extra room helps the gi stay on my chest and prevents resistance in such situations. In this gi, not even a full “Kimura-to-death” twist can remove all the extra slack in front, making me think that there might be too much of it. There were potential “handles” formed by folds of fabric on the front shoulders of the gi, which could be grabbed by a training partner. Perhaps the gi is just too wide for my shoulders, but I do have above-average shoulder breadth for an A3. Nonetheless, the extra room also facilitates the collar’s removal from the belt and utilization as a weapon.
A – 6.5”
B – 31.5”
C – 23”
E – 22.5”
F – 12”
G – 9”
H – 40”
The design of this gi is understated but very nice. It features several unique artistic features alongside some familiar ones from other Shoyoroll gis. The circular part of one of the two standard Shoyoroll logo arm patches is replaced by a custom Fifty/50 logo, which is also found on the custom inner tags and a small patch below the knee of the pants. Other decoration includes gray contrast stitching, “FIFTY/50 RS” embroidered in black and grey lettering on the back of the neck, and the standard black-and-white Shoyoroll external brand tags.
A gray version of the classic Shoyoroll lion patch on the left side of the skirt is accompanied by “fifty fifty” embroidered in cursive on the right side of the skirt. The cursive “fifty fifty” is usually covered by the other half of the jacket when both halves are tucked into the belt; this added art hit thus remains hidden much of the time but can be exposed through the ardors of training
Other hidden features on the inside of the top include the custom gray/black seam tape, an iPod pocket, and a custom silkscreen print of the “It is not the critic who counts” quote by Theodore Roosevelt. That quote is painted on the wall of Ryan Hall’s academy, and it’s an excellent quote to keep close to one’s heart (or intestines, as scarily displayed to Ryan here).
Another cool design feature is that the ripstop material of the pants is sewn into the lining on the outside of the gi skirt, the reinforced side vents, the foam-injected collar, and even the inside lining of the wrist. Some of these enhancements are also included on other Shoyoroll gis, but most include seam tape inside the wrist instead. Jen from Fifty/50 BJJ informed me that the manufacturer may have simply run out of the seam tape and had to improvise, because they made only a very limited amount of it. The ripstop material of the pants on these surfaces might provide an added advantage, because the fabric of the pants is relatively slippery: Its inclusion could make the jacket and lapel significantly harder to grab and grips easier to break.
Though it may have been an accident, the inclusion of this slippery fabric on the insides of the cuffs might harken forth to Ezekiel Kimonos’ 2012 Innovation-of-the-Year feat of including felt there. These inner cuffs are not quite as smooth as felt, but they are still pretty smooth.
According to the specs released in 2010, the jacket is “super or ultra-lite, or whatever you call the Batch 6,” which would make it a 450g pearl weave. The jacket feels heavier (and a bit rougher on the outside) than the new lightweight “PRO” pearl weave on the Shoyoroll Ring; nevertheless, the inside of the jacket has a nice, smooth finish, and it doesn’t abrade my skin or cause a rash. The higher weight of this gi might be an effect of fabric choice, or it might simply attest to the truly massive foam collar on the Fifty/50 gi.
Now, about that extra-large collar. The pictures above and below compare the collars of (top to bottom) the Fifty/50 gi, a Lucky Gi Release 2, and an “average” Shoyoroll (The Count). This collar is both thicker and wider than that on a “standard” Shoyoroll. Jen from Fifty/50 BJJ informed me that Ryan Hall wanted his team to have an extra advantage in defending chokes and specifically requested this thicker collar. That makes this the Shoyoroll gi that imparts perhaps the greatest mechanical advantage on the practitioner.
The collar on the Fifty/50 gi is significantly wider and thicker than the one on the Count, and it even exceeds that of the Lucky Gi (but only by a very small amount). The critical difference is that the thickest outer area of the collar on the Fifty/50 gi is significantly wider than that on the Lucky Gi, so it feels much more massive.
In contrast to the similarity between the Fifty/50 and Batch 6 jackets, the pants material differs significantly between the two releases. Whereas the Batch 6 came with 8-oz lightweight cotton pants with a gold weave gusset, the Fifty/50 gi comes with ripstop pants with a gusset made of the same pearl weave as the gi top. Unfortunately, the pants are not as breathable as I generally like, and although the material is relatively slippery to the touch, it is not a very pliable fabric. Your mileage may vary with other copies of the same gi, because Jen from Fifty/50 BJJ informed me that hers (in A0) came with non-ripstop cotton pants.
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The weight of the material was never published, but the ripstop is significantly heavier than that on my Shoyoroll Comp Lite XII. The pants feel very sturdy; though I have heard reports of other Shoyoroll pants suffering infant mortality, I would be absolutely shocked if these were to rip anytime soon. The stretchable drawstring and six belt loops are standard for Shoyoroll, but the stretchy drawstring has a more appropriate length than that on some Shoyoroll pants. The seam tape on the inside of the ankles is the same as that inside the kimono. The “Fifty/50 RS” embroidery on the pants is located so that it shows through the side vents of the kimono when they spread apart.
When I received the pants, they had some faint blue scuff marks on the knees from mat rub, which was unfortunately not completely removed by dry cleaning. I didn’t mind this so much, but the kneepads also seem to pick up inordinate amounts of dirt while rolling, yielding buildup after just a single training session (shown above). The dirt washed off, but there must be something chemically about these pants that makes them stain magnets!
That may be one reason why Shoyoroll went in a different direction with their pants after this release. Among the two Batch 7 releases, the Golden State came with 10-oz drill cotton pants, and the 7th Son came with a different 10-oz ripstop pair with a gold weave gusset.
I used my cover of journalistic integrity while researching for this review to visit a few different dojos without feeling like a turncoat from my home school of Renzo Gracie Academy. I had to travel 22 blocks and almost one avenue in Manhattan to train with all of the people in the three pictured New York schools (Renzo’s, Marcelo Garcia’s, and Shaolin’s). That’s almost 2 whole kilometers! My travels were very inspirational, and I definitely came back rededicated to jiu jitsu training/competition!
In the time I spent training, the gi incurred minimal wear and only two minor bloodstains. It held up well in training, and it seems like a good choice for durability. However, the ripstop material on the few remaining others I saw in the Fifty/50 gym was frayed. After 3 years of constant use, it seems reasonable that these gis would have been reaching the end of their lives; however, the lapel fraying after long-term use is somewhat of a concern. One other concern was a couple of frayed threads on the cuff that began to appear after about 5 washes. However, these have not spread or caused any loss of structural integrity.
The jacket was a bit heavier than I generally like. During the winter, this would provide some warmth, but I rarely desire such; however, this is just personal preference, as heavier gis are liked by some.
The extra-thick collar is very helpful for defending chokes. The extra room in the front combined with the tapering of the cut makes it very easy to pull the lapel out for use as a weapon, though this is not in synergy with the collar’s thickness and relative lack of flexibility, which would tend to reduce its utility in that respect. The ripstop material on various surfaces is a nice touch because of the added external slipperiness it provides.
I did have a performance issue with the pants. I have extremely high leg flexibility (though some would use a less family-friendly term to describe it), but unfortunately, the heavy ripstop material of the pants has practically no “give” to it whatsoever, and the crotch material is insufficient to prevent some pushback from the pants when I do something like put my leg behind my head. Therefore, it does seem that these pants can inhibit certain extreme leg movements. When I train in most Shoyoroll drill cotton pants, this has not been an issue. Further, the pants do not ride up on the legs much, although I would prefer that they did because of the shorter lever arm that would give my training partner.
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Overall, the jacket of this gi performs very well, especially with the collar imparting such a mechanical advantage. I feel almost like I’m cheating while wearing it because of the collar, the overall mass of which exceeds that of my Lucky Gi. The extra front room provides handles to the opponent, but it also provides additional stretching ability and increases the lapel’s utility as a weapon.
This gi has understated but elegant aesthetics that are more detailed than they appear at first glance, and it has well-thought-out performance features to boot. Despite the issues with the pants, the jacket on this release seems to confer the biggest advantage during grappling of any Shoyoroll gi of which I am aware. Despite the peculiarities of the pants, the jacket is truly awesome, and the gi has a unique place in the history of Shoyoroll gis. I certainly won’t be getting rid of mine anytime soon.
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These were only sold in person as the first Shoyoroll gi made especially for a gym. My impression is that most of these were used shortly after purchase and would no longer be in as good of condition as mine, despite the general sturdiness of the fabric (though I am aware of at least one that is still brand new). Even though your chances of obtaining one of these are not good, I hope my breakdown of this gi was interesting and that you’ve enjoyed reading it!
I had this gi (previously worn 5 times, washed cold and drip dried) pulled from eBay by an Alaskan whose gym had newly subscribed to the “dojo gi scam,” with which some readers of this site are unfortunately all too familiar: Allegedly, he was forced to wear only the gi dictated by his instructor in a bid to destroy his soul via cultish uniformity. Due to the rarity of this gi, the last eBay bid-style auction for one before press time (April 2013) ended at approximately $565, but my seller gave it to me immediately for half that amount plus less than actual shipping. (The last couple of Buy it Now auctions for them have ended at $300-350.)