Ronin Brand Samurai 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 favorite 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 favorite.
Sadly though, after a few washes some defects in the material were revealed. Overall the Samurai kimono is good but could be better.
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.
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 then 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.
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.