The first thing you will need when embarking on your martial arts training is proper gi clothing. Different martial arts have different rules for what colours and kinds of gi you should wear. Even different dojos have differing rules for what’s acceptable and what’s expected.
The word “gi” literally means “clothes”. In martial arts, gi is a shortened version of the Japanese term “keikogi”, which translates to “practice clothes”.
When it comes to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the colour of your gi is not nearly as important as the colour of your belt – the latter of which denotes the level of skill. The colour of the gi you wear might be no more meaningful than to associate you with a particular dojo or to be a nifty fashion statement.
White is historically the most common gi colour since it signifies truth and purity – values that are highly valued in Japanese martial arts, where jiu-jitsu first originated. Blue was adopted later in competitions as a way to quickly and easily identify one opponent from another.
Black, blue and indigo have now become commonplace in BJJ dojos – although white remains the favourite. However, increasingly, a wider variety of gi colours are being accepted in training – from bright pink to camouflage to even rainbow tie-dye designs. These fun options do have a practical use, however, which is that they are easier to keep clean than white gis, and are therefore good for rough-and-tumble training sessions.
However, it should be noted that the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) only allows white, royal blue or black gis in competitions. Moreover, in IBJJF competitions, the “uwagi” (top) and “shitabaki” (pants) of the gi must be of the same colour. Mixing and matching are generally not permitted in most dojos either.
The IBJJF requires that all gis be woven from cotton or at least a suitable cotton substitute. Real cotton is best since it is highly absorbent – highly useful in sweaty BJJ sessions – and it allows the skin to breathe comfortably. Cotton is also very durable and less likely to tear during a fight.
Typically, three types of weaves are used for gis, depending on the requirements of the user. A single weave is lightweight and ideal for use in hot environments, although typically not as durable. A double-weave is thicker and better for use in winter, although they generally need to be “broken in” before they become comfortable.
The cut is also important if you don’t want to be put at a disadvantage. If it’s too tight, then your movements will be restricted. If it’s too loose, then it can get in the way and provide flappy handles for your opponent to grab on to. Plus, you don’t want your pants falling down mid-fight.
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