If your child is intending to begin practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it is important to find them the perfect kimono (also known as a gi). Modern-day garb for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters is not the same as it was for the Japanese samurais of long ago. The traditional garment was better suited for fighting with swords and other weapons; the armor limited movement, so fighters had to grapple or wrestle their opponents into submission. This fighting style, of course, was the origin of modern Jiu Jitsu. Because it is no longer an armed combat sport, it wasn’t practical to continue using the kimono of the samurai. Thus the modern kimono, or gi, was created in the early 1900s. This new uniform is stronger, allows more movement, and is worn closer to the body.
Jiu Jitsu as a whole was not being heavily practiced by the US and UK until the professional fighting scene brought this style of combat to the public eye. The popularity of MMA and other televised events contributed to the rise in popularity of most martial arts such as Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kung Fu, and of course, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu itself was created when a teacher of Jiu Jitsu brought the martial arts to Brazil. This changed Jiu Jitsu to be even more beneficial for weaker or smaller fighters as it emphasized technique and skill over sheer strength. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu kimono consists of three garments: jacket, pants, and belt. The quality of the kimono in this sport is very important because of the focus on grabbing clothing in order to bring down opponents in practice, as well as in competition.
IBJJF Legal Colors for Kimonos
The IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) recognizes certain uniform requirements that are permitted in competition. Kimonos are only allowed to be white, royal blue, or black. Both jacket and pants must be the same color, nor may the collar color differ from the rest of the jacket. In competitions, there are certain regions on the kimono where participants are allowed to put a patch or logo. Painted kimonos are not typically allowed, as it may damage the kimono of the opponent.
The belt ranking system signifies the skill level and knowledge of the wearer. All beginners start as a white belt. The belt rankings from lowest to highest are as follows:
The promotions from rank to rank used to be rather informal, but there has been a movement in recent years to formalize the process. All schools are different, so some will have different promotion methods and standards than others.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi Materials
As with anything, there are lower and higher qualities of kimonos out there. When shopping for your child’s kimono, it’s important to pay attention to the weave. This factor determines the thickness and durability of a garment as it defines how much material is used. A double weave garment uses twice the amount of fabric as a single weave one. Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that a top-quality double weave kimono is all you need. Many fighters prefer the lighter weave in the event of high-temperature training environments, or if the fighter participates in competitions and is near the top of their weight class. One of the best materials for the jacket is a pearl weave, which is a type of double weave garment. This means it is tough and durable, lasting a practitioner many sessions on the mat. For added durability, seek out rip stop pants that will help the uniform last longer.
Above all, a kimono should be comfortable enough to want to wear it for practice. It is always prudent to consult the sizing chart of the manufacturer in order to ensure the best fit. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu kimono sizing utilizes a two digit system. The first character is a letter that ranges from I (Infant) to A (Adult), which is followed by a number ranging from 0 (small) to 5 (extra large). You will want to factor in both height and weight to the sizing parameters. If the wearer intends to participate in competitions, bear in mind that competitive Jiu Jitsu also involves specific kimono size regulations. The IBJJF requires that the jacket reaches the fighter’s thigh and that the sleeves are no more than 5 cm from the wrist when the arm is extended straight down. The fighter’s pants should not exceed 5 cm above the ankle bone. The officials will even perform an inspection which will ascertain whether these following standard measurements are met: kimono lapel thickness (1.3 cm), the width of kimono collar (5 cm), the opening of the sleeve at full extension (7 cm).
If you and/or your child are new to the sport, you may not know that there are also different kimono designs. Some athletes still prefer the old-school styles of kimonos, which are characterized by clean lines and are usually white. More modern styles of kimono delve deeper into the other color options and noticeably stitch the seams.
Sidenote: At Arete BJJ Malta, we are very flexible when it comes to kimono colors, feel free to choose whatever color you want.
For girls getting into the sport, note that it is common to don tight-fitting/elastic clothing under the kimono for both practice and competition settings. Men are not allowed to wear anything but undergarments under the kimono in competition settings, but women are permitted to wear tight underclothing both under the jacket and under the pants, so long as it is not visible past the sleeves or cuffs. Some female competitors choose to wear a tight athletic shirt and compressions shorts, gymnastics tops, or even one-piece bathing suits underneath their Jiu Jitsu kimonos.
In competitive settings, dirty or torn kimonos are not allowed on the mat, nor are kimonos with visible patching/mending. This further emphasizes the importance of investing in a high-quality kimono that will resist wear and tear. In the context of sports in general, the martial arts require very little equipment. Use the money saved to invest in a quality kimono for your child