People often think of martial arts as learning a series of punches and kicks for self-defense. There is much more to it and many things have to be considered when someone takes on a martial arts type such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ. Clothing is one thing that needs attention; the material has to be comfortable and not get in the way of the movements one makes in a normal routine, while conforming to regulations. The BJJ Gi is the uniform that is worn by people who practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It fits close to the body while being made of a lightweight material, so it is fine for when working up a sweat and taking advantage of the comfort when engaging an opponent.
It is usually a requirement to wear a BJJ Gi in any competition, especially if one expects to be promoted to the next level. Anyone starting out with a white belt must work very hard to advance; children need to get the appropriately sized uniform to advance to a yellow or a green belt. Adults need the best fitting one to get from a white belt to a blue, brown, or black belt, for example. The color of belt worn indicates the wearer’s level of experience, in addition to the hard work and compliance they have put into the sport.
The uniform typically consists of a cotton jacket and trousers to go along with it. Both together are sometimes called a kimono, and are usually white, but there are also black or blue uniforms worn. Some have a combination of colors, but the top and bottom part of the BJJ Gi have to be the same color under international guidelines. If any part of the uniform obstructs movement, it is deemed unsuitable as well, while the length of the jacket and sleeves is regulated. The belt, which displays the person’s skill level, also holds the whole garment together; its width is regulated too and tied around the waist. A double knot is the standard way of tying it.
Under the prevailing rules, a kimono must not be torn or damaged when a competition starts. It must always be in good condition, but it’s never hard to find a new one because a BJJ Gi can be purchased from many martial arts retailers. They come in the standard colors of white, black, or blue, sometimes in a choice of materials and thicknesses. Some even display a brand name on them, going along with the trend of sports clothing to include corporate names and logos. There are alternate designs often available so that in addition to following the rules, one can incorporate personal expression as well.
As with color and length, international guidelines also dictate where patches can be placed. These can be worn on the left upper arm or shoulder of the jacket, and on the front right upper arm or shoulder. Patches on the front and back below the belt are allowed and in the back below the collar but above where the belt is. Similar rules apply to the pants; patches can go above the knee or below it, or on the back of the leg. One can therefore add more substance to their ranking and personalize the outfit.
Cotton is often used as a material for the BJJ Gi, but sometimes canvas or denim is used for the pants. Jackets can be made of light single weave cotton, gold weave cotton which is a little heavier and more durable, or double weave cotton, a stronger material that is even heavier and can retain more heat. Strong, lightweight jackets made of a multi-material, or ripstop fabric, do not tear easily and work well with the demanding movements of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.