shreveport brazilian jiu jitsu: whats a gi

What is a Gi?

What in the world is a gi? This martial art outfit that all Japanese origin styles use. Regardless of style, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and Karate are the main styles that come to mind when someone says the word Gi. In this article we will discuss the origin and purpose of the gi as well as some general guidelines for Gi wear at Archimedes Jiu-Jitsu Academy. 

If I asked you to think about what a martial artist looks like, what is it you imagine? Probably a strong individual, who is clad with a crisp white uniform. Made up of a white top that can open and some loose white pants. The top is probably held closed by a belt that is black. This is the Gi. If you are from North America this is the image you are probably imagining. You might even call it a Karate uniform because that is the martial art most of us associate with this clothing. In today’s article we’ll break down the origin and the purpose of the Gi. As well as the guidelines we set here at Archimedes Jiu-Jitsu Academy.

In the last paragraph we mentioned that in North America we associate the Gi with Karate. Interestingly it was actually Judo’s founder Jigoro Kano that made the Gi and the belt system for Judo. The gi is actually short for the word Keikogi which is Japanese for practice clothing. Jigoro Kano needed clothing that was strong enough to stand up to the rigors of training so he designed a Gi that can be pulled for throwing that wouldn’t rip. Later this uniform was adopted to Karate for a similar purpose. The Gi went through many variations. The first variation the sleeves were short and the pants were just below the knee. Over time the sleeves were designed to be longer and the shorts became full length pants. The gis became more specialized per art. The Judo Gi became thicker and had a more square cut to allow for more gripping. The Karate Gi became thinner as variations of Karate de-emphasized grappling, and some Karate gis were designed to be a stiffer material that would make a crisp sound as Kata are performed. What about BJJ’s Gi?

Jiu-Jitsu was originally practiced in Judo gis as the arts were actually still together at that point. However as the arts separated and emphasized different elements of grappling naturally the uniforms split in design. Both are meant to be pulled but the Jiu-Jitsu Gi has slimmer sleeves and a slightly longer or shorter skirt depending on the athlete’s preferences. Some tournaments have strict Gi requirements with the authorized colors of white, blue, and black. They also have specific sleeve and pant measurements that athletes must adhere to. 

The purpose of the Gi is to provide a set of strong clothing that you can practice in. However there is another purpose and that is to allow for a specific rule set of Jiu-Jitsu where you can use your gi or your opponents gi to choke them. You can also use your opponent’s gi to set up intricate guards or to hold the pants on to aid in passing the guard. The Gi adds a level of friction to the athletes leading to a different play style that typically goes a little slower because of the use of grips and the additional friction. So we know what a gi is and what the purpose is. Now let’s talk about the guidelines for getting a Gi for Archimedes Jiu-Jitsu Academy. 

There are a couple of factors you want to consider when getting your gi. Here at Archimedes Jiu-Jitsu Academy we leave getting the gi to the student. Some consideration is the price and quality of the Gi. We don’t want to break the bank getting gis however we do want to get a Gi that won’t fall apart after a couple of washes. There are also several fabrics that are commonly used in gis those are Cotton, Hemp, and Synthetic Blends. Depending on your preferences for fabric you may find a fabric that you prefer to wear. The sizing in gis varies from company to company however the sizing chart is found on the websites you’re shopping for the Gi. The only requirement regarding the Gi at Archimedes Jiu-Jitsu Academy is that you have a patch on the front, back of the gi top and on the front of the pants. It is recommended that you get a standard BJJ color for tournaments or belt promotions. Other than that, get a Gi that you like, color, style, fabric, and brand that speaks to you. Just show your team pride with some patches. We are huge Fuji fans too as they really do produce the best gi available. They’ve also become friends of the gym and offer all students a 20% discount on your gi and rash guard requirements!

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