The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi, most commonly referred to as a “gi,” is the official uniform used by practitioners of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or better known as BJJ.
It often consists of a jacket, pants, and a belt made of cotton or a similar fabric. If you intend on training and competing for BJJ, there are a number of requirements that your gi must adhere to.
Which BJJ size should you get? A number of factors that go into finding a gi of suitable size i.e. your weight, height, gi brand, etc. Generally, a Jiu Jitsu gi should fit just right, not too baggy or too tight. Unlike regular clothing, BJJ gi’s follow a standard sizing system using letters and numbers.
Depending on your body measurements, components of your gi uniform should reach a certain length to and from where they sit at certain body parts such as your wrist or ankle for example.
It’s also important to take into consideration that your gi must meet certain requirements for competition. The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) has a specific set of uniform requirements for practitioners competing in their competitions.
The IBJJF Gi Requirements
The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation, the official federation of BJJ worldwide, requires practitioners competing in competitions adhering by their regulations to wear gis that meet their specific requirements.
Gi uniforms must meet requirements pertaining to several categories:
- Color and patches
- Additional requirements
Only gis of cotton or cotton-like material are permitted to be worn during competition. The fabric or material of the gi should not be so thick that it prevents an opponent from grabbing onto it while competing.
For juvenile to senior practitioners, the federation mandates only gis made of pearl woven material be worn during competition.
Color and Patches
The permitted gi colors for competitions are:
- Royal blue
Both tops and bottoms must match in color as well as tops that have collars.
The only items allowed on gis are patches or logos of the academy to which you belong or sponsor designated ones. These items may only be placed where authorized by the IBJJF and should be of the same cotton or cotton-like material of your gi.
Gi tops should come to the thigh and rest just below to the gluteus muscle. The sleeves should reach no more than 5 cm away in length from the wrist when you extend your arm straight forward.
The width of the sleeve opening must reach 7 cm at a minimum. The collar, spanning from the top of the gi jacket to the bottom, can be 1.3 cm thick and 5 cm wide at a maximum.
Gi pants must reach to the ankle and should not be more than 5 cm away in length from the ankle as well. The pant openings must be at least 7 cm wide.
Before competing, a certified inspector will measure your gi uniform using a special measuring stick that has the required length and width measurements etched into it. These measurements are important as one missed requirement can make the difference between qualifying and disqualifying for participation in a competition.
Gi belts are required to be 4 to 5 cm wide and should be of the appropriate color that represents your rank i.e. white, blue, purple, etc. The IBJJF requires that all belts worn by participants have a black at the end, except for black belts, whose tips are either red or white.
Belts are to be worn around the waist of your top and should be fully wrapped around twice. The ends of the belt should be tied in a knot to securely hold your gi top in place and once tied, there should be about 20 to 30 cm in length left to each end of the belt.
Some additional requirements differ amongst gender as well.
Only females are permitted to wear a shirt beneath their gi top. Shirts worn beneath the top must be of an elastic or similar material that will sit close to the body. The sleeve length and color of the shirt do not have to follow any requirements. Females may also wear a one-piece swimsuit beneath their uniform if preferred.
Additionally, only female participants are permitted to wear pants of elastic material under their gi pants. Pants worn underneath cannot be longer than the gi pants.
Further information on gi uniform requirements set in forth by the IBJJF is available either on their website here or in their official rule book here (Article 8 pg. 30).
General Aspects of a Gi
Regardless of federation requirements and such, if competing, you are only permitted to wear a gi of the following colors:
This, however, is only required for competition and not training so you are free to buy a gi of any color for training as long as it’s permitted by your trainer or the academy that you attend if those factors pertain to you.
Some other aspects besides color and size to take into consideration when trying to find a gi are:
- Weave patterns
- Material and fabric
Gi Weave Patterns
Choosing a gi with the right weave pattern is important, as the weave pattern determines the thickness and durability of the gi. It’s recommended that you buy a gi that is light enough to allow movement and opponent grappling but not so light that is rips or tears easily during training and competition.
Common gi weave patterns:
- Single weave cotton—this is the most common type of weave and is much lighter than other weaves. It is also the cheapest quality of weave and for that reason more likely to deteriorate faster.
- Double weave cotton—this type of weave is double woven which makes it thicker and heavier than a single woven gi. Double woven gis are also warmer and more durable because of their thick fabric. This weave tends to be higher in expense compared to single weave cotton.
- Gold weave cotton—this type of weave is a combination of a single and double weave cotton, it has the durability of double weave cotton but maintain the lightness of single weave cotton. Gold woven gis are much more expensive and their durability can often be hard to predict depending on the brand. This weave used to be the standard weave required for IBJJF competitions. Similar weave patterns include pearl and honeycomb weave cotton.
- Ripstop weave cotton—this type of weave can also consist of other fabrics besides cotton such as silk, polyester, and nylon. Ripstop weave combines the characteristics of single, double, and gold weave into one by producing an extremely durable and light gi made up of a combination of cotton, silk, polyester, and nylon. This type of weave is often lighter than a single weave, but stronger because of its combination of materials.
At the end of the day, it comes down to which weave pattern you believe is best for you. If you heat up easily, but don’t want to sacrifice durability, consider purchasing a double-woven or ripstop woven gi that provides lightness and durability. It’s all up to you!
The IBJJF does not specify what gi weave patterns are allowed or not permitted, they only require that you wear a gi of cotton material that is not so thick that it would prevent your opponent from grabbing onto it during competition.
In addition to weave patterns, the material of a gi also impacts its overall durability. Other factors that impact durability are training routine, care routine for your gi, and delicate areas along your gi. These areas can include the collar, sleeves, and belt loops, to name a few.
“Spots like the cuffs of sleeves and pant legs, knees, armpits, inseams, belt loops, and the edges of the gi top should all be heavily reinforced with extra stitching and layers to prevent premature tearing. If even the cheapest gi doesn’t have that, it’s probably not worth it.”Source: Jiu Jitsu Gi Buyer’s Guide
Of course, when choosing a uniform regardless of the function or purpose, there’s always the debate of functionality vs style.
For the reluctant newcomer to BJJ, the idea of having to wear a stiff bland gi may make you cringe more than the fact that you have many years of grueling training ahead of you.
If not, then perhaps you’re more concerned with the functionality of your gi and how it will help you defeat your opponents during training and competitions.
The style of your gi may only be a point of concern or importance if you are considered a master of the sport and wish to impress fellow competitors with your style. Sometimes fanatics of BJJ are interested in purchasing a limited edition gi that is considered a collectible of some sort.
Overall, style shouldn’t be of that much importance to you if you’re just starting out in BJJ. It shouldn’t help or hinder your technique, so preference is all up to you.
Finding the Right Gi: Size and All
Finding the right gi size can be daunting for many reasons like making it sure it follows competition guidelines, feels comfortable to train and compete, and fits correctly, to name a few.
The first thing to take into consideration when finding the right gi size is the fact that in addition to general BJJ gi sizing guides, gi brands and manufacturers also have their own specific sizing guides as well.
This is important to remember if you are purchasing your gi online as opposed to an IBJJF event or physical storefront.
Typically in gi sizing guides, sizes are represented by letters:
- A: adults (men & unisex)
- F: adult females
- M: female and male youth (5 to 14 years)
“The most common size you may have to deal with that are also included in a BJJ GI size chart are the following because they’re typically what fits most people:
- A1-A4: for men Gis
- F1-F4: for women Gis
- M0-M4: for kids Gis
There are manufacturers that offer extra sizes such as A0, A5, A6, ‘L’ for men and M00, M000 for the children.”
Source: Doug Freeman of BJJ Gi Reviews
Depending on the specific brand, however, sizes and guides may vary due to a number of factors such as height and weight.
Regardless of the general size guide for BJJ gis, you should follow the sizing guide of the specific brand that makes the gi you intend to purchase.
Sizes by Popular Brands
Whether you are buying a gi for the first time or you’ve outgrown your current gi and are looking to purchase a new, the process can always be tricky.
The upside of having already purchased a gi before is that you can use it as a guide for buying a new one. This of course only comes in handy if the difference in the size you have and the size you need isn’t that big!
Some brands offer unisex sizes and guides while others offer both female and male sizes and guides from youth to adult.
Inverted Gear, an online retailer that sells BJJ gis, provides only one size chart for adult customers regardless of their gender.
The sizes for their gi uniforms range from a size A00 to an A5 with an A00 ranging from a height of 4’8” to 5” and an A5 from 6’4” to 6’6”.
The weight range from an A00 to A5 is 90 to 280 lbs.
Inverted Gear’s sizing guide can be found on their website here.
Venum, another online BJJ gi retailer, also provides one adult size chart regardless of gender.
Their sizes range from A0 to A4, with an A0 for customers below 110 lbs and an A4 for customers 225 to 249 lbs. Their sizing guide also provides sleeve and pant length measurements.
They provide a size match as well. Their sizing guide can be found here.
Michael Peachey of Rolling Around also provides a comprehensive guide on different gi brand sizes here.
Tatami is one of the most popular brands of BJJ gis. The gi retailer provides a comprehensive guide to finding the right gi size according to its own specific sizing guide. They offer guides on buying the right gi size for adult and youth males and females.
Measurements for Tatami gi span across five areas:
- A: the horizontal length from the tip of one gi top sleeve to the tip of the other
- B: the vertical length of the gi from the top of the collar to the very bottom of the top
- C: the width around the largest part of chest (bust area)
- D: the outer length of the pant leg from top to bottom
E: the width around the largest part of the hips
For females, Tatami offers gis that come in long and curvy options to accommodate all body types.
More information on Tatami sizing for BJJ can be found here on the sizing guide or their website here.
Other Important Factors to Weigh In Buying the Right Gi Size
In addition to measurements, competition requirements, and overall preference, there remain a few other factors that you should consider when searching for the gi size.
One of the most important factors to consider when buying a gi is how much it will shrink, this is where material and weave pattern come into play for buying the right gi size.
The material and size are not a matter of whether or not your gi will shrink because it will without a doubt shrink just like any other piece of clothing!
How much your gi will shrink after you’ve worn and washed a few times varies upon the style, material, and brand. This is important to find out before you buy a gi as it can save you both time and money.
One of the well-known BJJ retailers, Tatami, provides the shrink percentage of each other gi models. Once again, this information can be found here.
They also provide tips on caring for your gi such as washing and drying it correctly. Some other gi retailers like Fuji, have pre-shrunk gis available for purchase if you prefer to have a gi that fits right out of the package.
Under no circumstance is it ever recommended that you put your gi into a tumble dryer nor wash it at a high temperature.
Doing so will certainly guarantee your gi to shrink and all your hard work in finding the perfect gi will go to waste.
Competition Gi vs Training Gi
It’s not required that you have one assigned gi for training and another one for competitions, but it is highly recommended.
One reason for this is because you don’t want to fight in the same gi that you use for training. However, for those with a limited budget, this may be the only option.
If you have a limited budget and have no option but to train and compete in your gi, consider investing in a durable gi that will also meet IBJJF measurement requirements.
“Here’s where a shrink-to-git may be better, as you can gradually get it down to right gi shirt, sleeve, and trouser lengths. The cuff widths may be a little harder to control.”
Source: Michael Peachey of Rolling Around
Durability is important if you only intend to buy one gi as you don’t want to compete in a worn-down gi and risk disqualification.
If you have the option to purchase both training and competition gis, the durability and size of your training gi are not specified to meet any form of requirement.
Now that you how which gi size you should get check out how much a gi weighs for extra credit!