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BJJ is a form of martial arts that is different from others. You can usually spot the BJJ grapplers by what they wear, their traditional Gi outfit is usually adorned with multiple patches.
Other martial arts groups, like karate or Judo, are only allowed 1-2 patches. BJJ grapplers also wear colored belts to show their expertise during competitions along with their patches.
What are BJJ Gi Patches, and where can you get one? The patches can be attached to the Gi uniform to represent your team, sponsors and identity. You can buy them online or earn the patches by joining a BJJ facility. As you improve, you can attend competitions and try to land sponsors that provide trademark patches.
When you see a BJJ grappler with his Gi on the mat at a competition, it may be similar to seeing athletes representing their organization and sponsors.
The patches also help set them apart from other BJJ grapplers. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll know everything there is to know about BJJ patches, and where to get one.
What Is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi?
The Gi is an old-style uniform that comes from Japanese and Okinawan martial arts. It’s a kimono-style outfit that BJJ grapplers use for training and competitions. They’re similar to jacket outfits you would see at any martial arts tournament.
Usually, the Gi is made with more fabric than a single weave. In fact, the gold weave was a standard that used to be required for BJJ competitions, but the rules have been adapted to allow other types of weaves.
The Gi is best suited for situations that require gripping and grappling. The extra fabric can withstand the beating for much longer than any other outfit.
What Are Gi Patches?
As the name says, they’re patches that can be sewn onto the BJJ Gi. As you work your way through classes and milestones, you’ll find yourself wanting to collect patches. Here are some common reasons why other BJJ grapplers have patches.
For The Team
Patches, symbols, or colors are used by sports teams for identification purposes. BJJ is no different. When you join a team, you’ll want to get a team BJJ patch to represent when you’re on the mats. So, when you put on your Gi at competitions or any other BJJ session, other people will know which team you train with.
It’s not uncommon for BJJ grapplers to have multiple Gis with patches that were provided by:
- Supply companies
You can usually receive these sponsorships if you’re an active competitor and winning competitions. Companies will usually paid you for advertising their brand on your patches.
Sports players are usually asked by their sponsors to “wear their brand” while they are out on the field in return for a monetary reward. For example, basketball players are known to be sponsored by shoe companies, like Nike, and are requested to “wear their brand” during the game in return for a sponsorship.
In the world of BJJ, sponsors can help cover competition costs, provide new Gis, and any other equipment the grappler needs. (More on that later.) If there is more than one sponsor, then more patches will be added.
Some BJJ experts have multiple patches on their Gi, besides their club or sponsor information. The patches may be custom or novelty pieces with symbols that illustrate their interests, which helps them establish a form of identity. What they wear speaks volumes.
For instance, if a BJJ grappler wears military patches, then other people will recognize that and conclude that the person has military experiences or interests.
The patches don’t have to be serious, some of them are cartoon-ish. Here are some examples of patches you can buy for your Gi.
Keep in mind that some BJJ schools will allow the students to wear different patches on their uniforms, but others may be stricter. It would be a good idea to ask questions about patches before signing up for a school to see what’s permitted.
Where to Put Them?
Before you run out to gather some patches, it would be a good idea to make a note of where you’re going to place them. Some patches are larger than others and may cause you to be disqualified if they’re placed improperly.
Unlike Judo, or other sports where patches are limited, the BJJ authorities allow multiple patches on the Gi as long as the patches are in the right place. This is a rule that each grappler must follow. There are no exceptions.
Basically, there are safe zones on the Gi outfit where patches are allowed. The standard model shows specific places, such as:
- From the collar to each of the shoulders
- Sides of the sleeves
- Skirt of jacket
- Back of the Gi
- Front, side, and back of pants
If you don’t know where the boundary lines are, you could accidentally place a patch outside the zone and would need to remove it to prevent being disqualified. Some competitions may not allow you to wear a structural patch, so it may be best to check the administration rules first before sewing on any patches.
To help you, here is a map guide showing the patch-friendly zones on the Gi outfit, make sure you stay inside the dotted lines.
The patches should be sewn on along the edges to prevent them from getting ripped off during a roll. The person checking your Gi before a competition may ask you to remove a patch if it’s not firmly secured to your outfit.
Popular Gi Patches
Some patches have become a standard favorite among many BJJ enthusiasts. Here are some examples:
- Shaka BJJ Hand Patches- You’ll often see patches with the Shaka hand sign, complete with taped fingers. This is a universal symbol in BJJ. Check out this shaka BJJ patch on Amazon
- USA/Brazil Jiu-Jitsu Patches- You may see patriotic patches that pay homage to the origins of BJJ. These patches also allow them to show their love for their country. Check out this BJJ flag patch on Amazon
- Funny sayings or quotes- Patches with catchy phrases or silly jokes are becoming more common. This creates a playful and friendly atmosphere. These types of patches are popular with students. Many schools will allow it as long as it is appropriate. Check out this pack of funny saying patches
The BJJ patches can be woven or embroidered, similar to other types of patches you would see for military, scouts and bikers. There is a wide range of designs with many choices to help BJJ grapplers develop an identity.
Some patches are custom made and hand-woven. They may cost more, but the quality will be high. Other patches are mass-produced and cost less. Funny or silly patches are easy to find, and they also make excellent gifts for a BJJ enthusiast. You can search for one online or ask someone at a BJJ facility.
Tip: Make sure you place the patches and pin them in place while you wear the belt. This way, the Gi jacket won’t overlap the patches later and obscure them from view.
How to Earn Patches
Now that you know what they are, and where to place them, it’s time to talk about how to earn some. Some people don’t buy all of their patches, they earn them too.
One surefire way to get a BJJ patch is to sign up for classes. The academy patch will probably be your first patch. In a way, it’s like a logo that represents the facility where the classes take place.
That’s not the only thing the students can have. Usually, students are allowed to add cutom patches to their Gi outfit along with their academy patch. Some schools allow students to cover a large portion of their Gi with patches because they feel that it gives students a sense of identity.
Some BJJ facilities are more traditional than others and may have policies with restrictions. It’s always a good idea to ask your instructor first before signing up for classes.
There are some instances where a BJJ grappler will receive support from sponsors. As a result, they’ll make deals and wear the sponsor’s brand while they are on the mat. Some BJJ grapplers dream of earning an income this way.
How to Secure Sponsors
If you love BJJ and want to try and make a career out of it by landing sponsors and snagging some cool patches, here are some tips:
- Start Small
- Create a following
- Keep training
Not all sponsored athletes started out big. They had to start somewhere, and it was usually small. If you focus on developing a good game strategy, you can work your way up– one win at a time.
Eventually, you’ll catch a sponsor’s attention.
Being sponsored by a small local business is great too. If a small business shows interest, don’t turn them down. They may help lead you to bigger and better things.
Create A Following
As you work your way up and become noticed by more people, you may notice some of them following you. It would be good to take advantage of that and develop a bigger following. An excellent place to do that would be social media.
With today’s technology, it’s easy to reach an audience online by making videos, posts, and blogs. To gain more followers, it would be best to avoid spammy posts or negative comments. Instead, focus on providing your followers with information about yourself, your training experiences, or any other BJJ related topics.
“Practice makes perfect,” is a famous old saying– and for good reason. The more you practice and train, the more you’ll master your techniques. If you’re a killer on the mats during competitions, you’ll be more likely to catch a sponsor’s eye.
You have to put in many hours of training and practice to be successful. As you train, you’ll gain confidence and experience. Being confident in your own abilities is a quality many sponsors look for.
Once you land a sponsorship, you’ll have to train even harder to stay at the top of your game. To be “the best you can be” on the mat will take a lot of effort. It’s not easy work, but it can be rewarding.
The more often you go to competitions, the more you’ll be noticed by sponsors. Even if you have another sponsor supporting you, there’s always a chance more will step up and want to promote you as well.
If you become really good at BJJ, and consistently winning matches and earning medals, expect multiple sponsorship offers as time goes by.
Some sponsors may want to give you patches and ask you to sign a contract. Make sure you take your time to go over it and read any fine print. If it’s all good, then feel free to sew on the new patches and keep rolling.
What Else Can You Put on Your Gi?
Patches are not the only thing you’ll put on your Gi. Belts are significant too, especially in the martial arts world, because they show the fighter’s expertise.
There are different colors of belts that are given in a specific order, and each color represents a level.
Belts for BJJ come with stripes, that signify the grappler’s progress towards the next belt.
If you see 4 stripes towards the ends of a belt, then that means the person is getting ready to receive the next belt. BJJ grapplers can work their way up until they receive a belt from the top level.
All beginners will start off with a white belt. As they work their way up, they will learn all the basic moves. The white belt level will help you learn the names of main positions and how to practice techniques that will move you up to the next level.
While you have your white belt, try to keep your ego in check and focus on getting used to the feeling of jiu-jitsu. Chances are, you will be beaten more often during this stage, but it will help you learn how your opponent tends to use their strength and weight on the mat.
Once a beginner establishes a good defense and learns how to escape from major positions, they will be given a blue belt. For the blue belt, try to have at least two solid escapes from Mounts, including back and side Mounts.
You should also try to master two techniques for passing the guard and compete in at least one competition. As you complete these goals, you will earn stripes towards your next belt.
The purple belt focuses on movements and using the momentum of the body weight. This level is great for developing an excellent offense. You’ll be able to learn how to attack and chain techniques.
To receive the purple belt, you should be able to achieve three submissions from Mount, including back and side mount.
While you have a purple belt, you’ll be expected to develop an effective guard and be familiar with different types of guards. It would be good to have at least three combination attacks from the guard position.
This is an important stage because a BJJ grappler should have mastered all the basics and developed counters to these basic techniques. A brown belt BJJ usually has several signature techniques that they’ve mastered. This will allow them to be steps ahead of any lower-level opponents.
The brown belt level is also a position where you’ll be able to teach the art to others. In fact, you’ll be encouraged to teach a few classes at your academy. This is where a BJJ player may develop a passion for teaching and decide to establish a career as a coach.
To receive a black belt, you should be able to demonstrate the ability to remain humble as you learn and grow. You’ll also be expected to have highly efficient techniques on the mat and be able to subdue your opponents with ease.
Many BJJ grapplers decide to settle on receiving a black belt, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any more belts to earn. You can decide to move forward and become a Grand Master by receiving the red belt.
Being a Grand Master means you’ve been recognized for your influence and fame in BJJ. It’s easier said than done. If you’re been a black belt for more than 30 years, you may be awarded a coral belt, with both red and black colors.