Remember that first UFC event that exposed the world to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Two things stood out above anything else that night. First, everyone was amazed at how efficient ground fighting can be. Second, people were surprised to see Royce Gracie come out and compete in a BJJ Gi. The Gi is an essential part of BJJ history, as it was the original attire worn by the founders of the art. Most of the Gracies that competed in the early UFC events or Pride did so wearing a BJJ Gi.
Although the No-Gi scene is growing rapidly, it is still a long way from the Gi competition scene. The BJJ Gi remains the number 1 training tool of most academies worldwide. In today’s world of grappling martial arts, there are literally hundreds of Gi variations to choose from. You could buy a generic white, go for pink or camo, and even have a Gi made out of hemp. It is a whole industry that is based on the intent to sell as much product as it can. However, BJJ Gi’s do not come cheap, and you often need more than one, so you need to really have them last as long as possible.
Buying A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi
Buying a BJJ Gi is an investment into the grappling martial art of Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a uniform, a tradition, a protective layer. It is also a useful tool to submit and defend against your opponents, and often a sizeable purchase. But whether you spent $40 or $400 on a BJJ Gi, you’ll always want it to last for as long as possible. This, on the other hand, requires constant care.
A Gi will only last only so long before it begins to fray and tears beyond repair. However, there’s no reason that a solid kimono can’t last for at least a few years of regular usage before it gets put out to pasture. For that matter, a strong BJJ Gi can even last for close to a decade. The only condition is to treat it correctly, along with a little training knowledge and a bit of luck. Regardless of how much you spent or how long you’ve been training, give proper care to your Gi. That way you ensure that you’ll get the most out of your purchase.
One of the best ways to ensure your Gi lasts for a long time is just to buy a high-quality heavier Gi. The basic principle is that lighter and thinner fabric is more likely to tear than its thicker counterparts. Although a heavy Gi may be hotter and tougher for some to train and compete in, it’ll almost definitely last longer. Also, remember that most kimonos are heavier and more durable than the pants that come with them. That means you may be looking at purchasing another set of pants long before your heaviest kimonos begin to tear.
Although the price isn’t necessarily an indication of the Gi’s durability and construction, going with an established brand is almost always a safe investment.
How To Properly Wash And Dry A BJJ Gi
Although throwing stuff in a laundry machine may be pretty straightforward for most of your wardrobe, A BJJ Gi is different. There are a few things to keep in mind when washing a Jiu-Jitsu Gi. The first important note actually occurs before you even load the washer. Namely, you always want to allow your Gi time to hang dry after training. Washing your Gi while it’s still drenched in sweat is a good way to give it a permanently funky smell. Allowing it to dry for several hours or overnight will help prevent that.
It’s also best to wash your Gi in cold water to avoid shrinkage. Some people find that adding a splash of white vinegar to each load will help in numerous ways. It is considered to help with cleaning both your Gi and the rest of your workout clothes. In addition, you certainly don’t need to buy specific detergent for a Gi, but using something with powerful stain and smell removers is never a bad idea. They can only help extend the care of your Gi without unwanted side effects.
An important piece of advice is to avoid using a dryer on your BJJ Gi. Although it may say on the kimono that it’s “pre-shrunk,” you’ll soon find that throwing it in the dryer still has a tendency to shrink even further. Simply hang dry it and you should find that it’s ready to wear again in about 20-30 hours. Of course, it all depends on the climate you live in and where you’re hanging it.
It’s also worth keeping your wet Gi away from radiators, heaters, and any other artificial heat source. To check if a Gi is dry, simply feel or squeeze the collar for any dampness.
Taking Care Of Smell
In the event that fresh air drying isn’t enough to prevent your Gi from getting funky, try the white vinegar. Just a splash added to your laundry can provide an extra level of scent protection. If you accidentally left your BJJ Gi in your gym bag or something equally stench-inducing this will definitely help. Soaking a Gi in a mixture of water and white vinegar overnight can often freshen up even the smelliest Gi.
Allowing it to dry in direct sunlight is also helpful against unwanted odor. However, this can also cause discoloration on darker-colored ones and even weaken the fabric a bit. Powerful smell-removing detergents and sprays are also an option.
For a slightly more drastic approach, try adding some hydrogen peroxide to a load of laundry. It can make a white Gi sparkle like it’s brand new. Even better, applying it directly can get rid of blood spots and many other harsh stains. It is admittedly, slightly controversial due to the wear and tears it can put on the materials of a Gi. However, using a little bit of bleach when washing and/or allowing a Gi to dry in direct sunlight can both be effective ways of keeping a white Gi looking cleaner.
How To Safely Shrink A Gi
It’s generally not recommended to attempt to shrink a Gi down to your size. If you simply must do so, begin by washing your Gi in warm (or hot, if you need a lot of shrinkages) water and throwing it in the dryer on the lowest possible setting. Once the lightest dryer cycle is done, try it on. If it’s still a little too big, go ahead and let it finish hang drying since it’ll shrink a little more from that anyway.
If you ordered the wrong size then your Gi might still be way too large even after washing it on warm or hot. In that case, put it in the dryer on a medium or high setting for about 5 minutes at a time. Do this until it’s only a little too big and then hang dry it. You may want to begin this last process at only 3 or 4 minutes in the dryer. remember, it’s better to play it safe and have your Gi a little too big than leaving it in too long and not be able to fit in it.
Eventually, every Gi will reach a point where it’s no longer wearable. Despite that, being smart with how you care for them and use them will keep every Gi in your closet around for a lot longer. With a good rotation and maintenance plan outside of the academy, you won’t have to worry about your Gi when you’re on the mat.