For every Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner there is a kimono. From blood and sweat absorbed after a training session to the patches we decorate that gives our fight wear a distinguishable appearance, each individual’s kimono tells a story which reveals their purpose in the art.
Equipped in his trusted kimono for two years, BJJ blue belt, Ren Costantini’s life changing journey carried with it many challenges centered on the love/hate relationship he has with his kimono. In this reflective narration Costantini uncovers the truth of what his kimono means to him in his thoughtful biography “Killer Kimono.”
Ren Costantini: Have you ever been told “keep your friends close and your enemies closer?" Seemingly most of us have heard the expression uttered at some point in time. Till recently, however, the expression did not fully resonate. Friends have always had their way of staying close due to the mutual affinity for one another in a mutually beneficial relationship - they are, after all, friends... but keep your enemies closer? This seemed oxymoronic. Why would I keep my enemies closer than my own friends? Then, one day after a grueling training session at Evolution Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I found myself exhausted. Slowly removing my Gi, and tossing it on the mat, I promptly fell next to it. It was here I had my revelation.
After every class I lie on the mat and try to the best of my ability to recollect what events transpired during the session. That evening I recall being particularly frustrated with my kimono. My opponent utilized grips that prevented me from a particular pass and, being the hard headed blue belt that I am, I continued to bang my head against the wall, expecting it to crumble. The wall did not crumble, and my pass ended in me being choked with my Gi.
Staring at my Kimono, I was astonished. My companion, my favorite clothing if you will, had turned against me - it had betrayed me. I felt a feeling of minor grief overcame me. Maybe… just maybe this friend was never really a friend. Absorbed in thought, time passed and the owner of the school began mopping the mats, and it was then that my thought process was paused.
At my next training session I found myself in New Hampshire at Port City Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. College had begun and reluctantly, with severe remorse, I was faced with the unavoidable truth that Jiu-Jitsu cannot be my major. However, it was after another gruesome training session I stripped off my gi and threw it to the mat reluctantly, my limp body following in a less serene fashion. Here the initial process of contemplation was revisited. That night I executed a few techniques that required me to use my opponent's gi against him, and vice versa. Admiring my kimono, the same feeling of aforementioned grief reappeared. “How can you do this to me? I thought we were close!”
Then it hit me, almost as hard as the lack of oxygen due to a bow and arrow choke. My gi is my enemy's friend. At first I felt cheated. “How could you choose to help him/her over me? I wash you! I occasionally dry you! I put nice patches on you! What did I do wrong? Tell me - I can change! I’ll be better, I swear!” Needless to say there was no response or remorse. That night my gi chose to leave with me if it's any consolation.
While getting my gi to leave with me was a subtle victory I began to reminisce about all the good times before my recent epiphany. This article of clothing felt as if it were armor and provided me with a sense of protection. The Kimono represents a part of me. All the sweat, blood, and tears that have been shed in these wonderful pieces of armor make it impossible for me not to be attached. So much time spent together - we have a relationship. One built on mutual respect and an absurd amount of hard work. Looking across my rotation I chuckled. How funny. The gis we wear are our enemies.
What could be closer to our hearts than our gis? We spend enormous amounts of time with them, wash them, care for them, buy an obscene amount of them, and become rather intimate with them. Part of our being is quite literally being absorbed by these beautiful creations. While their aesthetics are usually the initial enticing factor, regardless of brand or look, they show no shame in their betrayal. This armor we dress ourselves in for battle is as great of an enemy as our adversary when rolling. Our Kimonos are undoubtedly classified as our enemies.
The main revelation was not simply that our kimonos are our enemies. No. It can never be that transparent and simple. The true pinnacle of this thought process is that I truly love my enemy. Maybe it's the way it challenges me, chokes me, and stops me. Could it be the times we have shared? The battles won and lost? It could have something to do with a large amount of blood and sweat now permanently ingrained in the fabric. Above all I realized my enemies have always been my greatest teachers. Wearing my gis I have experienced a world most will never experience. I have traveled through battlegrounds undiminished and emerged a new man. This particular enemy has inspired me to reach beyond disdain or even frustration to view the nature of the thing itself. An enemy is simply a form of adversity, and adversity is prosperity of the great. In order to become great my enemies remain close, in fact they're hanging right next to me.
Bio: Ren Costantini is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt Training out of: Evolution Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Port City Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Nostos MMA. Jiu-Jitsu has had such a profound impact on his life. He couldn't even imagine not being a part of such a wonderful community that practices a beautiful art form.
Follow Ren Costantini on Instagram- @essencejiujitsu
Since I own 3 other gi’s made by 93 Brand, Kris Shaw, whom I train with at Tinguinha Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Yorba Linda, CA and also the owner of BJJ Legends Magazine asked me to review the latest gi by 93 Brand, the Zodiac. I haven’t wrote anything other than a email since my last English final essay in college 15 years ago, hopefully I don’t make too much of a mess out of this.
Manufacturer’s description of the gi: The gi features a 350gsm pearl weave gi top, 10oz rip stop pants, and interior yoke panel plus customers get to choose from any of the twelve circular zodiac patches designed by BJJ artist Meerkatsu.
First impression: When I took the gi out of the bag, it felt very light. The gi is minimally patched, which I prefer, and the color combination of white and blue look sharp. There is a small strip of patches on the shoulders with the company name. The side vents on the gi top and the gi pants have blue tape with stars on them to keep with the theme of zodiac. It kind of reminds me of the U.S. Air Force uniform. I don’t usually like ripstop pants due to being too stiff, but these pants felt softer than other ripstop pants I own. The gi also came with a patch with my zodiac sign, Aquarius, which depicts a guy holding a water jug. There are some cool looking patches that come with other zodiac signs, such as Pisces, Scorpio, or Leo, but as my luck will have it, I got a guy holding a water jug.
Measurements (all measurements in inches):
After 3 washes;
After 15 washes;
As you can see, there is minimal shrinkage with the gi. I always washed the gi with cold water. Gi top were always hung dried but the pants were put in the dryer at medium heat after the 3rd wash but the pants never shrunk.
Review: I have trained in this gi for three straight weeks, 5 times a week. This was possible due to the gi being so light that even after being washed and hung to dry, it usually dried within few hours. Although the material is very thin, I did not notice the gi being stretched when it was soaked in sweat and my training partners tugging on the sleeves/pants etc. As for the fit of the gi, I am 5’11” tall and weigh 165 pounds and the A1L fitted me like a custom made suit. I have gotten many compliments from my training partners regarding the look of the gi along with how great it fits.
Conclusion: If you need a great fitting, light competition gi or a gi that you can hang dry and wear every day, this will be a great addition to your collection. I can’t wait to patch it up with my school flag and add to my collection.
It was a frenzy that got out of hand,…The certifications calmed things down. –Steve Goldman
A Brand New Frenzy
Gi Review: Banboo Frenzy is super soft but sizing seems to be an issue.
Submission Fight Company is releasing its newest limited edition kimono “Bamboo Frenzy” with some notable features that sets it apart from any other kimono being marketed to competitors. Ultra Soft & Comfortable, IBJJF Approved, Light 10oz pants. The smallest kimono (A0 2lbs 12ozs) the largest kimono (A5 is 4lbs and 5ozs). Comparable with the Submission “Sensation” kimono you will have the pleasure of being nice and cool due to soft fabric yet this time it comes courtesy of a blend of rayon and Bamboo. However, to say the kimono is perfect would be a bit of a stretch. We tested it and unlike many these days it is not pre-shrunk but a shrink to fit kind of Kimono. The A1 was tested and is for a male ranging (5’2-5’5 110-145). We used a male (5’4 145) and the results were not exactly as advertised. After multiple attempts to (shrink the item to accommodate) the item still did not fit. Suffice it to say, if it doesn’t fit, it won’t be IBJJF approved. It is absolutely comfortable and the exorbitant amount of perspiration one is prone to doesn’t seem to affect the kimono’s ability to keep you cooler and dryer than before. [Click here to read more about bamboo and bamboo fabrics]
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
When it comes to an individual's Jiu-Jitsu game, everyone looks to become the best. Mastic Fight Wear does just that in their contribution to the grappling community.
Mastic Fight wear Kimonos are available in Pearl Weave and Crystal Weave.
Both options are made of 100 % cotton. The difference between the fabrics is that the Crystal is much softer than the Pearl. However, don't let that sway your decision because each kimono carries the durability of a double weave with the weight of a single. It a suitable choice for competition and is IBJJF approved. The color choices are White/Grey Stitching, Blue/ Grey Stitching, and Black/ Orange Stitching.
Being an owner of many gi brands I got the opportunity to try out this much talked about gi and after careful analysis this is what I discovered:
Jacket: The jacket portion of the kimono is a classic construction model any grappler would admire. Made out of 100 % cotton the jacket is composed of a thick but light strong weave fabric material, which makes it easy to move around in during class instruction providing absolute comfort while training and competing.
The patchwork designs of the jacket are standard with the Mastic Fight Wear logos located of both sides of the shoulders. This layout gives me plenty space to represent with my academy or sponsor patches.
Pants: The Mastic gi pants are made out of ripstop material. From experience, I know these trousers are capable of withstanding the toughest matches from competitors in your division to challenges of in the absolute division. They also are a great fit and are comfortable.
Shrinkage: Mastic Fight Wear kimonos are labelled as Pre-Shrunk. After testing there is no evidence shown for the customer to be concerned about it shrinking after it comes out of the washer. If this is still a concern, a secondary option would be to wash the kimono in cold water by itself and hang try it.
Conclusion: There nothing quite fitting than having a great product in your hands. Comfortable, Competition Ready, and an everlasting usage the Mastic Fight Wear kimono certainly delivers in all areas. This gi is one of the top kimonos I have purchased in a long time. The price blows all other competition out of the water which means you will save a lot of money. There gis are a hot sellers so don't wait make your purchase before they are all sold out.
This article provided by our guest writer Tyy Withrow. Tyy runs his own blog called BJJ Paperweight. We look forward to working with Tyy more, be sure to keep your eyes out for some more articles by him! Welcome aboard Tyy!!!
It’s been a couple of crazy weeks for me and I’m finally able to sit down and talk about a seminar I was able to help out with. The “Give the Gift of a Gi – BJJ Seminars for Kids” kick-off seminar was a huge success. It was held on October 26th at Foster Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Kent, Washington. Quite a few Black Belts shared their expertise; Kris Shaw, Cindy Hales, Michelle Wagner, James Foster, and Jean Freitas. There were three different seminars for three different age groups. With this grouping model each seminar ended up being the perfect size. In total there were about 55-60 kids, which is a great turn out. Of those kids, I would guess about 10 had never tried Jiu-Jitsu including my two little nephews. The seminar they attended was their first day of Jiu-Jitsu. I credit the quality of the seminar with the fact that they both enrolled to train the next week. Yes, I’m a proud uncle.
Ronin Brand contacted me in July to do a review of their John Small’s designed 5 Borough Gi (blue A3L). Since then I’ve worn it at least 20 times, washing and drying it each time. In short, I’ve beaten it up as much as possible over the last 90 days. The gi is available in white, blue and black. Ronin also has sizing for long/slim folks. This limited run gi is simply designed with an illustration by John Smalls printed on the inside of the 5 Boroughs of New York, hence the name. [Editor’s Note: All pictures were taken after the gi was used for 90 days].
Johns Smalls, if you’re not familiar with him, is an avid BJJ practitioner and professional artist who lives in NYC. John’s artwork can be found on/in gis, rashguards, shorts, prints, canvas, etc… In our little corner of the world John has worked with Ronin, Shoyoroll, NoGi and Modern Flow to name a few. To Ronin’s credit they recognized the skills and value of bringing a professional artist into the design process (their Samurai gi was in collaboration with Meerkatsu) and continue to offer well designed gis (check out the Legacy gi). Now to the review.
Founded in 2011, Cardiff-based Strike Fightwear are part of the UK wave of Brazilian jiu-jitsu gear companies. Strike’s kimonos, shorts, and rashguards all feature high-quality construction and their designs register around the Emerica mark on the BJJ industry scale of Jigoro Kano to NASCAR. This is a review of their recently released GRPPLR gi, size A2.
In the words of Strike Fightwear: “This gi has been in development for over a year and features a new cut & fit as well as high-quality embroidery and styling.”
“We designed this gi to be perfect for both everyday training and competitions. It seems foolhardy to train in a certain gi leading up to a competition, only to wear a different, lighter gi on the day. The GRPPLR is both lightweight and durable, ensuring you can wear it every day without it hindering your Jiu Jitsu.”
Challenged to find space in my backpack and limited to just one bag by the airlines, my friend suggested we vacuum seal my gis. I didn't think an A2 was going to fix in the 11" wide roll-style bags but it did. We removed the air and when we were done my gi had shrunk down to roughly the size of a five subject notebook.
Its not the perfect choice for all trips. You'd need to re-vacuum seal and without the machine your stuff would never fit going back. But for the right situation, say taking a bunch of gis on a one way trip it'd be a great space saver.
Hemp Ecstasy Gi Review by Jocelyn Chang, Brazilian Jiujitsu Black Belt of Let’s Roll Jiujitsu Academy, Torrance, CA
I find it appropriate to review the Hemp Ecstasy gi by Submission Fight Company during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am not only a Brazilian Jiujitsu Black belt; I am also a cancer survivor. During my bout with cancer, I learned the great benefits of Cannabis as an effective treatment to counter the side effects of chemotherapy. While researching more about Cannabis, I began to learn about Hemp and what a fantastic fiber it is. Hemp is strong, durable, breathable, and, anti-microbial. When you read about Hemp, you learn that not only is it much better than cotton as a fiber, but, it is also much more environmentally friendly too. So naturally, I was very excited to be asked to review the Hemp Ecstasy gi.
Out of the bag I noticed that the build quality is very good. Unlike many gi’s, when you look closely at the stitching, it is nice and even. No loose stitching, or, tag ends anywhere. Also, unlike some other Hemp gi’s I’ve seen, the weave is nice and tight like true gi material. It’s nice to see someone is paying close attention to details that make a truly good gi. After all, it’s equipment, not fashion.