How to Wear a Jiu Jitsu Gi

How to Wear a Gi (and Other Questions)

What is a Gi?

A martial arts gi is the training uniform traditionally worn by practitioners of martial arts. The gi differs slightly in color, cut, and fabric type depending on the martial art. A Jiu Jitsu gi is a variation of the Judo gi (judogi), which was developed by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, and is based on the clothing that was worn in Japan at the time that Kano developed his Judo curriculum.

How to Pronounce the Word “Gi”

“Gi” is a Japanese word that means “clothing.” The word rhymes with “tree,” and the letter “g” is hard, like the “g” in the word “go”. The pronunciation is the same as “ghee” (the Hindi word for clarified butter).

Difference Between a Judo Gi and a Jiu Jitsu Gi

In contrast to other martial arts gi’s, a Jiu Jitsu needs to be sturdy with a thick lapel that can withstand collar grips, but flexible enough to allow for plenty of movement with complete range of motion. A BJJ gi is made of a heavier fabric than a karate gi, which is very lightweight, but typically lighter than a Judo gi. Additionally, the length of the kimono (jacket) is shorter than a Judo gi, falling just below the hips so that it doesn’t get in the way when one is rolling around on the ground.

The difference between a Jiu Jitsu gi and a Judo gi
The difference between a Judo gi and a Jiu Jitsu gi

Does Gi Color Matter in Jiu Jitsu?

The color of a Jiu Jitsu gi carries no special meaning, but some Jiu Jitsu schools do have requirements about gi color. In keeping with Jiu Jitsu’s Judo origins, some Jiu Jitsu academies require students to wear a white or royal blue gi. Some schools require all students wear a white gi, and other schools allow white, royal blue, or black, which are the only gi colors allowed in IBJJF competitions.

From my observation, white and black are the colors most commonly worn by Jiu Jitsu students. If you are training at a Jiu Jitsu school that does not have any restrictions on color, you can wear any color you choose. You can even customize your own gi!

Other Jiu Jitsu Gi Rules and Restrictions

Some Jiu Jitsu academies require its students to wear a team gi. To me this is a shame, since the traditional gi sizes are not very inclusive, and these days there are so gi companies that offer inclusive gi sizing. Other schools require students to sew a patch with the team logo onto whatever gi they purchase, which to me is far more reasonable.

How should a Jiu Jitsu Gi Fit?

IBJJF rules state that the cuff of the sleeves needs to fall within 2 centimeters of the wrist bone, and the hem of the pants needs to fall within 2 centimeters of the ankle bone. This is because some techniques require grabbing the sleeve or pant leg, and having short sleeves or pants that are too short would be an advantage, whereas pants and sleeves that are too long could be a disadvantage. However, these rules are just for competitions; no one is going to kick you out of class or make you throw away your gi if you accidentally order it a little too big or if it shrinks too much in the dryer.

IBJJF uniform fitting rules from
IBJJF uniform policy for Jiu Jitsu competitions. Photo source:

How to Tie Gi pants

Jiu Jitsu pants are notorious for sliding down during practice. I use a square knot to tie the drawstring, and mine always stay tied.I usually untie them after warm-ups and cinch the drawstring a bit tighter to make sure they stay put for the rest of class.

How to Tie a BJJ Belt

There are multiple ways to tie a martial arts belt. My Judo instructor used to tell me my belt should be a frown, not a smile. He was referring to a belt tied like this, with the ends pointing downward:

Up close photo of a purple belt tied around someone's waist

Go here to learn how to tie a martial arts belt, including the way I originally learned, which comes untied easily after a few hard rolls, as well as a better way that stays securely tied until the end of class.

How do you wear a gi? Find out the answer to this and other BJJ gi questions. | #bjjtips #bjj #jiujitsu #jiujitsutips

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