How To Pick Your First Gi or Kimono

A while ago I posted Top 10 Gi or Kimono Rankings.  I have to say my rankings were based on empirical data from the three gis I owned and what I had observed as the most valued by those around me and in videos.  Since then I have found a much more scientific approach at Aesopian.com.  He posted  Ranking Gis from Best to Worst.  The data is based off of a far larger sample size of readers to his blog.  Oh and his comes with cool graphs!  I have done some gi reviews.  They are:

  1. Koral MKM vs  HSU Kodokan
  2. Atama Mundial #5 vs Koral MKM

But neither of my reviews compares to the one done by Meerkatsu entitled "Great British Gi Review".  I know they are British makers.  I know we are all not in Britain.  But the quality of the review is a standard to look for in other reviews.  Lets not forget the ladies when we talk about reviews for gis.  If you want superb gi reviews for women check out Georgette’s World.  She did one not so long ago entitled Women’s Gi Review: Fenom Gi, A1.

So you are out shopping for your first gi and you don’t want to put down your hard won cash for trash.  These links should help you start figuring out what you want and why.

Atama Mundial #5 Gi vs Koral MKM Kimono

I picked up a red Atama Mundial #5 (Size A3) and promised I’d do a post comparing it to my Koral MKM Urban Camo (Size A3).  I haven’t had as much time with the Atama Mundial #5 as I have with my Koral MKM Urban Camo but so far I’m liking it.  Here are some of the key differences I have noticed so far:

  1. The Mundial #5 gi top is longer by a good 2 inches then the MKM.  That keeps it in your belt a little longer while rolling and I have decided I like that.  Its sleeves are about 1/2 inch longer too and have a little more room then the MKM.  I don’t mind that.
  2. The Mundial #5 is a little better quality.  Why I say this is little details are done.  For example: gi-strings Notice how on the red Atama Mundial #5 they have folded over the end and sewn it for the draw string.  On my Koral MKM Urban Camo I did the sewing on the end so it wouldn’t fray over time.  The patches also look like they have better borders for the Atama and are sewn to the gi better.  I have already had to sew part of a patch back on for my Koral.
  3. The Mundial is heavier and not as soft for the gi top.  Notice the difference in the weave of the two from the pictures. koral-mkm-urban-camo-weave atama-mundial-5-weave Don’t ask me what the difference is.  I just know what I feel.  Because I wear a long sleeve rash guard the coarseness doesn’t bother me.  The added weight of the Atama is good for the winter right now.  I wonder if it will be much hotter come summer.
  4. The pants of the Atama are softer and a hair longer then the Koral.  I think they have about the same fit for me and I like them both.  There was one big difference I noted.  The cuff is sewn different.  Notice how the Koral MKM really will last with all those lines of reinforced stitching.  The Atama only has the stitching need to sew on the black strip with their name.  I don’t think this bad just in the long run I expect the Koral pants to out last the Atama. gi-pant-cuffs
  5. For those of us who don’t use the dryer after washing our gis, to extend their life, the Atama gi top takes much longer to dry out.  Like I said it is heavier.  I sat mine out all night in my arid house and it still didn’t dry out by noon the next day.  The Koral MKM dries out over night.  This worries me because I don’t want a stinky gi but I don’t want it to wear out quicker from the dryer.

When all is said and done they are both fine kimonos and have different qualities that make them a top brand.  Over all I like the Atama but think my Koral wins out for now.

Ki belt vs. Koral belt – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

After hard work and time I have achieved blue belt.  I was awarded a Ki belt at the test.  It was a little small for me.  It gave me the look of Baby Huey when I had it on.  It was thin and flimsy.  I decide there had to be something better.  I had just bought my first real Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Kimono (Koral MKM Urban Camo Kimono) and decided that I should get a belt from Koral (click to see).  I was a little skeptical about the Koral belts at first. Koral Color Belts As you can see in the picture it doesn’t give much detail.  Koral belts were going for roughly $20 plus shipping where as the Ki sold for $5 plus shipping.  I didn’t want to have another flimsy belt with a know brand name on it.  Koral is made in Brazil and Ki is made in China.  I decided to take a chance and get a blue Koral but now how to pick the right size?  There was no belt size chart to help me.  I finally decided to go with the same size as my kimono or gi.  In short order my belt arrived in the mail.  I quickly took it out and compared it to my Ki and old HSU white belt.  My new Koral was longer then my Ki, to my relief, but shorter then my old HSU white belt.  I tried it on with my gi and it looked good.  The quality of the belt is much better too.  It is thicker and has the black ends for strips.  I guess you get what you pay for.  I recommend the Koral belt over Ki.

Koral MKM Kimono vs. HSU Kodokan Gi for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

My first gi was a HSU Kodokan blue, size 6.  It was a good deal for a beginner like me.  What I didn’t realize at the time is what a good gi was.  I didn’t know anything about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Judo.  I was just starting out in BJJ.  Now I know the error of my ways.  Please note gi and kimono are two words for the same thing.  Brazilians say kimono and Americans gi.

A simple search for “Kodokan” on Google brings up Judo related links.  HSU sells Jiu-Jitsu gi’s.  Then why does there Jiu-Jitsu gi say Kodokan on it?  The URL to there site is www.hsujudo.com.  When you visit there site you will see that there Judo gi’s have a different picture but look the same as those for Jiu-Jitsu.  Are you starting to see a pattern here? My first gi is a Judo gi which was marketed as a Jiu-Jitsu gi.  It doesn’t have the smaller cuffs or pants legs.  The whole of it is baggier.  I had a black belt comment on the “extra large cuffs” while instructing my partner on how to get a good hold on them.  My size 6 will fit some one between 6’0” to 6’4”.  The collar is very thick.  After washing I can’t get it to dry out.  This has caused it to smell and I had to figure out how to clean it (see my post on “How to Clean your Gi”). The pants were too long.  I had them altered to fit.

My new gi is a Koral MKM Urban Camo Kimono size A3.  It is sized differently by height 5’11”-6’2″ and weight 190-220 lbs.  It doesn’t have the large cuffs and the pants fit right off in every aspect.  The collar is half as think and the jacket is light weight.  Great for hot summers!  It has vulcanized rubber inside of the collar.  It is preshrunk, so when you put it on you know that is the size it will stay.  You should have seen how big my HSU was before it shrunk!  The patches on the Koral MKM Urban Camo are cool.  Ok, so I paid a good deal more for it.  But it is worth it by far!  My game has changed too.  I can move better in it and I don’t have tons of cloth for my opponent to grab.  I’ll never go back.  Koral makes a quality Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu kimono.  Hands down they win this comparison.

HSU Kodokan Gi

  1. HSU does not sell Jiu-Jitsu gi’s.  They market Judo gi’s as Jiu-Jitsu gi’s.
  2. HSU gi’s are made in China.
  3. Collar of gi is not easy to dry out after washing.  Gets smelly and needs more care to keep it clean.
  4. HSU gi comes in broader size making for a bagger fit.  It is more of a Judo cut.
  5. Jacket is heavy and there is a good chance the pants won’t fit you right off.   The Jacket is two piece.

Koral MKM Urban Camo Kimono (click to see it)

  1. Koral Kimonos are made in Brazil, home of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
  2. Collar isn’t too thick.  It dries all the way through in half the time.
  3. The jacket is one piece.  No seams around the waist.
  4. The Kimono fit out of the box like a dream and after washing.
  5. It is lighter and has more reinforcement.
  6. It was make by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners for Jiu-Jitsu!