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Choosing your Brazilian jiu-jitsu uniform

Choosing a Brazilian jiu-jitsu uniform can often be difficult for participants, as there are many designs available and it can be easy to get lost in the technical information. Here, we go through the key points one by one.

Choosing a Brazilian jiu-jitsu uniform

Thibaut, a product engineer, also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, explains why it's important to choose a uniform that is suitable for ground-based combat. First you'll need durability, then you'll need to choose the right size.

Resistance

The uniform will be subjected to great stress during training (friction with the ground, grapples with a partner, etc.) which will really put the fabric and strength of the seams to the test. Several factors should also be taken into consideration when looking at the durability of the fabric:

Composition

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu uniform should be mainly composed of cotton for thicker, more durable fabric. The inclusion of polyester in the fabric reinforces the fabric further, also making it lighter and faster-drying (cotton holds a lot of moisture).

Fabric weight (known as grammage)

Generally expressed in gsm or g/m², this is the weight of the fabric in grams over an area measuring 1 metre by 1 metre. Generally, for fabrics of identical composition, the heavier the fabric the thicker and more durable it is. Most fabrics used in Brazilian jiu-jitsu uniforms range from 350gsm to 550gsm, but lighter or heavier fabrics may also be used.

Thread quality

The quality of all the threads used in making uniforms may vary. When making thread, some processes result in a more uniform and more durable thread. Therefore different types of weave (see below) will have different durability depending on the thread used.

The weave

You'll hear about "single/double/pearl/diamond/gold… weave." This describes the woven motif used in manufacturing the fabric. Naturally, a single weave will be lighter than a double weave as the construction of the motif uses less thread, but it will thus be less durable. The other types of weave are "hybrid," allowing a better compromise between durability and light weight, "pearl weave" is widely used. Shrinkage in the wash may also vary according to the type of weave.

Size/Cut

Almost all brands of uniform use the same sizing system, but sizing differences may appear between 2 different brands (each using their own sizing). Men's adult sizes may go from A0 (smallest) to A5 (largest). Women's adult sizes may go from F0 to F5 and children's sizes from M00 to M4.

Due to their cotton fabric, all uniforms will shrink on washing, but some more than others: this depends on several factors (composition, weave, assembly, etc.). To limit shrinkage, try to avoid washing it in water that is too hot (ideally wash at 30°C) and NEVER put it in the tumble dryer.

Size is a key element to consider to ensure you have a uniform that fits well and is suitable for the sport (no irritations when moving, etc.). In addition to how it looks, the right size uniform is essential for combat as in competition, certain dimensions of the uniform are measured before combat (such as the maximum distance of 5cm between the wrist and the sleeve of the uniform with arms extended and parallel to the ground).

Choosing a Brazilian jiu-jitsu uniform

So...Which uniform should you choose?

As with many things, it's a question of compromise and preference. Some people prefer a light uniform and freedom of movement, or for being the right weight for the weigh-in in a competition. Others prefer a heavier, thicker uniform that is both more durable and harder for an opponent to seize. Others opt for an ultra-light uniform for travelling which takes up very little space in a suitcase.

In terms of style: it's quite subjective and you'll find a wide range from very dark uniforms through to uniforms covered in patches or embroidery. 

If you'd prefer a uniform that dries quickly so it can be washed after each training session, we recommend choosing a uniform with a polyester blend, as that will dry much quicker than cotton. We also recommend having a second uniform if you train more than once a year.

Jiu-jitsu is a long journey, and we want all practitioners to be able to take part for as long as possible. For us, that means the durability of the uniform is the most important aspect to consider when making your decision.

THIBAUT

THIBAUT

Product engineer, passionate about Brazilian jiu-jitsu and grappling.