In the last week or so I’ve gotten at least a dozen catalogs in the mail. All of which are doing their best to convince me, my wife and my two girls to spend our money. What I did not get in the mail was a single piece of propaganda telling me what new gis, apps, videos, rashguards, t-shirts, or gear I need. It’s completely unfair. I got 3 American Girl catalogs and not a single flyer from BudoVideos, what the heck?
As a PSA for the grappling community this article will contain links to the retailers that I’ve personally used and/or have seen consistently good feedback on. I’d also highly recommend that you check out the Father’s Day Gift Guide from earlier this year for more gift ideas.
Kimonos: By this point you may have noticed this article is all about aiming you at the resources that you need. If you’re going to buy a gi the first thing I’d do is go to Gi Freak and check out some reviews (there are several hundred there). The links provided above cover virtually every brand of gi out there. Current favorites are: OSS and Shoyoroll (Matt), Grips and Grab & Pull (Chadd) and Fuji & Strike Fightwear (Jeff).
Now for the fun stuff. These are gifts that I’ve either gotten, given or would like to get (hint, hint, know what I mean, know what I mean).
Roli Delgado – Legal Leglocks for BJJ ($30): fantastic app that dives into leg locks (mostly straight ankle and toe holds) headfirst. Roli’s teaching is clear, concise and easily incorporated into your game. My review is here.
Caio Terra – Modern Jiu Jitsu ($varies by app): another great set of apps that is broken down by the major positions in BJJ. My review is here.
Honorable mention goes to Stephan Kesting and Grapple Arts. Stephan has dove head first into the world of apps and has converted the excellent How To Defeat Bigger, Stronger Grapplers DVDs into apps.
The Video Junkie:
I’m firmly entrenched in this category. I have at least 50 DVDs of BJJ techniques in my office. Some are great, some aren’t and some only apply to specific positions or styles. These are my top DVD series at the moment:
Rafael Lovato Science of the Game Series: The marketing for these DVDs leaves something to be desired but no one can fault the technique and teaching ability of Lovato. These DVDs cover a full system for passing anyone’s guard (gi and nogi) as well as submission hunting. Definitely worth checking out Ebay for a copy.
Ryan Hall: Really anything and everything that he’s done is excellent. His most recent release is Arm Triangles and there are 2 more that should be available by the end the year (passing and inverted guard). If you’re going to get any of these DVDs definitely check Ebay were they’re semi-regularly available for half-price.
BJJ Kids: Let’s be honest, kids have kind of gotten the shaft with gis and gear. Up until the last year or so if you wanted a kid’s gi you had a limited selection and they were just miniaturized versions of adult gear. A few kids gi companies have emerged recently and my favorite is OK! Kimonos. These gis are designed specifically for kids (there are adult versions now), have Meerkatsu artwork and include a gi exchange program (return a gently used gi for a 20% discount on a future purchase and the returned gi is donated to charity, how cool is that?). The gear itself is very high quality and I’m sure your kids will love it. OK! has a full line of shirts, spats and gis (for adults and kids).
The Socially Responsible Grappler: In 2013 we learned that we have a community that will band together to support worthy causes. Grapplethons are a monthly occurrence, organizations like Tap Cancer Out are being nationally recognized for their outstanding work and a fundraiser spearheaded by Meerkatsu, Scramble and Gawakoto recently raised close to $20,000 for disaster relief. To support other events check out these great shirts (100% of profits will be going to charity):
The Trip of a Lifetime: I went on my first training vacationearlier this year and I had a fantastic time. I met a lot of cool people, learned a ton and trained with some truly legendary athletes. Our sport is small enough that if you want to train with a world champion all you need to do is show up at their gym and pay a mat fee. For a more organized BJJ training trip check out these camps.
Origin BJJ Immersion Camp: This camp is usually in the late summer in Maine. The camp was $650 this year (all-inclusive except getting there) and was well attended by many notable blackbelts.
Caio Terra’s Worlds Training Camp: Caio Terra hosts training camps in San Jose, CA for the biggest tournaments in the world, Pans and Worlds. These camps are up to 2 weeks long (you have different options on how long you will be there) and are attended by multiple world champions (~30 black belts participated in the last one).
BJJ Globetrotters: These camps are hosted periodically all over the world. For a truly global experience this might be one of the best options out there.
Tidbits and Stocking Stuffers:
I use a lot of tape, seriously I buy 10 packs now. This tape is 0.5” wide and perfect for using on your fingers.
John Smalls is not only a BJJ practitioner and gear designer he’s also a professional artist that regularly sells BJJ themed art. If you want something cool and unique that you can proudly display John has something for you.
I’m sure that there will be a lot more Christmas lists coming soon from other bloggers so be sure to keep an eye out and feel free to forward this one to your loved ones. Take a few moments and let me know what I missed in the comments.
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I'm a 37 year old husband and father to two girls. I train under Ezra Lenon (black belt under Kiko France of American Top Team) in St Louis MO. I drag my two little girls with me to the gym every chance that I get and usually end up training 5 days a week. I'm a huge gear junkie, spend entirely too much time watching BJJ videos and am fascinated with the cerebral side of our sport. When I'm not training or hanging with my family I work as a clinical pharmacist.