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
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.”
Platinum Jiu Jitsu has a small but deeply loyal following of jiu jiteiros that appreciate the flash of their designs and the quality of their craftsmanship. Each gi is produced in a very small batch, just 25 total gis divided among the 4 sizes, and features a fully sublimated rashguard liner. The rasghuards are based on artwork by Hawaiian artist Katch1. The exterior patching, embroidery and color schemes are all intended to compliment the interior artwork. Sean sent me the Grenada, #5 of 25, in A3 a few months ago and I’ve been putting it thru its paces ever since.
“At the moment of exhaustion, inspire yourself to take on last step and that is when you have reached the next level. In Korean folktales, dokebi is a mythical being. Dokebi is considered to be harmless but nevertheless mischievous, playing pranks on people or challenging wayward travelers to a grappling match for the right to pass. The Dokebi’s free-spirited attitude reflects what we believe is the essence of the BJJ lifestyle.” Dokebi Bros
The Balance is Dokebi’s first in a line of BJJ gis that are made in Korea. This is the first Korean made gi that I’ve been able to review and to my knowledge one of the very few Korean made BJJ gis on the market.
Intro: I train and compete in the Midwest, specifically in St Louis. I’ve been fortunate enough to compete fairly frequently and it was at one of these competitions, the IBJJF Chicago International Open, that I saw my first Quantum Kimono. I saw about half a dozen that day, many of them with Comprido/BRASA patches. The gis fit the athletes very well, especially the long and lanky ones. I’d never head of this brand before and was curious what they were about. A friend of mine is a brown belt under Comprido so with the help of a little Facebook stalking and I was able to track them down and beg them for their Comp gi to review.
"We started our gi company because it was so hard and expensive to the get the kimonos that we wanted. We decided to make our well-built gi at a reasonable price.” Quantum Kimonos
I would like to start this by telling you this is my first gi review. I'm really happy to have been provided the chance to review this gi, it is an awesome choice in training and for tournament competition. There are three prime characteristics I want in my gi. I want a durable gi with a close fit that meets all standards for competition in the federations I compete. I want the gi to be light weight and easy to clean. It also wouldn't hurt my feelings to find a gi which looks good.
As I judge the Estilo Premier 4.0 by that criteria I find it quickly became my absolute favorite gi. The combination of prime functional improvements and simple aestetics has made it my #1 choice for tournament or training day.
Grab & Pull, out of Brighton UK, is the child of Gus Oliviera and has become one of the most recognizable BJJ Apparel Company in the UK. Grab & Pull is also very active in the European BJJ community. Recently, they’ve helped to bring Grappler’s Quest to Europe and will also be streaming the upcoming Copa Podio tournament. G&P is crossing the big pond soon and were kind enough to send their Premium Version 2 gi for a review. If the gi that I was sent is any indication of their products they will be just as big in the US in no time. Their current line of products include: tees, gis, belts, rashguards, and fight shorts. Now, let’s jump into the review for the Grab & Pull Premium Version 2 in White (A2)!