A question frequently asked by those new to BJJ is does it make a difference what colour Gi I wear and does the colour of the Gi have any significance.
Unlike belt colour the colour of the Gi is not a reflection of rank, ability or anything more than personal preference. Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry answer as to the question of what colour you can wear at your school as the rules can vary greatly.
BJJ inherited the Gi from Judo which has quite strict rules governing Gi colour in the dojo. In Judo white is the traditional training colour and this is the one you will see most commonly warn in classes. Typically, in competition Judo players wear either a white or blue Gi. Some Judo clubs will allow their students to train in blue Gi’s and to a far lesser extent some schools now allow black Gi’s.
So, what does all this have to do with BJJ? Well as you would expect before BJJ underwent its recent boom there wasn’t a lot of choice on the BJJ market, most Gi’s worn were designed for Judo. As a result, BJJ followed the same bland formula as Judo.
BJJ is known for generally being a little more relaxed on etiquette than its cousin art Judo. The classes in Judo are often strict and well regimented where as BJJ tends to be a little more laidback. This laidback attitude is apparent in the array of Gi’s you can witness at a BJJ school.
Today there are lots of companies that make Gi’s specifically for the BJJ practitioner. Big Brands such as Tatami and Venum compete with smaller companies such as Valor. The competition has resulted in a wide array of designs and styles.
At the more extreme end of the market it is possible to purchase Gi’s in lightening yellow (below avaliable at Amazon) and luminous orange. Quite who is purchasing these Gi’s is a mystery. And as for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Gi that surely represents a step too far.
On the more moderate end of the market its not uncommon to find companies producing popular Gi’s in navy, grey, black and green. For a time, mismatched Gi’s and bottoms were a popular design and Tatami produced a whole inverted range based on this concept. Collars of a different colours to the main body of the Gi are also widely available.
Despite the wide availability of such an array of Gi colours not all schools share the same relaxed approach. Some will still impose rules to keep the most outlandish of Gi’s off the mat, whilst others have rules not dissimilar to Judo or competition rules. In rare cases you might find a school where the rules exceed those of competition.
Another common practice that separates BJJ Gi’s from Judo Gi’s is the branding. BBJ Gi’s often carry the manufacturers logo across the shoulders and side of the bottoms and it is common for students to add their own patches or patches that identify their school.
If your new to an academy a quick scan of your first class should provide an indication of the accepted normal practice. It’s always worth checking with the instructor before purchasing a Gi or you could air on the side of caution and go for a basic white Gi like the Tatami one linked below.
It has been an increasingly common trend for BJJ schools to require students purchase equipment and Gi’s direct from the school. Most of these Gi’s will be branded with the academies logo like the branding found on Gi’s produced by the major manufacturers. These Gi’s can come at a premium compared to other options on the market.
Instructors often promote the benefit of uniformity and the pride students should have to represent their academy and instructor. This practice has been common place amongst other martial arts over the years and makes the cynic believe the academy is just looking for an opportunity to make a quick buck out of its students.
For some people the freedom to wear what they want on the mat is a deal breaker. If you fall into this category you defiantly need to find out the Gi etiquette before signing up. It’s your decision where you train and if your paying for a service do you really want to have your clothing dictated to you?
Long term a black or blue Gi will stand the test of time better than a white Gi. Over many sessions and subsequent washes white Gi’s tend to become discoloured and a bit shabby looking. White Gi’s do have the benefit of being universally accepted, so it doesn’t matter if your training at your local academy, dropping by somewhere new or competing.
If you’re looking for that first Gi check out our top 5 affordable Gi’s available right now.
Gi Colour Rules for Competition
Before competing its important to check the rules of the body organising the event to ensure you don’t fall foul of there expectations. The last thing you want is to be turned away because your Gi is the wrong colour or your new patch is sown in an illegal position.
One of the leading organisers of competition the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) advise the following colours are permissible: white, royal blue or black. Gis with tops and pants of different colours are not permitted; nor are GIs with a collar that is a different colour than the rest of the top.
The IBJJF also have restrictions on the position of branding on the Gi and well as a whole host of other requirements that are not related to colour. Further details on the IBJJF requirements of competition legal Gi’s can be found on there website.
To find the answer to any other questions you may have check out our Gi tips page where we break down many of the questions you wanted answered along with reviews of the hottest Gi’s on the market right now.