In the martial arts world, an athlete dons a BJJ kimono much like a warrior of old donned a suit of armor. And a point of fact is that both sets of gear have much in common. Ancient warriors were supported by entire industries devoted to the research, development and manufacture of armor. No less can be said for modern athletes participating in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi of today has a long and distinguished history. Similar in appearance to the judogi from which it is derived, it comes down to the modern world of martial arts through Japanese culture. The early Japanese wore two-piece, loose fitting clothing which was worn by both genders. This clothing eventually gave rise to the keiko-gi, the traditional martial arts uniform of the twenty-first century.

While a keiko-gi is similar in appearance to any martial arts uniform to the uninformed eye, there can be some significant differences. Keiko, which means practice, and gi, which means simply clothing, can mean any type of uniform used for any type of sport or discipline which is practiced regularly. In Japan, gi is a word not found used alone, but in partnership with other words. Hence, judo-gi is a garment used for practicing judo and karate-gi is of course a garment used for practicing karate. BJJ-gi is a term for a garment which has been specifically designed for use in practicing and competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has seen many innovations in the traditional gi. Distinctive features of the gi include minimal use of seams, a jacket back without a seam, extra knee padding, and where possible reinforced seams. The seamless back is for comfort but also to reduce the wear and tear on the garment. Sometimes the legs may be reinforced below the knee. In addition to padded knees some manufacturers also offer reinforced under-arms. Thick rubberized collars, ostensibly touted as more hygienic then standard cloth collars, can function as a tactical feature as well. Opponents may find it difficult to find a grapple hold on the snug fitting rubber collar.

Quality gis are made from cotton which has been pre-shrunk. This is an important feature because cotton has a tendency to shrink up dramatically. Woven into a ripstop, sturdy canvas like fabric, the fabric is available in four "weights" of cloth. These are known as single weave, double weave, gold weave and platinum weave. However, these weaves are not standardised. Gold weave is not a different type of weave from the single and double weaves so much as a reflection of the quality of the fibre used in it.

When students are ready to take their commitment to the sport to a higher notch they may want to invest in a higher quality gi as well. The double weave cloth with its superior durability can take the increased practice sessions and hold up to competition. It is a sturdier and somewhat heavier garment than the single weave cloth.

Serious competitors and instructors often choose to invest in the gold weave standard. While being a somewhat lighter weight fabric than the double weave, its longer cotton fibers lend it a luster and softness that is unsurpassed by the baser fabric of the other two weights. Furthermore, given the superior fabric, these gi also are usually of superior workmanship. Yet these garments while more comfortable and pleasing offer comparable durability to double-weave. They also tend to be more expensive. Platinum weave is a lighter weight version of this grade and is intended for summer wear.

International competition rules allow competitors to wear a bjj kimono which is black, blue or white. It must be a matching set and be tied with a rank appropriate colored belt. However, additional colors can be found, especially red. These usually represent club colors and may be used for demonstrations and in-house competitions.

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