When you sign up to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you’re eventually going to need to buy a Gi. Plenty of martial arts use the Gi, just like we do in BJJ. However, it’s important to understand that not all martial arts Gis are the same.
Gis for striking-based martial arts, such as Karate and Taekwondo, are made to be light and easy to move around in. That means these Gis are not suitable for grappling disciplines, which need a stronger, sturdier Gi.
Where it gets trickier is with Judo Gis. The style of Judo is much more similar to BJJ, and thus the Gis are more closely related. That’s why a lot of people think about using a Judo Gi when they start BJJ – either because they used to train Judo and already have a Gi, or because they can find a Judo Gi for cheap.
In this post we’ll dive into the key features of a Judo Gi vs BJJ Gi, and explain whether you can get away using a Judo Gi for BJJ.
What Are The Main Differences Between Judo and Jiu Jitsu Gis?
The key difference between a Judo Gi and a BJJ Gi is how they fit. Judo Gis are looser-fitting, and baggier. Particularly in the sleeves and skirt (the bottom of the Gi jacket). BJJ Gis are made to fit closer to the body.
BJJ Gis often have a thicker, sturdier collar than a Judo Gi. However, overall, the Gi for Judo is heavier. For that reason, Judo Gis are made from heavier and stronger weaves, such as double weave or single weave.
Judo Gis are also cleaner and more traditional than BJJ Gis, which can be adorned with a lot of patches, and made in a wider variety of colors.
Let’s look a little deeper into the differences of a Judo Gi vs BJJ Gi.
The reason Judo Gis and BJJ Gis fit differently is because of the differences in style of the two martial arts.
In Judo, grips are a huge part of the game. Specifically, being able to grip the arms of your opponent’s Gi jacket. Thus, the rules dictate that there is enough slack in the arms, so you can easily grab a bunch of fabric. The same goes for the lapel and skirt.
On the other side, BJJ Gis need to be suited for a lot more close-quarters grappling, such as wrestling exchanges, or ground fighting. Loose-fitting Gis end up getting limbs caught up, snagging on legs, feet, arms, elbows.
It’s a disadvantage in BJJ to make it too easy for your opponent to grab your Gi. Since there are no rules in place to allow the easy taking of grips, Gis are designed to make it harder for your opponent. This includes the sleeves, skirt, and especially the collar, which is harder and thicker in a BJJ Gi vs Judo Gi.
Judo Gis, particularly competition Gis, weigh a lot more than BJJ Gis. This is because of the thicker fabric, made to be stronger and more durable.
The International Judo Federation’s rules dictate that a Judo Gi should be between 650 and 750 GSM, or grams per square meter. This is a lot more than most of the BJJ Gis you’ll find today, which are around 350-450 GSM, or at times even lighter.
The fabric is basically the same, made from 100% or near-100% cotton. Some may have a cotton-polyester mix.
The biggest difference is how the fabric is woven together. This “weave” dictates the Gi’s durability, and how heavy it is. For instance, some weave styles use more fabric overall, resulting in a heavier Gi, while more modern styles are able to weave together in a way that uses less fabric, and thus you get a lighter Gi.
Judo Gis are almost always single or double weave. This is a classic weave style, which is strong, durable and cheap, but somewhat heavy.
BJJ Gis can sometimes come in a double or single weave, but in the modern day, you’ll usually find Gis made from gold or pearl weaves. These styles are made to be lightweight, making them more comfortable and easier for making weight.
There’s no need for Judo Gi manufacturers to adopt other weave styles, since Judo Gi regulations have a higher minimum weight allowed for Gis. That’s why you’ll see Judo Gis continue to be made in the more traditional single/double weave.
A big difference you’ll notice is in the fashion department. Judo is more traditional than BJJ, and thus the Gi is a lot cleaner. Per competition rules, you’re only allowed a small amount of markings on your Gi. Some competitions are more or less strict, but generally, all are stricter than in BJJ.
With BJJ Gis, you’ll see larger brand emblems, and often a lot of patches, such as from sponsors or denoting academies.
Along the same lines, Judo is more strict when it comes to color. In competition, you’re only allowed to wear Gi in white or one shade of blue.
BJJ allows you to wear white, blue and black Gis. BJJ is also a little more open in the shade of blue allowed. This is in competition only – in most gyms, you’ll see a wider range of colors. Grey Gis are fairly common (I have this Gold BJJ Aeroweave Gi in grey, which I love). From time to time you’ll also see wackier colors, such as green, camo, red or pink, or Gis with multiple colors (like a blue collar on a black Gi).
In Judo, however, you’re most likely to only see white or blue Gis, even in the dojo.
Can You Wear a Judo Gi for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
If you need to, you can train BJJ in a Judo Gi. Judo Gis are much closer to BJJ Gis than the Gi you use for something like Karate or Taekwondo. So while it’s not perfect, the Judo Gi can work for BJJ.
A Judo Gi probably won’t pass inspection for use in BJJ competition, as the jacket – particularly the sleeves – will be too loose and baggy.
In training you can make it work, but the Judo Gi won’t be the best. Training Gi chokes and grips with a Judo Gi will be quite different to doing so with a BJJ Gi. That means you may have to re-learn techniques once you’re able to get into a proper Gi.
For the best training experience, make sure you get yourself a Gi made specifically for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Best Judo Gis – Recommended Picks
If you’re in the market for a Judo Gi – whether you’re training Judo, Jiu Jitsu, or a mixture of both – there are plenty of high-quality Gi options out there.
Here are a few of our recommended Judo Gis, available on Amazon:
- We have what you need: Looking for a Judo Kimono for your next competition? Do you need a quality Gi that...
- Premium materials: This single weave judo gi is made of 100% bleached cotton and it’s lightweight and...
- Perfectly sized: This judo gi is made for everybody to enjoy it. Sizes 0000-2 comes with elastic waist...
- Easy to clean: This uniform comes with jacket, pants and white belt. It can be washed by machine or by...
- Better performance: Be faster and quicker with our judo gi uniform. Specially designed to enhance your...
- Double Weave Gi: FUJI Judo Gi is made with a thick collar and meets all IJF size & weight specifications!
- Judo Gi: The double weave Judo Gi is very comfortable, fantastic for training, and competition-cut. Our...
- Cotton Blend Gi: Made from 100% soft, FUJI premium cotton blend, this Judo Gi is very high quality and...
- Durable Gi: Built to last, the FUJI Judo Gi offers superior durability, all reinforced seams, and comes...
- Comfortable Gi: Our traditional Judo Gi has a comfortable fit that will not restrict your movement during...
Further Reading: Finding the Best Gi for BJJ
If you’re interested in training Jiu Jitsu, but don’t know where to start in getting a Gi, we’re here to help.
Our ultimate guide to BJJ Gis features our team’s handpicked recommendations from the best Gis on the market, as well as Gi recommendations for competition use, for women, for kids, lightweight Gis and budget Gis.
We’ll also help you by showing which features to look for in your Gi, so you can be comfortable you’ve made the best choice.