Jan 182012
 

Me:  Brandon, I’d be happy to dye a gi for you.  What color are you thinking?

Brandon:  Can you do green?

Me:  Sure.  {pulls Dharma Trading up on my Droid} Which one do you like?

Brandon:  I like Bright Green.

Me:  Well…  that’s pretty bright.  It’s going to be as green as Bing’s gi is Orange.  You want it that bright?

Brandon:  Well, I want it bright.

Me:  How about one shade darker?  Let’s go with Kelly Green.

And that’s how we ended up here:

kelly-green 

PR66 aka Kelly Green. 

PreDye

Above is the gi before going into the dye vat.

rinsed

Here it is after a rinse cycle in the washer.  It’s still wet and has a lot of excess dye, so it’s a little darker than it will be once it’s dry.

washed (2)

Washed twice, but still wet.  All of the rogue color is gone, so this is pretty close to the final color.  It will still get a little lighter once it’s dry, but I think it’s pretty close to spot on according to the color chip below.

kelly-green 

And here’s the final product.  I hope Brandon likes it.  The color turned out close to flawless.  It’s very even, and I can’t see any imperfections.   He was very specific about wanting a really bright green, so I think he’s going to be very happy.  I put my belt on there to provide a little context, so you can see that the color is pretty accurate.

greengi4

What do you think? 

And if you’re interested in doing your own projects, please take a look at my step by step guide.

Jan 182012
 

I’ve dyed several BJJ gis and while the process is pretty simple, I’ve learned a few things each time that make it a little easier and improve the final product.  I’ve posted pictures and such in the past, and even though Georgette has posted a great instructional on her blog, I still get asked about this a lot.

First, there are instructions available on Dharma Trading’s site that are great.  I’m not a pro and don’t make money off of this, so what follows may not be the “right” way to do it.  It’s simply the way I’ve found that results in a pretty good looking, even color that won’t fade or bleed.

So, here goes.  My practical guide to dying a BJJ gi:

What You Need:

I’ve broken out the materials you’ll need to do a good job into three categories:  required, recommended and optional.  It’s a pretty long list, but don’t be intimidated.  Most of it can be purchased from Dharma Trading, found easily at stores around you or you probably already have them.  Also, once you have a lot of the gear, you don’t need to replace it.

Required:

1:  A BJJ Gi. The weight of each gi is a little different.  Rather than getting too anal about things, I just figure 4 lbs per gi.  This helps me figure out how much of each ingredient to use.

2:  procionmxHigh quality Fiber Reactive Dye.  I used Procion MX, purchased from Dharma Trading.  How much you’ll need is going to depend on the color and the weight of the gi.   On a 4 lbs gi, most colors will need 4 Tbsp of dye (which is about 2 oz).  For some colors, you will need to double or quadruple that amount.

3:  Non-Iodized salt:  You’re going to need a lot of salt, about 12 cups for a 4 lbs gi (twice that if you’re doing black).  You can get a large bag of it at Sam’s Club or Costco for next to nothing.  Otherwise, you’ll look a little funny loading up the grocery cart.  Just tell them you’re brining a deer or something.

4:  Soda Ash:  You’ll need 1 1/2 cups for a 4 lbs gi.  This is absolutely critical.  Don’t skip this.  The soda ash fixes the color.  If you’re going to the trouble to dye your gi, make sure that you fix the dye so that your gi won’t fade and the colors don’t bleed.

TIP:

You can order it from Dharma if you want to, but it’s heavy and will cost a ton to ship ($5.95 for 5 lbs of Soda Ash costs almost $13 to ship.)

Soda Ash is also called Washing Soda or Sodium Carbonate (NOT the same thing as Sodium Bicarbonate).  It is used to condition water and in home-made laundry soaps.  So, look for it in pool/hot tub supply stores or in a pinch, at the grocery store in the laundry aisle.  Don’t pay more than around $1 per lbs.  This stuff should be cheap and you’re not going to get any better results buying a brand name.

I saw a 5 lbs container of “premium” Sodium Carbonate for $26 at a pool store.  What a rip off.

5:  A large plastic bin:  Once again, the size is going to depend on how much you’re dying.  You’re going to need 3 gallon of water per lbs of fabric, so a 4 lbs gi will need 12 gallons of water (and don’t forget displacement).  An 18 gallon tub is perfect for one gi, but I have a 45 mixingbowlsgallon bin I use for big jobs, like doing multiple gis at one time.  And conveniently, when I’m not dying a gi, everything fits in the tub so that I can store it in the garage, out of the way.

6:  Measuring cup, plastic scrapers, plastic mixing/measuring bowls and spoons: You can buy new ones or do what I did…  just shrug and mumble a little when asked, “Where the hell are all my measuring cups?”

7:  Damage Control Rags:  Two or three rags or towels you don’t mind getting dye on.

Recommended:

1:  Synthrapol or an equivalent:  Pre-washing the gi is important to get oils, softeners and other chemicals out of the fabric that might prevent the dye from getting into the fabric evenly.

2:  Calsolene Oil:  I use 3 Tbs.  The Calsolene Oil helps break the surface tension in the water.

3:  IMG_1469Gloves:  To keep you from looking like Ed Harris in the Abyss.  I tried using the big, dishwashing gloves, but frankly, they’re a pain in the butt to take off and put on.  So, I just use disposable non-latex gloves.  You can buy a huge box of them at Costco.

4:  A Big Stick:  For mixing and waving around when you get bored.

5:  A fine mesh strainer with a handle (for the soda ash).

Optional:

1:  Urea:  This can help the dye dissolve.  If you’re doing anything red, or if you’re concerned about mixing the dye completely, use this stuff.

2:  Milsoft:  This is a pro grade fabric softener and damn, does it work.

3:  A spray handle attachment to the shower:  Being able to hold the showerhead in your hand is… well, handy.  It helps when filling the bin and also makes cleaning up much easier.


How to do it:

Okay.  You have your materials together and you’re ready to go.  Next, think about your space.  I use the bathtub in the downstairs bathroom.  My wife would kill me if I stained or damaged anything in house, particularly in a “public area.”  So… wait for him or her to leave and then get started.

I strongly recommend that you remove any towels or cotton, decorative shower curtains and keep him or her away from the room until you’ve cleaned up.   Seriously.   My wife had (past tense) a nice, white, decorative shower curtain with a separate plastic liner.  “I’ll be careful,” I thought.  This also goes for any bath mats and basically anything else that might take the dye.

Replace the nice towels you like with the ones you don’t and then if there’s a spill or something, you can wipe it up without drama.  These are item 7 on the “required” list.

Step 1:  Wash the gi.  I appreciate when I get clean gis, but you should still wash them.  Use the Synthrapol with no fabric softener.  It doesn’t smell great, but that’s the point.  No perfumes or other crap that could screw up your work.  You can dry it or not.  I typically don’t, but it’s no big deal either way (that I’ve seen).

splotchyStep 2:  Mix the dye.  If you are using urea, put a heaping Tbs into about a cup of warm (not hot) water and mix it to dissolve it.  Next, mix warm water (or the urea mix) into the dye powder.  I do a little at a time until I get a paste and then add a little more.

This is a critical step.  The first gi I dyed had red streaks and splotches (pictured left).  That’s because I didn’t get the dye completely mixed up.  Red is stubborn, so take your time with this step.

 

TIP:

blenderbottleTry using a Blender Bottle (or something like it.)  These are containers commonly used to mix/drink protein shakes.   They have a little metal ball inside them which is designed to break up the clumps.  They work great for mixing dye and will minimize the amount of dye powder you breathe.

CAUTION:

I’ve heard that people can develop a sensitivity over time to the dye powder, which is very fine.  If you’re sensitive to chemicals or want to be careful, consider wearing a mask or something for this part.

stirringupthesaltStep 3:  Dissolve the salt.  I put the vat directly into the tub, so that spills go there and not on the floor (if you’re lucky).  In your dye vat (the 18 gallon tub), put in about 12 gallons of lukewarm water and dissolve the salt into it.  I use my arm to mix the salt.  That way I can feel the salt in the bottom of the bin to make sure that it’s completely dissolved.  Don’t be a weenie.  It’s just warm, salt water.

Step 4:  Add the dye mixture.  This should be a piece of cake, as it’s completely dissolved from Step 3.  Just dump it in and swish it around to make sure it’s good and mixed up.  This is also the time to add the Calsolene Oil, if you choose to use it.  I usually do.

inthevat1Step 5:  Add the fabric and settle in for about 20 or so minutes.   Set a timer so you don’t have to guess. I usually swirl it around, pick it up and make sure that the folds and creases all get worked out so that it dyes evenly.

TIP:

Set up your laptop, tablet or smart phone somewhere in the bathroom where it’s well away from water, but visible from where you’ll be sitting.  Do this BEFORE you get started and put on a good, long BJJ related video and just let it run in the background.  You won’t want to touch it after you get the gloves on, and it will keep you happy while you’re agitating the fabric.  You’re going to be stirring regularly for about 1 1/2 hours, so plan accordingly.

sodaashStep 6:  Soda Ash/Sodium Carbonate.  Dissolve the soda ash into some warm water.  Use your stick to move the gi over to once side of the vat and then pour the soda ash a little at a time into the dye bath.  Don’t pour the soda ash directly onto the fabric, or you’ll get spots.  Also, take your time.  Do this over about 10 or 15 minutes, a little at a time.  Be careful with this part, because the soda ash generates a lot of heat when it’s dissolving.  You don’t want clumps here, either.  I use the fine mesh strainer as I pour it into the vat to make sure no clumps get into my vat.

inthevat2Step 7:  Settle in again.  Agitate and keep the gi moving pretty often over about 30 minutes.  Dharma recommends up to 1 hour for deep colors, but I’ve never done it for that long.

I don’t know about you, but at this point, I’m tired of stirring and this is where I’m tempted to rush things along.  Resist the temptation.  Remember, the soda ash, among other things, fixes the dye.  Give it a full 30 minutes, at least.

So, just relax and watch the video you’ve got playing.  I prefer tournament footage over instructional videos.  What about you?

prewashStep 8:  Clean up.  The dye isn’t harmful to the environment and since my vat is in the tub already, I just pour it directly down the drain (pictured left).  I would recommend not allowing anyone to see the tub in this condition.

Don’t panic!  Because you used good dye, it won’t stain and washes right up.  postwashSeriously.  A quick wash and rinse and it’s like it never happened.

Step 9:  Wash the Gi.  Okay.  Here’s my method.  First, I put the gi through a rinse cycle just to get out as much of the excess dye as I can.  After the rinse, I wash it with Synthrapol.

Finally, I wash it one more time the way I normally do.  I use whatever detergent my wife has bought and add 1/2 cup or so of White Vinegar to the rinse cycle.  Check this post out if you’re interested in my tips on keeping your gi from stinking.

I’ve posted pictures of the final product here: Brandon’s Kelly Green BJJ Gi.  Hopefully, this answers most of your questions.  If not, feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

I’m also interested in your tips and tricks.  If you do things a little different, I’d love to hear about it.

Tatami Fightwear Pin-Up Gi

 BJJ, Gi Reviews and Art, Merchandise, Uniforms  Comments Off on Tatami Fightwear Pin-Up Gi
Mar 302011
 

Pin Up Gi

Dayum.  This gi is really, really cool.  Evan Mannweiler’s design was the overall winner of the Crazy Ass Gi Contest a few months back, and it’s now being manufactured in a limited run.  So, check it out.  I ordered mine.

Click on the image above to go to Tatamifightwear’s website or use the direct link below:

http://www.tatamifightwear.com/product.php?id_product=147

 

 Posted by at 7:49 pm
Sep 292010
 

contest

Alright guys.  I did my part and now it’s time for you to do yours.  Go to the Tatami Fightwear facebook page and vote for your favorite.  There are three categories.  All you have to do is “like” the ones you like the best in each of three categories:  Ultimate (the Gi you think is so awesome it should be made), Funny (the Gi that made you snort liquid out of your nose and onto the keyboard), and Crazy (the Gi that, even though it would be pretty much impossible to manufacture, is just awesome).

The other judges and I have whittled the field from over 300 to just under 20 finalists. You have until October 12th.  The contest will end at that time.  I promise you that the winner will not raise your taxes. 

 

For more information, check it out here at the Contest blog

 Posted by at 8:09 pm
Sep 192010
 

2010-09-05_17-15-35_865

I was promoted to purple belt two weeks ago, and still can’t really believe it.  I don’t really know what to say about it other than that it didn’t improve my game at all.  I’m still working on the same stuff I was as a blue belt.  But that’s neither here nor there.

I’m very proud to be training in BJJ and, in particular, to be training at Foster BJJ.

What is interesting to me is that I have reacted completely differently to this promotion than the last one.  I really look forward to getting back to class and working out.  I’m sure that this has something to do with the fact that my back has been feeling pretty good lately, so I’ve been getting in consistently three days every week, and sometimes four.

In other news, I’ve dyed a few gis, and figured something out that, if I weren’t a little slow, is really pretty obvious.  When you dye fabric in hot water, the heat from the water will affect the wax.  Duh.

I’ve described batik a few times here before.  Basically, batik is the process of painting or drawing with melted wax directly onto fabric.  Melted wax is drippy, of course, and it bleeds into the fabric kind of like a magic marker can sometimes bleed into paper.  So, there’s a knack to making clean lines, avoiding drips and getting the wax where you want it without having it end up where you don’t want it.

2010-09-11_18-55-01_105

So, I was REALLY stoked after doing the green lantern symbol.  I had the wax at a good, consistent temperature the entire time.  It looks like it had penetrated the fabric really well.  My lines were super clean and crisp and it was going to look badass!  You can see in the picture to the right that the design is very clear.  This was taken just after the initial dunk in the dye bath.

2010-09-12_07-37-05_366

This is the final product.  At first, I couldn’t figure out what happened.  It looked so good, but then the wax just sort of wandered away from where it was supposed to be.

I was pretty bummed.

The color I dyed the gi is Dark Green PR31 purchased from Dharma Trading.  The color looks great.  It’s a deep, solid green that reminds me of my old ‘74 Beetle painted British Racing Green.  Ultimately, I’m on the fence about whether I want to keep the design as it is, or put a patch over it.  One way or the other, it’s a good gi that I intend to keep myself.

In the end, I’m pretty excited.  As I said before, the wax application was tight and I’m very happy with that.  And now that I know that I need to dye in cold water, I expect a really good result on my next project.  I’m going to try a two color batik: the flash symbol.  It’s a yellow lightning bolt on a white circle.  And of course the bulk of the costume is red.  So, I’ll put wax on what I want to stay white, dye it yellow, then wax on the lightning bolt, and then dye it red.

I’ve never done anything like this before, so I think I’ll start by trying to do the design on a patch.  I’m confident that I can get the design clean and all of that.  What’s unknown right now for me is how the red dye will react to yellow fabric.  In other words, am I going to get a darker red because I’m dying on fabric that’s already yellow (which would be okay), or will it actually mix and end up orange (which would NOT be okay).

I’ll post some pics when I’m done.  I have Fire Red PR10 dye already, which I think I’ll use.  I ordered some Oxblood Red PR136 too.  I really haven’t decided yet. Both look good, but I kind of like the name Oxblood Red.  The yellow will be Bright Yellow PR2.

 Posted by at 9:18 am
Aug 232010
 

Our friend, Meerkatsu, over in the UK has this crazy-ass idea.  Since BJJ is all about the flair, and people who train in BJJ are obviously intelligent, creative people with questionable taste, why not have a contest in which everyone submits their own crazy-ass designs?  The best part is that the winner will actually get a gi in their design courtesy of Tatami Fightwear.

So far, over 100 entries have been received and more are coming all the time.  So, if you haven’t already done so, check out how to enter, which couldn’t be easier.  Download, print, or otherwise modify the template, and send your entry to Seymour (seymouryang at gmail dot com).  For inspiration, check out the Design Your Own Crazy-Ass Gi Facebook group (and join it), and have fun.  The crazier, the better.

I like to write and I’m actually pretty fair with my hands, but when you get me near a computer for art stuff, I’m very bad.  With that said, below are my three submissions:

Giderhosen:

The inspiration for this one is pretty clear.  Bavarian Jiu Jitsu in the house.

The Villian’s Gi:

This one’s pretty simple.  Black, because someone has to be the bad guy.  Target on the back because there’s always someone gunning for you.

The Butcher’s Gi:

I just thought it would be cool to have a gi inspired by the butcher’s diagrams, where you see the different cuts of meat.  The thought of rolling with “Bacon” written in block letters on my stomach and “Fatback” on my back just makes me smile.

Have fun and I’ll look forward to seeing all of your designs online.

 Posted by at 8:33 am
Aug 152010
 

Griff asked me to dye a gi for him.  Griff is a purple belt who trains up in Ballard at Ballard BJJ, a Gracie Barra affiliate run by black belt Micah Reyes.  He had a white Lucky brand gi that he wanted black and, after the requisite disclaimers like, “Dude, I might really screw it up… are you okay with that?” I told him I’d take a stab at it.

I’ve been reluctant to try black for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s a relatively common color for BJJ gis anyway.  Second, it’s a tough color to dye.  While you might think that black is just really dark gray, it’s not quite that simple.  In fact, most “black” dyes are actually more of a dark blue or purple than a gray.  Ultimately, my fears were justified.  I’ve still got some work to do on the black.  It’s not bad.  In fact, I think it looks pretty cool.  It’s just… not black.

The dye I used is a Procion MX Fiber Reactive dye purchased from Dharma Trading Company.  Specifically, I used 8 oz of Jet Black dye (PR250), and doubled the amount of salt I used, too.  Overall, I’m happy with the color in that it looks good (in my opinion), and I think it would pass muster at an IBJJF event, although I might not bet money on it.  I’m not happy with the quality of the black, but that’s half the fun of this stuff for me is seeing how the different colors work out, what they do and what they look like in real life.  Nothing beats experience.

The only other thing I’m not happy about is that there was something on the pants.  I wash all of the gis I get with this industrial detergent, but any kind of oils, fabric softener or stains in the fabric can make it hard for the gi to take the dye.  Not sure what was on the pants, but there’s just one spot.  It shows up actually way better in the photo than in real life, but it’s noticeable.  Overall, it’s a hand dyed gi, so some stuff like that is to be expected, but again, I’m kind of a perfectionist and it irritates me that it isn’t exactly what I wanted.

Oh, and one last thing. Griff’s a big guy.  This is an A6, so… yeah… I put the top on for a few quick pictures and it’s huge on me.  I didn’t even bother getting a belt out.  It’s just huge.

 

 Posted by at 7:26 pm
Aug 072010
 

IMG_1337Brits, for some reason, seem to be among the most prolific BJJ bloggers around.  Between Seymour over at Meerkatsu, Matt with Grappling Dummy and Scramble, and Can and his Slideyfoot blog, it’s easy to keep up with what’s going on over in the UK.  So, when I saw pics and reviews of a new gi being produced by Tatami Fightwear, I was jealous.  I thought that a company producing gear for Europe would be pretty well inaccessible here in the States.  By the time it gets shipped and all of that, it just wouldn’t be worth it.  Turns out, I was wrong. 

This review is intended to supplement, but in no way replace Meerkatsu’s excellent review, so for more information be sure to check out his blog.

Disclaimer:  I purchased this gi from Tatami Fightwear at a discount specifically for review.  I’m not currently sponsored by them and this review is a reflection of my own opinions of the gi. 

tatamiThe Zero G Gi is available in both men’s and women’s sizes.  The model I purchased is available for £63, which, at the time I’m writing this review, is about $78.27.  Shipping is going to run between $20 and $30 for a gi.  Again, it just really depends on the exchange rate at the time. 

A cool feature of the Tatami Fightwear website is that it can automatically convert the currency, so there’s no question how much you’re spending, whether it’s Euros, Pounds or US Dollars.  Just click on the currency symbol in the top left corner of the page and all prices, including your shopping cart are converted for you.  

General Impressions:

The gi is VERY lightweight.  The entire gi weighs just a hair over 3 lbs.  This gi is manufactured in Pakistan for the Tatami Fightwear company.

When I pulled it out of the package, the first thing that jumped out at me was the flair.  The patches are a bright blue, and stand out from the crowd.  The second thing I noticed was how light the pants are.  They’re very soft and light, like pajama pants (no kidding).  The first time I wore the gi, it got a lot of attention.  In a group of guys wearing Bad Boys, Atamas, Gameness, Venum and the rest of the current group of lighter weight gis, the blue patches and other graphics really made the Tatami Zero G stand out, without, IMO, being too loud.  

Weight and Fit:

I’m 5’10” tall and about 185 lbs.  I have a long torso and short legs (30” inseam).  I have a wingspan of approximately 72”. 

Most gi manufacturers recommend washing their products in cold water and line drying.  This might work well in a place like Brazil, where the sun is hot and the UV rays will kill the bacteria.  In Seattle, that just doesn’t work.  I don’t like stinky clothes so I try to purchase gis big, anticipating greater than normal shrinkage.  I wash my gis every time the same way.  I wash in warm water, cold rinse, and dry them completely in a very hot dryer.  I purchase the gis specifically anticipating maximum shrinkage, so with only a very few exceptions, I tend to buy an A3 for my size. 

According to the Tatami size and fit chart, an A3 will fit a guy 5’10” to 6’ tall and between 193 and 220 lbs.  This is true.  I’ve been burned buying A2s in the past, but in this case, an A2 would fit me perfectly.  Ultimately, the A3 Tatami Zero G was too big for me. 

One of my teammates is a big guy.  He’s about 5’11” and weighs about 210 lbs, and this gi fits him perfectly after multiple washings. 

GI DIAGRAM

  Pre-Wash (Inches) Post-Wash (Inches)
A 69 66
B 32.5 30
C 23 22
D 7 6 3/4
E 39 35 1/2
F 9 1/2 9
G 29 26
     

Jackets:

IMG_1345The weave is pretty typical of what you’ll find with other gis in this family.  It’s a light, but sturdy weave that holds up well to the rigors of grappling and grip fighting.

IMG_1343For me, the fit of the A3 was big.  As I said before, I didn’t trust the size chart… but I should have.  At my size, an A2 would be a good fit.   

  The cuffs are well reinforced and sturdy with what looks like heavy canvas stripping.  It’s a finishing touch that wasn’t common a few years ago, but is pretty much standard any more. 

The jacket has a tapered cut, and looks sharp.  

Patches and stitching are dominated by a blue color scheme.  The location and size of the patches is pretty standard, but the motif makes this gi stand out from the crowd.

Pictures of the various patches and embroidery are below.

    IMG_1331 IMG_1332 IMG_1333 IMG_1334

Pants/Trousers:

The pants are super light, reminiscent of SYR pants.  They’re soft cotton and feature some of the blue zero G patches.  My only reservation about the entire gi is that I wonder if the pants are too light.  These will certainly work well for competition, but I’m not sure how long these will hold up in steady training.  To me, this isn’t a quality issue as much as it’s an unavoidable trade off between lightweight design and sturdiness.  Something’s got to give. 

And just to be clear, I’m not saying that these pants won’t hold up.  I am, however, curious about it.  It’s really the only question mark I can see and something that can only be answered over time.  I’ll tell you what, though.  As long as they last, they are very, very comfortable.

IMG_1338The drawstring is a stretchy rope material, which doesn’t get bunched. up.  There are two loops to keep it in place.  The stretchiness of the rope is something I’ve not seen before.  It actually works really well, and keeps the pants from getting loose while rolling.

IMG_1339

The knees are reinforced but the cuffs aren’t given a lot of attention.  Once again, the pants are lightweight and built to be so, rather than for durability. 

Below are some pictures of the patches that can be found on the pants.

 

IMG_1327 IMG_1328 IMG_1329  

Conclusion:

Overall:  4 out of 5

The gi is sharp and light.  If you’re looking for a quality, competition gi, this one will definitely fit the bill.  This is particularly true if you’re competing at tournaments that require you to weigh in while wearing your gi, such as at IBJJF tournaments. 

Design:  5 out of 5

The look and feel is terrific.  This is a good looking gi that’s tailored well.  It’s going to get some attention, without being as overt as other gis that are all flaired out. 

Durability: 3 out of 5

At this point, this is really a question mark for me.  The jacket is well made and looks to be on par with many much more expensive kimonos.  The pants are really what I don’t know about and why I gave the Zero G a 3 in this category.  Ultimately, it’s about weight and cut and being IBJJF legal, and this gi does those things.  If you’re looking at something that’s going to hold up to day to day training, I might look at one of the other models offered by Tatami or elsewhere.

Value:  4 out of 5

Again, if you’re looking for a competition gi that’s super light, looks good and is legal at IBJJF competitions, this is a great deal.  If you live in the States, it’s going to cost you a little more for shipping, which is the only reason I couldn’t give this gi a 5 in this category.  But 4 is very, very good, and at approximately $110 including delivery, this gi is a very good deal.

 Posted by at 11:02 am
Jul 182010
 

IMG_1165 IMG_1324Okay.  I’ve wanted one of these for a long time.  I like the new, lightweight generation of BJJ gis coming out, and Bad Boy is old school, up there with Vulkan and Atama.  When they came out with the Bad Boy Pro Series Lightweight Gi, I was all like, “Damn.  I have to get one.”  Then I saw the price tag and was just like, “Damn.”  So, I bought a Gameness Feather, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite gis.  It’s lightweight, affordable, well made and… well, I dyed mine Wedgewood Blue, which makes my BJJ like 10x better.

But two things happened.  First, I saw what a terrific job Seymour is doing reviewing gis on his blog.  His thorough and honest reviews have inspired me.  Second, MMAOutlet.com offered me a discount in exchange for some link love, and hopefully some referrals and business their way.  I felt like karma had swept in and given me a big smooch on the lips, practically  begging me to buy the more expensive gi and find out whether it’s truly worth the hype. 

The Gameness Feather is manufactured in Pakistan, while the Bad Boy is made in Brazil. 

Disclaimer and Pricing:

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not sponsored by Bad Boy or Gameness.  I purchased both gis with my own money, although I got the Bad Boy Pro Series Lightweight Gi at a discount.  The following is a full and honest review of the gis.    As of the posting of this review, these gis are both available from MMAOutlet.com.  The Bad Boy for $199.95 plus s&h and the Gameness for $124.99.  Another gi in this lightweight family is the Vulkan Pro Light.

Weight and Fit:

I’m 5’10” tall and about 185 lbs.  I have a long torso and short legs (30” inseam).  I have a wingspan of approximately 72”.  I am measuring the Bad Boy gi both before AND after washing.  The Gameness Feather has been washed several times.  It’s likely that the Bad Boy will shrink a bit more, although I believe based on experience, that this will be relatively minimal.  Both Gis are A3. 

I wash my gis every time the same way.  I wash in warm water, cold rinse, and dry them completely in the dryer.  I purchase the gis specifically anticipating maximum shrinkage, so with only a very few exceptions, I tend to buy an A3 for my size. 

I’m not including weight for these gis, because at the time of this writing, I just don’t have a scale that’s accurate enough to weigh them.  I’ll update this review when I’m able to weight them.  Also, in the chart below, I’ve included measurements for the Bad Boy out of the bag, as well as after washing twice.  I didn’t measure the Gameness Feather out of the bag, so obviously, I can’t include them in this review. 

GI DIAGRAM

  Gameness Pearl Bad Boy Pro Series  
Weight (lbs)      
Measurements (Inches) Post Wash Pre/Post Wash  
A 62.5” 68”/64”  
B 30.5” 32”/31”  
C 20” 20”/19”  
D 7” 7”/7”  
E 38.5” 38.5”/37.5”  
F 10” 9.5”/9”  
G 27” 29”/27”  

Jackets:

IMG_1290 IMG_1323 The weave is remarkably similar.  It’s a soft weave that’s comfortable and lightweight.  Both feel strong.  Having worn both, I’ll say that the Gameness seems to expand a bit when sweaty, while the Bad Boy remains tighter.  Not a strong knock against the Gameness, but the nod is for the Bad Boy. 

Fit is comparable, with both being comfortable and plenty big for me, even after washing in warm water and drying completely in the dryer.  The jackets are both well constructed and durable. 

IMG_1321 The cuffs are both reinforced well, and I think that both will stand up well to the rigors of gripfighting.  You can see on the left that the Gameness Feather gi is finished with a trim patch matching the trim on the outside bottom of the jacket.  This is a nice finishing touch that was present in the Gameness Pearl as well.  I don’t know whether anyone really notices it or not, but it’s nice to have.

The Bad Boy is reinforced with what looks like heavy canvas stripping.  It has a much more substantial feel.

 

Collars:

The collars are approximately the same thickness with the slightly thicker one being the Gameness Feather.  

IMG_1317

IMG_1326The Gameness Feather features a rubberized collar with ripstop fabric, which might be marginally lighter.  It’s noticeably spongier when you squish it.  Many gi manufacturers have gone to using some kind of lightweight, rubber material in the lapels so that they’re lighter and dry faster. 

The Bad Boy collar is MUCH stiffer, made, if I understand the sales verbiage correctly, of some kind of rolled cotton (“lapel that is filled with the same high-quality material of which the Gi itself is made.”)  The end result is a tougher feel, and a more traditional look.  The collar fabric is also a more traditional canvas, rather than the newer, trendier, ripstop fabric.  Will it make you harder to choke?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I think that the sponginess of the Gameness gi will make it a little easier to grip.

Pants/Trousers:

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The pants both have two drawstring loops, with a flat, fabric style drawstring (as opposed to a rope style like the SYR and older Gameness pants use).  The Bad Boy pants are slightly heavier.

 

 

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IMG_1305The fabric in the Gameness Feather is ripstop.  It’s very different, however, from other ripstop pants I’ve seen, such as the Atama Mundial 7 and 9 paints.  While the Atama ripstop fabric is soft, the Gameness Feather pants are stiff.  Is this a bad thing?  I really don’t know.  It just is, I guess.  They’re really wrinkly and stiff, but also very light.  The knees are reinforced.   

The Bad Boy pants are a light canvas material.  Much softer than the Gameness, they’re more of what you’d expect to find in BJJ gi pants with heavily reinforced seams, knees and other stress points. 

The cuffs of the trousers are noticeably different in that the Gameness pants are finished at the bottom, but not really reinforce, while the Bad Boy pants don’t look like they’re going to ever wear out.

Patches and Stitching

Both gis feature some requisite pieces of Flair.

IMG_1296IMG_1297The Gameness Feather features several patches.  There’s a new design on each shoulder with what looks like a stylized “G” and some block letters. 

On the chest, there’s a lapel patch which is pretty familiar to anyone who’s seen the Gameness Single Weave or Platinum Weave gis that have been around for years.  The thing is, this lapel patch really doesn’t match, and was mercifully absent from the Gameness Pearl designs.    I had intended to remove it when I purchased the gi, but decided to keep it only because I wasn’t sure I could get the patch off cleanly.  It’s stitched very close to the seam on the collar, and I was going to have to cut the fabric on the patch to get it off.   After dying it, I still don’t like it, but I like it a whole lot better. 

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 Other patches include the small patch on the left that features the Gameness Bulldog logo, and the trim patches also seen on the left and inside the cuffs on the jacket.  It’s a nice touch inside the sleeves that finished the seam and also reinforces it. 

That’s it for the Feather.  Unlike on other Gameness gis, the ripstop pants that come with the Gameness Feather are absent any bling.

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The Bad Boy Pro Series Lightweight gi features a much more coherent graphics scheme than the Gameness.  I mean, there’s consistent repetition of only one version of the company logo, and it looks like some thought was given to the entire process, creating a much less haphazard appearance.  It’s also very clean looking, without too much going on.  The overall effect is professional looking with enough branding that it’s easy to see. 

The picture above left is along the bottom edge of the jacket, with a trim patch that finishes the jacket and a small logo patch.  Above right is a picture of the shoulder patch.  All three patches feature the Badboy eye logo with the company name in block print. 

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The pants have three patches, including trim along the outside seams that matches the jacket trim, a small square patch (above middle) that is on the front towards the top of the pants, and an embroidered patch of the eye logo that is down at the bottom of the right leg. 

The patches on both gis seem to be sewn on well. 

Conclusion

Bottom line is that the Bad Boy is clearly a better made gi in every category.  The verbiage on the websites evokes images of little old ladies sitting in a big room, hand sewing each Bad Boy gi with needle and thread, and maybe a little love, too.  Obviously, that ain’t the case, but you can see that every seam is straight and clean, every panel is reinforced and well thought out.  The whole thing just feels well constructed.   I like the lines of it, and the sharp looking patches are enough to look good without being gaudy.  If you can afford to spend the dough on a Bad Boy gi, you won’t be disappointed.  The only issue I have with my Bad Boy is what color to dye it.   I’m thinking fire engine red. 

The Gameness represents good value for the money.  While the stitching isn’t quite as clean, the seams aren’t quite as well reinforced, and the graphics aren’t quite as well thought out, at more than 1/3rd less cost, it’s a very good gi for the money. 

Both Gis are available from MMAOutlet.com

 Posted by at 12:17 am