Tatami Jiu Jitsu Tee

 Merchandise  Comments Off on Tatami Jiu Jitsu Tee
Jun 022012

A very comfortable Jiu Jitsu t-shirt, from one of the most legit jiu jitsu brands.

Tatami Jiu Jitsu Tee $12

And if it sells out quick, you can always pick up cool jiu jitsu shirts on MAS including 31FIFTY Project, Manto and Arte Suave.

Get yours before it’s sold out!

 Posted by at 9:00 pm
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:


PR66 aka Kelly Green. 


Above is the gi before going into the dye vat.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.



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.


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.


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:



 Posted by at 7:49 pm
Sep 292010


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
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:


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 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. 


  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


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


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.


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  


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
Jun 272010

I actually made it to four classes last week.  I’m sore but feeling good, and it was great to train so often.  I’m hoping to dye my new Vulkan Pro Light gi this morning, and perhaps I’ll get it done so that I can wear it to class this afternoon.  Maybe not…  we’ll see how motivated I am.  I’m going to dye this one Pewter, which is going to be a lighter color.  On a scale of one to Orange Crush, this is going to be more subtle.

I also picked up a couple yards of white canvas material and am going to play around with making some patches.  I’m going to start by experimenting more with Batik, but also have some fabric paints I’m interested in playing with, too.  I have no formal training in art, so all of the stuff I’m doing is completely based upon what meager instructions I can find on the internet and making it up as I go.  As a result, I’m pretty stressed out about messing up someone’s gi (or my own).  I’m confident that I can dye a gi one color and do a nice job.  I’m not as confident in the end result with the art images.  Working with patches will allow me to make mistakes and be a lot less stressed out. 

Back to training, we worked some good stuff.  Bill showed us a tripod sweep and I picked up a detail on the grips.  Here’s a video I found on YouTube of the basic sweep:

In this video, the guy is doing it basically the same way I’ve done it, which is to get the same side grip.  But my problem is that my opponent NEVER falls as conveniently as this guy’s uke.   Don’t get me wrong.  This sweep is money.  I just tend to roll up into my opponent’s half guard.  Sometimes, I can kneeslide into a modified scarf hold, but against a competent opponent, I get hung up in his legs or worse, in his guard. 

Bill suggested switching my grip to the other hand, if possible.  If you can switch the grips, it basically stacks that side, with me controlling both his foot and his hand, and then it’s really easy to slide right into 100 kilos/side control. 

I’ve been having some success with the turtle techniques shown by Giva at the grand opening seminar.  I really like the choke. I’m not setting it in quite right yet, but it’s a good choke I’m definitely adding to the toolbox. 

Lots of sparring.  I got to spend some quality time rolling with Bing on Wednesday, which was good, and rolled a lot with a bunch of people I seldom get to roll with.  That was good, too.  I’m really trying to shake my game up, and I can see some positive effects already.  I’m starting to look for the kneebars and ankle locks a little more, working on staying active instead of settling in, and trying to start each roll from a different position, to avoid falling entirely into familiar patterns. 

Last thing, Scramble is taking pre orders for the Newaza Hoody.  I really like Matt’s designs and the lack of skulls and death heads on his stuff.  Check it out.  He’s offering a 10% discount to all of my readers, coupon code “stevebjj” so don’t forget to save yourself a few bucks. 


 Posted by at 8:35 am
Jun 052010

I purchased a Gameness Feather gi from Budovideos last week and like it quite a lot.  My favorite gi over the years has been the Gameness Pearl, so I was pretty sure I’d like this gi.  Of course, I didn’t know when I bought it that Budovideos was going to offer 15% off with a Mundials coupon code.  So, I took that as a sign that I should also buy the Vulkan Pro Light gi I’ve been wanting.

The Gameness Feather is a light gi very much like all of the others on the market right now.  It seems to be well made, with ripstop pants and a light but sturdy top.  I wasn’t a big fan of the front patch, but after ordering the Vulkan, I thought I’d go ahead and dye the gi to see how it turned out.  I used Wedgewood Blue that I bought from Dharma Trading a while back.

IMG_1165I really like how it turned out and I was pleasantly surprised at how the front patch took the dye.  The white around the Gameness script pops, but the patch as a whole took the color.  Otherwise, the gi dyed a nice, even color and I’m looking forward to wearing it to class. 

While dying the gi, I was watching the Mundial coverage from Budovideos on my netbook.  Good job, guys.  Switching the cameras was great, and the mix of matches was much better than last time.  I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and the finals. 

If you haven’t watched it yet, you’re still in luck.  Beginning tomorrow morning at 9am Pacific, you can watch live, streaming coverage of the Mundial finals.  During the finals, they go down from 10 mats to just one, so the coverage should be comprehensive.  I’m really looking forward to it.

 Posted by at 9:20 pm