Finding an inexpensive, quality bjj gi can be difficult when you are just starting out in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The task can daunting as there are literally hundreds of gis on the market these days. You likely don’t have any idea which stand above the rest and which you should avoid. We’ve compiled the best budget beginner gis (aka kimonos) so that you won't break the bank and neither will your uniform. These gis are not cheap, but they offer an excellent price and quality and will last you for years to come.
What are the best cheap bjj gis for beginners? We recommend the FUJI BJJ All Around, the Tatami Nova, and the Kingz Basic 2.0. Below you will find our review of these three top contenders which we believe make great choices for your first bjj gi. We focused in on style, comfort, durability and of course value. Of course, you don't have to take our opinion as gospel. We also offer you some tips in finding a solid and affordable beginners gi.
The All Around by Fuji is our choice for the most versatile utility gi at an affordable price point. Frankly, this gi is not only for beginners and should be in everyone’s regular rotation. Go into any gym today and you are sure to see someone using this gi. A part of FUJI’s Victory Line, this gi is ready to roll from the start and essentially requires no break in time. The FUJI has a medium weight for a single weave. The lapel is a standard medium stiffness and is very durable.
This single weave gi offers awesome fit and comfort. What is nice about the pants is that the reinforcement extend from the top of the knee to the bottom of the pant, which is not common for a “budget” gi. The All Around takes a classic, minimalist approach in its design and is available in five colors: white, black, navy, blue and pink. FUJI also include two patches if you are inclined to add some flair.
The Tatami Nova is a common choice for a first BJJ gi and for good reason. Designed by Tatami (a UK Brand started in 2009), the Nova is a classic gi that takes a plain vanilla approach. It features reinforced stitching in the arms and interior in all the standard places. The pant uses the normal double knee reinforcement. The jacket is comfortable, easy to move in and breathes great. Note that Nova is not currently preshrunk, so allow for some shrinkage.
Like many other lighter gis, the lapel is rubberized (as opposed to foam) meaning its resistant to bacteria and dries much quicker than a standard collar. The gi jacket features two branded patches across the shoulders and a small patch on the pants.
Weighing in at 425gsm, the Nova also works great as a travel gi.
The Kingz Basic 2.0 is a classic gi great for new grapplers. Kingz Kimonos is a well-respected brand known for its sponsorship of some of the best jiu-jitsu competitors such as Leonardo Leo. This model is reminiscent of the classic Nova gis with only a few less sizing and design options. It's definitely a “fancy” gi for your first purchase. The gi jacket has simple branded patches on the shoulders and the Kingz logo on the back.
The Jacket is made of a single piece 100% cotton pearl weave meaning its comfortable and relatively light. The lapel is constructed with a heat-resistant vulcanized rubber allowing for durability and quick drying. The pants are a good drill cotton that is quite soft.
Kingz Kimonos offers 12 sizes: including L (long) and H (husky) sizes. This gi will shrink about five to ten percent if you use a dryer, so be careful with the sizing. The gi comes in three colors: white, black and blue. It also comes with a free white belt.
The Kingz Basic 2.0 kimono matches excellent quality and comfort and is great for beginners who are looking for a durable gi for many years.
When you are looking for you a good beginners gi, we think you should take the following factors into consideration: size, budget and color. Of course, there are many other factors to consider, but these will get in the right direction.
Always check the sizing chart of the particular model you are considering. More importantly, remember that gi sizes are not universal. Generally, BJJ companies use the A letter and number combination to denote the size. See the FUJI Gi Chart below as an example. The wearer’s weight and height correspond to the sizing grade. Remember that one brand’s A1 may be slightly different than another brand’s A1. If you see an L next to the size (as in A1L), this means that the length of the pant and sleeves extend for taller players.
The last trick to finding the right size is to research the extent to which the gi shrinks after laundry washes. Most companies pre-wash/pre-shrink their gis and size them accordingly. Of course, your mileage will vary from company to company. Some BJJ practitioners always wash their gis in the dryer while others always hang dry. This will depend on personal preference and the particular gi. Our recommendation is that you start air drying your first gi for a couple of uses to see how it breaks in. Its normal for a gi to feel stiff if you hang dry it. If you find that the fit is snug and tight, you may not want to toss it in the dryer as you run the risk of shrinking it.
Years ago you could wear any color gi you wanted provided it was white, like Henry Ford’s Model T. These days there is a multitude of colors you can select. From our experience, as a BJJ newbie you probably should not come in with the most radical color you can find with 30 patches sewn on. To help you select the best color, we suggest your observe your gym culture. Does the gym have a strict code of GI color or type? Is everyone wearing white? In some gyms colors matter, at others people could care less. If you cannot decide on your color choice, we think you should go with classic white or blue. However, it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
If this is the first time you are rolling on the mats, our recommendation is that you take it slow. Do not spend hundreds of dollars on a uniform if you don’t know if jiu jitsu is your hobby or sport. The worst feeling is spending a ton a cash on a hobby that you drop in two or three months. You should assess your budget and find the price point where you will be OK if you never put on the kimono ever again. That said, we believe that your first gi should be reliable and stay in your gi rotation for years to come. This means that you should not find the cheapest gi you come across because it just will not last.
Gis from Karate and Taekwondo are not suitable for bjj or grappling in general. These gis are made of light cotton and will not withstand the wear and tear necessary in brazilian jiu jitsu. One exception to this rule is the Judogi. We don’t recommend using a judogi if you are just starting out. Current Judo competition rules require judogis to be looser and baggy, which means your training partners will have an easier time grabbing you which will make your life a little harder. Of course, there are a few well known BJJ players who have competed at high levels in judogis, but do not recommend for your first time on the mat.