5 Gi Features That Can Give You An Advantage

A gi will not improve your skills on the mat. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hand-me-down from Buchecha himself or the uberest uber Guma Shoyoroll gi.

That said, there are certain features that can give a practitioner a tactical advantage.

One of the writing hats that I wear is as a gi reviewer.  My primary outlet for reviews is www.gireviews.net, and I’m fortunate enough to have worn around 55 gis, most for reviews.  When shopping for a gi, there are some seemingly minor details that can make all the difference in the tactical advantages and disadvantages that the gi provides:


The weight of a gi determines how easy it is to grip and it can determine how many extra pounds you need to cut.  A lighter gi is generally easier to grip than a heavier gi. Also, depending on the venue, gis can help with body temperature. If you’re in an overly air conditioned venue, a thinner gi won’t let you warm up as well. On the other hand, if you’re in stifling heat, the lighter the better.


For competition purposes, it’s generally suggested to get the tightest fitting gi legal for that competition.  This helps in presenting the fewest possible grips to your opponent.  For this reason, I recommend shopping around and seeing brands’ size charts.  You want to be at the upper limits of the size you wear, but still within those limits.  However, in some rare instances, people prefer a baggier fit.  The reason for this is that that baggy fabric will provide you with extra grips on your own clothing that you can use against an opponent.

Hidden Fabric 

Certain brands hide ripstop in the sleeves of their gis, either as the entire sleeve or an inch or two from the cuff.  Similarly, some brands cleverly hide seam tape or ripstop beyond the lapel making lapel grips more difficult to obtain.  Sometimes gi brands hide gi material in the crotch gusset or in the knees for padding.  Hidden fabric will present opponents with unexpected difficulty in obtaining grips, a tactical advantage.

Lapel Thickness

A lapel that is too thin will potentially cut into your neck, causing discomfort and allowing for easier choke setups.  On the other side of things, a lapel that is too stiff will start choking you before your opponent ever sinks their grips.


Yes this is a feature that you should bear in mind when picking your competition uniform.  My favorite gis are soft on the inside and extremely abrasive on the outside.  The idea is that I should be as comfortable as possible while it should hurt my opponent to touch me.

These are just 5 gi features that can actually affect your performance.  In a game of inches, inches of fabric can in fact make all the difference.  What are some features that you value in your gis?


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