5 Signs You Need to Retire Your Gi

My Blue OTM 420 Summer Lightweight Gi was the second gi I ever purchased way back in March 2012. It was easy to pack, durable, sporty, and fit my needs training needs. I wore this gi one to two times a week for the better part of the past 3.5 years and have had fond memories of getting tapped numerous times, getting promotional stripes, and learning new techniques while training in it. Unfortunately, there comes a time when a gi needs to be taken off active duty and placed in the reserves like the emergency 4th string practice squad quarterback on an NFL team. While the gi has lost its spot in my starting rotation, it still has sentimental value to me and it won’t be headed to the Good Will bin anytime soon. It will find a good home in my closet alongside my comic book collection.  Here were signs that my beloved OTM needed to be retired

The Gi smelled like the worst of me: Once the gi got a bit moist, it smelled pretty funky from all the times I wore and sweat in it. No amount of soaking in OxyClean and vinegar could get the funk out. I just started feeling unfresh and dirty when I wore the gi.

The Gi pants were already torn up and retired: The irony about the gi pants ripping is that they were called “rip stop.” After a year of service the gi pants ripped on the right ankle opening after somebody was playing delariva guard on me. I guess it is better it happened there than the crotch, but either way, the rip totaled the gi pants. Sure I might have been able to stitch it up, but I have limited sewing skills and it was an uneven rip.

The collars of the gi are ripped to shreds: Maybe it is from washing it so often or from training partners continually pulling and grabbing on the collars with little regard for maintaining the original integrity and condition of the gi. After 3.5 years, the collars are worn down with numerous tears running down each side of the collars. While one can say the tears add character to the gi, others will say its time for a new gi.

Its discolored and looks old: I am guesstimating that I have worn this gi around 275 times in the past 3.5 years and washed each time. I have underwear and t-shirts that have suffered less abuse than this gi. After most washings, I left the gi out to air dry in the Southern California sun which led to the gi faded from its strong and bold blue color to its now weak pewter like existence. The color of the collar and the gi fabric were once the same, but now you can distinguish the shades of blue between the two.

I feel a bit homeless when I wear it: Some people hang onto gis the way they hold onto tour t-shirts of their favorite bands like your friend’s dad that still rocks the 1989 Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour t-shirt he bought when the Stones played Shea Stadium. The shirt is a tad too tight, the silk screening has faded, but the memories of ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Wild Horses’ are still fresh. I love the gi, but it makes me feel old, cheap, and broken. The gi deserves a happy retirement free from getting pulled in every direction, continously drowned in the washer and laid out to burn in the sun.


    • I’d have to disagree with this article, just like used belts, I feel like a GI who is very used and old, is a great thing to be proud of. It’s a testimony of all this time of hardwork, blood sweat and tears on the mats. Wear it till it’s dead I’d say.

      • I beg to differ a bit, if I may.
        I only use my first Gi, i havent bought another yet; I would certainly wear it until it becomes impractical to continue, but I also would like to have enough left of it to assign it a special space in my house.
        I wouldnt want to wear it so much so that I can’t distinguish the brand of my academy or distinguish specific rips that tell unique stories of how the happened.

  1. As a brasileiro I take a lot of pride in my GI. Growing up in the favela Santa Ana you never had more than one gi. I had no food or water, but I had my GI.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here