Choosing a GI can be a daunting task especially when there are so many different types, and each one made from a different type of BJJ GI Weave. The weave refers to the cotton material that a BJJ GI jacket is made from (The trousers/pants are usually made from a different type of material).
Below we will outline the main type of BJJ GI Weaves and explain the pros and cons for each one.
Single weave cotton is classed as the basic weave as it is used on many entry-level GIs. This is mainly due to the price of the material being cheaper and the fact that it shrinks a bit more when compared to some of the other weaves available.
Do not be put off by this as in my opinion it is still a very good material and one not to be overlooked. The material itself is relatively lightweight and very comfortable to train in. Single weave GIs tend to be soft and supple because the weave structure is a bit looser than for example a pearl weave which has a tighter weave structure.
Some say that they are not as durable as some of the other available weaves and this might be the case but I still have a couple of single weave GIs that I have had for over 7 years that are still going strong so they can be durable.
Gold weave used to be the most sought-after material to make a GI from but because of the rising cost of the material and the development and rise in popularity of pearl weave, it fell down the pecking order when companies were choosing a material for their GIs.
In the last few years, it seems to have had a resurgence with companies now having a standalone gold weave model and some even going as far as to just use gold weave for all their GIs. The reason that it is still a much sought-after material is that it is very durable and comfortable to train in and due to the thickness of the material it can be harder to grip than a thinner weave like a single or a pearl.
Another reason that companies moved away from using it was that it tends to shrink quite a bit more than a tighter weave like a pearl weave. This can be a positive or a negative depending on if you want to shrink the GI to fit.
At least 80% of the current Jiu Jitsu GI for sale are made from pearl weave. This is because It’s cheaper to buy than gold weave, it comes in a variety of weights, hardly shrinks and is VERY durable. What more could you want from a weave?
You would be forgiven for thinking that all pearl weaves are created equal. They are not. Like any material or product, there is good and bad. A good pearl weave will have the attributes that I have mentioned above and will also be soft and supple. Inferior pearl weave GIs are stiff, rough and horrible to train in. This is due to the tightness of the weave and how it’s made at the factory.
One possible downside of Pearl weave is that it hardly shrinks. If you needed to shrink the GI to fit and it only needs to come down a little bit, you would be ok but if you needed to shrink it by quite a bit then you would be better choosing another weave.
The double weave is double the thickness of a single weave hence the name. They tend to be very heavy. It used to be the go-to material when companies were making a tournament GI. The reason being was that it was a nightmare to grip. This was due to the sheer thickness and stiffness of the material.
In recent years tournament GIs have gone completely the other way and are now very lightweight with most tournament GIs weighing around 1.2-1.4kg. Athletes are now trying to get the best possible advantage by cutting weight and fighting at their lowest possible weight class.
Another reason that companies stopped using double weave cotton was that it is very expensive to produce. Even more expensive than a gold weave. With the growing market for thicker GIs and more people crossing over from Judo I expect the double weave to have a bit of a resurgence like gold weave had in the last few.
Ripstop had a bit of a boom a few years back, but it is now mostly used just for the GI trouser material and some grappling shorts. Some companies still use it for the GI jacket, but they are normally marketed as either a summer GI ideal for warm weather training or as a travel GI as they are very lightweight and easy to pack.
The main benefit of ripstop is that is incredibly lightweight. Even more so than say a 350 pearl weave (the current gold standard for ultralight GIs) so it used to get marketed as a comp GI. Most companies have moved away from selling them because it was banned as a GI jacket material by most of the major tournaments (IBJJF included) and because some wearers do not like the waxy feel of the material on their skin. It’s worth noting that not all ripstop feels like this, but the majority tends to.
It’s a bit of a marmite material you either love it or hate it.
CUSTOM BJJ GI WEAVES
Some companies advertise their very own special or custom weave and they range in name from honeycomb, platinum, hyper, crystal and various other names. They all claim to be unique but they will all fall into one of the above weaves and will in most cases look and perform identically.
GSM – GRAMS PER SQUARE METRE
It is worth mentioning that all of the above weaves come in various GSM weights. The GSM weight does not refer to the actual weight of the GI or material but the Grams per square metre (GSM) so as an example a 350 GSM pearl weave will be thinner and lighter in weight than a 550 GSM pearl weave. As a general rule of thumb, 350GSM Pearl is used on most ultralight tournament GIs, 450GSM Pearl is used on most premium all-purpose training GIs and 550GSM is used for heavyweight Premium GIs.
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS OR ADVICE
We hope that this has covered all everything that you wanted to know regarding BJJ GI weaves. If you have a question about something we have not covered or need help choosing the right GI weave for your next GI contact us via the contact page or by email: email@example.com.