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Tips On Your First Gear And Instructional

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So you’re thinking about starting to train Jiu Jitsu, or maybe you just signed up and you need to buy a Gi.  Before we dive into the how to, in case you are still on the fence about going to a trial class, or signing up in general, let’s walk through that a little bit.  

It can be scary, while most of you reading this will likely argue that you are not scared, you are tough enough, but you are just trying to “justify the cost” or maybe “find time”.  Look, it’s ok to be scared. The thing about training Jiu Jitsu is that it makes you realize how much of a tough guy you aren’t right now, and then by the time you become an actual tough guy you have stopped caring about that in the first place, so in the end, there is no point in letting this fear be a roadblock. 

The Jiu Jitsu academy you choose should be welcoming and friendly and helpful as you embark on this new journey.  You may start out feeling very alone on day one, but I would bet that you won’t feel alone at all by the time you leave your first day.  Generally speaking, Jiu Jitsu is a rather welcoming community. Remember, once you commit, your goals become our goals and we will always push you to be the best version of yourself.  While it is tough at times, it is hands down my favorite thing about Jiu Jitsu.

Now that we have you convinced to sign up, or at least take the first step of going to check out your local academy, let’s dive into how to buy a Gi and some things to look out for before you go spending a bunch of money.  The goal is to give you the insight you need to purchase the right gear the first time so that you are not wasting money.  

Starting with the Gi.  The Gi is the uniform that many martials arts require and consists of a jacket, pants (typically drawstring) and a belt (get Custom Masuta Belts).  Not all Gi’s are created equally. A karate Gi is made of a much thinner material than a Jiu Jitsu Gi because in karate they do not have the need for the sturdy grip that we require in Jiu Jitsu.  Grabbing a karate Gi like a Jiu Jitsu Gi would likely result in the Gi tearing. This is important information, especially if you are simply looking online and trying to reasonable with the amount of money you are spending. 

Now that you know not to buy anything tilted “Gi” online, and to look for Jiu Jitsu or BJJ specific Gi’s let’s talk about brand.  When it comes to the brand of Gi you should always check with your academy, they may sell their own in house Gi’s, and if so, this process just got a lot easier for you.  If you are not fortunate enough for this to be your situation, you will have to embark on the journey of finding a brand you like. 

It’s always best to try before you buy when possible, especially the jacket in my opinion.  There can be a rather large difference in size between brands, so you’ll want to have an idea of what feels right for you.  Typically for Adults the sizes are A1-6 (females replace the A with F) with the smaller number being the smaller size. Some brands have half sizes, for example A2.5.  If you are really struggling to decide which size to buy this can be a great alternative solution.  

When it comes to choosing the brand you should look for the brand with a track record of being reliable in the sport and also comes in the size that you are looking for.  You should also consider any team affiliations when making this decision. Ultimately, I would recommend asking your instructor for any limitations on which brands you are allowed to have in the academy, and also if there are any that they would recommend for you to look at. 

You need to take into consideration that many academies are rather particular about the color of your Gi.  Some academies only allow white Gi’s while others allow only white and blue for students and still other are less strict but do not allow two tone or unmatched Gi’s as well as the yellow and red Gi’s that are available these days.  Again, simply ask your instructor about the guidelines and make sure to adhere to them. If the academy only allows the instructors to wear black Gi’s, don’t go out and buy a black Gi and expect to wear it to class, that would be considered disrespectful and that is not how you want to start this journey.  

Finally, remember that Gi’s will shrink if you wash them in warm or hot water, and or if you dry them.  This can be great news or terrible news depending on how tight the Gi fits. Just keep in mind that you can shrink a Gi down by at least 1 full size I would say by washing it in warm or hot water and then putting it in the dryer.  If you need to shrink it I would recommend that you check it often to ensure it is not getting too small. Remember you want the sleeves to come down below your wrists not half way between your wrist and your elbow. The same principle applies when measuring the pants, you want the balance between capri’s and dragging on the ground. 

There is certainly a lot that goes into buying your first Gi.  I would end this by saying more money does not always equal better quality product so do your research and make sure you buy something that is going to fit you the way you want.  Believe it or not you can get “fitted” Gi’s that have more of a slim fit style to them, if that’s your style.  

I know this was supposed to be about the Gi, but let’s face it, there’s other gear you are going to need to.  For example, first and foremost you need a pair of slides or flip flops to wear ONLY inside the academy. Walking around, especially in the bathrooms, barefoot and then stepping on the mat is gross and should be punishable by death in my opinion.  Ok, so that may be a bit harsh, but you get the point. The academy has a regular schedule for cleaning the mats and it’s your job to do your best to keep it as clean as possible between cleanings. In summary, get yourself a decent pair of slides or flip flops, ideally ones that you can wipe off with a cleaning wipe from time to time to kill anything that may be growing on them.

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Next, you likely will need some No Gi gear, if of course the academy you choose to go to offers these types of classes.  In the beginning days it may be acceptable for you to wear gym shorts and a t shirt, but as you progress you will begin to see the problem with this gear.  The problem is it is designed for non combat sports like basketball or lifting weights. It was not exactly designed for someone to be pulling on during a grappling match.  That being said, much like the advice for buying a Gi, if your academy sells branded gear that should always be the first go to, beyond that just make sure it complies with any rules that the academy has regarding brands, colors or styles.  

When you look at No Gi shorts they are also often times called fight shorts, you will likely notice that there are different styles and different lengths along with different cuts up the side of the leg.  Keep in mind the purpose is to be functional, nothing else. Sure if you can look like a model and have functionality, perfect, but if not, choose function over fashion every time when it comes to training Jiu Jitsu.  Once you land on a brand and style you like, start slow with one pair, don’t go crazy buying gear until you know you like it, and it’s durable.  

You will also likely want to get a rash guard.  A rash guard is a compression like material that is designed to fit tight to your skin and prevent, well, rashes.  While I have no personal experience with rashes, I can tell you with certainty that as you begin training live and rolling around with a resisting opponent, the T shirt you typically wear is likely going to be all over the place, and potentially covering your eyes, or getting in your way when you are trying to transition.  Rash guards are available in short sleeve or long sleeve and really allow you to showcase your style. This is where you can get creative and really show everyone who you are. From tuxedo designs to tie die to gorillas and lions there is something for everyone. One word of caution. Some rash guards are ranked, so don’t just buy the purple one because you like purple, you need to make sure that if you are buying a ranked rash guard you are buying the one with the appropriate rank.   While I don’t think this would be a big deal most places, it’s certainly worth asking about before spending the money. 

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Ok.  Now you have your gear.  I wouldn’t say this is all inclusive, but it’s certainly a start.  You may want compression shorts, a mouth guard, etc. but this should get you started in the game.  Now finally, you need a bag to carry all this stuff in. While any old bag will do just fine, there is a factor to consider and that is a bag made of a hemp material will naturally be more resistant to fungus and other nasty things you don’t wont in your bag, including smell.  In the beginning you don’t necessarily need to make this investment, but a nice bag will make a big difference down the road.

Would you believe me if I told you that buying all of the gear is the easy part?  It really is. It is super easy to research and read reviews and order all the stuff you want.  It is much more difficult to decide to go, each and every day that you can, even on the days you don’t “feel like it” or “don’t have time”, you still need to go.  The reality is we make time for the things that matter most to us, and in the beginning, I guess really at any stage, it can be hard to see how much Jiu Jitsu actually matters and how much it does for our health.

You likely already know all about the physical health benefits of training Jiu Jitsu, but the mental health benefits are incredible too.  Jiu Jitsu teaches you more than you realize and until you take time to reflect it can seem like you are just spinning your tires not going anywhere at all. 

Because having the right mindset is so important, I think it is worth while for everyone, and I do mean everyone to check out the latest Tom DeBlass video instructional coupled with e-book that is titled, “The Road to Black Belt and Beyond”.  In this detailed breakdown Professor DeBlass covers everything you need to know from a mental perspective to reach your goals both on and off the mats.  

If this guy can’t get you motivated and amped up to tackle the hard training sessions, then I don’t know who can.  Tom is arguably the most influential American black belt on the planet with one of the largest social media spans of any practitioner or instructor.  The point is, he’s not just good at Jiu Jitsu, he’s good at helping you reach your goals with the right mindset.

That’s it, that’s your gear list and as a bonus the first instruction I’d recommend for you to check out.  Now get to shopping by and then get to studying and training!


If ANYONE knows about moving forward it's Tom DeBlass. DeBlass has influenced LEGIONS of people across the globe with his MINDSET. The Road To Black Belt And Beyond By Tom DeBlass uncovers what it takes to not only be a Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu, But a Black Belt in LIFE!

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Is Karate your field of interest? then check one of the successful karate instructor Chinzo Machida.

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