As a beginner it can be tough to find the best BJJ gi for you, because you don’t know what to look for. In this post I tell you exactly what to pay attention to in a BJJ gi, and I tell you what I think is the best BJJ gi for beginners (it’s also the gi that I got when I started training BJJ).
Contents of this article
What makes a gi the best BJJ Gi for beginners?
The best beginner BJJ gi has the following properties:
- Affordable: if you’re just starting out, it’s better to get an cheaper gi, just because you might not stick with BJJ.
- Durable: you’ll probably own only 1 gi in the beginning, so you’ll use it for every training. Therefore a beginner gi should be especially sturdy to still last long.
- Widely accepted: not all gi colors and brands are accepted in all dojo’s. As a beginner you might still switch gyms so you want a gi that’s widely accepted (this means it will be a plain, classic, white gi).
- Legal for competitions (bonus): As a beginner you probably won’t compete for a while, but if you want to compete in a year from now, it’s nice if your gi allows for it. Therefore, you need a white or blue gi, of the right size.
What's the difference between a beginner gi and a normal bjj gi?
I say that the best BJJ gi for beginners is affordable, durable and legal; but obviously non-beginners also want their gis to have those properties. Therefore, experienced BJJ players usually buy the same gis as beginners.
For example, I currently own the Tatami Nova Absolute and the Fuji all Around BJJ gi, which are both in my list of the best BJJ gis for beginners. (Not to say that I’m amazing, but I have been training for more than 7 years so I don’t consider myself a beginner anymore.)
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And some people get flashy gis, such as a completely pink gi, or with military camouflage. These are illegal in competition, but some people find them cool to wear in training.
The best BJJ Gi for beginners
The Tatami Nova Absolute is the best BJJ gi for beginners. It’s also the gi that the majority of the BJJ beginners buy (at least that’s what I see when I look around my own gym). It’s also the gi that I started with.
It ticks all the boxes for a great BJJ gi for beginners:
- Very durable: I got the Tatami Nova as my first gi and it lasted me well into my blue belt.
- Widely accepted: Tatami is one of the oldest and most established gi brands in BJJ. It’s very commonly worn, and everybody in your dojo will recognize it instanty. It’s a classic.
- Affordable: It has the best price to quality ratio in my opinion. Further down this list you’ll find some cheaper BJJ gi’s, but those are made of a lighter material and therefore less sturdy and durable.
- Legal: This gi is also legal in all BJJ competitions, as long as you get it in white or blue (just pick white – that’s even more widely acceptable), and you get the correct size.
Therefore, it’s the BJJ gi that I recommend beginners to buy first. If you don’t do anything crazy with it, it should last you until you get your blue belt.
Tatami Nova Size guide
If you’re unsure about which gi size to get, you can use the size table for the Tatami Nova below (taken from Tatami’s official size chart on their landing page). For example, if you’re height is 5’10” and your weight is 176 pounds, your gi size is A2.
Keep in mind that this gi is made of lighter material. Therefore it’s less expensive, but also less durable.
I value durability more than anything else, which is why I recommend the Tatami Nova Absolute to beginners over anything else. However, this gi from Elite Sports should still easily last you a year of training (depending on how often and how hard you train, of course). So if you’re looking for an beginner gi on a budget, this is still a great pick.
Also, if you’re beginning Brazilian jiu jitsu in a place with hot weather most of the year, I recommend the Elite Sports gi over the Tatami Nova, because it’s is much lighter and therefore less warm.
So the Elite sports gi is the best BJJ gi for beginners that are on a budget, or train in hot weather.
The Fuji All Around BJJ Gi is a very solid gi, not only for beginners but also for more experienced players (I also have one – in purple, which looks great but is not legal in all competitions).
It’s a bit more expensive than the others in this list, and it doesn’t come with a free white belt. So I guess it’s not truly a beginner gi. But, I still wanted to include it because it’s still very affordable and it’s one of the best overall BJJ gi’s in my opinion.
So I would recommend this gi if you’re already pretty sure that you’ll keep doing BJJ for a long time, just because it’s one of the most durable and best value gi’s in the market.
The Sanabul Essentials BJJ gi is another great pick for beginners. It’s similar to the Elite Sports gi in that it’s made of lighter material, and therefore it’s lightweight (which is nice in the summer and for weight cuts), but therefore it’s also less durable. The downside compared to the Elite Sports gi is that it’s got slightly less positive reviews (though still largely positive).
At the moment of writing, the Sanabul gi is also one of the cheapest BJJ gis I could find, which is another major upshot if you’re buying your first BJJ gi. (But of course, prices are subject to change.)
Conclusion: What's The Best BJJ Gi for Beginners?
I find the Tatami Nova the best BJJ gi for beginners, because of its durability and great price to quality ration.
If you want a slightly cheaper and lighter BJJ gi to get started with, I recommend the Elite Sports BJJ gi.
If you’re already willing to invest a bit more, you can also begin with the Fuji All Around BJJ gi, which is just a great quality BJJ gi that’s still quite affordable. It will last you a long time. (I’ve had mine for more than 3 years now and it’s still good.)
How much does a bjj gi cost?
Whenever I buy a gi I expect to pay $80 – $120 for a basic gi and up to $150 for a gi with added benefits such as being extra light or looking very nice (you can get more expensive ones than that, but I never do).
I occasionally buy gi’s of lighter material for ~60$ (such as the Elite sports gi), but I expect them to last less long than my sturdier gi’s.
If I see a good quality, sturdy gi (such as the Tatami Nova) for under ~60$ in a sale, I always buy it immediately because I know I’ll need new gi’s in the future.
How do I choose the right gi size?
All gi manufacturers publish size guides, in which you can look up your gi size based on your height and weight.
If you go to the sales page of the gi you’re interested in, the size guide is usually included there. If it’s not, you should go the website of the gi brand and find the size guide there.
Will a gi shrink?
Yes, a BJJ gi will always shrink a bit when you wash it (even if it’s pre-shrunk it shrinks a tiny bit further in my experience). But, this is taken into account in the gi sizes that manufacturers publish, so you don’t really have to worry about this.
What color gi should I get as a bjj beginner?
If you’re just starting out at BJJ, it’s best to get a white gi. The reason for this is that a white gi is acceptable in any BJJ dojo (and this isn’t true of any other color), and even in any martial art (so if you end up switching to Judo or Karate, you can wear your own gi to the trial class). White gi’s are also legal in all BJJ competitions, whereas all other colors except blue are usually illegal.
Also, on a white gi it’s easier to spot blood and dirt, and this makes it easier to roll in a safe and hygienic way.
Can I use my kimono from another martial art for bjj?
If you already did another martial art with eastern origins (judo, karate, Tae Kwon Do, Japanese jiu jitsu, Aikido), you likely already have a gi (or kimono, which is another name for a gi). And you may be wondering if you can use that gi for BJJ. The main consideration for this is how thick your gi is, because thin gi’s will break easily in BJJ because of all the puling.
Judo Gi’s are always even more thick than BJJ gi’s, so you can always use those. Usually Judo gi’s are also more loose fitting, which makes them easier to grip, so you’ll have a slight disadvantage compared people with tighter fitting BJJ gi’s. (But if you already did Judo, you’ll usually have a massive advantage in grip fighting anyway 😉 .)
The gi’s from all other martial arts are usually way thinner than BJJ gi’s. Especially gi’s of striking arts are karate and Tae Kwon Do are very thin, so you don’t want to bring those to BJJ; they’ll break for sure and that’s just a waste. If you have a Japanese jiu jitsu gi and you got one of the thicker gi’s, you can take a chance and bring your gi to the first couple of classes, and it probably won’t just break.
What if my gym only allows their own gi?
There are some gyms that force you to buy and wear their own gi. This is not a super nice thing, especially if you already own another gi. But, it’s their gym, so they make the rules, and we just have to deal with it.