The color of your BJJ gi is important. Of course, officially your gi color has no meaning in Brazilian jiu jitsu (only your belt color does). But we all know that unofficially your gi color matters. For example, you can’t wear a bright red gi to class (except if you’re the top student at your gym). So read about BJJ gi color meanings, etiquette, rules and more in this article.
What do bjj gi colors mean?
BJJ gi colors have no official meaning at all. It’s not that if you wear a white gi you’re a white belt and if you wear a blue gi you’re a blue belt or anything like that. Your uniform color is just a personal choice. However, unofficially, gi colors do still have meaning in jiu jitsu.
|White gi||Blue gi||Black gi||Grey / Green||Red / Camouflage|
BJJ white gi meaning
White is the OG color for jiu jitsu gi’s. It used to be the only gi color.
The reason behind this is actually very nice. The policy was that everyone had to wear the same gi color, so that everyone is equal. They didn’t want rich people to show their status by getting a colored gi (which was really expensive back then). The only status that matters on the mat is your skills (which is signified through the belt color), not your status outside of the dojo.
BJJ blue gi meaning
The meaning of a blue gi in BJJ is tied to competition and to Judo.
The blue gi was invented by Judo for television. When the first Olympics was broadcast on TV, Judo introduced a blue gi (which was gray on the black and white TV’s). They made one competitor wear a white gi and the other a blue gi so that people could see the action better. In Judo nowadays, competitors are still required to bring both a white and a blue gi to any tournament so they can always wear the opposing color from their opponent (and no other colors are allowed).
BJJ black gi meaning
Black is a very modern BJJ gi color. Like I said, white and blue are the only allowed colors in Judo, so a black gi is really specific to BJJ. I really like black as a gi color because of this – it differentiates you from other martial arts, but it’s still a very classic color. (So if I wear my black gi I still feel classy and humble, whereas in my purple gi I feel like I’m bragging.)
Other gi color meanings
There are some other gi colors that have a meaning similar to black, such as gray and some shades of green and dark purple. There are colors that are very unique to BJJ, but that are still pretty common within BJJ.
And there are also colors that are very unique within BJJ, such as bright red or yellow or orange. These mean the same as extravagant clothing in daily life, namely that you’re ok with being in the spotlight. (Of course, which gi colors are considered extravagant, changes over time, just like fashion trends in normal life.)
The Practical Pros and Cons of a White gi vs a Blue or Black gi
There are practical reasons why you might want to get a white gi vs a blue or black gi. I listed these practical reasons in the table below so you can choose the best BJJ gi for your purposes.
|Easy to spot blood and dirt||Quickly looks dirty|
|Allowed in every BJJ gym and tournament|
|Looks clean longer||Not allowed in every gym|
|Allowed in every BJJ competition|
And there’s one more practical reason you should consider for yourself: which looks better on you, a white gi, blue gi or black gi? (If you don’t know, just think of which color you wear the most in your daily life.)
Gi color rules for Jiu Jitsu Competitions
The gi color rules of the IBJJF (International Brazilian jiu jitsu federation) allows 3 gi colors for their competitions: white, royal blue and black. So those are the only gi colors you’ll see at IBJJF competitions such as the World championships.
If you go to a small local BJJ competition, the gi color rules are probably more relaxed. I’ve seen someone compete in a bright red gi, and in a military camouflage gi (and he lost embarrassingly while everyone watched because he drew so much attention to himself – that’s why you don’t wear a flamboyant gi as a beginner!).
Gi color rules for in the gym
BJJ gyms are usually quite relaxed about gi colors and they’ll let you wear anything you want. However, some gyms only allow hite gis. The reason behind this is usually a mixture of respect for traditions and practical considerations (because white gis make it easier to spot blood and dirt). So always ask about the gi color rules at your dojo (but white is always allowed).
What color BJJ gi should a beginner get?
A BJJ beginner should get a white gi. The reason is that at some gyms, white is the only gi color that’s allowed. So if you end up switching gyms, you might have to replace your gi if it’s not white. Additionally, if everyone wears a white jiu jitsu (at least when they first come to the gym) it symbolizes that everyone’s equal.
More bjj gi colors etiquette
- The color of a BJJ gi is always smooth. As in, I’ve never seen a BJJ gi with black and white stripes. (Maybe BJJ fashion will become like this someday?)
- Your BJJ gi jacket and gi pants should be the same color. I violate this rule occasionally (when my gi pants are ripped but the kimono is still ok or something like that) but I always get smirks and remarks about it.
- Your gi should have minimalist branding. Some brands put huge logos on their gis (especially the very cheap brands are guilty of this), but it’s not really nice to make yourself a walking banner ad for a cheap brand. Some gym owners don’t even allow it. So ideally you get a slick gi with a reasonably small logo.
- Some BJJ schools even force you to buy a gi of their own brand (for example Gracie Barra schools do this). There is obviously a profit motive for them to do this (and I don’t like it). But I do understand that if everyone wears the same gi, everyone represents the brand and the family, which is nice.