BJJ Gi Vs Karate Gi | 7 Secret Differences To Love

Can I use a karate gi for BJJ? No, you can’t. Every martial art has its own equipment, and there’s good reasons for that. There’s big differences between a BJJ gi and a Karate gi that make the karate gi unfit for jiu jitsu practice. In this BJJ gi vs Karate gi article I explain to you why you can’t use a karate gi for BJJ.

karate gi vs bjj gi

What Is A Gi?

A gi is a traditional martial arts uniform. It consists of a kimono, gi pants and a belt. To rookies it may look like different martial arts all use the same gi: the kimonos of karate, judo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Taekwondo, and even Kung Fu, Hakama, Hapkido, Wing Chun and Aikido all look similar. However, every martial art has its own uniform that’s specifically adapted for its techniques, and it’s generally a bad idea to wear the uniform of one martial art to the practice of another martial art.

BJJ Gi Vs Karate Gi: Purpose 

BJJ and Karate both have a gi that’s tailor made for their own techniques. Karate is a striking art, so karate gis are light and loose, which allows you to move quickly and freely, moving in and out and throwing high kicks as you go. BJJ is a self defense and grappling art, so BJJ gis are sturdy and strong, enabling techniques such as collar chokes and strong grips. So the purpose of a karate gi and a BJJ gi are completely different and actually opposed to each other.

Differences BJJ Gi Vs Karate Gi

There are many differences between a BJJ gi and a karate gi, which all stem from their different purposes. The most important differences between BJJ and karate gis are:

  • A jiu jitsu gi is thicker and stronger than a karate gi, making it better suited for grappling.
  • A jiu jitsu gi has a reinforced collar that can withstand chokes and joint locks.
  • A jiu jitsu gi has extra stitching around the areas that endure the most force during BJJ: the armpits, knees and lapel.
  • A karate gi has wider and shorter sleeves, that make a popping sound if you punch quickly enough.
  • A BJJ gi has tight sleeves to make gripping slightly harder, and a minimum sleeve length for competition.
  • A karate gi has a sharper collar that cuts into your neck when people grab onto it.
  • A jiu jitsu gi is typically more expensive than a karate gi, because it’s harder to make and uses more fabric.

Can You Use A Karate Gi For BJJ?

No, you cannot use a karate gi for BJJ. A BJJ gi is thicker and made in a different way to withstand the forces that grips impose on it. A karate uniform is uncomfortable to wear during grappling and it will rip, so you won’t save money by using a karate gi for BJJ. If budget is a concern, you can ask your dojo if they offer second hand jiu jitsu gis, or check out our list of budget BJJ gis.

Tip: My favorite affordable BJJ gi for beginners is the Sanabul Essentials Gi

Can I Use A Thick Karate Gi For Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

No, you can’t use a thick karate gi for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Even the thickest karate gi is still very thin compared to a Brazilian jiu jitsu gi. So your karate gi will still fall apart within a few training sessions, most likely at the knees, collars or armpits. And you also still have all the other potential problems, such as the sleeves of your karate gi being too short for some jiu jitsu techniques and the collar cutting into your neck.

Can I Use A BJJ Gi For Karate?

It’s less bad to use a BJJ gi for karate than the other way around, but I still wouldn’t recommend it. The BJJ gi is too heavy, which will slow down your movement. Also, depending on the model of your BJJ gi, the gi pants are probably too tight for you to throw high kicks. Finally, because a BJJ gi is so thick, you might get needlessly hot during your karate practice.

Can I Use A Judo Gi For BJJ?

No, you also cannot use your judo gi for BJJ – I know some of you were wondering that! A judo uniform is better suited for BJJ than a Karate uniform, because judo is also a grappling art. But, there’s still big differences between judo and BJJ, and therefore also differences in the uniforms. For example, Judo sleeves and lapels are much wider and therefore easier to grip onto, to prevent stalling in Judo.

Also read: BJJ Gi Vs Judo Gi: 6 Secret Differences

Can My Kid Use A Karate Gi For BJJ?

No, your kid also can’t use a karate gi for BJJ, for the same reasons that an adult can’t. If your kid is just trying out Brazilian jiu jitsu and you don’t want to commit to buying a bjj gi yet, you can probably borrow a gi and a white belt from your bjj academy. Otherwise, there’s some cheap kids gis listed in our article on the best BJJ gi for kids.

Is It Even Allowed To Wear A Karate Gi To BJJ?

At many BJJ gyms it’s not allowed to wear a karate gi to jiu jitsu practice. The reason is that it’s unfit for many of the jiu jitsu techniques, so you won’t be able to participate in the training. Further, it’s often considered disrespectful, because you’re supposed to know that there’s a difference between BJJ and karate. If you show up in a karate gi to a BJJ practice, you look like a rookie.

Do Gi Colors Matter In BJJ?

Yes, the color of a Brazilian jiu jitsu gi matters, especially if you want to compete. At a BJJ competition, only a black, blue or white gi is allowed. And it needs to be a real Brazilian jiu jitsu uniform, you’re not allowed to compete in a judo gi or a karate gi.