To Gi or Not to Gi – Do You Need a Uniform For Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

by | Aug 11, 2023 | Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Martial Arts, Training

Walk into any Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) class and you’ll see a lot of people wearing what look like bulky pyjamas. Don’t be fooled by their lounge-wear appearance, these distinctive uniforms, known as a gi, are actually integral to fighting.

But are they really necessary and do you need one for class? It depends. Some gyms reserve a gi for competition bouts, some ask that students wear them for every sparring session. 

In our studio, you don’t have to wear a gi for your first class – we understand that it’s a little unrealistic to expect first-timers to make that investment. But if you plan on coming back (and we’re confident you will!), we ask that all students wear a gi for subsequent classes.

Our reasoning is simple. If you’re going to practice Brazilian jiu jitsu, you need to train the way fighters have been training for centuries. The gi is the accepted uniform for a reason. It’s as much a part of BJJ as drills and holds. 

What is a gi, and how are they used in Brazilian jiu jitsu?

The gi (pronounced ‘gee’)  is a kimono-style outfit consisting of a jacket, loose drawstring trousers, and a belt. It’s generally made from a heavy cotton material and typically white, although other colours are available.

Primarily used in Brazilian jiu jitsu, the gi originates from a similar training uniform adopted in Judo in the 1800s. It’s designed to mimic normal clothing while giving fighters plenty of room to move as they grapple. 

But the job of your gi isn’t just to give you room to breathe. It also plays a role in many BJJ techniques with fighters encouraged to grab onto their opponent’s gis for leverage and momentum. Brazilian jiu jitsu is a defensive martial art where strength and speed are important, but not central to the sport. Instead, it’s about developing awareness, finding opportunities to use an opponent’s momentum against them and using whatever tools you have to hand – including their sleeves!

Investing in a gi

If you plan to practice Brazilian jiu jitsu regularly, your normal workout gear isn’t going to cut it. This is no ordinary exercise, so don’t show up looking like it’s just another day in the gym. 

Once you’ve decided to invest in a gi, try not to buy online. It might get you a good deal but you won’t get the same attention to detail in the material and the fit. It’s best to shop from a professional, someone who teaches or trains Brazilian jiu jitsu so they can fit you in person, see how it moves, and make sure you’re comfortable in it. 

Our students can purchase their gis from us. All are correctly fitted to each individual and we also carry a range of kids sizes so younger students can dress the part. There’s no substitute for getting your gi from an established BJJ coach who’s been fighting in one for over 15 years!

Looking after your gi

BJJ is a close contact martial art, and it gets sweaty. Spending an hour rolling around the mat with an opponent isn’t exactly good news for your gi. That’s why it’s important to wash your gi and your belt after every single session. Never come to class with a dirty gi – it’s not just bad habit, it’s disrespectful to your training partner who’s going to be getting up close to that material.

Avoid high temperatures when washing. If you’ve bought it from a reputable gym, it’ll be perfectly fitted and the last thing you want is for your ideally-sized gi to shrink in a hot cycle. Be sure to also hang dry it so it doesn’t shrink in the dryer and, if it’s coloured, dry your gi out of direct sunlight to avoid bleaching.

Interested in Brazilian jiu jitsu? Visit our studio to grab your gi and get training! We offer a range of adults and kids classes, tailored to all ages and abilities. Contact Coach PK today to book your first session.

Looking for a martial arts studio in Innisfil and the surrounding area? Innisfil Brazilian Jiujitsu offers professional Brazilian Jiujitsu training with a range of BJJ classes for all ages and abilities. Contact our coaches today to get started! 

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Join the fun at your friendly neighbourhood Brazilian Jiujitsu club!

We offer a FREE initial consultation to meet our coaches and get to know our studio with no obligation. If you are interested in a class or have any questions, please fill out the form and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

Class attendance is by appointment only.


Innisfil Brazilian Jiujitsu

990 Innisfil Beach Road

Innisfil, ON



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