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BJJ is a sport offering many options as to what you can wear during training and during competition. From gi kimono to rushguard and from gi pants to fighting shorts, the choice is pretty often yours and only yours.
If you are a gi person, there are still choices to make, between a traditional cotton gi or for a synthetic or cotton ripstop gi.
What is ripstop
Ripstop is a fabric developed during WW2 to replace expensive silk in the manufacturing of parachutes. It had to be lightweight and resistant, and that is what ripstop is: a fabric woven in a boxed or diamond-shaped pattern to reinforce it. That is not to say that ripstop is indestructible: rather, it is woven as to delay a small tear from ripping apart into a large tear. If you go on tugging and pulling at the tear, of course it will eventually rip.
Since WW2, ripstop has been used in all things military, from uniforms to tents and camping gear, and of course it has been adopted in the sports industry also.
Ripstop can be made from a variety of materials. Usually a blend of cotton and polyester or nylon, you can also find 100% cotton ripstop.
Ripstop in BJJ
Many BJJ gi are now sewn in ripstop. Are they better than a traditional cotton gi? This is clearly a personal decision, based on what you are asking for from your BJJ gear.
A Ripstop gi is better for:
– Training in warm weather. It is less hot than cotton and dries quickly from transipration, which makes it a good choice if you train in hot climates, summertime or in a training room without air condition.
– Traveling. A lightweight material, it can be folded tight in your luggage. So if you want to train during your travelling, it is a great option to take less space in your luggage.
– Low maintenance: synthetic ripstop does not shrink if you choose the wrong temperature during laundry (or it shrinks less) and you can tumble dry it without fear. Just make sure it has synthetic in it.
Ripstop gi during combat
A ripstop gi has less stretch than the traditional cotton one, and if you like a tight, reinforced fit this is for you. This is especially the case for gi pants: Ripstop is somehow stiffer than the usual cotton fabric, and thus ripstop pants offer less grip to the opponent.
Some athletes, however, say that the opposite is the case with kimonos: lighter and stiffer, it seems that ripstop kimonos could give more grip to the opponent for death grips and chokes.
So, what is better for you? Traditional cotton gi or Ripstop gi? All cotton or synthetic weaves? What about a combination of cotton top and ripstop pants?
The truth is that you will find people swearing by all of the above options. That leaves it to you, really: if you don’t try it for yourself, you will never know…