Big and Tall Gi for Fat Guys: Toraki Review
I’m not huge, but I am a large man (6 feet tall, 260 lbs.) But I’m guessing that there are a fair number of you out there that live the same pains that I do. I am tired of not being able to buy a shirt at Kohls, the Buckle, or Target because my shoulders are too broad. I’m tired of Walmart thinking that 3XL means a shirt as wide as a tent that’s made for a person 5’9″.
I am also tired of Gi’s that don’t fit. It seems like every Gi review I read has a section on “fit”, and the answer seems to always be “just fine.” Well, I’m not built like a GI Joe action figure, and I am tired of buying gi’s that don’t close good in the front, or that hang down too long in the arms in order to get one big enough in the torso. For me, most Gi’s don’t score well at all in “fit”. So, if this is you, read on:
Today I will be reviewing a black Jiu Jitsu cut Gi from Toraki Gis. The top and bottoms for me are different sizes, but that seems to be the norm with Toraki, as they closely review your measurements and choose the best fit for each person.
I have been dealing with Stewart over at Toraki, and it has been a wonderful experience. He is not only helpful and conversational, but also extremely knowledgeable. Based on my measurements, and some of the other gi’s I have owned there were a couple of different options on the pants. Stewart explained each of these with the pro’s and cons to help guide me to the best decision. He was always very prompt in communicating information to me. In short, I really couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
The collar on the Toraki is a nice, thick collar. A lot of other collars recently having been going to a spongier feel, rather than the traditional collar without the rubber filling. In this respect Toraki goes with the traditional, non spongy feel. People seem to be of two schools of thought on this one, so you may or may not like this aspect of the Toraki. Me personally, I have gi’s of both types, and as long as the collar isn’t a little skinny one that I find myself getting choked out too easy with, I find I’m happy either way.
The Toraki is build tough as nails. The entire top is done in triple stitching with reinforced taping, except the cuffs, which actually have 4 rows of stitching plus reinforced taping. I know that a lot of reviewers post pictures of all of the stitching and reinforcement… but rather than go through each section of the gi in that level of detail, I would just sum it up: This gi is a brute. It is built tough in every respect, well beyond what you would find in a typical mid-level gi like most Atama or Gameness, and light years beyond the low quality crap that some places are peddling out there for under $100. If you buy a Toraki, you will be able to roll in it for a long, long time.
Embroidered vs. patches:
I have owned gi’s that come with cool patchwork. After a year or two however, these patches just don’t hold up. I really like the embroidery work on the Toraki. Not only does it look sharp, it will hold up forever.
Light weight but tough:
As I mentioned at the opening of this article, I’m not a small guy. Not only is it hard for me to find a gi that fits right, but it also needs to be able to take a beating. A thin or cheap gi while tear, or get twisted out of shape. Unfortunately, this means a lot of double weaves. They are great gi’s, but sometimes it’s nice to go a little lighter. Toraki has done a great job of building a comfortable, lightweight gi that they refer to as a “1 and a half weave”, or a “light double” weave gi that is ready to withstand a nuclear blast.
Full length knee pads:
One of the things that struck me immediately about the pants on the Toraki is that they go double thickness starting at the hip, and continue all the way down the legs. Just another mark of a really quality gi from a company that has been doing this, and doing it right for a long time.
Belt loops and tie:
More and more of the new gi’s coming out are including increased numbers of belt loops, and a rope tie. Toraki has not gone in that direction. I’ll be honest, this was one of my big concerns when I opened up the gi. The bigger around your waist gets, the more likely that you are going to have problems with the traditional 2 or, in this case 3 belt loop system. Although I would still prefer more loops, and a rope tie, I do have to admit that Toraki has made some advances on their gi pant that kept it from being a problem for me. The Toraki belt loops are placed a little lower down on the pant that normal. By not coming clear to the top, they make it less likely that any portion of the pants will sag down low enough to slip under the tie. I have been wearing my Toraki an awful lot lately, and rolling hard in it with no troubles yet.
If I have any nit to pick with the Toraki, it would be that it seems to fade a little more than other black gi’s. You can see here, particularly around the pant cuffs. I have also seen some fading in the top as well.
I just want to make a quick comment before I give my overall quality rating on the Toraki gi. If you have seen my other Fat Guy Gi Review, you might be wondering to yourself, “Hey wait… he seems to give a lot of high ratings… What do 5 stars really mean, if everyone gets them?” Well, I just want to assure you, that I have owned many types of gi’s (Atama, Gameness, Mizuno, and a lot more.) Not all gi’s are 5 star gi’s. I have been truly blessed with some excellent quality products to review. The Toraki really is head and shoulders above run-of-the-mill gi’s, as well as most of the flashier gi’s coming out now in both quality, as well as fit (which is really the most important part for me.)
When it comes to fit, I am quite frankly astounded at how well this Gi fits me. As you can see, I am not shaped the way that the world considers “normal.” However, it seems that an increasing number of us aren’t. Specifically, my waist isn’t huge, but my gut is. I also hard broad shoulders and a thick chest.
I have never found any other Gi that fits me quite like this. The top is broad enough, and fits around me well. The sleeves are exactly the right length, and tight enough to the arms that it’s not sloppy but at the same time roomy enough not to restrict movement at all. If you have problems with fit, this is a dream.
The pants fit me great as well. I’m sure a big part of that is due to Toraki mixing and matching pant sizes with top sizes in order to ensure they get the mix that will work best for you.
Also, on the point of shrinking: When this gi arrived it was HUGE. I followed the detailed instructions from Toraki (washing it in hot 6-8 times), and it shrank down to the perfect size. I was really impressed with this, as many Gi makers tell you never to wash in hot, and like to pretend that this means that your gi won’t shrink over a period of months. This much more realistic view of shrinking not only impressed me, but it means I can wash my gi in hot so it gets cleaner as well.
As note: If you’re wondering about the switch form a brown belt to the blue belt, it’s because some of these pictures were taken afte Judo class, and others after Jiu Jitsu class
I never give an actual rating to appearance, as I think that it really is something that a person needs to decide for themselves. Some people are into a gi with bling, others may prefer a tamer look. But I do want to make a few comments on the appearance of the Toraki gi.
Obviously, fit is a big part of appearance. As I have said above, I really can’t rave enough about the Toraki and how it fits me. I love the feel, and I think the adds to the appearance well.
I also feel that the white and red stitched logo on the black gi really “pops.” This was a good move on the part of Toraki.
The fading issue that I mentioned as a part of quality isn’t a real big concern for me, as it isn’t to the paint that I feel it makes the gi start to look bad. I do however, feel that if the black faded less, as I have found in some other gi’s, that this gi could look even better (especially with the red and white logo contrasting against it.)
Would I buy another one?
Well, it’s easy to say a lot of fluffy, nice stuff about a gi, but the real proof in the pudding is rather I would buy another one if I were looking to buy a gi right now.
I’m going to be frank here, the Toraki is a pricy gi. It runs about $180 USD for the one that I have reviewed here. But when I look at other, cheaper gi’s that I have owned, and I ask myself if having a gi that doesn’t fit as well, and has patches that start to look like crap after a year, is it worth saving the fifty or sixty bucks I find myself more and more willing to spend the money. In short, yes. I do expect you will see me purchasing more Toraki Gi’s in the future. It is a really great product, and a fit that I have not been able to find anywhere else.
Update: For a full review of several Gi’s and how well they work (or don’t) for folks of our build, please read: best-and-worst-gis-for-big-and-tall-or-fat-people