6 Dec 2011

  • Posted by Steve Spencer
  • Best and Worst Gis for Big and Tall (or Fat) People

    Okay, so before I start this review I just have to get it out on the table:  I’m fat.

    I’m not huge, but I am a large man (6 feet tall, 265 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”.

    Additionally, Gis stink.  Due to this, I don’t follow washing instructions.  My Gi’s get washed in warm, and yes, they occasionally end up in a dryer.

    Okay, so on to the Gis.  For me, there is a much bigger challenge in finding a Kimono that fits that it is to find pants that fit, so I’ll cover the two separately:



    Before I go through several different pant descriptions and insights, let me just let you know that my favorite pants are:

    Atama Mundial #9

    I like these pants the best of my pants for a few key reasons:

    - They are ripstop.  I have come to LOVE ripstop pants.  They are much cooler, feel better at the end of a workout (and stay tight and tied well). (Note: planning to pick up some Padilla and Sons ripstop pants this spring… well let you know how it goes.)

    - They fit well (but honestly, finding pants that fit well isn’t nearly as hard as a Kimono that does).

    - They look sharp.

    As a note however, I did have some problems with some of the stitching on the Atama pants coming undone (on row of three, so the gi didn’t fall apart, but still kinda pissed me off.)

    Other pants worth mentioning:

    Gorilla Gear –

    The pants on the Gorilla Gear Husky Silver Back are probably the best made pants I own as far as attention to detail (you can read my full review of that gi here.) They fit great, are very comfortable, but they are very heavy as well.  On a negative note: When Gorilla designed this gi they made the openings on the pant and arm cuffs HUGE…

    Toraki –

    I like the pants on my Toraki a lot (again, you can read a full review here).  They are a lot lighter weight then the Gorilla Gear pants, tend to be a lot shorter, and tighter to the leg.  They use a cloth strip draw-string rather than rope (I prefer rope personally), but it doesn’t creep up above the material as I wear it like some gi’s due to the fact that the loops are actually set down a bit from the top of the pants.  Nice pants for in the “traditional” category.

    The rest –

    As far as pants, you can read all of the reviews you want, but it reality most pants are okay.  I train regularly in my Gameness Platinum pants, which are nice because they use a draw string rather than a fabric cord, as well as several other types.  The biggest advice I would give you on pants is that rather its my Vulkans, Gameness, Toraki, or most of the others they all work fine.

    One to avoid –

    Honestly, I have only had one pant that I would suggest to avoid for a big guy: The Gameness Air Ripstop Pants.  When I got these I was so excited that they were ripstop, and were thinner than any other ripstop I had owned.  But I immediately ran into a problem: The distance from the tie to the crotch is way too short.  It was pulling my junk up so bad I felt like I was weaying a jock strap on the outside of my pants.  My wife giggled as soon as she saw them.



    Okay, so first off, let me just state that my favorite Kimono by far is the Toraki. (Size tag says: BJJ-A4-2400)

    - It’s light weight, but still super tough

    - It looks sharp (I like the embroidery instead of patches… holds up a lot better)

    - It’s not as easy to grip as some other gi’s (but not as hard as a Swain or some of the real finger-sanders)

    - The fit is perfect.  I cannot say that for ANY other gi.

    Gorilla Gear Husky Silverback – (Size: A5X)

    (Full Gorilla Gear review here)


    - Amazing attention to detail.

    - Great fit

    - Sharp looking


    - The arm holes are just too big.  I feel like I have wings.

    - Very heavy.  Feels like I’m prepared to resist an attack dog.

    Atama Mundial #9 – (Size A5)


    - Fits great in shoulders, around the waist, and torso length.

    - A bit lighter weight…  Cooler to train in.

    - Really nice looking embroidery.


    - Had to go A5 to fit, but the arm length on the A5 is way too long for me.

    - Ripstop fabric on collar can irritate the skin on your neck more than other collars when you get choked.

    Gameness Platinum – (Size A5)


    - Fits great in shoulders, around the waist, and torso length (almost EXACTLY the same fit as the Atama).


    - Had to go A5 to fit, but the arm length on the A5 is way too long for me.

    - Fabric patches don’t hold up as well as embroidery.

    Others of note:

    I have also tried on (but did not go with) another couple worth noting: Gameness Air (A5) and Vulkan Ultralight (A4).  both of these state that they should fit someone my size just fine (and the Gameness was even the same size as my Gameness Platinum).  but they were too tight in the shoulders and too short and tight in the body (as well as too short in the arms.)

    I do own several other Gi’s which I purchased when I first began practicing Judo and Jiu Jitsu, notably a Century and am HSU gi.  They are both okay (I like the Century better than the HSU), but do not fit me anywhere near we well around the gut as those I have recommended.

    I hope this help someone out there make the right Gi purchase, and please, please let me know if you are built similar to me, have faced similar challenges, and what Gi’s you have tried, so I can update others here as well.

    4 Responses to “Best and Worst Gis for Big and Tall (or Fat) People”

    1. [...] 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  [...]

    2. [...] 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  [...]

    3. Joe Flowers says:

      What size Toraki Gi did you get? Or was it special ordered? I’m nearly the same size as you: 5’10″, 255…though i imagine my t-rex arms are shorter than yours. I’m having a hard time finding anything NEAR my size, so I thought I’d ask which Toraki you had (top and bottom). I wear 42″ pants, with a short 29″ inseam.

    4. Joe,

      I’ll have to check the size on the pants, but I just took a look at the top, and it is a: BJJ-A4-2400 (not sure if the 2400 means anything, but obviously BJJ vs. Judo cut does). I also updated the article to add that. Thanks for pointing out that it was missing.

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