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BJJ Fanatics Instructionals
BJJ Fanatics Instructionals

Why Do We Call The BJJ Uniform a Gi and Not a Kimono?

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Gordon Ryan Guard Passing Instructional

In Brazilian jiu jitsu, the all-important uniform (top and trousers) is more than often called a gi, though the majority of Portuguese speaking countries still refer to it as a kimono. In many other traditional combat styles, the basic training ensemble is more commonly referred to as a “suit”, especially in English speaking countries.

Although the word kimono is not exactly wrong, the kimono is regarded as a traditional Japanese garment. The word “kimono” literally means a “thing to wear” (ki “wear” and mono “thing”). This is usually associated with the traditional colorful robes more commonly (but not exclusively) worn by women and children in Japan.

The word “gi” derives from “keikogi” which means training gear. Keiko signifies “practice” in Japanese, while gi means “dress” or “clothes” (similar to the “ki” in kimono). This is a budō term in which the word “keiko” can also be replaced by the word “do” meaning path, road or way. Dogi is very common in Japan, used to explain your training clothing.

The “keiko” and “do” may also be replaced by the sport/martial art in question. Meaning that if the activity (or your path in life, if you may) in which you use the gi is Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you could say “Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi”.

The uniform was traditionally divided in 4 parts:

Uwagui: Jacket
Shitabaki: Pants
Obi: Belt
Zori: Sandals

Although the sandals are not part of the set, most gyms will be adamant that their students use sandals when outside the mats, this has been common practice (and common sense) since the early days of martial arts in Japan and was included in the training set.

Picture by Gracie Humaita La Mesa, CA.

Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations


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