Judo Gi VS. BJJ Gi: The Major Differences

You may be looking to expand your knowledge or simply wondering what would benefit you most in your training. Or this annoying little question may keep coming up and you just aren’t sure what the answer is.

Well we’re here with some answers.

What are the differences between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gis and Judo gi? Can both types of gis be used interchangeably for both martial arts.

While the two types of gis may look similar there are several differences that you should know about, whether you are looking to use your current BJJ gi for Judo, or the other way around.

Let’s dive right in!

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Fit

The fit of the gi is, perhaps, the difference you will “feel” the most while training and competing.

Firstly you must understand:

The purpose and technique of Judo and BJJ is very different, and so the gis must also differ and be customized to each martial art.

  • Judo gis are designed for gripping and breaking your opponents grip. Therefore the gis are more loose and soft, making gripping easier. The Judo gi sleeves also tend to be longer and wider, again, to aid gripping.

Some practitioners claim that because Judo sleeves are so wide, your hand can sometimes be immobilized within the jacket when grabbed. Not a great feeling.

From this you probably understand that you need to develop a hard-core defence in Judo, as grabbing your gi will be all too easy for your opponent.

  • BJJ gis, on the other hand, are designed to make grabbing, gripping and controlling harder for practitioners.

So, as you can imagine, the gis are more fitted and tighter, with shorter sleeves and a harder collar, to make it as difficult as possible for your opponent to gain control over you.

The tighter look is also good for showing of those muscles and intimidating your opponent before you hit the ground.

Nothing will aid your stare-game more than a tight BJJ gi showing of your guns!

Fabric

In the “Judo gi Vs. BJJ gi” debate the fabric plays an important role.

In BJJ, much more than in Judo, you experience harder dropping and more frequent rolling and pulling.

This has made BJJ gi manufacturers focus on durability and use much stronger fabrics. Many BJJ gis now feature rip-stop pants, extra stitching and cotton/poly blends to ensure maximum durability.

The Judo gis are known to be a little less durable as they are made from thinner, lighter fabrics.

While this does not mean the quality isn’t as good it does mean that using a Judo gi in BJJ will make falls a little harder, and rolling a little more painful, than it would be in a BJJ gi.

Style

The style difference between BJJ gis and Judo gis is the most noticeable difference.

The most commonly used and popular Judo gis are plain white. Occasionally, some very simple brand embroideries can be found on the sleeves or jacket, but Judo practitioners tend to stray away from patches.

The style of BJJ gis however, can be much more flashy and aggressive.

Large patches and contrast stitching is the norm for many big BJJ gi brands, and some brands go above and beyond with extremely large patches covering the sleeves and trousers.

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Keep in mind:

BJJ dojos will allow Judo gis, however, many Judo schools and dojos won’t allow students to wear extremely embroidered gis, especially ones with patches from other school and teachers on them.

Price

Due to the many different styles and brands, a high-quality BJJ gi will typically be more expensive than a high-quality Judo gi.

This has to do with the increased stitching, the cutting-edge quality fabrics and the flashy embroideries. Not to mention the branding of larger manufacturers.

The increased popularity of BJJ in recent years has pushed manufacturers to constantly upgrade their gis and increase their prices.

Competitions

Generally, practising is fine with either type of gi.

You can effectively roll and carry out techniques in BJJ practice while wearing a Judo gi, and you can practice Judo in a BJJ gi.

As long as your BJJ gi doesn’t feature patches that your Judo school doesn’t accept you should be fine.

But this freedom ends with practice.

Competitions tend to be much stricter, especially the Judo ones.

As the BJJ gi is tighter, harder and has patches that can cause friction, Judos competitions have many rules for competing Judo fighters:

  • The jacket must be long enough to covers the thighs.
  • The sleeves must cover the wrists when your arms are extended down by your sides.
  • The jacket must be worn with the left side crossed over the right and be wide enough to have a minimum overlap of 20cm at the level of the bottom of the rib-cage.

Be aware: If you enter a Judo competition with a BJJ gi which doesn’t meet the requirements you may not be allowed to compete.

BJJ tournament rules are more relaxed and you will rarely face any issues when trying to compete in a Judo gi.

The only problem here is that you will be losing the competitive edge provided by a BJJ gi- You’ll making it much easier for opponents to successfully use their grab and throw techniques on you.

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Closing Thoughts

If you are just starting out we recommend buying a gi specifically built for the martial art you will be pursuing.

You don’t want to create any bad habits or get used to a certain degree of ease, only to be shocked at a competition.

Starting with a BJJ gi during Judo training may make you feel untouchable. Later down the line wearing a Judo gi will make you wonder why your defence is lacking and opponents are grabbing you so easily.

However, if you aren’t planning on competing and already own a gi you love from a previously practised martial art, try it out and see if it works for your training.

At the end of the day, if it doesn’t violate competition rules, is allowed by your dojo and teacher, and you feel comfortable in it, then it’s the gi for- whether it’s a Judo gi or a BJJ gi.