Few questions have been asked as much - and as often, especially around competition season - than "how much does a gi weigh"? Oh that elusive answer! The reason it is so hard to answer is precisely because there are a number of factors involved that affect the weight of a gi.
First of all, why do people need to know so badly? For those who compete, the answer is fairly simple: because of weight cuts. There are relatively few competitors out there who don't try to cut weight for a tournament. The reason being is that they want to be as lean and mean as possible, so that they end up on the top of their weight division, where they believe they'll have the best opportunity to smash their opponent. As tricky as it is - because dropping weight without sacrificing strength due to overly-rapid weight loss and dehydration - nearly everybody does it. And if you've ever cut weight, you'll know that every ounce counts.
Which is why a BJJ gi's weight is important. The heavier the gi, the more weight one has to cut, because weigh-ins are usually done in the uniform a competitor will compete in, and usually right before he/she goes out on the mat.
For those who don't compete... well, the preoccupation with gi weight probably has to do with some neurotic obsession with feeling "dragged down" by a heavy gi. This is funny to me because unless you're wearing a serious double weave gi, you can't really feel the difference of a few ounces, especially when you're wearing the bloody thing.
So What Affects the Weight?
It's silly to ask "what's the weight of a jiu jitsu gi" because the very question assumes a universal standard in gis. The fact is, there isn't one. The weight of a gi depends on four factors: fabric type, size, cut, and adornment.
- Fabric - First of all, not all gis are made from exactly the same fabric. There are a number of different jacket fabrics, as well as pant fabrics, to choose from. Each weave or fabric type will have a certain weight per square yard. Some brands give you a clue as to the weight of the gi when they identify the fabric type. For example, if you're looking at a gi with 450 GSM jacket and 10 oz pants, you'll know it'll be a bit heavier than a gi with a 375 GSM jacket and 8 oz pants. Please note, that doesn't mean that pants themselves weigh 10 oz, just that the fabric they were made out of was a 10 oz weight fabric.
- Size - This should be self-explanatory, but here I go anyway. The bigger the size, the more fabric needed to construct it. More fabric = more weight. How much more depends on the fabric type and cut.
- Cut - This is the factor that explains why a size A2 Kingz Kimono is not the same weight as a size A2 Tatami gi. Every gi brand has their own special cut, and some brands even have a variety of different cuts. A gi with a slimmer profile will use less material than a gi with a wider profile.
- Adornment - Every little piece of fabric or stitching on a gi affects the weight. Individually, they may not matter, but when you have ten patches, a sublimated lining, and the gi brand logo stitched on every available piece of real estate... that all adds up to weight. Looking for an ultralight gi? Choose the plainest one you can find.
So How Do You Know For Sure??
Some - and probably sometime in the near future, ALL - gi brands include gi weight in their size charts. However, sometimes these gi weights are out-dated, so always check with customer service before you rely too heavily on those charts.
The absolute best, most accurate way to check the weight of your gi is to weigh it yourself. For those of you geniuses who can't figure out the logistics of doing this: 1) step on scale without gi, 2) step on scale again while holding gi, 3) subtract the weight in step 1 from the weight in step 2.
Train... and weigh... on. Oss.