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Importance of Gi Color in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Importance of Gi Color in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Like other martial arts, the color of your Gi helps you gauge your progress and rank in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Even if you do not really consider the importance of your Gi’s color, there are some formalities regarding Gi color in BJJ. Before digging into these formalities, it is crucial to know the history and evolution of Gi color in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

1. History and Evolution of Gi Color in BJJ

In the 1800s, the founder of Kodokan Judo, Jigoro Kano was the first grandmaster to introduce the Gi as a uniform in the judo system. Initially, it was white and athletes were differentiated by their belt colors. During the 70's, Reylson Gracie created the first colored Gi. He is considered an innovator of Gi fashion. His first innovations were in black, yellow, and turquoise. In judo, the color blue was used to differentiate competitors. Later, the same principle was adopted by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Eventually, blue and black colored Gis also began to be worn in BJJ to differentiate fighters and became a staple of BJJ.

2. How do you differentiate when wearing the same color Gi?

Sometimes event organizers ask fighters to change into one of the basic colors when two or more are wearing the same colored Gi. Moreover, to differentiate between competitors wearing the same Gi color during competitions, fighters began wearing a blue key. Then, not that long ago, in international competitions, the fighters were required to have both a blue and white key for judging purposes. If the fighter has to face an opponent wearing the same colored uniform (blue or white), then he/she can opt to wear either a blue key or a white key.

Moreover, in a BJJ tournament, when two fighters are wearing a similar uniform, green and yellow belts are utilized to make it simpler for the referee and the judges to differentiate between fighters - like the red and blue tape utilized in boxing or MMA.

3. Basic Colors for Gi

Basic Colors for Gi

Even though you may not compete in BJJ competitions regularly, it is still helpful to know what is and isn't permitted under IBJJF rules regarding purchasing a new uniform.

There are only three basic Gi colors you can wear in competitions. The International Judo Federation (IJF) allows only two Gi colors: blue and white. But the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) allows all three Gi colors: blue, black, and white.

4. Reasons to Wear Different Gi Colors on the Mat

The following are reasons why different colored Gis are worn in training and competition.

4.1. Personal Preference in Academies

The reason for choosing a GI color depends on the personal preference of the academies and fighters. Some academies have a strict policy on wearing only white Gis. Others have a more lenient dress code. So, they allow their fighters to wear Gis of any color. Academies also have their brands printed on them. They require all of their students to wear Gis with their academy’s branding.

The IBJJF states that Gis in competition must be white, blue, or black. Why then do manufacturers make red Gis, yellow Gis, camo Gis, pink Gis, etc.? Because they can and because people buy them, that's the reason. If an academy allows fighters to wear any color of their choice, even rainbow or camouflage, on the mat during training sessions, fighters have the right to do so.

4.2. To Distinguish Between Fighters

The basic reason for wearing different colored Gis is to distinguish between fighters. Wearing basic colors in Gi competitions makes it easy for judges and referees to assign points to the fighters.

4.3. Gi Weight

The final thing about color is related to the weight of the Gi. A dyed Gi is heavier than a white Gi. This is because there is a substantial mass of dye molecules that soak into the fiber and add weight.

5. IBJJF Rules for Gi Colors in BJJ

The following are the mandatories, prohibitions, and rules for Gi colors according to the IBJJF.

  • Gis can only be white, royal blue, or black.
  • Fighters are not allowed to wear different color jackets with different colored pants.
  • Fighters are not allowed to have different colored collars on their Gis.
  • In the Men’s or Women’s Adult Black Belt Divisions, it is mandatory for fighters to keep two Gis with different colors (usually blue and a white) so that the judges can judge and differentiate between the two fighters if they happen to wear the same color.
  • Painted Gis are taboo, except if the paint is a logo and placed on an appropriate place on the Gi. Indeed, even in situations where they are allowed, the fighter will be obliged to change Gis if their paint marks are similar to the opponent’s Gi.
  • The color for rash guards and shirts under a Gi must be white, or black, or black and white both or the color of the fighter’s rank (belt).
  • The color of the pants, compression shorts, and shorts should be white, or black, or black, and white both or the color of the fighter’s rank (belt).
  • For the female division, the headcover should be white, or black, or black, and white both or the color of the fighter’s rank (belt).
  • In the finals of the IBBJF, the black belt fighter can only wear a white or blue Gi.

6. When Does the Color of the Gi Matter? / Does the Color of Your Gi Matter in BJJ?

Not really! The color of your Gi doesn't matter in any way. The only restriction on the colors of the BJJ Gi is that the IBJJF and many other BJJ competition federations only allow white, blue, and black.

White, blue, or black color is suitable for competitions and training, but any other colored GI is only used for BJJ training.

7. What Does the White Gi Signify?

“I keep the white-belt mentality that I can learn from anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
Georges St-Pierre

The white Gi represents tradition, formality, and discipline. A white Gi is a traditional uniform, representing the history of Japanese martial art. In Japanese culture, white is the symbol of purity and truth. This is why, in martial arts, the color white is used to depict the purity and simplicity of judo and jiu-jitsu.

8. Advantages of the White Gi

The following are some advantages of wearing a white Gi.

8.1. Bloodstain is Visible

BJJ is a tough sport due to fighters sometimes getting cuts and scrapes. Bloodstain can be easily identified while wearing a white Gi.

8.2. Purity

A white Gi depicts the pure, truthful, and clean life of a fighter and his/her family.

8.3. Avoidance of Ego

A white Gi depicts the mindset of a beginner. The belt ranking in BJJ starts with white to signify that you still have much to learn and can learn from everyone. This mental approach builds your character by encouraging humbleness and patience.

8.4. Simplicity and Social Class

The white GI represents uniformity and parity among fighters. It represents that all peers are equal, regardless of their status.

9. Disadvantages of the White Gi

The following are the disadvantages of wearing a white Gi.

9.1. Hard to clean

It’s hard to wash the white Gi because it gets dirty easily and requires a wash often. The shine of the fabric also fades away due to repeated washing.

9.2. Bleach is a Non-Factor

The color of the white Gi has to be maintained with bleach which weakens and rips the fabric.

10. Does the Blue or Black Gi in BJJ Signify Anything?

Blue or black Gis do not signify anything related to tradition or rank. But they are preferred because they look more modern, sleek, and nicer on fighters compared to the basic white ones. Wearing a black or blue Gi is a personal choice. Usually, fighters represent themselves as modern day Ninja by wearing black GI.

10.1. The Advantages of Wearing a Colored Gi

The blue and black Gi looks cleaner and sharper for a long time. But the saturation of the color fades over time. However, the look of a used, faded Gi shows that you have worked hard to learn BJJ. Moreover, a colored Gi has more weight than the white one which could be advantageous for fighters while grappling.

10.2. The Disadvantages of Wearing a Colored Gi

Wearing a blue or black Gi is fine but it can be a distraction by making you prominent in the class. The other disadvantage is color retention as the color fades away over time.

11. Can "White Belts" Wear a Black or Blue Gi?

Well, of course they can! White belts (beginners) are allowed to wear any color Gi they want because no rule within BJJ forbids this. Although some BJJ academies, such as AOJ, only allow beginners to use a white Gi only.

12. What Color Should a BJJ Fighter Choose to Buy?

If you are not a competitor, you can choose any color, even camouflage, if your training school recommends it. The most popular among fans is a dark blue color. But if you are going to compete in international tournaments held by the IBJJF, then you should know that the only colors allowed for Gisare blue, white, and black. There are no other options. So if you are on a bit of a tight budget and have just started doing jiu-jitsu, then we advise you to buy a GI with one of the required colors. In the future, you will not have to buy another one if you wish to compete in professional tournaments.

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