Finding the Best BJJ Gi for Plus-Sized Women
Updated: Jul 22
Sometimes buying martial arts gear can be intimidating. But it shouldn’t be when buying a bjj gi. Check out these tips for finding a gi for plus-sized women.
When you make the decision to do jiu-jitsu, sometimes getting the best gear is top priority (gotta look the part right?). If you’re a bigger girl, sometimes getting the proper training gear like rashguards, spats, shorts, and especially gis can be frustrating. Gis can be super finicky if you don’t get the right size. A gi that is too small is annoying and hard to move in. A gi that is too large means that you’re just swimming in a lot of gi material and opening up your opponent getting good grips on you.
I have definitely had my woes with buying a gi, especially being in the upper 180s-190s lbs. in my weight. I’ve had to learn how to see and gauge which size I should buy based on my experience in buying and owning gis.
So, here is some tips for the larger ladies out there that need a great gi that you’ll not only feel comfortable but will love training in.
How to pick the best gi size
Of course, getting the proper size gi is most important. Like I said, getting a gi that is too small is the worst. When it comes to shopping for clothes that don’t have plus size options, sometimes your mindset is to go for the biggest size. When you decide to buy a gi, it doesn’t work that way. Each gi brand has different options in sizes, styles, fits, weaves, etc[DJ1] . and a lot of these things will determine what will be the proper gi for you.
Gi sizes in the past have come in sizes A0-A6 with A0 being the smallest and A6 being the largest. These sizes have been standard to all bodies without considering if you have hips and/or tits (sorry for my crassness). For women’s gis, they generally come in sizes f0-f5 (maybe F6) but sometimes the fit might be weird, and one companies f4 might be another one’s f3 or even f5.
Most gi companies will give you a gi sizing chart that will give you the size with the range of heights and weights that can fit that gi. You can go with the sizes they give you but also double check and measure yourself to make sure that your body circumference, sleeve length, and pant length all match your specific body type. Also consider L (which stands for long) and S (short) sizes when you have longer limbs than the size chart or shorter limbs.
If you’re going to buy a gi, some places won’t let you buy and return a gi if it doesn’t fit properly. Your gym should have gis that you can try on to make sure which size fits. You can always go with their brand or just use the size as a reference when buying your own gi. You’ll definitely need multiple gis anyway because, I know you’ll be in the gym training at least twice a week.
Can you mix and match Gi pants and top sizes?
I don’t know about you, but my biggest fear is my gi pants not coming up all the way. I’ve dubbed myself of having middle-aged ass in addition to me gaining weight and yes there have been times where my ass (covered ass) pops out of my pants. In these cases, I’ve thought that I need a bigger gi but when I bought a bigger gi, I end up being too short and too small into it. Maybe on the other hand you’re fine with the pants but you’re afraid that the gi won’t close properly, despite measuring everything.
If you feel this way and you have this fear, then the option of buying separate gi tops and bottoms is a great option for you to get a custom sized gi. Some gi brands and companies sell separates that you can purchase. Another option is to buy a full gi and buy separate pants just in case you feel like the bottoms won’t fit right.
What if the fit is still a bit off on the gi?
If you’re able to get a gi that the pants fit you nicely, the top closes well and everything seems great BUT your hands and feet are drowning in your sleeves and pants, there are a few things you can do:
1. Shrink your gi when you wash it.
This method is useful if you feel that the gi is still a bit long and big when trying it on. What I usually do is wash the gi in warm water and then hang it to dry. If that doesn’t work and the sleeves are too long, wash it and then put it in the dryer on warm or high heat for 30 minutes. You just have to be careful of how you do this because you don’t want to shrink it too much. If you’re concerned about shrinking it too much, then I would do half dryer time and half air-dry time and then try it on to see if the sleeves and pants fit a bit better.
This method does take a lot of experimentation and of course because you will be washing and drying your gi multiple times, it will probably fit well after a while.
2. Hem your pants or top
If you don’t want to risk shrinking your gi too much, hemming is an option you can look at. This option gives you the opportunity to take out the hem if your pants and sleeves get too short. To hem your gi pants, try your pants on and mark off where you’d like to hem. Take them off, put them inside out, fold your pant legs inward and sew the fold at the top of the hem. Gi material is tough so if you’re using a sewing machine just be careful when you sew. Because I’m lazy, I like to do a fast overhand stitch and just get it over with.
When it comes to your gi top, to be honest, I’ve never heard of anyone hemming their gi top before, but this might be an option if the shrinking doesn’t work. I just think gi top material is way too tough to sew by hand/ without an industrial sewing machine, but maybe I’m mistaken.
Don’t let sizes discourage you from participating in jiu-jitsu
Sometimes when you shop and things don’t fit right or the way you think they will fit, it can be discouraging. If this continually happens, it can ruin a whole shopping trip. This can be the case when trying on gis as well. You might try on a gi and feel like it’s too small, it doesn’t exactly look the best, or it just doesn’t feel comfortable. Don’t let these feelings stop you from doing something that will build up your confidence from the inside out.
Shopping for gis can be a fun yet tiresome experience, especially when you’re unsure about sizing. There are other things that might be a concern for plus-sized women. But, once you find that gi that fits you great, you’ll feel like a warrior wearing your best armor.
For those of you who identify as plus size, how do you go about finding the right gi for you? What are your preferred brands? Let’s discuss on Instagram @blackgirlwhitegi_bjj.