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I was thinking of taking up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and my local gym offers the Gi in white, blue, or black. What are the advantages of each? Does black/blue stay looking cleaner with use? Or perhaps white is better because you can bleach it?

Do the colors have some traditional/cultural significance?

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4 Answers 4

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White shows blood best, which is practical on the mat. You want to know if you or your partner has a cut or scrape. However, women recommend keeping a black gi to train in during your period (1, 2).

Bleach is a non-factor because it weakens the fabric and will cause premature gi death by ripping. Blue and black look slightly more clean and sharp in more situations and for a little longer.

White is most traditional and connotes plainness or simplicity, whereas blue and black are "modern", if any of that matters to you. For instance, Roger Gracie won the BJJ Worlds a few years back in an unadorned white gi. The lack of patches, plus the fact that he submitted all of his opponents from mount, was taken as a message to the jiujitsu community. Some BJJ practitioners prefer the white gi for this reason.

IBJJF tournaments don't allow gi colors other than white, blue, and black:

The Gi should be completely white, royal blue or black. No Gi’s will be accepted with different colored jackets or pants nor will we allow the use of Gis with different colored collars.

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  • Thanks once again Dave. I'm a guy so don't need to worry about having colored gi for 5 days a month :). Glad you told about the bleach. Being a guy, my laundry abilities are very limited. I always assumed one should throw all whites in a ton of bleach!
    – Dave
    Oct 27, 2014 at 16:37
  • @Dave Cheers mate! Oct 27, 2014 at 20:06
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Originally all gis were white, having been adopted from those used in Judo. According to Reila Gracie’s biography of Carlos Gracie, the first coloured jiu-jitsu uniforms were introduced by Reylson Gracie during the '70s as part of various developments to better market BJJ:

Em 1976... Com sua visão comercial, Reylson seria o pioneiro numa estratégia de marketing para explorar o jiu-jítsu: foi dele a idéia de criar uma grife de roupas que incluía quimonos coloridos.

This is around the same time coloured gis first saw experimentation in Judo globally, before settling on blue to distinguish competitors.

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The short answer to this question: jiu jitsu gi color means absolutely nothing. While BJJ gi belt colors carry some serious significance - primarily in alerting you to the level of shark you're swimming with on the mat - jiu jitsu gi colors don't carry any special significance.

However, while we're on the topic, it's worth noting the history of the jiu jitsu gi colors, as well as when certain colors are more appropriate than others.

First and foremost, white gi is the most traditional uniform color for many martial arts with Japanese roots. In Japanese culture, the color white signifies "purity" or "truth", which is likely why it was adopted as the color for martial arts training, particularly judo and jiu jitsu. When judo competitions became popularized, a blue gi was utilized to distinguish one competitor from another, and this was subsequently adopted by jiu jitsu.

Today, white and blue are the only colors available for judo gis (the sale of which is heavily regulated by the International Judo Federation (IJF), which keeps regulation judo gis limited to those two colors). The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), the largest worldwide jiu jitsu promotion, allows for black gis as well... which is great for those who fancy themselves as modern-day ninjas. However, for the major events, like the IBJJF World Championships, black belt competitors can only wear a white or blue gi in the finals.

The greater jiu jitsu community is quite a bit more relaxed when it comes to gi colors. While some academies have strict "white gi only" requirements during class, most academies don't... which is why you'll see jiu jitsu practitioners rocking everything from grey and green, to camo, pink and everything in between. I've even seen a tie-dyed rainbow gi!

Often, the choice to wear a colored gi over the traditional white gi is simply due to personal preference. However, keep in mind that a white gi is always harder to keep clean - and white - than a colored gi. Even if you take all necessary precautions, your academy may use puzzle mats, which have a tendency to discolor a white gi, or it just may not keep the mats clean enough to eat off of.

Whatever gi color you choose, just remember to tap early and tap often.

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It doesn't sound like it's an issue with this school, but some schools require that students only wear certain colors, such as white. If you want a gi other than white and you plan on occasionally training at other schools, especially while traveling, it's a good idea to have a white gi to wear so you don't cause any problems at the host school.

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