Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

Gi Soap

Intro

When I reached out to my fellow BJJ players at Gi Soap, looking to write a review on some of their products, I was more interested in just getting some free stuff and maybe a cool patch.  To be honest, my plan succeeded.  I got them to send me some free product to review and a cool patch.  I didn’t necessarily expect to be impressed.  I figured, “soap is soap”.  You don’t really think that any one soap or body wash will be different from any other.  Sure, some smell nicer than others.  Maybe you notice one lathers a little bit more, or maybe, one rinses a little easier.  But rarely, do you say, “Wow!  That’s some GOOD soap!”

Well, today was that day, my friend.  I got me some DAMN GOOD SOAP!   Gi Soap has recently released a new body wash line to complement their bar soap production.  It’s all quality stuff.

Oddly enough, I suddenly found myself reliving scene from Fight Club.  Instead of selling soap to glamorized, size 0, twenty-something’s who just had liposuction I was trying to pawn off this great product on meat-heads with cauliflower ear.  Hollywood ALMOST got it right…

The Science:

There’s a little bit of education involved here.  You have to have some personal revelations about yourself and your body before you become willing to drop $9.00 on a bottle of soap.  If you think about it you’ll probably come to the same realizations that I had.

First, traditional body wash that is chemically made is not good for you.  It “cleans” you by stripping away the natural oils of your body.  Sure, it also strips away all that nasty dirt, sweat and grime but you’re not cleaning your body the way nature intended.  We, as animals, produce and secrete our own natural oil as natural barrier and protection for our skin.  We are programed to defend ourselves against bacteria, dirt, sweat, grime and anything else we can try to find to roll around in.

By stripping our own natural oils we’re no longer protecting ourselves.  Conversely, we’re making ourselves more susceptible and vulnerable to infection and disease.  In fact, we’re more likely increasing our chances of catching ring worm, athlete’s foot, or some other god forsaken bacteria that will keep us off the mats and away from the gym.  This is also why you should never shower BEFORE going to the dojo.

That’s where Gi Soap steps in.  The oil’s they use in their body wash and soap bars protects us, naturally, in conjunction with our body’s own oil secretion.  Tea Tree Oil, for example, has been shown to treat and cure athlete’s foot, has the ability to cure fungus infections of the nails, and helps clear up mild and moderate acne.  Regular body wash doesn’t do that.  And that’s only one of their ingredients!’

"Real products tested on real fighters!!! Ringworm gone in a few days with our bars of soap just by washing the area few times a day and then letting it air dry!!"

“Real products tested on real fighters!!! Ringworm gone in a few days with our bars of soap just by washing the area few times a day and then letting it air dry!!”

 

Packaging:

It’s not the prettiest bottle of body wash but who cares?  It has the Gi Soap logo, the list of ingredients and a cap.  What else do you really need?

Smell / Feel:

It doesn’t smell musky, or male, or like a man without his shirt on riding backwards on a horse on the beach.  It smells natural.  It smells like a peppermint plant.  Not the peppermint candy that you get from grandma’s candy bowl in the secretary’s office, but the real plant.

Its texture is an oil base.  I feel very Roman when I shower with it.  Like I’m pouring perfumed oil over my head.  It’s a little different from what you might be used to because it doesn’t lather excessively.  Rather, it coats the skin.  You may have to use a little bit more than your normal body wash to coat your entire body.

Post Wash:

After washing with Gi Soap you’ll feel a little bit oilier than what you may be used to.  I know I did.  However, it’s not a greasy feeling.  It’s a smoothing feel.  Almost like you’ve treated your body to a massage and it has that post-oil feel.  It’s nice.  After using it for a week I can definitely tell my skin is healthier and happier.

Pros:

At the end of the day my skin doesn’t feel dry.  I don’t feel the need to put lotion on because of cheap soap.  I’ve noticed my skin has a healthier appearance and feel.  It kills bacteria.  It works WITH your body, naturally.  You’re supporting a small business, for a community you love.

Cons:

It’s a little bit expensive.  You have to use more than expected so it doesn’t last as long as your normal bottle of soap.  Your wife or girlfriend will steal it because IT’S THAT GOOD!

Conclusion:

Gi soap works with your body, not against it.  You’ll feel healthier.  Your skin will look better after a week.  It’s a great preventative measure to make sure you don’t get any kind of skin infection to begin with.

Is Gi Soap worth the cost?  Yes!  Absolutely.  After doing a little bit of research and finding out more about the soaps that I’ve been using and what they’re doing to my body, I almost have no choice.  Once you see the sin you’re committing, you have to confess and you have to mitigate it.  I’m no longer using lotion, either, which helps to offset the cost of Gi Soap as well.

After learning what Gi Soap is doing for my body and the positive results that I’ve personally seen, I don’t think I can ever stop using it.

4/5 stars.  Go pick up a bottle (or bar) and try it out.  It’s worth it and you won’t regret it.

See you on the mats!

GB Pro Light

Intro

The first Gracie Barra academy was established in 1986 by Master Carlos Gracie, Jr.  Starting in the 2000’s, they’ve had a requirement for schools to have “Official” gi’s.  Part of this, I believe, was their push to be uniform, and in a sense, one team under one banner.  While other schools have team gi’s, Gracie Barra is the only one I know of that you are required to wear their specific gi at all times while on the mats.  Read more here.

STORM Kimono’s was founded in 1995 and have steadily grown.  They are a leading sponsor of athletes in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu field.  You’ll find competitors at the highest level wearing their equipment, you’ll see them worn by specialists in books and magazines and you’ll even find them on the beach with their new casual wear line.  Read more here.

Info

The Gracie Barra “Pro Light” is one kimono in a line of new gi’s designed by STORM Kimonos for Gracie Barra affiliate school members.  It can be purchased online at Gracie Barra Wear or in any Gracie Barra academy for $179.99.

Earning the first stripe on my white belt back in 2009 at Gracie Barra U-H.

Earning the first stripe on my white belt back in 2009 at Gracie Barra U-H.

Disclosure

I have a special place for Gracie Barra in my heart.  I earned the first stripe on my white belt at Gracie Barra University of Hawaii.  I currently train at Chimera Mixed Martial Arts, whose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program is taught by Gracie Barra Seattle’s brown belt Ben Pyne.  I also drop in occasionally at Gracie Barra Seattle.  However, my love for Gracie Barra will in no way influence my opinion of the Storm / Gracie Barra collaboration or the product they have provided.

Intro

Gracie Barra and STORM Kimonos have teamed up to bring you a pretty slick new gi for Gracie Barra academy’s around the world.  Their design cues are well done but they stay in line with the traditional gi’s of Gracie Barra.

When you first receive the gi, the packaging is unimpressive.  You do see hints that excite you, though.  Like the massive "EQUIPE" logo.

When you first receive the gi, the packaging is unimpressive. You do see hints that excite you, though. Like the massive “EQUIPE” logo.

Inside tag of the collar.  It's a big patch but the way it's sewn in doesn't rub or scratch the back.

Inside tag of the collar. It’s a big patch but the way it’s sewn in doesn’t rub or scratch the back.

 

After opening the gi and inspecting it, the patch work is really well done.  The subdued "G"s in the red really make the "BARRA" pop.  Pretty standard logo patching from STORM throughout.

After opening the gi and inspecting it, the patch work is really well done. The subdued “G”s in the red really make the “BARRA” pop. Pretty standard logo patching from STORM throughout.

Reinforced armpit patching, which makes for some extra sturdiness in the gi.  Not all gi's have this so this is definitely a feature that I like!

Reinforced armpit patching, which makes for some extra sturdiness in the gi. Not all gi’s have this so this is definitely a feature that I like!

Extra material and reinforced stitching make the vulnerable parts of this gi extra strong.  I also really like the contrasting "G" on the tape that is found in on the edge and inside of the sleeve and pant cuffs.

Extra material and reinforced stitching make the vulnerable parts of this gi extra strong. I also really like the contrasting “G” on the tape that is found in on the edge and inside of the sleeve and pant cuffs.

More reinforcement stitching on the pants.  The red drawstring is an excellent touch.  I also like how GB/STORM have capped the drawstring with some extra blue material, as opposed to searing it or using a knot.

More reinforcement stitching on the pants. The red drawstring is an excellent touch. I also like how GB/STORM have capped the drawstring with some extra blue material, as opposed to searing it or using a knot.

Side view of the gi.  The larger patches, compared to previous ones, go a long way to making this a gi you can really appreciate.

Side view of the gi. The larger patches, compared to previous Gracie Barra gi’s, go a long way to making this a gi you can really appreciate.

Back view.  I like the small leg patch on the back.  You don't really notice it at first but then it becomes one of those little touches that you really like.

Back view. I like the small leg patch on the back. You don’t really notice it at first but then it becomes one of those little touches that you really like.  I also really liked the subdued silver “G” in the white “EQUIPE” patch.  Interesting fact, I always thought that “equipe” meant “equipment”.  Like Gracie Barra Equipment.  Turns out it’s Portuguese for “Team”.  You learn something new everyday!

Stats

I ordered a size A3 “Pro Light”.  Its weight, out of the package and prior to washing was 3.8 lbs.  The size chart does not provide a weight for the “Pro Light” gi.  I measured the “Pro Light” prior to washing it.  Its measurements were as follows:

Jacket

Arm length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the cuff, following along the top of the sleeve:  30.5” (-.6” difference from the advertised size chart)

Left cuff, flattened:  6.5” (-.3” difference from the advertised size chart)

Vertical torso length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the back:  31.5” (no difference from the advertised size chart)

Trousers

Exterior length of the leg, along the side, from the top of the waist to the edge of the cuff:  39” (-.2” difference from the advertised size chart)

Interior seam, from the crotch down to the edge of the cuff:  29” (-.1” difference from the advertised size chart)

Leg cuff, flattened:  10.25” (measurement not provided on company size chart)

Waist, from edge to edge:  23.5” (+1.3” difference from the advertised size chart)

Inseam, from the top of the waist to the joint in the crotch:  12” (measurement not provided on company size chart)

Following the care instructions on the tag, I machine washed the jacket and trousers in cold water and allowed them to hang dry.  The post wash measurements are as follows:

Jacket

Arm length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the cuff, following along the top of the sleeve:  30.0” (-0.5”)

Left cuff, flattened:  6.5” (no change)

Vertical torso length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the back:  30.75” (-.75”)

Trousers

Exterior length of the leg, along the side, from the top of the waist to the edge of the cuff:  38” (-1”)

Interior seam, from the crotch down to the edge of the cuff:  29” (no change)

Leg cuff, flattened:  10” (-.25”)

Waist, from edge to edge:  23.5” (no change)

Inseam, from the top of the waist to the joint in the crotch:  11” (-1”)

The “fit percentage”, based on the above measurements, from the advertised size chart to the actual received product was 19.84%.  That’s almost 20% of difference between what’s advertised and what’s received.  The disclaimer to this is that I did not follow all of the measurements given on the size chart.  I also am not a seamstress and may not have made the measurements in the exact place as the manufacturer.  These measurements should in no way discourage you from purchasing the gi and are provided for informational purposes.

The percentage of shrinkage, based on the above measurements, from pre-wash to post-wash, following the given care instructions was -1.92%.  Less than 2%!!  That’s great!

Overall, I was pleased with the ratio to pre- and post-wash, the weight, and the ratio to advertised size and actual size.

Fit and feel

I’m 6′ and 185-190lbs and I sometimes get stuck in these in-between sizes.  An A3 isn’t quite big enough (after the wash) and an A4 is way to big (even after I try to shrink the snot out of it).  The GB/STORM gi doesn’t have that problem.  It’s slightly bigger than most other gi’s so it fits me perfectly.  The sleeves don’t shrink up and make me look like an old school judo player and there is plenty of room on the inside of the jacket to move around in.  Some gi’s can bind and tie you down because they lack the space inside the material to move.  Not this one.  If you’re a bigger Jits player that’s on the cusp of two sizes, this may be a perfect option for you.

The jacket and pants fit great.  It’s a little big compared to the other gi’s I own so you may want to size down.  Check out my stats above, this kimono has less than 2% shrinkage so don’t expect to buy an A3 and shrink it in the wash to make it fit.  It’s going to be the size you purchase.  Check their size chart prior to purchasing.

Style and Design

The Gracie Barra “Pro Light” incorporates design inputs from STORM Kimonos and Gracie Barra.  It does an excellent job mixing the old school layout of the GB brand with new modern touches from STORM.  Subdued “G”s accent the logo and patch work.  Larger patches give it a cleaner “read” when you look at it.  The updated tags even standout.

STORM’s touches take it from a gi that you need to a gi that you want!

Fin

DSC03194

The meak will inherit the earth.  It’s part of why we love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).  You don’t have to be the strongest.  You don’t have to have the most endurance.  You don’t have to be the smartest.  You don’t have to be the best in any one thing.  It’s about leverage and technique.  Finesse over brawn.

However, all things being equal, such as two brown belts who have been practicing BJJ with similar training schedules, starting at the same age, of the same body weight and of the same age, strength and endurance may very well be the determining factor.  That being said, you want to build the right kind of strength and the right kind of endurance.

DSC03189Enter Scramble Grip Trainers!  The Scramble grip trainers are essentially gi sleeves which you can attach to an assortment of weight lifting equipment.  They’re extremely durable feeling with a 550 gsm pearl weave fabric and heavy stitching.  There’s absolutely no fear that they’re going to tear or separate at any of the seams.  They also have a super slick design on the inside of the sleeve.

There are only two minor changes I would make to the grip trainers.  First, I’d love it if they could stitch in a lapel along the side of the sleeve somehow.  There’s really not any good way to train lapel grips on it if there’s no lapel.  Second, the stitching at the end of the sleeve is not like that of a normal sleeve.  Scramble has tacked the edges which make it a little bit difficult to get a good spider grip.  You can still do it, don’t get me wrong but it’s just slightly annoying.  This is me being picky and these are absolutely NOT reasons to avoid purchasing these grip trainers.  They are still great tools to have in your gym bag!

I hooked these grip trainers up to a kettle bell and did some swings with them.  Kettle bells are hard enough.  Adding a grip trainer to the mix changes EVERYTHING!  My forearms were on fire!  I also had some of the cross-fit guys show me some of their exercises.  One of them was called “Skin the Cat” (demonstrated below).  It’s an exercise where you hang from the rings, flip yourself inverted and slowly let your hips fall below your shoulders and then return to the starting position.  Now do it with grip trainers!  Again, your forearms and finger grips will hate you but you’ll thank me later!  I later connected the grip trainers to a pull-up bar and did some different exercises.

All in all, I think they’re a great training aid!  I think they’re worth every penny you’ll pay and you’ll actually use them!  In the 10 minutes before class or the 10 minutes after, you can definitely begin to separate yourself from your training partners and the competition by performing a few simple exercise which will increase the strength and endurance of both your grips and forearms.  Go here and get yourself a pair of Scramble Grip Trainers!

Big thanks to the guys at North End Fitness Center and Chimera Mixed Martial Arts for helping me test the Scramble Grip Trainers!

SkinCat

1. Start by standing and grabbing the grip trainers using a pistol grip. Try not to make this face.
2. Pull yourself up, flexing at the hips and pushing your feet up to the ceiling.
3. Continuing the pull, try and get your body inverted.
4. Slowly lower yourself down rotating at the shoulders. Allow your hips to fall below the horizontal plane of your shoulders. Finish by rotating back to the starting position or releasing your feet to the floor.

X-C

1. Start by hanging the grip trainers on the pull up bars.
2. Grab the grip trainers with a cross-choke lapel grip.
3. Execute a pull up. Rotate your wrists (as you would when you perform a cross-choke), finishing the pull-up when your chin reaches the apex of the pull.

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Fuji Black BJJ Gi

This is a quality gi that will last you nearly forever.

I’ve been grappling in my Manto Tap Cancer Out rash guard for a while now and it’s great!  Initially writing this, I stumbled upon the fact that this will be a joint review.  First, this is a Manto rash guard with design input from a charity.  So if there’s a design flaw or a feature that I didn’t enjoy, who takes the hit for it?  Manto or TapCancerOut?  Who get’s the praise if there’s a feature that I love?  There are, obviously, many dilemmas with this.

Also, I have to point out my bias.  Cancer has taken both of my grandmothers from my family and I.  I feel very deeply for TapCanerOut’s mission:  “Tap Cancer Out is a jiu-jitsu based nonprofit (pending 501(c)(3) status) that raises awareness and funds for cancer fighting organizations on behalf of the grappling community.”  I almost feel as if I must provide a positive contribution to this organization.  However, I also have a personal, ethical responsibility to myself to be completely honest.  How fair would it be for me to lie to myself?  Would that help TCO?  In the long run, Karma’s a bitch and would most likely burn the shrine I’m trying to build.

Style and Design

Front view. I totally dig the red paneling down the sides. It gives the wearer a trim, fit look ~ even if you’re a fatty like me!

TapCancerOut and Manto have done a fantastic job in designing this rash guard.  The simple look of red and black is excellent.  It’s clean and simple.  I especially enjoy the red paneling that runs under the arms and down the sides of the torso, creating that superhero, masculine, framed look.  I’m also pleased that TCO kept it simple by just using the large logo on the chest and the fist and ribbon logo on the back.

Back view. Check out the simple look of the logo.

Build

Manto is known for their high quality products.  There’s essentially no worry when you buy from them.  You know, with little doubt or worry, you’re getting a piece of gear that is going to last.  They use triple-stitching throughout the rash guard, except around the neck, where Manto opted to use double-stitching.  After wearing and washing the rash guard multiple times I have been unable to find any loose threads or places where the stitching had run off the seam.

The rash guard is a fully dye-sublimated print.  What this means is that the molecules are locked into the fabric.  Unlike the old-school rash guards which are screen printed and have a tendency to crack, peel and/or fade, TCO’s rash guards will not.  They’ll hold up much longer than screen printed rash guards and retain their original colors much longer.

Fit

The Manto TCO rash guard is probably my favorite fitting rash guard.  At 6′ and 195 lbs I typically wear a size XL.  With most long sleeve rash guards the arms run a bit long and bunch up around the wrist.  Manto’s did not do this which was pleasantly surprising.

Another plus was that the crew neck cut wasn’t choking me.  Sometimes rash guards can be so tight that they create a claustrophobic feeling when you wear them.  This wasn’t the case.  Instead of being up around my throat the cut of the neck sat lower and flatter to my chest and clavicle bones.  The rash guards torso is plenty long, as well, so there’s no fear of it riding up and coming un-tucked from your shorts or gi pants.

A con for this rash guard is where the stitching comes together on the back of the shoulder blades.  The material pulls and stretches and looks as if it’s going to eventually rip at the merge point.  I can’t tell you if it will affect the longevity of the rash guard but if you have a large back or big deltoids you may want to go up an extra size.

You can see where the three seams meet. May be a consideration if you pump a lot of iron and have huge deltoids.

Performance

The TCO Manto rash guard does exactly what it advertises.  It breathes well and helps wick away sweat.  The rash guard is 89% polyester and 11% spandex, allowing it to stretch.  When it stretches you can almost see through the material making it like a second skin, which means you’re not going to overheat in it.

There’s no chaffing anywhere.  I’ve had rash guards that run up under the arm pits and actually cause a rash.  I’ve had some that roll up around the waste and cut into the body.  The TCO rash guard doesn’t do any of that.  I love it!

Summary

At the end of the day, this is a great rash guard for the money!  It comes in a short or long sleeve variation, fits great, is non-abrasive and supports a great cause!  At $50 it’s right around the average price of rash guards on the market today.  It might actually be slightly less than the average, actually.  However, instead of the profits going into the pockets of some greedy corporation, they’re going towards fighting that horrific disease of cancer!  BUY YOURS TODAY!

4.5 out of 5.

Photograph rights and property of Laura Hensen of GRITZ photography.

INTRO

This review is brought to you by the good folks at BJJHQ and MAS.  Go check them out.  Then buy something!

This thing is just ugly enough to be pretty.  Kind of like the Honey Badger itself.  Orange and purple highlights stand out perfectly against the black.  Classic Tatami patch work and quality.  Lightweight, comfortable, and great fit.  This bad boy didn’t shrink much or loose any color in the washes.  It doesn’t turn stale and feel like sandpaper when you air dry it, either.  The stitching and quality are great so all around, I really, really like this gi.

And of course, quality design by the great Meerkatsu.  I still haven’t decided if I like this guy or if I’m jealous of his success.  It’s kind of funny because I hate him for making great products!  I’m jealous of his creative acumen!  Too bad his HB v.2 looks even more sic.  You can check out his pre-release review of the HB gi here.

DESIGN

Unfortunately, you can’t wear this gi to the Dojo without being prepared to withstand the barrage of Cobra Kai jokes that are sure to be launched in your general direction.  Then, waiting for you when you get home, will be the continued Facebook remarks of your latest and greatest gi outing.  It only gets better when you wear it back there a second time.  The white belt college student who just finished watching Dodgeball for the 1000th time can’t help but call you the leader of the Purple Cobra’s and start throwing medicine balls at your head!  Do you know how hard it is to dodge 8 lb medicine balls every time you walk into the gym?!?

The good news is that your Halloween costume is already taken care of for this year.  “Joanie loves Chachi!”

In all seriousness, though, the design on this gi is great.  It’s toned down from his original HB rash guard (which I also thought was really impressive) which makes it look great.  The little tweaks around the Tatami patch of the HB’s crawling over are a nice subtle touch.

COMFORT AND FIT

Photograph rights and property of Laura Hensen of GRITZ photography

This is probably my best fitting and most comfortable gi in my closet right now.  It’s a lightweight hybrid weave that fits like a competition uniform.  On me, the sleeves and legs go down to where they’re supposed to.  Which, you would think, wouldn’t be uncommon.  However, most of my gi’s don’t reach the first knuckle of my thumb (like they’re supposed to).

Since it’s a lightweight, hybrid jacket the collar isn’t overly stiff.  Which I find kind of nice considering less than a year ago it seemed most designers were trying to make their gi collars as hard and stiff as possible.  If you tuck your chin and protect your neck (like a good Jiu-Jitsu practitioner) the collar stiffness doesn’t make a difference.  I don’t want to wear a gi that feels like sandpaper.  No fears here with the Honey Badger.  The Honey Badger don’t give a shit about collar stiffness.  One downfall, I found, to the jacket was that the embroidery on the back will rub and irritate your back.

The pants are 8 oz. twill cotton.  Which is nice because it keeps them comfortable as well.  However, I usually prefer rip-stop.  They haven’t torn yet (and Lord knows my training partners have been trying to tear this thing apart) so it’s been a non-issue thus far.  IF they tear, we’ll see how well they take to patching.  A definite plus to the pants, on top of the cotton comfort, is the drawstring is cord instead of the twill drawstring.  Tatami has made the cord fairly standard in their gi’s, which is great because I HATE twill drawstring.  They never pull tight enough and they stretch and come loose.  It’s habit for me to replace them now with rope from the Home Depot.  Good job, Tatami.

PERFORMANCE ON THE MAT

Photograph rights and property of Laura Hensen of GRITZ photography

I really enjoy rolling in this gi.  It fits great.  It’s not too tight but it’s not super loose either.  It’s the perfect mix between a competition cut jiu-jitsu gi and a traditional judo gi.  It can take a beating, that’s for sure.  The sleeves are great for gripping and because they’re the proper length you won’t have any issues executing that new Ezekiel choke you just learned!

A closing thought, I haven’t found any loose threads in the stitching.  Even after multiple wears and washes it hasn’t started to fray anywhere.  Which is pretty impressive considering all the embroidery that is on this gi.  I gave this gi a vinegar bath for its first wash and haven’t noticed any color loss anywhere either.  I don’t know if that’s because of the vinegar bath or because Tatami puts out quality products.  Either way, I’m satisfied.

CONCLUSION

Like I said, I really like this gi.  Go buy it and wear it often.  You won’t be disappointed in the money spent.  It’s IBJJF competition legal and fits great.  The included gi bag is nice, too.  Cobra Kai!

Photograph rights and property of Laura Hensen of GRITZ photography.

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