2009 World Champion Penny Thomas‘ gi is checked at the 2010 BJJ World Championships. All photos courtesy of Cohost Dan.
Imagine you are working at an International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation event and you are asked to help make sure athletes’ gis are not in violation of competition guidelines. The very large Marcio “Pe de Pano” Cruz approaches. His black belt is so faded due to years of use that it is almost grey.
Choose your own adventure:
- You squeak, “Mr. Pano, please advance to the scales to weigh in. Good luck today!” and let the large man proceed.
- You position yourself between the mats and the 2003 absolute division world champion and proclaim, “Mr. Pano, your belt is non-compliant. Advance no further.”
- You politely inform, “Marcio, I don’t think they’re going to let you fight with that belt.”
Well if you were a certain IBJJF employee in 2010, you chose the third option. Pe de Pano happily agreed to swap out his belt and nothing more was thought of it.
The IBJJF’s guidelines on gis and belts are pretty straightforward but it seems that a handful of folks every year are on the wrong side of the regulations.
“All athletes should fight and weigh-in with tradicional weave fabric gi only (single, double or golden). All blue, all white or all black. No other kind of gi is allowed.”
We knew that. That is pretty common knowledge for those who step on IBJJF mats. But the IBJJF takes gi standards very seriously, likely because the appearance of competitors reflects on our sport, and because irregularly sized gis can offer an unfair advantage to the wearer. I’m sure you’ve rolled with people whose gi is a size too small; you know how hard it is to grip their sleeve or pants!
For the record, IBJJF Rules state:
ARTICLE 8º – KIMONO
COMPETITORS ARE REQUIRED TO USE KIMONOS UNDER THE FOLLOWING SPECIFICATIONS
A. Constructed of cotton or similar material and in good condition. The material may not be excessivly thick or hard to the point where it will obstruct the opponent.
B. Colours may be black, white or blue, no combined colors (white kimono with blue pants, etc.)
C. The jacket is to be of suficient length down to the thighs, sleeves must reach the wrist with arms extended in front of the body. The sleeve should follow the oficial measures according to CBJJ, and IBJJF.From the shoulder to the wrist.
D. Belt width 4-5cm, with colour corresponding to rank tied around the waist with a double knot , tight enough to secure the kimono closed.
E. Athletes are not permitted to compete with torn kimonos, sleeves or pants that are not of propper length or with t-shirts underneath the kimono (except in the female divisions).
F. Is not allowed to use paint kimonos, except for the teams.
Here are a couple of scenarios that may not occur to you after reading the above, but I have witnessed be a problem for competitors.
Your gi has a built in pocket for an mp3 player. While that pocket would be good if you wanted to (somehow) listen to the FightWorks Podcast while you train, the IBJJF won’t allow those pockets on the mat. If I understand correctly, they were allowing competitors to use those gis at the 2011 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship but only after cutting those pockets out of the gi.
Your belt is more lavender than purple. This is similar to the PDP example given at the start of this post. Some belt manufacturers produce a pastel-ish purple belt. The IBJJF does not allow them.
So play it safe! Don’t ruin your competition experience by having to make a spontaneous gi or belt purchase just so you can get on the mats. You have enough to think about when you are getting ready to compete!
As Xande Ribeiro can tell you, even multiple time absolute champions get checked!
Paragon’s Bill “The Grill” Cooper receives the once-over.