Budo Nord, SBI and Fighter Gear are three martial arts brand names that have coloured most of my years in the martial arts. As the official supply to many national teams in a variety of martial arts all over Scandinavia, they have always stood for quality and diversity. Whatever you need in the martial arts (modern and traditional) they had it and it was good. My Kung fu kit was from them, my Karate kit was from them, my hand- and leg protectors were all from them. Even my wooden sword (which my wife calls "That Stick") were all purchased either at a Budo & Fitness store (official distributors), ordered thru my instructor at the time or ordered…via mail. (yup. I'm a little older than you!)
I recently contacted the headquarters in Sweden and explained the above and how I'd love to review their BJJ range. At first look, I wasn't sure what to make of the patchwork on some of the gis, but I needed a much closer look to make a fair assessment. Scandinavian efficiency meant I had a reply within 2 working days, from the General Manager Sigurd nonetheless, and within a week I had two gis to review: The Coracao (ironically a white gi) and a Sao Paolo (blue). I have had my hands full with a whole bunch of projects which meant I have taken my time with these reviews but as we say in Sweden: For he who waits for something good, the wait is never too long.
I will start with the white Coracao and later on I will share my review of the blue Sao Paolo.
Here's what the SBI / Budo Nord online catalogue says about the Coracao gi:
"Competition cut MMA uniform ensuring snug but comfortable fit. Top in durable, but lightweight, Pearl Weave grain cloth. Pants in Ripstop. Fighter Coracao: Great looking uniform - Knock out quality. Complete with patches."
Here's the Part Time Grappler's review:
Coracao BJJ gi, by Fighter Gear, a sub-brand of Budo Nord.
Disclosure and cost:
The team at Budo Nord sent me this gi to review. Budo Nord sell the Sao Paolo gi for 990 Swedish Kronor which works out to around €1, $152 or £96. Their delivery time from their massive warehouses in Sweden to Manchester, UK was a very impressive 6 days.
The first thing that hits you with the Coracao gi is how light it it. I mean I had to check the bag to see if they had forgotten to send me the trousers or something but no, it's just that light.
The gi arrived in a see-thru plastic bag in under a week! In fact, I think by the time I finished reading the email saying they had sent it, there was a knock on the door! At least, that's how it felt. As usual, I weighed myself holding the gi then weighed myself without and the difference told me that the Fighter Gear Coracao gi weighs approximately 1.1 kg (2.43 lb) :), so incredibly light!
The added bonus of this lightness is that it dries superfast once washed. We have a washer at home so once it's been washed and spun, I hang in on a door frame in the evening. By training time the next day it's already dry!
Lots of gi pictures:
The gi I was sent is an A2 (keeping the shrinkage in mind as I'm 5'10'' (175cm) and weigh 183lb (83kg), measurements below:
Out of the bag
Wing Span : 163 cm (64 1/5 inch)
Wrist Cuff: 20 cm (8 inch)
Jacket Length: 80 cm (31.5 inch)
Jacket Width: 62 cm (24.5 inch)
Waist Width: 59 cm ( 23 1/5 inch)
Outside Leg Measurement: 98 cm (38.5 inch)
Inside LM: 70 cm (27.5 inch)
Ankle Cuff: 23.5 cm (9 1/3 inch)
After 3 washes at 40 degrees:
Wing Span : same
Wrist Cuff: same
Jacket Length: same
Jacket Width: same
Waist Width: 56 cm ( 22.5 inch)
Outside Leg Measurement: 92 cm ( 36.5 inch)
Inside LM: 67 cm ( 27 inch)
Ankle Cuff: 23 cm (9 inch)
So some measurements shrunk a little (pants) while others not at all (jacket)
The general fit of the gi is fantastic (for someone of my height and build). The fabric is very brightly white, very soft so, combined with it's lightness, it immediately became one of my favourite gis to train in. It's beautifully cut and it does not give an opponent too much to hold on to in the sleeves etc.
The pearl weave of the fabric screams quality and attention to detail. It's clear to see that Budo Nord and SBI have a long history and tradition in making garments that withstand the high demands of martial arts (Sport Jujutsu, a blend of competition karate, judo and ground work, is a massive sport in Scandinavia and Germany, which Budo Nord cater for extensively).
As for competition legality, the patches are all in the legal spots and, despite its lightness, the jacket is NOT made of ripstop so it's fully comp legal.
Quality of finish, cut of the gi and lightness? Flawless in my opinion. My only issue with this gi was the patchwork. I ran this gi by a number of people who train BJJ both at our gym and when visiting other gyms and they all said the same thing:
"It looks like a very well made, super light gi but the patches and art work is clearly an after thought and a bad one at that."
I'd go as far as saying that the patchwork ruins the general look of the gi and, as I have said many times before, we buy with our emotions:
If we feel good about something, we search for reasons to justify the purchase.
If we are NOT excited by a product, we'll search high and low for reasons to avoid spending the money on it!
To prove my point, I stripped the patches off the gi then took it back to the gym and immediately people wanted to know where to get one. In fact, a friend came over asking if it was light enough to take to Thailand for a training trip he's got planned later in the year.
|look at all the thread used for the patches!|
|I kept the large chest patch and one shoulder|
I have forwarded this review to the general manager Sigurd with the suggestion that they:
1. Re-release the gi without any patchwork (or at least take away what I have taken away)
2. Give the option to buy the gi patched or unlatched
I will update this review once I get their reply.
In short? This is my favourite gi (after stripping the patches off). Its softness, lightness, brightness and sturdy cut and enforcements are an absolute delight. It took a while to strip the patches off but it was worth it and, on the plus side, stripping the patches off made it ever so slightly lighter. Since the warehouses are in Northern Europe, expect excellent customer service and prompt delivery.
ZHOO ZHITSU IS FOR EVERYONE!
Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi
Proudly sponsored by Predator Fightwear: Built for the kill and Brutal TShirt: Made By Grapplers For Fighters