The History of the Gi
As we start to think about training again, getting out our gis, and giving them a wash so that they are all fresh for training, it is worthwhile spending a minute or two to ponder where our gis come from. The word gi comes from the longer Japanese word - Keikogi. Many martial arts use a gi, and these become the karate-gi, the judo-gi, and the jiu-jitsu-gi depending on the martial art being practiced.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as with other martial arts, there are set requirements for the gis if you plan to compete. While they do come in a range of colours, the traditional gi is still white.
The Okinawa Story
The humble martial arts gi originally comes from Okinawa, Japan, and is similar to the typical clothing that the fishermen and farmers wore at the time, a strong heavy unbleached white cotton jacket, pants, and a belt. It was designed for functionality and ease of movement. Karate originated in Okinawa and developed from the indigenous martial art, Tode or Te, under the influence of Kung Fu as there was a community of Chinese living in Okinawa at the time. While we often think of karate as a striking martial art, historically, as well as in some modern styles, grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints, and vital-point strikes were also taught.
So, the men that trained karate wore their normal clothes to train rather than a uniform. As such, while it was just everyday gear, the gi, it can be argued, was first used in karate in Okinawa.
Pyjamas or GI
Where does the white colour of the gi come from? Is it from purity of the mind? Purity of the soul? Or is there another story that can be told here. Well, another part of the story of the origin of the gi was that gi may have served a dual purpose.
In 13th Century Okinawa (1477 to be precise), the use of weapons was outlawed, and so the training of martial arts was done in secrecy at nighttime. This is probably where the meaning of “empty hand” in reference to the martial art was derived as the men were training without weapons, this term further developed at a later stage, but we are discussing gis and not karate.
The story goes that the gi not only provided fluidity of movement for training, but it could quickly double as the white sleeping garment that was commonly worn by men at the time in case authorities intruded upon a training session. It is around here that the history of the gi in Okinawa seems to fade. Men still trained karate, but they trained in their normal everyday clothes of a jacket, pants, and belt.
The modern gi
The modernisation of karate in Japan during the 20th Century also included the widespread adoption of the white uniform that consisted of the jacket, pants, and the colored belt that showed the wearer’s rank. This uniform was called a Keikogi. The keikogi was developed and popularised by Jigoro Kano, who was the founder of modern judo. It is evident in the literature that karate schools adopted the use of the keikogi in order to attract more people to the martial art and to lift its prestige from an Okinawan martial art to a Japanese martial art.
So, in a way, the history of the gi starts with karate in Okinawa in the 13th Century, was popularised by judo in the late 19th Century, and has been adapted and modified for a range of martial arts ever since. As an aside, in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the gi is often referred to as a kimono.
Today there are all kinds and colours of gis. However, there are strict regulations in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, competition colors may be black, white or blue, and no combined colors (white kimono with blue pants, etc.). There are also strict rules regarding sleeves, legs, and lapels. For example, the jacket lapel must be 5 cm wide; there must be at least 7 cm of room from the bottom of the competitor's wrist to the bottom of the sleeve; and the jacket lapel must not be thicker than 1.3 cm. We will leave you all here at the end of this short story about the gi, and, hopefully, we will all be back in the gyms in the next few weeks!
And don't forget to wash your gis!
ROOTS BJJ Illawarra Opens Today
ROOTS BJJ Illawarra opened its doors today led by our brown belt instructor, Michael Matlijovski. ROOTS BJJ Illawarra provides Self Defence, Martial Arts, Combat Sports and Fitness classes for kids, teens and adults. Michael and his team offer classes, personal training and sport and corporate group training. They teach BJJ, Hapkido/Tukkong Moosool, Boxing, Thai Kickboxing, and Kali.
Michael has been training in the Martial Arts since 1992, and he holds various black belts and certifications in different styles of Hapkido, Taekwondo, Boxing, Filipino Martial Arts, Pressure Points and more. He has competed in various competitions over the years, placing in the top three in different categories such as grappling, board breaking, sparring, weaponry and more. Michael teaches all ages from three years and above teaching Hapkido, Boxing, Thai Kickboxing, BJJ and more. He regularly attends seminars, workshops and classes to progress in his knowledge as a student and instructor of the Martial Arts and Boxing. Michael was inducted in the Taekwondo Links Magazine Hall of Fame in 2014, for 'Martial Arts Outstanding Instructor of The Year'.
We are all looking forward to training with you and your team, Michael! Happy Opening Day!
ROOTS BJJ Botany New Instructor and New Gym
ROOTS BJJ Botany has a big year ahead. We have a new instructor all the way from Brazil via the USA and Abu Dhabi and a new gym.
The ROOTS BJJ Botany team welcomes our new black belt instructor, Professor Ramon Carrico. Ramon is a highly accomplished 4th degree black belt with 20 years of experience teaching adults and kids. He started his BJJ journey in 1988 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Ramon has been teaching Jiu-Jitsu since 1999 both in Brazil and around the world. Ramon was the UAE Army Coach for the UAE Army Abu Dhabi from 2016 to 2019. As part of this role, he was also the Head of UAE Navy Competition Team. He was a coach at Robson Moura Jiu Jitsu Tampa Flórida from 2014 to 2016. In this role, he was the head of the children's classes. He was the Head Coach at Head Coach Premier Martial Arts Knoxville from 2012 to 2014. He was the Head Coach at Nova União Vila Velha ES from 1999 to 2009. Ramon will be leading the ROOTS BJJ Botany team, and we look forward to seeing you on the new mats.
ROOTS BJJ Botany will be moving to a new purpose built gym in March. The gym with offer a range of services, such as BJJ, CrossFit, Krav Maga, power lifting, machine and free weights, and personal training. More details to follow soon!
ROOTS BJJ Matraville Opening March
Continuing to grow our team in the Eastern Suburbs, Professor James Hampton will be opening a new ROOTS BJJ Gym in Matraville in March.
Black belt instructor, James, has been with the ROOTS BJJ for 15 years. He is one of our strongest competitors, and he won two bronze medals in the 2019 Pan Pacific BJJ Competition. James has also won gold and silver at the Australian championships and numerous NSW State titles.
James is a great instructor, and he built a strong team at ROOTS BJJ Botany. James has led his team on to great success at State and National competitions. We are all looking forward to seeing him grow an awesome team of kids and adults in Matraville.
ROOTS BJJ South Sydney is on the horizon
We are also opening a new ROOTS BJJ in the Shire. The search is underway for the perfect location, and we can't wait to see our team growing South Sydney.
This gym will be led by 4th degree black belt instructor Professor, Gustavo Guimaraes. Gustavo is the 2019 Pan Pacific BJJ Champion, 2019 NSW State Champion, and 2019 NSW Winter and Summer Cup Champion. He has also won many titles in Brazil.
Coming from Espirito Santo in Brazil, he has be doing BJJ for nearly 30 years, and he has been teaching for 24 years. We welcome Gustavo to the ROOTS BJJ team, and we will let you all know when the new gym is opening.
BJJ and Yoga Training Camp in Bali
2 - 8 February, Uluwatu, Bali
Could life get any better than this?
The ROOTS BJJ team is heading off to Bail from Sunday 2 to Saturday 8 February 2020 for a totally immersive BJJ, BJJ conditioning training, and yoga camp. What more could you want than to spend six nights in Bali hanging our with your friends, training BJJ, participating in BJJ seminars with a range of guest instructors, doing a daily yoga and meditation class, and relaxing with your friends around the pool, exploring the beautiful beaches on the Bukit Peninsula, or surfing the world class waves from your own private beach at Uluwatu? Exactly, not much! This camp has it all.
Come join us on a unique BJJ experience in Uluwatu, Bali. Set in a luxury topical resort perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, we will take your BJJ training to the next level. Over the course of the immersive six day camp, you will live the BJJ lifestyle while connecting with nature. This is an opportunity to be outside of the gym, leave your daily life behind, and focus on your training with your team, and all you need to worry about is having fun with your friends. You will train both gi and no-gi jiu-jitsu. You will have access to daily yoga and mediation sessions. You will also have the opportunity to do BJJ specific conditioning program. Camp is open to all ROOTS BJJ members, their family, and friends. Non BJJ guests can do yoga and conditioning classes or they are welcome just to hang out and relax. There is loads to do in Bali!
We will be staying in luxury 1 and 2 bedroom villas. All of the villas have access to the lawn, cliff, and private beach. They all have a refrigerator, air conditioning, WIFI (complimentary), and an electronic in-room safe. Some of the villas have kitchens and private pools. We can arrange for you to have king or single beds depending on who you are sharing the room with. In regards to catering, you are in for another treat! We are happy to arrange a customised menu of organic, vegetarian, vegan, non-vegetarian, super food rich, or raw breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is too much to chose from!
Camp cost includes:
$2490 (Australian dollars)
$2090 (Australian dollars) non BJJ partners/friends/family
10% Deposit is due by 14 October
10% discount if paid in full
Payments can be paid in installments.
Please contact Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings and questions or visit our website www.rootsbjj.com.au for more information.
ROOTS BJJ News
ROOTS HQ is the team writer for ROOTS BJJ. ROOTS HQ will cover all the news and views on BJJ. Drop us a line through the contact page if you have any news to share.