Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ronin Brand Samurai Gi Review

Price: $140

Size: A2 (Current stats are 5’7” 215lbs 35” waist.)

Weight: 3lbs 9.5oz

     Over the past few months, Ronin Brand has emerged as one of the competing go-to brands with their great gis and their competitive prices. This is my third Ronin Brand review and while it’s not their cheapest gi, I was still excited to see what Ronin Brand brought to the table in terms of creativity when they announced that they were going to go a less traditional route in terms of design. The Ronin Brand Samurai makes for the loudest of the Ronin Brand line up with unique embroidered writing throughout the gi, an updated logo contrast stitching, and a silk screen printed samurai inside the jacket. A large patch is also provided for those who wish to have that same samurai on the back of the gi, which I opted to leave off. You will notice that I compare this gi to the Black Eagle Predator a few times in this review and have illustrated comparisons with images below.    

Initial Inspection: The first thing that you will notice when you receive a new gi, is that awful chemical smell. My initial assumption was that it is the treatment they spray clothing with to keep the material crisp and the colors vibrant is what causes this smell, being that the entire gi smelled like it, however after a few washes I pinpointed it to the drawstring. The rest of the gi is free of the smell, but the drawstring still emits the odor ever so slightly and fades with each wash.  Some gis smell worse than others, this one definitely being one of the worst out of the bag. 

     Getting past that, the large embroidery on the chest is fantastic. It’s the best embroidery on any gi I have ever seen. It’s sharp and detailed. The same embroidery with an added kanji is on the rear skirt. Smaller, less detailed versions of the front embroidery are located under the updated moon crest logo on both sleeves and on the left pant leg. The smaller embroidery of both the moon crest and the word “Ronin” is not as accurate as the larger embroidery. The contrast stitching is something that companies are going with lately, and while it gives a nice look, you can also see whatever mistakes were made in the stitching. This gi is not without flaw in the contrast stitching. There are a few dropped stitches in the pants, and it is doubled up in a couple spots. The contrasted belt loops, skirt openings and pant waist openings are a nice touch. The material of both the jacket and pants are thinner than the other Ronin Brand gis, making this what I would consider their summer gi.        

Jacket: The jacket is made from 420gsm pearl weave cotton and includes an incredibly stiff EVA foam collar, making this one of the lightest jackets that I have reviewed. However, the material is strong and soft and by no means feels cheap. The jacket is cut larger than the Predator’s jacket as you can see in the image below. While I enjoy the cut of the Predator gi jacket, I appreciate the Samurai’s cut a little more. While the streamlined fit of the Predator is excellent, it does pose slight difficulty when attempting chokes with your own lapel; making the larger cut of the Samurai, the Predator’s opposite. Both have opposing pros and cons. The Predator is harder for your opponent to use against you, while the Samurai is easier; however the Samurai does have a much stiffer collar helping neutralize this. The cut really boils down to preference and doesn’t have a “best”. Overtime, the Predator sleeves have shortened a bit rendering it just about illegal. I will say that I really prefer the Samurai’s collar over almost any other gi that I own. The interior of the jacket contains a silk screen printed Samurai, which is supposed to wash away with each wash, which is what I was informed and was intentional, however the samurai still remains with no signs of wear. 

Pants:  I really want to like these pants. They are made out of 11oz duck canvas, similar to the uniform I wore when I worked on aircraft. It’s thin and light but tough and shows no sign of wear after a half dozen training sessions. It compares pretty much identical to the ripstop material of the Predator pants, only marginally thicker without the ripstop stitching. I can’t comment on the longevity of the Samurai pants just yet, but if they fall apart I will update this review. The contrast stitching looks nice, albeit there are a few dropped stitches on the knee patch of both legs and a few other areas. The drawstring is great, however it does have a mothball smell and the ends are not glazed. I don’t know if these will unravel with time but I would have liked to see them look more neat and clean than they do. What bothers me about these pants is the cut. I have larger than average thighs, so I need the room that the Predator gi (and even my other Ronin Brand gi) provide. They aren’t to the point where I can’t wear them, but they are snug. It seems as if the pants were cut smaller in the thigh area only making for a shallower seat. I will say though, that they seem to be loosening up every time I wear them which is good, but in general I prefer a larger cut. This is obviously not universal and these may fit others fantastically, but I prefer the Predator cut. Quality wise, both pants are on par with each other.   

Comfort During Training: Even with the tighter cut of the Ronin Brand Samurai gi pants, and the gi its self not hitting all of my preference points; I actually still enjoyed rolling in it. The pants did break in overtime which was a pleasant relief. Training partners reported difficulty in manipulating the collar, as well as the pants, being that they hugged my thighs. At first, the pants did not stay in place and kept shifting, but once they broke in, they kept in place. I usually prefer a heavier cloth in both the jacket and pants, but having this gi on in a gym which did not have air conditioning on when it began to get very warm, I actually started to appreciate it. I’m very hard on my gis during training, especially during pre-lesson drills, and this gi did not disappoint. Overall, while wishing for a larger cut pants, this gi did make its way into my rotation and has re-motivated myself to get back into losing weight and finish my goal to 200lbs.         

Shrinking: While the jacket did shrink, the pants only shrank in the length of the leg and it didn’t affect the shallowness in the pants which I am happy about. I cold water washed the gi and then air dried in the summer sun. The gi fit is still IBJJF legal.

Bottom Line: The Ronin Brand Samurai gi is a fantastic option for a summer gi but will stay with me even after the summer months end. This is Ronin Brand’s most expensive option in their lineup at $140, also marking this as their first blinged out gi that they have available, with the excellent and large embroidery and the inclusion of contrast stitching. If you are a larger person, be weary of the fact that the pants are cut much slimmer in the seat and thigh area, which may force you to buy a size larger. 

Miscellaneous Images


  1. The Samurai Patch that you didn't add, does it come loose with the gi, or did you request to have it not sewn on to the gi?

  2. The samurai patch is a large square patch that is included in the purchase with the gi and is identical to the samurai inside the jacket. I chose not to sew it on.

  3. Nice review dude. My gi just arrived and there was absolutely no chemical smell, perhaps they've sorted this problem out now.

  4. You can easily glaze the ends of the drawstring yourself with a match or lighter.

  5. I see you've had this gi roughly a year now. How has it held up? I'm considering it for my next gi. Thanks.

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