When asked what I like about a certain BJJ Gi
I try to focus on three main points. The appearance of a Gi, how well the Gi is made considering stitching, fabric and embroidery and how many flying armbars I can pull off when wearing it or more professionally put, how it performs in class.
If you’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for longer than the free session you would have heard of the brand Koral. This Jiu Jitsu powerhouse started in 1997 and supplies everything Jiu Jitsu being up there amongst some of the biggest brands, not just in BJJ but in MMA as well.
From the moment I started BJJ i’ve heard how good Koral Gi’s are. I asked people “WHY are they so good?” and it seemed to be that nobody had a decent enough answer. I heard answers such as “Because it’s made in Brazil, the home of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu”
and someone even answered “Because it’s Koral”
which quite frankly is ridiculous. I realise brands with a big name will sell a lot better than a tiny sweatshop that Gi’s are 70% cotton 30% dog coat, that’s basic business hierarchy, but I don’t believe you should judge the product until you’ve done some research or even tried it yourself.
So not wanting to contradict myself I went in search of some reviews to do some research on Koral Gi’s. I quickly found that the most popular Koral gi is the MKM Competition Gi. Now when conducting my research I found that most reviews talked about how the Gi was made, the fabric it was made out of and the measurements of the Gi which is all great information, but nobody ever talked about how it felt when rolling. How the lapel is firm at the top but loose at the bottom making it difficult for your opponent to get a tight collar choke and ideal for choking someone with. How different the Gi pants are from other Gi’s such as Tatami. How the cord around the pants is just a long bit of rectangular fabric rather than a small rope like cord making it impossible to loosen the pants when you tie it which is good while rolling but awful to untie after class.
So then I had a crazy idea that I should write my own review. A down to earth, genuine conversation about how the Gi performs like I would have with anyone at the gym. So here it is.
Let’s start with the jacket. I think there’s no denying it’s
a beautiful Gi. Honestly when I strutted through the gym the first time I trained in it and I felt like the coolest mother fucker on the planet. That quickly changed when I was getting choked by it but let’s not get into that. The Koral patches on the jacket MAKE the appearance, but often it feels like that’s all they do. When in a tournament if i’m pinning my opponent in side control, pushing my shoulder into their face I want the Gi to cause discomfort. I want them to still be thinking about how painful the fabric was on their face when I slither my knee on their belly. Instead it has soft fabric from the patch that glides across the face. Now this isn’t huge problem and don’t get me wrong the stitching on said patches is brilliant, but I like to have every advantage I can when competing. The jackets lapel is where this Gi shines. When rolling I got caught in an
X-choke by a guy in the gym who is particularly good at them. A choke that in my other Gi’s would render me helplessly tapping within a few seconds. In the Koral Gi I felt like I had more time to breathe. The lapel is so high up your neckline it makes it very difficult for the opponent to manipulate it, giving you more time to escape. Now the bottom of the lapel is where things get very interesting. I suddenly understood (To an extent) why people would reply “It’s made in Brazil”.
Let me explain, with a lot of Gi’s I feel the bottom of the lapel is just THERE. It doesn’t have a purpose like it was just another piece of fabric. In the Koral Gi it is so much more than that. It seems like when it was designed; it was designed by someone who loved using their own Gi not someone who thought it was ‘another piece of fabric’. I hardly ever use my own Gi but I found myself effortlessly pulling it out from beneath my belt to go for chokes I couldn’t even remember being taught. I knew them I just didn’t have the confidence or the tools to do them.
I often don’t care for my own Gi pants as I haven’t found my use for them in rolling yet but I’m sure it will come. As soon as I put on the Koral Gi pants I definitely felt as though they were a lot more ‘traditional’ than others I have tried. One of the things I found with these pants is it was a lot easier for people to control my legs and pass. I’m not saying my guard is impossible to pass but it isn’t the worst either. The pants have such a wide, open bottom which means that when people have a good grip that there’s no escaping no matter how much you flail your legs about.. One other thing about the pants that I did not like but could also be boiled down to my stupidity is the cord they use. That fucking cord. In a lot of Gi’s the draw string is a small rope like cord but in the Koral it has a long bit of rectangular fabric. Although the cord was different it worked enough so my pants didn’t fall around my ankles during the warm up. The real problem was at the end of the session when getting changed and I could NOT get the cord undone. Now at first I thought ‘by no means is a legitimate flaw’ because it was due to my own stupidity but I asked other people at the gym who owned or had tried the Gi and they all experienced the same problem. The problem is that you can’t get the Gi pants tight unless you tie a tight knot but then it’s impossible to get them off at the end. I once missed my train home from training because I was picking at the knot for 10 minutes after class.
So to summarise this review I will go back to my three main points:
The appearance of this Gi is great and you do feel like every time you put it on you are a legitimate BJJ badass even if it isn’t true (Unless you’re Buchecha).
How well it’s made:
It is brilliantly made even though there are a few things wrong with the placement of the patches the stitching is great, it’s 100% pre shrunk cotton which makes it lightweight and it’s a very comfortable fit for a Gi.
As for how it performs in rolling, although there are a few things I can complain about those things can also be attributed to my skills and definitely does not give a fair representation of the Gi. My verdict is if you like the look of it try to see if someone at your gym has one and try it on or give it a feel. If you can afford it, go for it. You do notice a difference from the cheaper Gi’s on the market and this one.
I hope this review; if you can even call it a review has been helpful. I wanted to try and make an honest bit of writing from my experiences that people can relate to. Not measurements which you can find in the description on any website or lots of pictures of me posing in the Gi (although I did take some NSFW ones, inbox me if interested).
And remember if you decide to get this Gi and people ask ”Why are Koral Gi’s so good?”
make sure you look them dead in the eye and say “Because it’s a Koral”
they’ll respect you a lot more for that in depth, descriptive answer and most definitely will not flying triangle you.
If you liked this article please let me know.
Author: Jacob Flockhart
To buy your Koral MKM Competition Gi click HERE