Back while the 2011 BJJ Gi Survey was still in the works, Doug Lee from Kinji San sent me an A3 white Ronin Fighter gi to wear and review. Doug runs a martial arts store in NY, and Ronin is his family’s martial arts uniform brand. You can read our interview about the BJJ gear industry.
This will be my first hands-on gi review since finishing the survey, and I decided to use the same metrics to evaluate this gi as we used in the survey: sense of satisfaction (from very satisfied to very dissatisfied) with the price, quality/durability, fit/comfort and style/design as well as an overall score (1-5 stars.)
Price – Satisfied
If we really want to apply the same standards as a survey, realize that my satisfaction with price may be irrelevant because I didn’t pay for the gi. But I will still give an objective explanation for my opinion, and you can see if it rings true.
With a seemingly permanent sale price of $120, the Fighter hits a sweep spot well below the always rising average market price of about $150. It’s easily earns a spot alongside as other top gis in the $130 range like Fushida and Tatami. As Doug confessed in our interview, BJJ gi pricing is more about marketing than quality (for better or worse), and Ronin stands up well against gis that cost $30-50 more.
Quality/Durability: Very Satisfied
The most important factor for determining the value of a gi is how well a gi stands up to repeated beatings (especially when compared to its price.) This is where I put the most weight when evaluating a gi.
For being a relatively light weight gi, the Fighter’s fabrics and construction are heavy duty. All stitching is strong and neat, and nothing has frayed or come loose despite regular training and washing.
Doug seems to have a good handle on his factories and manufacturing, and I’d be surprised to see a bad batch come out of Ronin. You will get a lot of mileage out of these gis.
This factor is very subjective (along with style and design) and varies with each person’s preferences and physique. Two people with the same body type can like a gi to fit in different ways. I’ll tell you how it fit for me.
Personally, it was a little loose, but being both very tall (6’2″) and skinny (165 lbs), I fall in the awkward A2-A3 borderland. Doug warned me about this and he was right. He said the A2 would be too short, and the A3 would be a little baggy (though not terribly like a judogi), but the sleeves and pant legs were the perfect length. This is a minor complaint though, since it doesn’t fit poorly, just looser than other brands I usually wear.
The fabrics of the gi itself are comfortable on the skin. The interior stitching tape didn’t both me as it has on others. The ripstop pants didn’t have a plastic/waxy feel. They use a flat canvas drawstring that stays tied, which I prefer.
The gi has not noticeably shrunk after several washings, though I machine washed cold and hung it to dry (like I do with all my gis) which isn’t the toughest test.
Style/Design: Somewhat Satisfied
The importance of this point varies from person to person. I’m a low-to-medium bling guy, and I don’t really care how my gis look in the end. Overall, I’m happy with the lines and cut of the Fighter, even if it’s a little baggy for me.
If I have to find complaints, the red and white “Ronin Brand” taping and red and black shoulder patches didn’t appeal to me. The logo on the back is odd too because it lists BJJ*JUDO*NHB*MMA*JIU-JITSU like an advertisement, but I can’t see it when I’m wearing it so that’s easily forgotten.
To be fair, compared to other gis that look like NASCAR jackets, the Fighter’s few patches are fairly tame. I do like Ronin’s crossed arrow fletchings logo, and I would like a model that featured that as embroidery (not patches).
(Note that the round logo on the chest in my photos is a tag I had yet to remove. It’s not a patch.)
Overall: 4 Stars – Good to Very Good
Scoring very highly in price and quality drives the Fighter by Ronin into Good to Very Good territory. Not counting my minor cosmetic preferences, I have zero real complaints. Doug’s history in the martial arts business and his connections to the right manufacturers have lead to a creation of a high quality BJJ gi. Ronin earns a spot among the top gis at any price, but especially in the under $130 range.
Final Word: The Fighter is a fantastic gi at a competitive price, and you won’t be disappointed picking one up.