How much can a jiu jitsu gi shrink? It’s pretty common to be stuck between two sizes when shopping for a gi, and when you do… you need to know how much your gi is going to shrink.
You don’t want to pick the larger size and be swimming around in a giant gi, looking like an idiot… but you don’t want to get the smaller size, and have it shrink so small you look like a dad trying to squeeze into his twelve year old son’s gi jacket.
So just how much can a jiu jitsu gi shrink?
In my personal experience, on a decent gi, you’ll get a good 1–2 inches (3–5 cm) over your first 6 months, and another inch or so over the following years.
The more I thought about it, I decided to ask around the gym. One guy said 4–5cm was realistic to expect.
There are some general rules to knowing how far your gi might shrink
Here are a couple rules of thumb to keep in mind:
- Gold weave shrinks more than pearl weave
- Heavier weaves (heavier meaning having a higher ‘GSM’) shrink more than lighter weaves
- Ripstop – while still shrinking a little – shrinks the least
- Overall shrinkage is less of an issue we’re mainly talking about shortened sleeves & pant legs
Obviously none of this is set in stone but it’s a good crash course to get you familiar with some of the terms.
Cheap BJJ gis tend to shrink more than more expensive gis
Everyone seemed to agree that there’s a fairly direct correlation to cheaper, entry level jiu jitsu gis, and the gis that ended up shrinking a huge amount.
When you’re looking at entry level gis, you’ll notice if you pay the extra $40–50, you’ll see companies advertising having ‘pre-shrunk’ their gi. This definitely cuts down on the shrinkage, but try to keep in mind that all clothing changes over the course of a few years and gis are no different. You’re going to be yanking, pushing, pulling, pinning, choking, and escaping chokes with this multiple times per week, for hours at a time, so it’s only fair to expect that any gi will continue to shrink a little bit.
One gi that seemed to come up again and again that people said shrank a lot is Tatami’s Absolute Nova. It’s one of the most popular starter gis – in part because it comes with a free belt – but after seeing a lot of people had better experiences with the Fuji All Around, I tend to recommend it as a starter gi instead.
Once you get into the more expensive gi’s like the Hyperfly, you hear less about shrinkage since they’ve been pre-shrunk and you’re dealing with top quality fabrics; even then… it’s safe to expect it to shrink an inch or two.
Hemp gis tend to shrink more than the more typically cotton gis.
A friend of a friend said his hemp gi shrank a lot, and after doing more research, it sounds like that’s a fairly common issue.
Somehow I doubt this is because of the hemp fibre itself, and more so because the limited runs of hemp gis aren’t large enough to demand pre-shrunk gis.
How to avoid your gi shrinking?
The single most agree’d upon aspect with regards to minimizing gi shrinkage, is to wash it in cold water, and hang it to dry.
If you’re in a warm climate, I suspect this works well for you. In a Canadian winter, a wet gi will stay wet for days, so after a month or two of meticulous hang-drying, I settled on washing in cold, and throwing it in the dryer on its lowest heat setting.
Using this method, my most recent gi as of writing this (a Fuji All Around) has shrunk an inch or two after 6 months of use.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick run down of how far you can expect your jiu jitsu gi to shrink.
If you have experience with a particular gi, please leave a comment letting us know our thoughts!
Until next time… Oss!