Some Kenpoist gi’s are viewed as being pretty generic.
They’re usually black or white and occasionally there is a rebel that wears what we call salt & pepper (black top and white bottom or vice versa). To be honest what sets Kenpoists apart from other systems isn’t the gi, it’s what’s on the gi. Kenpoist gi’s are usually covered in patches, ranging from variations of Kenpo crests, dojo’s they’re affiliated with or distinguished patches earned in study or competition.
Me in my Kenpo gi and patches.
At our Dojo, we are only permitted to wear black or white.
There’s never really been an issue with this policy.
I own black and white gi’s, some covered in Kenpo regalia and some blank. A part of me has always been secretly jealous of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gis. You see them everywhere; in every color imaginable and some with beautiful embroidering.
Come on, who doesn't want a pink gi?
I was slightly perplexed and alarmed when Elite Sport asked me to try out their Elite Sports Ultra Lite BJJ Gi. I have never studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and didn’t know what to think of a BJJ gi. The fact that it was Blue was even more bewildering.
I knew next to nothing about BJJ gis.
Before I agreed to testing the gi, I consulted my good friend Jason Bennett a 4th Degree Black belt in American Kenpo and Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
After looking over the gi link, Sifu Bennett told me,
“I have separate gi’s for Kenpo and BJJ because of the weight. Nice gi though, it will last a long time. Try it.”
If I had any hurtle to overcome it was wearing a gi too heavy that would restrict my movement.
I hoped that with it being an Ultra Lite, it wouldn’t make that big of a difference. My Sifu concurred and gave me permission to wear the gi regularly on the mat for one week to test it in sparring, group technique classes and forms.
This is what I concluded.
My gi was durable and reinforced and moved fine my stand up and striking in sparring class. However, due to the inseam of the pants, there was a loss of height in my kicks. Which forced me to focus on my upper body and handwork.
My son & I after sparring in my Elite Sports BJJ gi.
The truth is, wearing the gi during sparring was an eye opener. I’m not going to be wearing a karate gi every minute. I might be in jeans, cut off shorts or even a mini skirt… and THEY could limit my kicking ability as well. An attacker on the street isn’t going to care. Sparring outside of my comfort zone reminded me of that.
If you are a karate practitioner and plan on trying out a BJJ gi there’s one other thing you should be prepared for…
Your fellow peers grabbing you.
There’s something about the weave of the fabric and the thickness of the seems that makes you just want to grab, hold on and possible either throw or shake a person wearing a BJJ gi.
I know this because that is exactly what all my friends wanted to do to me.
During technique class, we practice our techniques on each other by mock attacking one another. Usually this is based off punches and kicks. Suddenly, everyone had this uncontrollable urge to no longer punch or kick me but rather grab and drag me.
Jesalyn Mae Harper
Hello my name is Jesalyn. I'm a divorced single mom and a karate addict...
I am currently a 1st Brown belt in American Kenpo and a Junior Instructor at Double Dragon Kenpo Karate under JR Diaz, I am part of the Parker/Planas Lineage and study Karbaroan Eskrima with JR Diaz, under Guro Ed Planas
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