BJJ is a sport unique in many regards. One of these aspects is having plenty of custom markings on your chosen Gi. You will never see another martial art with a gi with as many patches as bjj gis. Not only will you find the standard academy patch, but you also will have patches for various BJJ Gear companies, Acai manufacturers, BJJ Mental coaches, Exercise instruments etc….These will cover the shoulder, pants, back so on and so on. Has it always been this way?
In Judo for example, you will have a club patch on the breast and maybe on the back and that’s it. You also have just 2 choices of gi colors: white and blue. BJJ Gis comes in all shapes and colours. This is part of what makes our martial art/sport so interesting.
Through the ages patches were a sign of ability because getting sponsored isn’t easy even in this day and age.
And if we look through the way way back machine this type of customization played a role in a number of significant fights that colored the bjj history. One of them was certainly the legendary match between Wallid Ismail and Royce Gracie:
When Wallid Ismail put Royce Gracie to sleep with a clock choke during a Jiu-Jitsu super fight in 1998, he wore a heavily patched up Atama Gi which showed how many sponsors he had. Ismail was the first ever pro Jiu-Jitsu fighter. This was the first time a BJJ athlete wore that many patches on a Gi. Many would soon follow Wallid’s example.
Why do people who are not sponsored still put patches on their Gis? This is for the same reason that some people like to decorate their car. It is something to differentiate themselves to others.
Alexandre Vieira is one of the most exciting up and coming grapplers today under the Brazilian Top Team flag. In 2017, his loop choke submission was chosen as the Submission of the Year by FloGrappling. Alexandre recently put together his Crucifix and Loop Choke 3 volume instructional set. Alexandre brings a modern outlook to some of the sports most devastating, but sometimes ignored positions, the crucifix and the loop choke.