Monday, May 20, 2013

Bull Terrier Master Series #1 Gi Review

Bull Terrier is a Japanese brand of kimonos that I have had very little exposure to until recently.  They are well known for sponsoring athletes such as the Mendes Brothers, Cobrinha, and Roberto "Satoshi" De Souza just to name a few.  They are well known for their flashy gi's that make a bold statement.  Bull Terrier does offer a variety of gi's from flashy to toned down for those that aren't looking to make a fashion statement on the mats.  I do particularly like the look of some of their bling gi's such as the Mushin #2 and New Star but opted for something with less flash...the Master Series #1.  The gi featured in this review is an A1.

I feel like Bull Terrier has done a great job with the design of the Master Series #1 gi.  It is pretty straight forward in terms of design.  It is a solid colored gi that features white contrast stitching throughout.  There are very few patches on this gi and instead Bull Terrier has implemented some accented embroidery.  There are a handful of small bats embroidered on the front right panel of the kimono along with the Master Series logos embroidered on each shoulder of the sleeves.  In addition to this there are a couple small Bull Terrier Master Series patches stitched onto the bottom of the jacket and behind the collar.  There is no fancy taping insides the cuffs of the sleeves or tattooed designs inside the jacket.  The inner portion of the jacket does feature some tasteful red taping along the bottom.  The skirt openings of the jacket feature white vents which look good and accent the jacket well.  The pants are equally as simplistic in design.  The top of the trousers feature a small patch and the similar bats embroidered on the opposite side.  Contrast stitching is used on the pants consistent with the jacket.

This is a pretty light gi weighing approximately 2.4 pounds!  It is made of 100% cotton and did I mention it's light?!  The stitching throughout this gi is very good.  It is very difficult to hide spotty craftsmanship when using contrast stitching.  I have inspected this gi from top to bottom and can't find any problems in that area.  The jacket features a one piece back and the armpits have reinforcement inside.  The collar seems to be rubberized and quite sturdy.  It's not too thick or thin.  I would say it's about average in terms of thickness.

The pants feel to be a lightweight canvas that is again 100% cotton. They are not overly stiff and have a nice feel to them.  The craftsmanship is excellent.  The cuffs of the pants are similar to the jacket; there is no taping here.  While some might prefer the look of taping I can honestly say I'm okay without it.  Sometimes the taping can be abrasive and simply not worth the accent that it provides.  The pants sport reinforced knee pads that are adequately long and provide a small amount of cushion.  They could be a little thicker in my opinion.  The pants are held up with a flat drawstring and a peculiar single loop in the middle of the pants which I found strange.  This requires the drawstring to be tied near your left hip.  I don't feel that it's particularly difficult to tie the pants but feel that the pants would be better served with a more traditional loop system in place.

Being 5'7", 150lbs I opted for an A1.  I knew this was going to be a little risky as my measurements put me more comfortably into an A2 but I really didn't want an overly large gi.  After trying the gi on right out of the bag it was clear I wouldn't be running this gi through the dryer anytime soon.  My first impressions were that the jacket is a bit stiff.  The skirt and sleeves are noticeably short and would definitely fail an IBJJF inspection.  That said the jacket is super light and comfortable for being so stiff.  The pants are super comfortable and a little short.  They are far from baggy which I really like.  I dislike baggy pants and these trousers feel like they were tailored for me specifically.
Destined to fail an inspection

Rolling Impressions
I can't say enough good things about how this gi fits and perform while training.  The gi is super light. As light as this gi is it doesn't seem to suffer from some of the issues other lightweight gi's experience such as stretching in the sleeves.  Due to the lightweight cotton it never feels overly weighed down with sweat during long training sessions.  I suppose my only complaints about the gi is that it's just a tad too small.  The short length of the skirt does require adjustment somewhat frequently but it isn't too bothersome.  The excellent fit of the pants prevents opponents from being able to find easy grips which I really like.  I feel like I can move around stealthily in this gi without my opponents getting an easy handle on either the jacket or pants.

As previously noted, this is an A1 sized gi and I found it to be very snug to small fit on myself.  That said I have only washed it on cold and allowed it to hang dry in my house.  I have thrown it in the dryer a couple times on air dry only with a dryer sheet to try and soften up the jacket.

Closing Thoughts
I love this gi for training due to it's lightweight feel and fit.  I do wish the gi was a tad larger making it IBJJF legal but that is ultimately my fault.  From what I have read others feel that these gi's tend to run a bit small.  I do have to wonder how an A2 would have fared and will likely go with the larger size in the future.  I enjoy the basic look of the blue and white contrast stitching.  I feel like this is a great looking gi without going over the top with lots of patches and excessive embroidery.  I look forward to trying some other Bull Terrier gi's in 2013 and hope to find one that fits me a bit better so I can use them in competitions.

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