Sunday, June 8, 2008

Padilla & Sons Kimonos Review: Single Weave & Hybrid Weave

Padilla & Sons Kimonos, Single Weave gi, retail $70. Hybrid Weave gi, retail $75. Both available at http://www.matrat.us/ .



A while back I said that I would write a review on these two gis as a follow up to my first review on the Padilla & Sons (P & S) Kimonos Gold Weave gi written almost a year ago. In that review, I compared the Gold Weave gi to 2 other high end gis and even a Judo gi. If you're not familiar with P & S Kimonos, I suggest reading the first review where I give some background information on the company. In short, the company is owned by Joe Padilla in Long Beach, California. He is a BJJ brown belt (Rigan Machado) and a Judo black belt, and he is making some of the best damn gis in the sport.

In this review I will be breaking down the features of the P & S Single Weave and Hybrid Weave gis. I am only listing the features of each gi side by side and not directly comparing them to each other. As I am running out of non-Padilla & Sons gis to compare to, you can refer to my comparisons in the previous review here.

To restate my criteria for judging the quality of a gi, the areas I look for are (in no particular order): 1) Weight. I am not a fan of heavy gis. 2) Comfort. I don’t want a gi to be too abrasive or stiff. 3) Fit. The gi obviously needs to fit just right and be comfortable on my feet, in my guard, etc. And, lastly, 4) Construction. I want a gi that will last me years wearing it 3 times per week or so if need be. It should also be reinforced in critical areas with strong material.

I will also add a new 5th point of judgement that has come about due to my increased training in Judo over the last couple of years: 5) Cross over capability. I prefer BJJ gis to Judo gis (mainly because they are lighter and fit better), but many BJJ gis can't be worn in Judo class or Judo tournaments for several reasons (illegal dimensions, too many graphics/patches, poor construction, etc.). A BJJ gi that can also be worn to Judo class or competitions is a plus in my book.

Weight

The Single Weave gi (American Size 5) weighs about 6 lbs. and the same sized Hybrid gi weighs about 5 lbs. The Hybrid, afterall, is meant to be a strong lightweight gi for warm weather training.

Feel



Out of the package the Single Weave gi is soft and bright white, and has a traditional single weave pattern. The Hybrid gi, on the otherhand, only comes in black (as of this writing) and is a smooth weave of heavy canvas twill. This heavy canvas twill is smooth to the touch, but is a noticably stiffer fabric than that of the Single Weave gi. The first thing I did to both gis was to wash and dry them to fit. I have found that the Padilla & Sons Single Weave gi stands up to going through the dryer quite well with minimal secondary shrinkage (continued shrinkage after the first drying). This might not be recommended by Joe Padilla, though, and will definitely shorten the life of the gi. As for the Hybrid... Well, it says on the label not to put it in the dryer, but I thought doing so would help soften it up some, but the heat from the dryer caused the fabric to get shiny in spots. So, definitely don't put the Hybrid in the dryer!



Fit




The fit of the both gis is comfortable and non-binding through the chest, torso and armpit areas. There is great range of motion when moving the arms, and the slightly longer skirts of the gis (as compared to the Padilla & Sons Gold Weave gi) keeps the gi tucked into the belt nicely.


On the left, the Padilla & Sons Single Weave gi (also available in blue). On the right, the Padilla & Sons Hybrid Weave gi (only available in black. Both gis fit exceptionally well and are nicely tapered from the armpits to the waist. From here on out, click any of the pics to enlarge.


Both gis when properly sized will conform to regulation measurments. What is noticeable is that both gis have narrower sleeve cuff than the P & S Gold Weave gi.

Construction & Dimensions: Gi Jacket


What you can see here is that both gis have the girdle seam that separates the upper part of the gi top from the lower, a feature that the Padilla & Sons Gold Weave doesn't have. Does it matter? Comfort wise, no. There is no difference in feel in gis with or without a girdle seam. But, it does matter in terms of strength. The weakest part of a gi will always be where two pieces of fabric join. But, as I'll show below, this seam is strongly reenforced in these gis.


The lapels of both gis are approximately 1 - 7/8 inches and have 5 stitch rows to provide firmness. The collar is identical to the Gold Weave gi in fit and feel.


Opening up the jackets to expose the interiors, you can see that both jackets have a 'T' shaped reenforcement through the shoulders and down the spine. In the Hybrid Weave, this reenforcement is made of Single Weave gi material. This combination of Single Weave fabric and smooth fabric in the jacket, is where the Hybrid gi gets it's name.


Close ups of the spine seam 'T' reenforcement. It is slightly wider in the Hybrid than the Single Weave. This close up of the Hybrid shows more clearly the combination of the two fabrics.


The girdle seam is reenforced on both jackets and is approximately 1-1/4 inch wide. Notice how this reenforcement overlaps the bottom edge of the spine reenforcement, making a possibly uncomfortable seam edge smooth and wearable.


One of my favorite features on the Padilla & Sons Gold Weave gi was the attention to detail that was put into reenforcements, such as the inside collar edge. This reenforcement is more commonly seen on only Judo gis, and is not a typical feature on BJJ gis. Above you can see that both jackets are reenforced in this area with a a 1 inch band. This band starts at the junction of the girdle seam, and loops around the neck to finish at the other girdle seam in a continuous unbroken reenforcement. This feature allow could add a year or more life to a gi jacket.


Another high stress area - the armpit. A look inside shows that both jackets are reenforced in the armpit areas with a large oval of Single Weave material. What can also be seen in these photos is that the seams leading into and out of the reenforcement patch are themselves covered and reenforced with a 1 inch wide band of fabric. This makes the insided of the sleeves smooth and comfortable.


Hip split reenforcement. Here is the only spot on either gi that is less reenforced than the Gold Weave gi. Here the split is reenforced with a 3 inch triangle of Single Weave material on the Single Weave gi, and with smooth canvas twill on the Hybrid jacket. Is it adequate? It would seem so thus far with the Single Weave gi, as I have been training in it (BJJ & Judo) for 10 months now. The Hybrid gi has seen far less mat time. Only time will tell, but if I were to pick a weak point in the construction, this would be it.


This is the inside of the Hybrid Weave jacket to show the combination of the Single Weave material and the smooth canvas. Here, the Single Weave material is being used to reenforce the chest and shoulder of the jacket. The same construction is used to reenforce the Single Weave gi (photo not shown). I have never seen a smooth gi reenforced in this way. It is very cutting edge.


Sleeve cuff width. This was a point of contention on the P&S Gold Weave gi with sleeve cuffs that were about 7-1/4 inches wide. Some people wrote me saying that this feature alone was making them hesitant to buy the Gold Weave. But, with both of these gis above, about an inch of material has been shaved off. Both gis have sleeve cuffs that are about 6-1/4 inches wide, which is more on par with the rest of the industry. Does it make a difference? Appearance wise it looks a little nicer, a little more "tailored". But, functionally, does it matter? To me, I like to be able to use the Ezequiel choke from many different positions, so I don't like cuffs to be too narrow. But, 6-1/4 inches isn't too narrow. Many BJJ players will gladly give up the ease of getting an Ezequiel choke as long as they feel protected from being dominated by a low sleeve grip. These sleeve cuffs reach a middle ground between those who like them narrow and those who don't (or don't care).


Sleeve cuff reenforcement. Both cuffs are reenforced with a 1 inch band.



Construction & Dimensions: Gi Pants



The gi pants, are very different compared to each other. The Single Weave pants are more similar to the pants of the Gold Weave gi. The are soft, have a triple belt loop, and the knees are reenforced from crotch to ankle. The Hybrid pants, on the other hand are much more stiff because they are made of a heavier cotton twill. But, this doesn't make them uncomfortable because they are at the same time quite smooth to the touch. Like the Single Weave pants, they have a triple belt loop and the knee is reenforced from the crotch to the ankle.



There's something different about the triple belt loops on these pants compared to the P&S Gold Weave gi. The top portions of these loops hang free. It's hard to see on the black pants, but I am pulling the middle loop away with my index finger. I was rather unsure about this feature when I first encountered it, but I have yet to find that this unique feature is any less effective than a more traditionally sewn on loop.


The crotch on both pants is reenforced just like the pants of the Gold Weave gi.




The four pictures above show the front (top two pics) and back (bottom two pics) triangle reenforcements on the inside of the pants crotch. The white Single Weave pants are the 1st and 3rd pics, the black pants are pics 2 & 4.


Pants hip split reenforcement. Again, neither pant is more reenforced in this area than the pants of the gold Weave, but these little details are what comprise the differences between Gold Weave gis and Single Weaves.


Pant knee reenforcement goes from the crotch to the ankle cuff hem seam.


The ankle cuff of the Single Weave is slightly more narrow (9 inches) than that of the Hybrid Weave's pants (9-1/2 inches).



Ankle cuff reenforcement for both pants is approximately 3/4 of an inch.

Opinion


Admittedly, I am biased regarding these gis. I am a traditional gi wearer at heart, and have a hard time slipping on a smooth woven gi like the above Hybrid Weave. I also don't like to wear non-traditional colors (colors other than white and blue). Why am I like this? What is my aversion? Is it because I feel like I'm wearing a karate gi? Do non-traditional colors make me feel like I'm being too flamboyant, or pretending to be a ninja? I answer yes to all of the above. But, I qualify this answer with I only feel this way in regards to myself, and not when others are wearing these non-traditional gis. What they wear is up to them and it doesn't bother me in the least.


These questions have been in my mind since I was in the market for my first BJJ gi years and years ago. It's obvious that my biases are based on what I was brought up with in my first BJJ academy. But, I have always been a little curious about why BJJ (or Judo) chooses to use the uniforms that it does. While writing this review I was flipping through an old Gracie Magazine and hit upon this article: "The 25 Great Mysteries in Jiu-Jitsu", by Marcelo Dunlop, Gracie Magazine #126 September 2007; pages 28 - 37. In the article 2 questions were asked about BJJ gis:


The first was "Mystery #19": Why does no one use smooth gis in Jiu-Jitsu anymore, apparel that disappeared from academies during the 1990s? The answer: 'The smooth gi, with long sleeves like an invitation to the opponent, started to see its days counted in our Jiu-Jitsu with the arrival of the new woven and thick gis coming from Japan. "When we started training with the judo guys, I remember the guys had started wearing Mizuno so tight and thick it weighed about 3kg," recalls Sylvio Behring. The novelty quickly caught on with practitioners of the gentle art, as the tighter sleeves made gripping more difficult, but also - and mainly - the thick collar made choking harder. "The smooth one really did make manipulating and controlling your opponent a lot easier. But, to this day in my academies I encourage the kids to use the smooth gi," says Behring.'


First of all, I can only assume that in those days the BJJ boys and girls were wearing smooth gis more along the lines of traditional karate gis, and not like the P&S Hybrid Weave. The Hybrid Weave is a smooth gi with a BJJ cut and collar and is reenforced with Single Weave material. But, what the above answer eludes to is that the smooth gi was commonly used in BJJ in Brazil up until the 1990s. So, it's "rebirth" in the more evolved and better designed P&S Hybrid Weave is perhaps more "traditional" than we typically give credit. And, granted, it should be a little cooler while training in warmer weather than a traditional weave.


The next gi question comes in "Mystery #23": Why was the gi traditionally white? The answer: 'Older than fighting facing forward, the white gi is one of the oldest traditions in martial arts. In Japan, the attire was always worshipped, in and out of fights, for the notion in the country that white was a noble color, pure and chaste. The adoption of the with gi for all had the further function of dressing people of different economic classes the same, be them noblemen or peasants. One need only inagine how classic Japanese judokas were peeved when Olympic champion Anton Geesink suggested, in 1986, that the color blue be adopted for the keikogi ("training uniform" in Japanese, from where the word "gi," in English, came about). Not even the force of tradition, though, could keep color from becoming popular, and nowadays in Jiu-Jitsu we see a profusion of tones - making it easier for fans and referees. A study by the University of Halle, in Germany, concluded that with fighters wearing different color gis scoring errors fall by 20%, thanks to the drop in referees' eye fatigue."


So, a blue gi isn't that traditional, and wearing a different color gi could help you in a tournament. Well, assuming you have a color of gi that the particular tournament allows. Both Judo, and now some BJJ tournaments are only allowing blue as an alternate color. And in Judo, it has to be a very particular color of blue.


The answers to the above 2 "Mysteries" helped me reconcile my traditional mind towards non-traditional BJJ gis such as the P&S Hybrid Weave gi, and slowly, I will incorporate it more and more into my training rotation.


Summary:


Back to the review. In terms of judging criteria for a gi stated at the top of this article, I would break down the scoring of the two gis like this:


Weight: Both gis score high for being light weight, 5 stars each (out of 5). With gi jacket and pants, both gis weigh in at 6 lbs or less.


Comfort: The Single Weave gi is soft out of the box and stays soft even when hang dried, 5 stars. The Hybrid Weave, because it is made of a different material, is stiffer than the Single Weave and other traditional gis. That's not to say that it's uncomfortable, though. The fabric is very smooth to the touch and is non-abrasive. Give it some time to loosen up from wear and wash, and it will come around. 4 stars.


Fit: Both gis fit like gloves, and seem to be tailored to fit. They have nice tapers from the armpits to the waist. The sleeve cuffs are not too big or too tight and there is plenty of range of motion in the arms. 5 stars each.


Construction: When talking Padilla & Sons Kimonos, you're talking about light weight suits of armor. The construction of P&S gis is absolutely second to none. Hands down, they are toughest gis in the 5.5 - 6 lbs range. So, in that context, both of these gis get 5 stars. However, if I were to compare these two gis to the P&S Gold Weave, then they only get 4 stars. The Gold Weave is just better reenforced and lacks girdle and spine seams (weak points). But, that's why these gis are less expensive than the Gold Weave.


Cross over capability: This is not that big of a deal for most people reading this review, because these are BJJ gis, and were not intended to be used for Judo. But, if you can kill two birds with one stone, why not? The Single Weave has great cross over capability into the Judo dojo and competition ring. Not only is it built tough enough to handle the abuse, it has limited graphics, is the right color and has dimensions that should pass inspection at most state and regional tournaments. For that it gets 5 stars. Additionally, I'm not fond of my Judo gi due to it's weight, and prefer to wear the P&S Single Weave to Judo class. As for the Hybrid Weave... while it is constructed well enough for the rigors of Judo, it is the wrong color and the wrong weave. For this, I can only give 2 stars (for the construction alone) in this category.


Omitting the Cross over category and comparing the gis only to non-Padilla & Sons gis, the Single Weave scores 20/20 stars (100%), and the Hybrid Weave scores 19/20 stars (95%). The strong point of both gis is in their construction, reenforcements and light weight. Pound for pound and stitch for stitch, they are the best Single Weaves and Smooth Weave gis out there. Not to mention their price! Whether or not you prefer a traditional weave to a smooth weave is up to you, and you may score the Hybrid Weave either higher or lower than myself based on your preferences. If you are open to the smooth gi, I strongly recommend the Hybrid Weave gi as reviewed here. If you are in the market for a traditional gi for training or competition, you will love the the Single Weave gi. It is by far and away the best Single Weave on the market. Just compare the price of these gis to similar gis on the market and you will see what I mean. Padilla & Sons Kimonos are better constructed than their counterparts from Atama, Koral and others, and on average will cost $30 - $40+ less.


Again, the Padilla & Sons Kimonos are available from Joe Padilla at http://www.matrat.us/ . The customer service is the best around and if you have questions, Joe answers them personally either by phone or email.


~Jason

7 comments:

Caleb said...

Wow! This review should set a new standard for gi reviewers! Awesome job Jason!

Lamas said...

Great review! As caleb said, this should really set a new standard for gi reviewers. In the meantime, i'm looking forward some other reviews from you Jason: keep up the good work!

Jason Clarke said...

Thanks for the input Caleb and Lamas. I'm glad that you like my reviews. I try to be as objective as possible and just state the facts as best as I can.

Lamas, I have done some other reviews on gis, books and DVDs. In the menu at right there is a heading titled "Labels". Click on the word "review" and you will get all of the things that I have reviewed so far.

alwayscme said...

An absolute great job. With every company swearing they're the best kimono makers, its hard to know which one to choose. You have definitely narrow down the choices, looking forward to reading other reviews. Thanks for putting in the time!

thomas said...

Hey Jason,
I ordered one of the Gold Weaves following your initial review - that did, indeed, set a new standard for Gi reviews - and have just recently ordered my second Gold Weave, and my first hybrid from Joe.
I'm not too fussed about the colour, and I'll really like to have a lightweight option soon, as summer is about to hit the southern hemisphere now; your review makes it look like I made the right choice there.
Thanks for your thorough look at these items, I really enjoy reading your thoughts on them. And, yes, even with shipping to New Zealand, Joe's is still a darn sight more affordable than certain high-value brands.. and quality to boot.
I made sure to tell him that, too.

Jason said...

Thomas,

Glad you liked the review and the gis. I wrote the review only to support a great product that I truly enjoyed. I recognized a good thing when I saw it. Joe is still a small business guy looking to make a great product for the sport he loves, and to compete against the big manufactures. It's guys like us, who turn to Padilla & Sons instead of Atama, that will help level out the market of gis in our sport. If we're not careful, the gi manufactures in our sport will turn out to be like those in Judo (Mizuno, Isami, etc.) selling competition gis for $300 - $600 USD! Thanks to companies like Padilla & Sons and others, I think we'll be safe from this type of market inflation for a while to come.

Jason

Tony said...

awesome kimono review! ive actually been looking for a new gi that will cross over well.
i am a long time newaza guy but have been starting to get into tachi-waza this past year with some new judo buddies. my JJ Gi is fine when working with them, but im looking into new dojos right now and i know once i find one, my Lucky Gi aint gonna fly there.
do you know if the P&S single will meet/pass IJF regulations? thanks.