An ambitious debut effort from new brand Combat Skin, featuring artwork created by me. This gi is super ornate and blingy on the inside with more sedate graphic touches on the outside. There were one or two aspects I personally was not comfortable with, but overall, a solid gi.
I was commissioned to provide artwork for this gi model. I was paid a fixed fee so I do not gain or benefit from sales. I had no contribution or say with production or materials. All the views in this report are my own opinion.
Last year the owner of Combat Skin pitched to me his new brand concept and I agreed to produce an extensive amount of artwork on the theme of the kirin, a mythical Chinese unicorn like animal. In my previous blog article you can see the rashguard, patches and spats that used my kirin designs. The gi model combines all the artworks onto one item but, as with all my freelance work, I didn't have any contribution to the production of the final model, so I was keen to see how the company put my artwork into the product.
Size, Weight, Shrinkage, Stats
Size in centimetres and weight in kilograms. For reference, I am 59-60Kg in weight and 167cm in height. I am used to wearing A1 or A1L size gis though I do have long arms. First figure brand new, second figure after x3 mild temperature washes and then air dried.
Size A1 (label states size 2)
Jacket weight: 1.2Kg
Trouser weight: 0.5Kg
The Combat Skin jacket fits pretty snug in all areas. The torso width at 54cm and length at 73cm is comparable to the Tatami Fightwear Estilo 4 (55, 76) but the sleeve length is getting towards the illegal end of short for my long arms. Trouser length at 85 is also shorter than I would like on an A1 sized gi. The 93 Brand Charlie for example is 93cm long, which is a length that I much prefer. For weight, considering all the embroidery and the inner rashguard-type lining, at 1.7kg is not too bad - it is the same weight as the Scramble Wave gi.
My final observation is with regards to the units of sizing. BJJ gis are universally measured in terms of A1, A2, A3 etc but this gi is sized 1,2,3,4 etc...except size 2 corresponds to A1. This hints perhaps at the judo making legacy of the factory, since that is the numbering system judo uniforms use.
The gi comes in a gi bag which features embroidered version of my kirin artwork. I'm impressed by the craftsmanship of something that in the past, has often been seen as a throwaway freebie.
The jacket is made from 550gsm pearlweave cotton and features a synthetic material, similar to a rashguard, within the entire interior.
The collar is rubber core with ripstop cotton covering. It is of average-to-slim in terms of thickness and stiffness.
The sleeve cuffs were covered with two layers of tape. The inner ripstop cotton layer and on top of that, a woven synthetic tape. The latter was very scratchy so I had to remove them.
My kirins are embroidered on the front jacket flap and on the back at the neck.
The inside label patch is also a bit scratchy, when I was without a rashguard underneath I was irritated by the abrasiveness, so I removed it.
The inner lining is not as stretchy or thin as a regular rashguard. But it does reproduce my artwork beautifully.
Reinforcements along the side vent and taping at the base ensure it is a tough product fit for long term use.
The trousers are made from 12oz ripstop cotton. The knees are lined on the inside with pearlweave gi material so it feels nice and thick. The gusset panel is also made from gi material.
The trousers are pulled tight with a rope drawstring.
Extra taping cover the seams within the trouser panels.
This gi uses my artwork beautifully - with plenty of areas to show off the bling. In terms of the fit, well, unfortunately, the shrinkage left the jacket arms and the trouser legs a little too short for my liking (photos below show me wearing it after 3-4 washes). I'm also not a huge fan of wearing gis that are lined with synthetic material, I just get too hot after a while. For me, lined gis trap heat instead of wicking sweat and heat away from me. They just don't seem to operate in the same manner that wearing a proper rashguard underneath does. It's definitely a personal thing, as many people I have talked to who wear such gis comment that they never feel too hot wearing one.
My biggest criticism however was the poor choice of sleeve cuff and trouser ankle taping. Those things were simply too abrasive and I tore them off with relish (using a seam ripper - see photos below). It's a testament to the strength of the manufacturing that despite my violent efforts to remove the tape, the underlying tape (the ripstop ones) remained intact and unharmed by the process. I informed the owner of Combat Skin of my views and he promises that future editions of this gi will feature a non-scratchy version of the tape.
For a debut gi offering, the Combat Skin Warrior gi is a massively ambitious effort. It pretty much throws everything possible into one gi. Sadly my experience with wearing it in training was dampened by my dislike of rolling in rashguard lined gis and the scratchy tape. With the copious reinforcements, it is a very solid gi that gives the wearer a chance to own something with some of my hand drawn artwork.