This is a pre-review based on the prototype. Read a review of the production versionI have the good fortune to collaborate with a number of BJJ gi brands, including UK-based company Predator BJJ. Predator BJJ is the newly born, dedicated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu apparel wing of established UK martial arts brand, Black Eagle. Black Eagle/Predator BJJ is including a women’s gi range as it launches its brand with earnest this autumn, including the lightweight competition gi, the Predadora, and the special edition Raptor which I’ll discuss here.
The Raptor may be purchased by pre-order only and orders can be placed throughout August 2011 for a November 2011 delivery; the gi is priced at £99.99. Jacket and trouser sizes may be chosen separately and the gi is available in white/purple, black/red and white/black and with or without back patch. This pre-review is based on the white/purple F3 (top and bottoms).
The Raptor is a heavier weight training gi, as compared to the lightweight competition gi Predadora, and includes a pearl weave jacket with ‘rash guard’ inner lining and heavier weight cotton canvas trousers. The women’s Raptor boasts a lot of embroidery and detailing, which makes a strong impact. The purple is a more pastel shade on the red end (versus the blue end) of the ‘purple spectrum’, think ‘a lavender mauve’ versus ‘an indigo purple’. The stitching, embroidered patches, drawstring and the piping along the hem of the jacket are all in this shade of purple. Ornate patches are included at the shoulders, the bottom of the right trouser leg and a ‘mega patch’ on the back. Cursive script with the words ‘Special Edition Kimono’ appears on the front over-lap and back skirt; here I might make a slight modification and ditch the writing from the back of the gi, but overall I think Seymour Yang aka Meerkatsu did a superb job designing the Raptor patches. Inside the jacket are further details, such as a sublimated version of the back patch on the inner lining and a bright ‘royal purple’ ribbon to hide the seam connecting the lining to the jacket. Put together a little video to give you the flavour of the gi – check it out!
The Raptor is a very comfortable gi that performs well in the heat due to the jacket’s inner lining which wicks sweat away from your skin, keeping you cool. While I cannot comment on the exact dimensions and shrinkage until I have a production version to test, I can say the the principle of the cut is beautiful but that the proportions are slightly eccentric. The jacket has a tailored fit, like the Predadora, with a good sleeve length and lack of excess bulk and the shoulders, however it has a very fitted over-lap which may be ill-fitting on more voluptuous women. While the jacket seems designed for women of smaller top proportions, the trousers seem designed from women of grander bottom proportions; an extreme ‘A’ shape, if you will. In principle, this results in a really beautiful A-line silhouette to the kimono, however, I think that this gi may fit better on more women with a slightly more generous over-lap to the top and slightly cinched in trousers. Nothing radical, but a tuck here and a letting out there would ensure that the top fits women of a wide range of cup sizes while the would trousers work for the slimmer-legged and the bootilicious, alike. Indeed, based on the feedback from myself and the other women testing the gi, Predator BJJ does intend to tweak the measurements of the production version along these lines.
The Raptor performs well and represents a luxurious training gi. This is the first gi I’ve worn with the rash guard inner lining and it is a tremendous evolution in BJJ gi! Not only is it insanely comfortable, it is very functional in terms of keeping the sweat off your skin so that you feel cooler regardless of the weather; I happened to test this gi on one of England’s rare ‘heatwave’ days and honestly felt cooler in this gi than in lighter weight versions without the inner lining. In fact, I’d love to escalate the use of the inner lining and slap that stuff inside ripstop trousers – HEAVEN!
All reviews are based on my independent observations. I have no formal qualifications, I am not sponsored by any company and I do not endorse any one brand. If you chose a gi based on my review, please let the manufacturer know that MegJitsu persuaded you. This will not benefit me financially, but can help me to get more gi to review.
Thanks to Black Eagle/Predator BJJ for offering me a gi to test and for soliciting feedback from several female players in an effort to develop a product for us.
These collaborations are not for my financial gain, though I do receive gi to test and review in exchange, rather brands work with me to solicit feedback on their BJJ apparel for women and with the help of friends of MegJitsu on Facebook, we hope to develop the gi that women in BJJ want.
The production version of the women’s Raptor will use a deeper purple throughout, rather than the lavender-mauve.
For reference, I am 163cm/5’4.5″, 60kgs/130lbs and have bust, waist and hip measurements of 86.4cm/34″, 68.6cm/27″ and 91.4cm/36″; this review is of the F3.