Review: 93 Brand ‘Tales from the Grips Rashguard’

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Hello, guard players and takedown artists!

This review will scare you, shock you and improve your cross choke game with vice like grip. We once again review the American based brand 93 Brand and another rashguard. The brand is slowly becoming one of the best dollar for dollar brands through continued successful releases.

The brand is really growing with the jiu jitsu gi lines with drops such as Hooks, 100Kilos and the Tau. If you were smart and followed their Facebook and Instagram pages, you’d see much more creative ideas coming along as well.

This rashguard was done with artwork from famed BJJ artist, Gawakoto. This isn’t the first time they have collaborated together as they have also done “The Chief” rashguard that was very popular through BJJhq. His artwork is heavily inspired by the comic book realms and his creations range from animals to this one that features more of a look to an X-Men comic.

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Fit: (I am 5’8 and 175lbs)

The rashguard is short sleeved and fits true to size, if you wear a medium shirt then you’d get a medium. I really liked the length of the sleeves and that the waistline trim didn’t ride up or was loose. I really enjoyed their “Anvil” rash guard but, I found that the head hole was way too tight and with this one, it is perfect. I really feel if you owned either “The Rosie” or “Anvil” or even both that you’d say that “Tales from the Grips” is the perfect child of both.

I cannot post a size chart but, the amazing part is that http://www.rollmore.com has a calculator to find the best fit for you. This is a huge help when you have had a size vary for you.

The next thing that makes this rashguard feel so nice is that size tag is printed on the collar and not sewn in.

Performance:

I have used this rash guard about 8-10 times now over the past month, I have used it under the gi, no-gi and during mma class.

The rashguards I have had have two major issues; one being the waist line trim riding up and your tummy being exposed and or the sleeves are too baggy. This rashguard is now a staple in my rotation due to the quality it was made with. The sleeves stay on the arm, the waist line doesn’t ride up and the collar doesn’t choke your ass out.

This rashguard breathes very well and I never feel like I am overheating. I know that lots of people who do not like rashguards usually say that the reason is that it makes them feel’ hot’, this rashguard may be a suitable change for those who are loyal to the t-shirt.

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Artwork:

The artist is Gawakoto who is known for the ‘Kalibaw’ rashguard, ‘Chief’ rashguard, ‘Save The Earth’ shorts, spats and rashguard series. He also had a very successful gi that was done alongside David Mack called “The Kabuki”.

The artists drew what is a comic book cover with a masked executioner who also is wearing a gi top that is tied up with a black belt. The masked man is just about to drop the guillotine on some scum bag white belt who thought he could teach him a thing or two. The back features the art work appearing to be a pile of the same cover art being layed upon one another.

The arms feature a very cool wordmark of 93 Brand, the comic book issue is labeled ‘NO. 93 Brand March’

The rashguard also features a very cool orange and white colorway which I have not scene on any other brands. I really like how the orange looks like creamsicle almost.

Where To Buy:

http://www.rollmore.com/93-grips-rg.html
$59.99

I hope you enjoyed this review!

 

Review: ” Valor Fightwear “Victory” NO-GI Shorts

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It’s the summer and for a lot of folks that means it is NO-GI season and to others, it means continued NO-GI!. Either way you play the game I am sure that you will love options to rock on the competition mats and in the gym. I have recently reached out to many “smaller” brands to see how I could help get them some exposure that could boost some buzz and sales.

Valor Fightwear is a United Kingdom based brand that has been a very active user of eBay generated sales and I am sure that you have seen them pop up when browsing “BJJ GI”. They have a very sleek design on their GI’s and when I see their products I see a very prestigious look about them. Their gear tends to be not too classy but, something you would see on an Ivy League school uniform.

The guys at Valor wanted someone to review their “Victory” shorts and me being training in MMA/BJJ and doing a two days a week lifting routine, I got to test these bad boys out for about three weeks in all three scenarios.

Size/Fit:

I went with a size SMALL (30′); Their sizing guide is as follows Medium (32″), Large (34″), X Large (36″) and XX Large (38″). They fit really nice if you like a very true to size fit. If you ever have had Clinch Gear, you will understand that these fit extremely snug. I suggest for comfortably means – order a size up!. I felt the shorts to be very tight in the waist and no complaints about how they fit around my legs. I even wore a bit higher on my hips and they seemed to fit a little more comfy for me.

Construction:

The shorts felt to be made really well in my opinion and felt lightweight. The stitching has been holding very nicely under heavy lifting such as squats and dead lifts and through jiu jitsu sessions. The slits on the legs were nicely added and gave me more range of motion. The crotch has a gusset to allow more mobility in your inner thighs/groin and legs.
The Shorts featured a three closing system:  vertical, Horizontal over and drawstring inside..I did not like the drawstring in this line and I feel that is something that Valor should address. Either remove due to how snug it is or use a much higher quality, it began to fray a little too much – too quickly.

The shorts also feature a very secure and well stitched mouth piece pocket for your…well, mouth piece or a ipod when running.

10521530_684793821609654_393154288596022987_n(The Gusset for extra mobility at the crotch area)
10385300_684793901609646_2643107861028046279_n (Inside pocket for you gum shield/mouth piece or iPod)

10534415_684793968276306_1176242327854680053_n (Slits for extra leg mobility)
10570467_684795024942867_552751374402679694_n (Three way secured closing system. 1 vertical velcro facet, overtop horizontal facet and inner drawstring)

Artwork:

The main colours used are a black base, red writing/art and white base tones. I really love the font Valor has used on their gear as it stands itself out nicely without being too eye catchy.  The left leg features the crowned V with a reef that really stands out on these shorts. The back has Valor in red writing and “JIU JITSU FIGHT GEAR” in white below it. The right leg has Valor in red going horizontally down from the waist to the leg slit. The front features Valor’s famous font across the front where the horizontal portion of the velcro enclosure is.

10577104_684793924942977_4260334096590133718_n10534415_684793968276306_1176242327854680053_n10577084_684793651609671_3384483399315524894_n10438638_684793718276331_8300719623193628219_n (Left to right: Front/Right Leg/ Left Leg and Back art work)

Performance:

I found these shorts to be too tight on me even as a 30″ waist but, these still were very good on many levels. They held up on their on and if the waist could be re-done on future orders with a bit more breathing room, I would 100% make these a staple in my rotation. These moved very nicely and didn’t snag, they held up under washes, drying machine uses and under training. Valor constructed and tested this thoroughly I am sure of that.

Where To Buy:
http://www.valorfightwear.com

Thanks for reading🙂

Aaron ‘Hail Mary” Daniels

Interview: Battle Rattle Apparel

Hello everybody!

Today, I bring to you an interview with a new brand owner Alberto Da Silva who owns “Battle Rattle Apparel”. Here is a introduction by the man himself  “I’ll let you know a little about  I’m a “favelado”, Brazilian, New Yorker, Active Duty Air Force, Kiteboarder, Combat Vet, BJJ Competitor, Dungeons & Dragons player, Brown belt under Professor Sergio “Marra” Correa Marra Senki Academy, family man, SSGT in the USAF named Alberto Da Silva.  There, that was long winded!  I was born in Rio De Janeiro in one of the slums called Morro do Jorge Turco in Coelho Neto.  I was raised there until I was 9 and then moved to New York City.  Grew up there until I was about 23 when I joined the USAF and was transferred to San Antonio Texas.  There in Texas is where all things led to what we have today. “
(Da Silva on the right)

As you have read, Da Silva is a very accomplished man and jiu jitsu artist. His brand is heavily influrenced by his time in the military and hi passion for jiu jitsu. I hope that you all enjoy the interview I have compiled and would love to hear feedback if you have any comments to leave.

1. I see that you’re an active member of the United States Air Force (USAF) and that “Battle Rattle Apparel” reflects that in it’s artwork. How was it training jiu jitsu/grappling while overseas and/or on base?

Well most of my training was actually done off base.  I started in NYC under Black Belt Marcelo Mello.  In 2005 I moved to Texas when I joined the Air Force and there I met and train under Prof. Correa who is a very big part of my life and inspiration.  With all that being said, I did get the chance to train with some really cool and great people while I was overseas at a deployed location.  Funny story with that too.  In 2006-2007 I took over the beginning stages of a BJJ program that was being ran in Camp Arifjan Kuwait.  In 2011 I ended back there again and found that the program had been running non-stop for years with someone always stepping up to the plate to run classes.  It was a pretty cool thing and I did get the change to run the program again while I was there.2. Does grappling training pertaining to your field of empolyment transferable to your game at your academy?

Yes and no.  My first job in the Air Force was as a Vehicle Operator (V-Ops).  As V-Ops we ended up doing deployments that were combat related and outside the wire.  The training, mentality and day-to-day of that job made me very aggressive and it transferred directly to the way I trained.  And I trained horribly.  My new job has a different impact in the way I train because now I’m an investigator and safety specialist.  So, I spend a lot of time doing research and learning.  Which has built the same type of habits into my BJJ life.  I now spend a lot of time researching my own game and the game of others.  All while learning, asking questions and trying to get to the root of every problem I have on the mats.3. Boxing/Wrestling in the Military have been staples for a long time, did you ever train or compete while in those fields?

I did Greco Roman for a few years, but that was back in High School.  I haven’t played or really participated sports teams inside the military.4.  What motivated you to start a BJJ company knowing it’s a very saturated business?

Its actually super saturated.  However, I started the company because I’m really tired of seeing everything looking exactly the same.  All day I see and wear the same damn thing.  BJJ is a huge expression of who I am and how I think.  And guess what?!  I’m full of life and I think up a lot of crazy shit!  Which is why I’m starting this Gi company.  I can less about the rules of one competition company or another.  I’m making gi’s that look good, feel good, are of great quality and have expression.  This first line of the Battle Rattle Gi’s is our standard style that has clean lines is not too flashy, not too dulled down but it’s still sharp and causes attention.  This is just a first of many and the designs will only get more creative.

 

5. You have three gis coming out in white, blue and black – will you do specialty gis?

Ahh.  The answer is yes but I won’t elaborate on what our special gi’s will be like.  You’ll just have to wait and see.  What I can say is this.  My self and a brother of mine that goes by the name of “Girrafa” have been working on designs for over two years now and we got some sick special edition gi’s that will be coming out.  Now to squash all the drama right now, special edition does not mean limited edition.  We will be doing rotations of styles, so if you just wait you won’t have to spend 400% mark up trying to get anything off ebay.

 

6. What was your biggest fear of starting a company besides financials?

Nothing.  All the biggest fears in my life has already happened.  I’ve flat lined on the surgery table. I’ve had surgery complications that almost killed me.  My family and I lost everything we have ever owned during a military move, we were robbed in New Orleans, they took our entire U-Haul and vehicle.  As a young man I was jobless and homeless for a little while.  In 2013 I almost froze to death in the water, fell asleep twice inside the water and only survived because my wife saved me.  I’ve experienced and driven through some of the most dangerous roads in the world during a time of war.  I’ve survived being born and spending 1/3rd of my life in one of the worst slums in Brazil.
I feared not starting it.  The rest is just part of the game we have to play.  I’m blessed to be able to spend as much time as I can with my family on this earth.  Everything else is just trying to enjoy this one life I have.

 

7. If you could sponsor one world champion, who would it be?

Myself!  Wait, I’m not a world champion.  :(  YET! — All the current and past world Champs seem like great people.  However, I don’t know them personally.  I would like to be part of someones journey and help them get there.  I have some great friends whom I think can all make it to that level.  I would like to be there for them and help them reach their dream.  That would make me really happy.

 

8. For future athletes looking for a sponsorship with Battle Rattle, what key ingredients do you want?

Character, drive, honesty and honor.  Those are our required traits.  Being 1st or last means nothing.  It’s the character the person portrays that lasts the longest.  Jiu-Jitsu, Martial Arts, their all about community, family, loyalty, friendships, and our company is no different.  We can’t control who buys and who won’t buy Battle Rattle attire.  However, we can control who is part of our team.  It truly doesn’t matter to me how many medals a person wins.  If the person is a D-bag their out.  Simple.9. What does Battle Rattle offer the BJJ scene that some other companies don’t?

Right now nothing.  Right now all we offer is talk.  And we all know how cheap that is.  As far as products goes we will have high quality products that are worth their penny.  One of the cool ideas we want to implement in the future is to let the community take an active role in coming up with unique stylish designs for our apparel.  Another important idea and concept is the Grapplethon for charity I want run all over America and the world if we can.  I would like to use this as a stepping stone to reach my goal of bringing BJJ to kids and adults who normally couldn’t afford it.10. It’s one year later today, what is Battle Rattles biggest goal?

To be a brand recognized for our quality, integrity and our community involvements.

Review: Moya Brand “Lost At Sea” Gi Review

All Aboard!

Finally, I have come back with a brand new review for all my followers, watchers and stalkers. This time I bring forth my first trial of a Moya Brand GI, it is their “Lost At Sea” gi which I had won in a facebook page contest.

Moya Brand is a jiu jitsu gear and fashion apparel brand based out of Los Angeles, California and has been on the scene for a few years. Their vibe seems to be mostly Hawaiian influenced, skateboard influenced and surfing. The brand is ran by Jesse Moya, whom some in the jiu jitsu community has placed under fire for an apparent rap sheet regarding his time as a police officer and arrest. In years passing, it appears Jesse has tried to give back to the community through charitable causes and as someone who can forgive people as long as no one was killed/raped, I am giving Moya a shot at redemption.

Specs:(as per their website)

  • 450 Gram Pearl Weave jacket (single weave)
  • Navy Blue Contrast Stitching
  • EVA foam padded collar
  • Woven Labels
  • Re enforced stitching on critical seams
  • Light weight Cotton Twill Pants (Comp Use)
  • 32 Thread Count Drawcord
  • 4 Total Belt Loops on Pants
  • IBJJF APPROVED
  • Comes with Gi Bag
  • White Belt Not IncludeD 
  • The LOST At SEA Gi is a World War II Era Influenced Gi, inspired by the World War II Era Navy Pea Coat and all the happenings of that Era. 

 

The Fit:

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I was given an A1 as I enjoy a more “fitted” feel to my gi’s. I am 5’8 and anywhere between 175lbs-180lbs depending on what I ate the night prior. The A1 fit great right out of the bag and I did not need to shrink it by any means for a better fit. I also never machine dry my gi’s due to fear of them shrinking as well.

The jacket fit very nicely, snug in some spots and the sleeves were great for Ezekiel chokes!. The skirt on the jacket didn’t hang to low and I never felt restricted by any means.

The pants were super comfortable, they’re lightweight cotton twill and I tend to prefer ripstop for convenience for drying but, I really liked them. They were not too baggy and they didn’t fall down at all.

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Artwork:

The GI has a TON of patches and neat embroideries but, this is a bit overkill in terms of reusing the same patches over and over.  The navy blue is very dark even when I tried shooting in day light, I must say that I love the dark navy blue a lot.

The Jacket Artwork:
moya lapel patchmoya brand lost at sea tagmoya brand arm patchmoya brand arm  patch 2jacket back embroidery1907710_10152296911607886_6819311529676820755_nlapel patch

Pant Artwork:

pants 1 pants 2 pants 3 pants 4 pants 6 pants5

As you can see, the M025 logo with the name slot is seen multiple times through out this gi…the only issue I have is why so many times and how could I ever inscribe my name? I see the thinking behind adding all these cool details but, a little overblown.

Performance:

The thing that should matter most is the performance of the GI if you actually train and not just buy gis like a weirdo. This gi is very well made and has done me wonders to be honest. It is one of my favorites in the rotation and I just love the comfortable feel against mt body that doesn’t leave any scratching or areas of stitching which irritate me.

The GI never seemed to feel heavy at any point and after 2-3 hours of classes or rolling it always felt pretty fresh for more and that’s huge for me as I love a gi which lasts a long time on the mats.

Some of the threads of the patches appear to be coming undone at the ends (You can see some fraying from the pictures) and this me be some minor poor stitching closures, I do not have fear of any massive structure damage though.

Price: $189.99 – This is a high priced gi in terms of being a non-exclusive model and something I assume Moya Brand will keep on deck for future orders regularly. I personally would not spend $189.99 on this gi but, if this gi lasted you 5 years and lots of mat time it was worth it. I don’t see many reselling theirs so, that may be a sign it is well- liked or that not many people have bought it yet.

Where To Buy?: Moya Brand

I hope that this review assisted you and if you needed any answers, ask them in the comment section

 

Interview HMR x GIfather

Today, I have a very different sort of interview set up. I am interviewing one of the nicest dudes from the Aloha state in Mr. Doug Pothul!
You may be asking, who in the holy f*ck is Doug Pothul? Well, give me a second to explain. I asked Doug to give me a bit of a run down of his BJJ journey and questions about his immense rash guard and BJJ Gi collection which has a ton of us “GI Addicts” jealous of him. Doug Pothul runs a page on Facebook called “BJJ New and Upcoming Gear Offerings”. The page has really blossomed and actually has helped several less fortunate members get a GI or a deal.

Doug has also now joined ‘Grapplers Review”, it is a fellow review site which inspired me to speak about gear and products.

I hope you enjoy this fun and different interview

 

   1. Doug, what is your rank and school?
DP:
For jiu jitsu I’m a blue belt under Jason Izaguirre, a Royler Gracie black belt here in Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii. Years back I achieved a 1st Degree Brown Belt in Chinese Kenpo under Al Dutton in Springfield, Massachusetts. Al trained with heavyweight karate legend Joe Lewis, unarguably Bruce Lee’s most accomplished student. I started training Kenpo at age 12 back in 1974.

 

    2. How long have you been training BJJ for? What drew you into it?

DP: I’ve been training since September 2011, just before turning 49 years old. I was drawn to BJJ many years ago when a good friend of mine, Chris Laird, then a purple belt but now a black belt under Grandmaster Relson Gracie, when he lent me some of his old VHS tapes of Rickson. As a life-long martial artist, after viewing those videos I came away with the feeling that I had wasted my entire life in karate, and that jiu jitsu was far superior. I remember telling Chris when I returned his tapes, “Nothing on this planet that walks on two legs, short of a sasquatch, could beat this guy.” And I still feel that way.

When I moved to Kailua from Honolulu “town,” I was a widower with three young children. They were all in soccer and basketball then. Every afternoon I was running pillar-to-post taking them to one practice and then another. Saturday, game day, was the worst. I could never watch all three games and was always trying to arrange a ride for one of more of my boys because it was physically impossible to get them to all three of their games on time with overlapping games in different areas of the island. So when we moved, I found that “Gracie Jiu Jitsu” that I had seen on Chris’ VHS tapes years earlier and enrolled all three of my children. But it took me four more years to start. Now I wish I didn’t wait so long.

 

     3. What was the first GI you bought? and why?

DP: My first gi was one that they sold at my academy, a white, pearl weave Atama. I had one gi, and only one gi for the first year of my training. After one year, when I decided that I was going to stick with it, I bought my second gi, another Atama pearl weave, but this time it was blue. That I found on Craigslist locally. It was $100. I still have that 2nd gi, it’s one of my favorites and I rarely use it. It just fits so perfectly (when I’m not chubby like now.)

 

   4. What ignited your 40+ GI addiction?

DP: Well, as far as 40+ I’ve lost count. It’s somewhere between 50 and 60 or so now I think. I don’t keep track anymore. But I do keep them separate because some kimonos I have promised to give people a “first right to purchase” because they’ve been good to me in helping me find and buy certain gis. Others I’ve bought for friends in sizes other than my size (typically A2) because they didn’t have the money to buy them at the drop, so I did and I’m warehousing those until they have the money to buy them from me (at cost of course I don’t profit from my friends), and then there are the ones I have that are to be donated to needy BJJers who can’t afford a new or nice gi. And as some people know I run a program that puts gis and gear into the hands of those less fortunate of us who still love BJJ.

 

 5. What is the most expensive purchase you’ve made?

DP: For a single gi it would have to be the BNIB Shoyoroll White Illest. That purchase was arranged by a friend and I can’t disclose the price that I paid. But next it would be the two Navy Illest that I bought for $400 each. One has since been traded for three other gi’s.

 

  6. What GI is your least favorite and favorite?

DP: Well, some that I’ve sold that I didn’t like were my fault. I bought three Vulkan Pro Light gi’s, and I liked them as a “daily training” gi, but I bought A3’s when I should have purchased A2’s. They were early purchases of mine and are a decent gi, I just bought the wrong size.

I also didn’t like my first gi, the white pearl weave Atama. The top was sandpaper.

There was a Vulkan Ultra Light that I bought in a group of three gi’s from a friend. I didn’t even want to try and put it on. It was so light and thin that I knew it wouldn’t last a week.

But I guess the best answer here as far as least favorite would also be called my most disappointing gi. And that’s a DFKC Art Suave that I pre-ordered. I put it on once and it just fits poorly in several different places. It’s sitting in a bag in my closet now, waiting for me to sell it. Or I may review it and give it a chance before kicking it to the curb. If I don’t like it, then I can donate it.

As far as my favorite goes, well before naming my top three in rotation it’s important for you to know that most of my gi’s, over 90% are BNIB. And most of those I’ve never even taken out of the bag, much less tried on. So those can’t be considered when naming my top three.

The top of my rotation are: Shoyoroll Americana, CTRL Gigante, and Scramble Athlete.

And the interesting thing about all three of those gi’s is that I bought them used. I have a major phobia when it comes to taking a BNIB gi and wearing it. Sure I’ve done it, but I still regret doing it.

 

  7. What makes you buy so many?

DP: There are probably many reasons. I’m bored. I don’t work. I have time to always be looking for deals. It’s an extension of BJJ which I’m passionate about. I’m good at finding deals. I like to “collect,” but I’m not a hoarder of lots of things. Plus, I think my girlfriend would prefer I spend my days hunting down deals on gi’s rather than chasing other women or drinking or some other nefarious activity. So, it’s harmless and so far it’s been a good investment. I could easily liquidate my collection (and may do so) and not only get all of my equity back, but probably make 30% or more on my investment.

I’ve only really collected coins in my lifetime, not other knickknacks or trinkets or anything else. It started with coins when I was a child, and now it’s kimonos. If I had Jay Leno money, maybe it would be something different (like cars). But I don’t, so I can’t.

 

  8. Best advice for a company who is looking to make it big?

DP: First of all it is important to look at the landscape as far as who is out there now. And of those, who is successful and who isn’t and why.  And then step back and consider the hurdles and issues that are intrinsic with this specific type of business. Those being:

** Demand, related to Undersupply vs. Oversupply

 

** Production vs. Production Capacity

 

** Preorder delivery delays

 

** Capital/Equity/Debt relationships and requirements

 

** Quality control out of PRC and Pakistan for manufacturing

 

As far as who is doing well, there are old-time companies like Fuji, Atama and Tatami to name a few. They make quality products and have a faithful following. Yet most of their product is traditional in nature. And there is nothing wrong with that. We can’t all be wearing tie-dye kimonos. But that doesn’t draw a passionate following.

Then there is Shoyoroll, a company that is in a league of its own. No other company has what they have with respect to the loyalty, passion and outright seemingly insatiability of its cult-like followers. Nor do any other company’s kimonos go up in value 25%, 50% or more overnight from the drop. And I don’t know anyone who has 50 Atama’s in their closet. Yet some of us have 50 Shoyorolls.

Riding the wake of Shoyoroll is CTRL Industries. CTRL puts out a quality product with distinctive designs and in limited quantity. Some may argue that CTRL is a few years behind and following the business model established by Shoyoroll. That being: low production numbers of one-time batches that are unique in design and therefore project an urgency to purchase. Hence CTRL’s last two drops (Journeyman and Voyager) selling out in minutes. Which is funny because the drop immediately before that of their Consigilere took days to sell out. Then only a few months later the Journeyman hit and within seconds I was shut out of buying one in my size. As were hundreds of others trying to buy one.

Of course there are many, many others out there that are producing quality products and making positive changes in the industry and BJJ community. Due to my activities in my now nearly 3,000 member Facebook group that is full of BJJ gear-heads like me, I have gotten to know several of these brand owners. And I’ll have to say that all of them are determined to provide high quality product and secure a foothold in the industry for the long term.

Getting back to your question: as far as my best advice to a company that wants to make it big. Well, I have the following thoughts as to what is important.

Customer Service. Nothing is more important than keeping the customer happy. If they are happy, then they will tell a friend and keep coming back. If they are unhappy, then they will tell a hundred friends and not come back.

Quality Product. It goes without saying that whether your business is hamburgers or airplanes you need to produce a quality product. If not, then you’ll spend more time trying to win over new customers when you should be spending time building relationships with your current customers.

Listen To Your Customers. If people want a green gi; then make a green gi. If they want one that fits grapplers who are 6’8” and 150 lbs, then make it (in limited quantity with that example). But whatever it is, listen. That doesn’t mean you actually ACT on every customers idea, but at least listen and consider them.

Avoid Pre-Orders. For those of you who have never done this…don’t. And for those of you who have offered kimonos for preorder…you know what I mean. And it’s not the brand owners fault. The concept of a preorder makes great sense on paper. But all too often it doesn’t work out that way in practice. There are exceptions, like with Origin. But that is because Origin controls 100% of the manufacturing process in house. Very few companies can say that. And if you rely on a third-party manufacturer, then you are asking for trouble when it comes to delivering on preorders.

Avoid Debt, and Reserve Capital. With a background in finance and marketing (for commercial real estate), I know this area all too well. For the larger companies this shouldn’t be an issue. Most of them don’t have a large inventory at any given time, and that is good. And with the low barrier to entry in this business, we have an innumerable number of one-man shops who are trying to gain a foothold in the marketplace and able to do so quite literally out of their garage. The danger lies when these small companies that produce a handful of kimonos here and there want to move up and compete at the next level. That’s when the risk vs. reward equation can become unbalanced and even a single, small hiccup can result in total devastation.

It’s an interesting time in this business. Lots of growth potential and market share to be had. But with that there is potential for lots of corpses by the side of the highway as well.

 

9. What upcoming GI release intrigues you best?

DP: My problem is that I want to try them all. And now that I’m reviewing gear and kimonos for Grapplers Review, I have the chance to do just that. But that conflicts with my review process in which I donate all the gear that I review to others who are less fortunate and in need of BJJ gear (primarily kimonos). So I don’t even WANT the brand owners to send me gear in my size, because I need to avoid the temptation to keep it. And the huge benefit that the brand owner gets via the donation process is that their kimono (for example) will be used and used often by an active BJJer who will provide Grapplers Review feedback throughout the first year of use as to the fit, feel, durability and function under “combat” conditions. Then we update the review and everyone learns from the process.

That being said, and while hating to single out a few while potentially leaving out the many, I’ll have to say that what I’m looking forward to is as follows:

** Most new offerings by Shoyoroll and CTRL since they seem to be leading the industry. Especially the Shoyoroll Absolute which is going to be manufactured in Los Angeles.

** Origin’s new gi’s that are 100% made in America.

** Grab & Pull’s new kimonos that will be made in the UK.

But I don’t want to leave out many of the smaller brands like Vandal and Lanky who make great gear now, yet are among the sea of small BJJ manufactures struggling to get a foothold and gain market share in the industry. The great thing about being a consumer of BJJ kimonos (and rash guards), is that virtually every week there are new and exciting opportunities to consider.

 

10. How much $ have you spent on GI’s?

DP:: I used to keep track. I actually have a spreadsheet that details each kimono that I purchased, where I found it, the condition and price paid. But because of all the donations and trades that I’ve made, I don’t bother updating it anymore. With, say 60 gi’s in my house now, and 30 rash guards, you can do the math.

 

11. You seem to give back as much as you put in, what advice do you give companies to build a better bond with their customer?

I think that customer service is the most important aspect. Delivering a quality product and doing so on time also of course. Most of this is covered above. But those three aspects are at the top: Customer service, Quality Product, On time delivery.

In business I used to live by a few rules. And they probably apply here as well. Those are:

** Exceed expectations

** Differentiate yourself

** Be creative

** No matter how good it is, it can always be better so continually look back at your successes as well as your failures and figure out how to do it better tomorrow.

Of course, it goes without saying that you also need to be honest, respectful and work hard.

Check out these links to keep track of Doug’s and others collections/addictions:
BJJ Gear and Upcoming   (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BJJNewAndUpcomingGear/)

Grappler’s Review

Here are some pics of Doug’s collection..drooling is permitted.

 

 

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Spats: Gentleman In Fancy Attire

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We’ve all seen them, inquired about them and some were bold enough to do the squeeze in to them. What’s the “them” you ask about? The “them” are grappling tights or Spats if you’re not a sissy.

Shinya Aoki made the compression clothing popular and the MMA community blew up thinking they gave the Asian grappler an unfair advantage. 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu players have been using them as their head honcho; Eddie Bravo used gi pants in NO-GI.

There have been many studies down on compression clothing and if it truly benefits the athlete, here is one article from the top of google ‘Benefits of Compression Wear’ which talks about improved blood circulation.

Scramble were the first company to blow up due to their spats and in the coming years Kenka, Strike Fightwear, Ground Game, Combat Skin , Manto and Tatami were a few that came along for the ride.

The most famous name in BJJ apparel design, Meerkatsu has now released two sets of spats after designing several for Strike Fightwear, Kenka and Tatami.

I have pairs from Tatami, Kenka, Combat Skin, Scramble Very Hard To Submit (VHTS) and Strike Fightwear. I have Scramble’s USA/Rainbow/Camo, Kenka Octospats, VHTS purple/redish orange ones, Combat Skin ‘Qilin’, Tatami ‘Honey Badger’ and Strike Fightwear’s “Mashuu’ and ‘Katanapus’.

 

Quality:
1. Scramble
Reasons: The waist is reinforced without it being too snug. The inner drawstring is a tremendous thing that never gets in the way. The ankles are never too tight and don’t move much. The sewing patterns are rather amazing. I do say that the USA/Camo spats have held up better than the slowly unseaming Rainbow spats. They do not sheer that easily and as always, wear compression underwear underneath if going #FullSpats

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2. Tatami
Reasons: The waist is reinforced but, isn’t  uncomfortable  or causes irritation. The sizing is great and fits very snug. The length does cause them to ride up a little bit which inhibits the artwork a bit. They didn’t use as many seam lines as scramble but, the ankles were also nicely done.

tatami-honey-badger-grappling-spats

3. Very Hard To Submit
Reasons: The waist was done very well and stays in place without being noticed. The material does over lap when in constant use to a bit. The crotch area is massive and may not be a great option for #FullSpats as it’ll likely be catching feet up.

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Artwork:
1. Tatami Honey Badger
Meerkatsu literally did an amazing job on these. The black, red and white pop in a very menacing way. The Badger and the contorted snake wrapped all around was tremendous.

2. Kenka Octospats
Meerkatsu, unsurprisingly dominates this area as he really got a nice level of octopus all over this. He used a dominant purple, blue accents and on a black colour way. These spats sell out fast and usually a rare item.

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3. Strike Fightwear Katanapus
Meerkatsu did a complete sweep with his samurai helmet being swam through by another octopus. The unusual use of silver and orange really brings this sucker to life. The orange/silver combo was also akin to their grey/orange crowd control gi that came out around the same time.

 

Fit:
1. Scramble

The panels, waist and inner drawstring just allows you to move so freely and doesn’t run to long. I am built short and stubby like a less muscular Jeff Monson so, everything runs a tad long. The USA spats fit so nicely with their ‘Athletic” fit but, the Camo spats are easily my favorite in their runs.

2. Tatami
I only own the Honey Badger spats but, I really loves these bad boys. They don’t use the  inner drawstring but, these go on so easily and come off easily. A really comfy tight for working out or rolling.

3. Very Hard To Submit (VHTS)
I got these to review and I tried them as soon as I could, I used them for a heavy squatting day and man, these really felt awesome. They move with you very nicely and don’t snag that bad but, as state d prior, the crotch is a very wide cute when stretched out.

If these helped you make up your mind then visit each brand! Tell them I sent you and helped you🙂

Scramble
Kenka
Meerkatsu
Strike Fightwear
Very Hard To Submit (VHTS)
Tatami Fightwear

 

Review: Very Hard To Submit (VHTS) Grappling Spats

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Fresh swag!

This brand new company has made some noise in the East Coast jiu jitsu culture with it’s fresh clean styles. Ask GI Tak (owner of VHTS) and he knows I call them the Vogue of BJJ gear.

Very Hard To Submit (VHTS) started only in 2013 and they originate from the Big Apple, New York City. In that short time they have picked up a lot of local competitors as sponsored athletes to help spread their style amongst the community. Their GI on BJJHQ sold out and that was surely due to word of mouth and the fact these GI’s really are affordable.

I reviewed their first issued grappling tights and these were a very nice set that I liked a lot and at only $50.00 compared to most grappling tights i very nice.

Let’s roll

Specs:

These spats range from XX Small to XX Large which is a huge jump. I am 5’8 and 180lbs and I have a size medium. They’re made of 80% nylon and 20% spandex. They feature an inner waistband for a secure and snug fit much like Tatami’s Honey Badger spats. The stitching is also flatlock like most compression gear to avoid any nagging irritation.
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Construction:

These spats are very well made but, they do offer VHTS room to improve their fit. The stitching hasn’t frayed at all and that’s after a few MMA classes, BJJ classes and strength and conditioning workouts. I would say that these felt amazing well squatting, running and stretching. They aren’t too much like armour in any spot so, your legs move nicely within them. The ankles could use a more secure fit like Scramble’s and the lack of a inner drawstring can be troublesome should you lose a few pounds but, these have a wide range of waist sizes due to their good elasticity.

Comparing:

If you ever owned an original pair of spats that came from Strike Fightwear (Mashuu or Katanapus) and like them, you’ll love these.

Artwork:

VHTS always tries to keep their art minimal and straight forward. They also have a keen sense of what high-end clothier are on because, their styel just screams that to me. I’m a very blue collar guy but, this kind of art with dabs of weird (the unusual colourway) is what I like most about the grappling tights.

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Where To Buy: http://veryhardtosubmit.com/shop/compression-tights/
Cost: $50.00 (plus shipping)