Comparing the 2013 Fuji Kassen and Fuji Summerweight Kimono’s
By: Tyler and Jena Bishop
We try to take a scientific approach in everything we do. So we will try our best to maintain those same ideals when evaluating gi’s. Unfortunately, part of reviewing a gi is evaluating personal feel, touch, and preference. Between the two of us, we have probably owned 30+ gi’s including just about every popular brand you could imagine, so we will do our best to pass along both our empirical and preferential attitudes as we review these two fine kimonos.
The Run-Down (Prior Experiences and Personal Perspectives)
Having both owned and experienced Fuji Sports gi’s in the past (Our association RGDA – RoylerGracie/David Adiv uses them as their official kimono), we both came into this review with a wealth of experience and positive impressions of Fuji kimono’s. Why, you might ask? Over the course of the last 7 years we have watched the technology, fit, style, and comfort of gi’s improve significantly every year. This is likely due to the tremendous growth of the sport, and the growing field of gi companies in the United States. Unfortunately, we have also watched an equal correlation persist with the life expectancy of these gi’s during this same time period. Over the past 4 years, there is only one gi that we have owned that didn’t have to go into the “repair shop” after at least one year of use. That is the Fuji gi.
We both average two jiu jitsu training sessions a day, so most of our gi’s take a pretty serious beating. Not just on the mats, but in the washing machine. We have always maintained a very positive outlook on the Fuji products durability and long-term viability in training and competition. Practically speaking, this is one of the most important elements to us in a kimono to begin with. No matter how perfect a gi might fit, feel, and look, if it tears or is ruined within a year it has been a poor investment for us overall. This is why we generally have a very strong and positive outlook of Fuji Sports Jiu Jitsu products.
Intro To Both Gi’s
Kassen (2013 Edition): The Kassen is Fuji Sport’s premium heavy duty pearl weave gi. It retails for $139.00. Our first impression of the gi was that it was built to last. It was a tad heavier than most of our other gi’s, but incredibly soft (more on this later). The gi has a strong but flexible collar, and contains obviously strong reinforcements in all the delicate areas. It is the kind of gi you would love to wear in competition if you can spare the weight. Why? Strong gi’s with added support are harder to maintain grips on, and the lack of “give” in the sleeves make spider-guard and leg-lasso techniques harder to apply. As tough as this gi looks and feels on the outside, it feels like a luxury vehicle on the inside. It is very form fitting, and allows for flexible movement. It combines a lot of the best of both worlds in terms of durability and “wearability”.
Summerweight (2013 Edition): The Summerweight is Fuji Sport’s premium light weight gi. It retails for $109.00-119.00 (depending on color). The rise of the light weight gi has been pretty rapid in the last few years – as competitors race to save every ounce of weight for IBJJF tournaments. Fuji brings this gi to the market in a very responsible way. It is not the lightest of light weight gi’s – it weighs approximately 3lbs 5 oz. -but this is ultimately why it is one of the best on the market. Where most lightweight gi’s fall short is there ability to keep a fitting style and practical functionality to their design. Often gi’s that are light weight feature a flimsy collar that will have opponents licking their collar-choking chops. In the case of the Fuji Summerweight gi, that is certainly not the case. It features a very strong – yet flexible – collar, and a beautifully textured and soft pair of pants. The gi fit us both like a glove, and was very comfortable to roll in. Our first impression was that it provides everything we look for in a competition gi.
Tyler is a 5’11 175 lb male competitor: The A3 fit me perfectly. I fluctuate between an A2 and A3 depending on the brand. Very few gi’s fit me correctly. The Kassen fit me very comfortably, and provided the fitted look I enjoy. The sleeve and pant length are exactly how I like them and the gi top is long enough to cover my pant draw strings (surprisingly, one of the hardest things for me to find in a gi).
Jena is a 5’4 130 lb female competitor: The A1 fit me very well. As all women know, finding a gi that fits the right way can be difficult. At first the gi was a little big, but after 2 trips into the dryer it fit me in all the right ways. The sleeve and pant lengths are right on point. I was surprised to find an A1 that fit me the way this gi did.
Tyler is a 5’11 175 lb male competitor: After washing it once, this gi had a nice fitted look, perfect sleeve length, and trim pants with enough room to move around in. The A3 Fuji gi is obviously a perfect size for someone of my stature.
Jena is a 5’4 130 lb female competitor: Again, after a few washes I found this to fit as well as any other companies A1. I was really happy with the sleeve length being perfect for my arms. Having a lightweight gi that fits my frame is hard to find, and Fuji hit a home run with this gi.
Overall: Both gi’s fit our frames very well. When they come out of the box they feel a little big, but the plus side is that they shrink up into a very nice modern fit.
Rolling performance, fit, and comfort.
Kassen: When rolling in the Kassen you tend to get a very strong feeling. The gi will not be manipulated easily. It maintains it’s form and structure throughout even the most intense rolling sessions. Fortunately, it remains almost unbelievably comfortable throughout its use. It’s very hard to come by such a strong gi that is this comfortable. Many gi’s with this kind of structure and support feel heavy and uncomfortable to roll in. The Kassen has the added benefit of allowing a full range of motion, and would be a great gi to train and compete in. In fact, Tyler competed in the Kassen at the World Pro Trials, and was very happy with the performance.
Summerweight: It cannot be stressed enough how well this gi has blended functionality with a lightweight design. It is truly a perfect hybrid design. We have come to strongly dislike many of the typical lightweight gi’s due to the ease at which they can be manipulated. The Summerweight does not sacrifice the design in the creation of this lightweight gi, and the competitor benefits by receiving a very comfortable, lightweight, and durable product. The downside of this is that it will not win a lightest gi contest. In fact, it’s actual weight is almost 1lb heavier than many other lightweight gi’s. The benefit of this design is it’s fitted style and traditional build. To us, this is about as perfect as a competition gi could be designed. Light enough to keep you from tipping the scales, and designed and built well enough to keep you from having an opponent hanging off you for the entire match.
Both gi’s are among the very best available at any price point, but with both being under $150 they provide a unique value that is nearly unparalleled. So which is best for you? Our impressions were that both could actually be great competition gi’s depending on your specifications. If you fear the scale, then there is no doubt the Summerweight is probably your best bet. If you would like a gi that will help you tire the grips of your opponent, and don’t mind a little added weight, we would recommend the Kassen. The Kassen will also likely become the most durable gi in your portfolio, so if your looking for a gi that can last a very long time the Kassen is probably a good fit. However, if you live in a warm climate, then the feel and weight of the Summerweight might prove to be a better investment.
Honestly you can’t go wrong with either gi. Your best bet is to examine which one fits your goals and specifications the best, as outlined above, and go from there. The Fuji Sports website always sells the gi’s for a fair price, but other stores online often have sales and special offers you may want to take advantage of. We hope this review helps. Any other questions about the gi’s can be directed at [email protected].