The Armor of Gracie Barra: Why We Wear the Gi


We put on a Gi to step on the mats and train Jiu-Jitsu, but have you ever considered why this is a fundamental part of our training? Some answers may include that the gi helps maintain the integrity of the art. Or that the gi offers you more options for control and submission. All of these things are true!

Some people believe that the gi is not fundamental. They think that the gi is unrealistic in an actual self-defense situation, being that an individual wouldn’t be wearing a gi when they attack you.

This month, we’re taking a deep dive into why the Gracie Barra gi is fundamental to training Jiu-Jitsu!

The Red Shield – Brotherhood/Sisterhood

The Red Shield is Gracie Barra’s flag! It connects the GB community, beginning with students taking their first class with our Black Belt Instructors. We are all united under one flag, and our gi bears the flag we represent. 

Master Carlos Gracie Jr. created the Red Shield to unify all those representing Gracie Barra and pass forward the legacy handed down from Grandmaster Carlos Gracie and other Jiu-Jitsu legends.

The Red Shield is one of the most recognized symbols in Jiu-Jitsu today. This recognition is due to the hard work and excellence of the Gracie Barra students, athletes, and instructors involved in sport Jiu-Jitsu, teaching programs, and community work. All of us who wear the Red Shield should feel a deep sense of loyalty and commitment to GB and the Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone movement.

When first developing our uniform, the goal was to express Master Carlos Gracie Jr.’s vision and the Gracie Barra culture to empower and inspire team members. Today, that mission continues to prevail, seen in Gracie Barra Wear’s uniforms and apparel which fortify loyalty and pride among our GB community.


2021 Gracie Barra World Summit

The Integrity of the Art

The modern gi in martial arts dates back to the late 1800s in Japan. Gi is short for Keikogi, which translates into English as “The cloth of practice.” It is widely accepted that Jigoro Kano (the founder of Judo) was the person that developed the modern gi, which consists of three parts – kimono, pants, and belt. Other martial arts soon adopted the use of the gi in their practice.

Great Grandmasters Carlos Gracie Sr. and Helio Gracie

Martial artists wear a gi because it is the traditional garment for practicing martial arts. In addition, the gi allows for fluid and flexible movement. Perhaps most importantly, it provides a sense of community (and the rank within) and a sense of commitment to the discipline and moral principles of the art. The gi reminds us that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. This commitment to the integrity of the art makes wearing a gi fundamental to the practice of Jiu-Jitsu. 



Young Carlos Gracie Sr.


When Great Grandmaster Carlos Gracie trained in the art of Jiu-Jitsu, he did so by wearing a gi. Great Grandmaster Carlos believed in the integrity and symbol the gi provides in the practice of Jiu-Jitsu, as illustrated when he said:

“Each person who puts on the kimono and believes in Jiu-Jitsu that myself and my family teaches is the realization of my life’s work.” 

Continued Development

When we put on our gi, we get into a mindset appropriate for training. That mindset includes all the feelings of Brotherhood and Integrity as described. In addition, it also consists of an understanding of the rules and expectations of behavior. The gi provides a mindset of trust in the school’s training environment. This mindset allows us to be prepared to continue our development as students of Jiu-Jitsu.

Great Gransmaster Carlos Gracie Sr.













When the proper clothing is worn, it provides a professional boundary for Jiu-Jitsu training. Our uniform is the armor of a martial artist and should be worn appropriately. The uniform puts us in a state of mind that activates the athlete and fighter within us all. It helps to remove the discomfort that some can feel due to the close contact that training Jiu-Jitsu requires.

This is especially true when male and female students train together. It is vital to the inclusion of female students and the Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone movement that the proper uniform is worn by both male and female students. This professional boundary provides a physical and psychological limitation fundamental to the training process. The uniform helps ensure that both male and female students feel comfortable training with each other.

Wearing a Gracie Barra gi is an instrument that makes us all equal in the experience of learning Jiu-Jitsu. It gives us our identity as martial artists helping each other on our journey. It is fundamental to the commitment to the Brotherhood of GB! 

Master Carlos Gracie Jr.

To solidify why the gi is fundamental to all of us as Gracie Barra Team Members, we lean toward Master Carlos Jr.’s vision:

“One day, we will have a presence all around the globe, and when people see someone wearing a Gracie Barra uniform, they will already know exactly what that means, what it stands for, what it belongs to! It will be an honor to wear the official Gracie Barra kimono and represent the generations of students, competitors, professors, and leaders who gave and give their best to keep our GB legacy alive!” – Master Carlos Gracie Jr. 


To learn more about the values and legacy of Gracie Barra highlighted in Course 10 of the Instructors Certification Program, Click Here.

Blog Written by Dawn Korsen, a Gracie Barra Brown Belt