Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gi Review: Keiko Raca 2010 Gi

I'm 6'1.5" tall, 183 lbs (or so).  My first gi was an Atama Ultra-Lite (actually, this was my first pair of gis; I got one white, then a blue when I got tired of the blood showing).  After six months of training, I got my new gi, the Keiko Raca (kee'-ko hah'-sah) 2010 limited edition white gi.  I did some looking around and some more research, and Keiko Raca is supposed to have a cut that fits tall, skinny people much better than the standard cut.

Honestly, the difference between the gis is obvious.  Part of it is the weave (Atama:  rough weave just this side of a single weave;  Keiko:  glorious gold weave softness), but more than that, it's the cut.  The reviews weren't wrong:  this is made for the tall skinny kids.  I have enough room so that I don't feel buckled into my gi, but I know it isn't going anywhere.  It isn't heavy on my shoulders, but I can still feel its substance.

Big big big fan of this jacket.  With the exception of the giant racecar-style patch on the front, it's damn stylish.  The black trim on the cuffs and the bottom give it a clean look, much like the Atama Mundial models but without the script on the edge.  The shoulder patches are simple and more-or-less out of the way, the flag and embroidery at the right and left elbows are not distracting....It's a nice, simple gi jacket with enough character to make it stand out without telling everyone, "Hey--this is a special jacket."  It's the BMW 3-series:  sharp and well-crafted, but not as aggressively German as the Mercedes C-class.

The wrists were originally a bit larger on my arms than I thought I would like, but either I've gotten used to them or they've come to a normal size after washing.  The sleeves have shortened to the point where if they keep receding it will bother me, but they still feel a bit longer than the Atama's.  The weave is outstanding; it's not rough on the skin, it won't give your training partners gi-burn when practicing cross chokes, but it isn't so comfortable that your opponent will like being crossfaced by a Keiko-clothed forearm.

This is the area where the Keiko wins by a wide margin.  My legs are long, and the Atama's pants are just not enough to keep them covered.  After a few weeks, I could have used them in case of heavy rain.  The Keiko's pants are nice heavy cloth (as opposed to the Atama's ripstop material) and they are long.  The material feels better against my legs, and it doesn't get the worn-in-knees look as quickly as the Atama did.  One of the belt loops tore off pretty quickly after I got it, but it might have been that I was trying to tie my pants a different way that placed more stress on the loop than normal.  I'm hesitant to blame the construction on that, and I expect to fix the pants soonish, so it's really a non-issue.

Pros:  attractive design without being flashy, good construction without feeling wooden.

Cons:  all have to do with personal cosmetic preferences.

[camera is out of commission (re: not with me right now); I'll post pics when I get it up and running]


  1. I have yet to own a gold weave gi...seems like without meaning to I've purchased all pearl weaves. From what your'e saying, though, I'd be crazy not to give this gi a try since it's practically built for my body type. Thanks for the writeup!

  2. Really interesting. I have a Keiko from 2008, size A1, and I'm far from skinny for my height, but the cut suits my shape well. Does yours have a rope belt instead of the fabric kind? That's something I really love about mine.

  3. Yes, I forgot to mention that part---

    It's a rope belt, vastly superior to the ripstop-material in the Atamas. Every once in a while it's tough to untie when it's wet, but it's always easier than the ripstop.

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