If you’re reading this, you either do Brazilian jiu-jitsu or know someone who does Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Last year, I put together a Gift Guide post that had the latter folks in mind. Let’s do this again, once more with feeling.
If you train, you probably have a pretty good idea of what makes a cool gift for your friendly neighborhood martial artist. If not, you might wind up with beautifully-wrapped karate gi under the tree and a recipient trying desperately to force a smile. Don’t let this happen to you!
Note: I own and enjoy most of the things below, so I’m not just shilling for myself, I promise. And as most folks who read the blog know, I do some work for Toro BJJ, so I’m only going to have one Toro-related entry.
Items on this list range from $10 or so to “however much you want to spend,” so hopefully there’s something for everyone.
Jiu-Jitsu In The South Zone, 1997-2008: Like BJJ history? Check this out. I got this book earlier this year on the recommendation of a black belt, and it didn’t disappoint. The lesson, as always: listen to what the black belts say. It combines the Global Training Reports into one handy package, and contains excellent slice-of-life material about incredible jiu-jitsu practitioners — including many you might not have heard of and including stories you almost certainly haven’t heard.
Toro BJJ T-Shirts: Yes, I made these shirts. But I wouldn’t do work for Toro if I didn’t believe in the products, and obviously I made the Hapkido Man and Double Guard Pull shirts because I think they are funny takes on our unique subculture. Unfortunately, the “Just Train” shirt appears to be sold out right now. All the Cageside and Toro shirts are very comfortable and moderately priced, and a good shirt is a great gift.
MODERATELY EXPENSIVE ($21-70)
Roots of Fight Brazil Hoodie: Generally, I am a huge hoodie fan. Specifically, I am a huge fan of this one: it’s modeled after the original Academia Gracie gear. One of my good friends has this. It’s comfortable, stylish, and distinctive. It’s also versatile: if your friends are always giving you static for wearing only jiu-jitsu gear, this is subtle enough that only the in-the-know will notice.
A Hemp Belt: I’m a big believer in hemp as a fabric. I also support efforts to bring back America’s manufacturing sector. That’s why I’d like my next belt, whenever that comes, to be The Green Gi’s American-made hemp belt. (Sidenote: their hemp gis are shipping this week as well, and I’m very excited to get mine. I pre-ordered.)
Important note for non-BJJ folks: if you’re considering buying a belt as a gift, here’s one thing to do. You want to get the belt, not tell them about it, and give the belt to their instructor. Just say “hey, I don’t know anything about this whole belt promotion thing. But I wanted to do something for [Insert Name], so whenever it happens, could you hand them this belt and let them know it’s from me?” I know some people don’t mind having a spare belt around, but personally, I want to wear the belt my instructor hands me.
An Art Print: I’m a huge fan of Meerkatsu, who is a terrific artist and also does a great deal of charity stuff. He has a bevy of products to choose from, including rash guards and shirts and spats and … you name it. This year, how about an art print? I’m particularly fond of the Rosie The Riveter “Try Jiu-Jitsu” piece. Personal tastes can vary, so if Meerkatsu isn’t your speed, maybe something by John Smalls suits your fancy.
Meerkatsu has his own gift guide, BTW, which contains many items not found here.
BALL SO HARD UNIVERSITY EXPENSIVE ($70 and up)
Dom Gi Material Jacket: For a little heavier-duty jacket, I love this offering from Dom. I got to try one on at the Mundials and really dug the look, fit and feel. It’s the season for warmth and collar chokes, and what better to serve both needs than a jacket made of gi material?
Membership to an Online Site: This could be tricky, because there are a lot of sites out there. The good thing is, a lot of the sites are great. I have a membership to MendesBros.com and have been really happy with it. The Marcelo Garcia site MGInAction has a mountain of content from one of the greatest of all time. But if you want something fresh and new, the Caio Terra online training site is supposed to open in about 36 hours.
Ryan Hall’s Guard Passing DVD Set: Ryan Hall is an elite competitor and a top-notch instructor. I’ve only had the chance to watch a little of this, but it is just what I expected so far: excellent concepts, critical details and an expert’s ability to convey the information. His earlier DVDs are also excellent, and this is new: a great addition to any grappler’s video collection.
Of course, the Toro Uchina gi should be out sometime in February, so if you want to give *me* a present, you could wait and get one of those. In the meantime, I hope one of these works for you.