'LOCAL GEAR REVIEW' is a segment on BJJ-ASIA where products based in Southeast Asia are tested and reviewed. The review reflects the views of the tester and acknowledges differing opinions due to experience, preference and body-type. Comments and questions are always welcome. The aim of these reviews is to promote local companies that support the growing community of bjj/grappling/mma practitioners in Southeast Asia. -Luke
BRAND: Zeal Fight Gear
KIMONO: Zeal Gold-Weave Gi (white, size A4)
RETAIL: 140.00SGD ($96.39 USD)
HEIGHT: 5'10" (175cm)
WEIGHT: 200 lbs. (90kg)
OVERVIEW The Zeal brand was introduced to me sometime last year with their promotion of bjj/grappling tournaments in Singapore. It wasn't until a couple of months ago that I was able to receive the gi and test it myself. Above is the photo taken from the website with sizes ranging from A1-A4 in white and black. The gi is minimal in decoration outside of the standard labels and two Zeal logos on either sleeve.GI-TOP: As you can see from the photo above, the gi is cut pretty straight with little to no taper in the body or sleeves. The stitching and reinforcement over the chest is something new compared to other major brands that I've owned/used in the past. This re-inforced chest area makes the top very tough but a touch constricting which I will comment on later. The lapel is thick, something closer between a Keiko and Atama which is something I prefer. The lapel measures at 1 3/4" wide and 1/3" thick. The gi when worn covers the entire chest area up to the collar bone.
PANTS: The gi-pants are pretty standard with heavy canvas, two loops for the draw-string which is made of the same material as the pants. The reinforced front starts from the very bottom to just above the mid-thigh area which is plenty. Again, very little to no taper or bend in the pants. Since it's a straight fit, there's plenty of room for movement but since the material is heavy canvas, there isn't much bunching when playing open guard and doesn't slip past the calf. The crotch area is a tad baggy.
CONSTRUCTION/MATERIAL The gi is very well constructed with no loose seams or stray threads before and after washing. All the basic areas to be reinforced are there, such as: skirt, skirt-split, sleeves and armpit. The weave is as advertised, gold-weave, and probably closer to 750grams in fabric weight since it doesn't feel like a single-weave. The weave is tight and quite soft so no need for the rashguard on this one even after several washes.
PROPORTION/SHRINKAGEI made a drawing of the gi to show the seam lines and reinforced areas of the gi. Yes, I know it's very geeky of me but I think it helps to show the details of the gi. In red is the original measurements before washing and the green shows the measurements after several washes and training. There was no change in the length or width of the body of the gi but in the sleeves and pants there's an average of 2" to 3" shrinkage in length. As far as the width of the sleeves and pants the difference was only 0.5".
Typically I wear an A3 to A2 depending on the brand of gi and since this was an A4, I had my doubts whether I would be able to test this one out. Despite the larger size of the gi, I did have some trouble in the shoulder/back area. Mind you, I am built like a ninja-turtle which means thick-chested, broad-shoulders, short-stocky-legs. So while the gi-top still covered my entire body, exposing very little of my chest, I did not have 100% mobility in my shoulders. Not so much that I couldn't train but enough so that I was conscious of the gi while rolling. This tells me it's a very tailor-fit gi and more suitable for taller/slender bjjers. I have similar problems with Keiko gis. Length-wise, I can't comment so much because I know it's not the size I would have chosen but as a typical A3er, the sleeves were about 1" past my wrists when straight out. The pants, I need to roll them up at the cuff about 3x.
The sleeves are straight, so there is plenty of room for ezekiels and will most definitely pass IBJJF standards. The pants are straight, giving plenty of room for open-guard. This does give more material to grap in the knee area and just above the elbow but better to grab material than skin, haha. Because of the coverage the gi has, it is difficult to come undone for brabo-chokes or other lapel-chokes/holds, provided you belt stays tied.
(added after initial post) Besides the tight shoulder area, the armpit is cut a bit high which I think is also partly responsible for the mobility issue. It's one of the elements that you're conscious of when rolling in the gi.
As far as the quality of material and construction are concerned this gi is right up there with the name brand gis. I can't see any production flaws after several weeks of use and washing. It really comes down to personal preference and fit. It's definitely not a summer-gi which makes it a bit tough for tropical weather training but would make for a good competition gi in my opinion. I train regularly with HCK gis which are very heavy but have gotten used to it so it may not be an issue for some. The one draw-back that I have with the gi is the fit around the shoulders and upper back but that's a conflict with my body-type and the style of gi. Zeal has other gis in their line of products but I believe this one is probably the strongest candidate for BJJ.
Would like to thank Zeal for allowing BJJ-ASIA to test their product and share my thoughts on the gi with the community. -Luke