How To Tie Gi Pants – Step-by-Step for Beginners

It might surprise you just how many people can’t tie their gi pants correctly. If you’re a beginner and you just can’t get the waistband to fit right, then don’t worry.

You’re definitely not alone. Even experienced fighters have been known to mess up the drawstring.

How To Tie Gi Pants

Gi pants use a long, looped drawstring and big waistband to allow for different kinds of fit. To tie your gi pants, pull on each end of the drawstring, thread it through the belt loops, and knot at the end. 

It really is that simple, although it might seem confusing when you first see the baggy gi waist. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to tie your gi pants, why it’s important, and how to ensure you have the fit just right.

What Are Gi Pants?

Gi pants are the pants typically worn by practitioners of jiujitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The term gi refers to both the pants and the jacket. Gi pants are often made of heavy cotton, or even denim, but a variety of reinforced materials are becoming popular.

Importantly, a gi should be tough to withstand fights, and able to accommodate movement without hindering performance. Gi pants often have a long drawstring, allowing a fighter to ensure a tight fit. 

How To Tie Gi Pants

When you try on your first pair of gi pants, you’re probably going to notice that there’s a lot of waistband to work with. This isn’t just confusing for beginners. Sometimes even experienced BJJ practitioners end up tying their gi pants completely wrong. 

  1. Grab each end of the drawstring tightly in your hands. Keep the waistband loose, and don’t let it get folded or bunched up. At this point, the drawstring should be looped inside the waistband, but not through the belt loops. 
  2. Pull the drawstrings away from the body, to the side. Don’t pull them forwards, but keep the movement going outwards. Pull until you’re happy with the snugness of the waistband, which should tighten inwards along with the drawstring. How tight you want your gi pants is a personal choice, but most like to keep it snug, to avoid slipping.
  3. Thread the drawstring through the belt loops on the waistband. Don’t miss any loops, as these are necessary to stop the drawstring from drifting, and cutting into the stomach.
  4. Tie a knot at the front or to the side of your gi pants, as you would tie shoelaces. 
  5. Knot both ends of the drawstring. This should stop the drawstring from falling out of the pants when in the washing machine. 

Why Is It Important To Tie Your Gi Pants Right?

To put it simply, if you don’t tie your gi pants correctly, then they’re going to fall down as you grapple. 

The issue many have when tying gi pants is that they fold and bunch the waistband, rather than letting the drawstring do the work. There are a few problems with this. First, it looks bad.

This isn’t the most important reason, but it is worth considering. Second, you’ll struggle to get your pants to the right tightness every time, which will feel uncomfortable.

Third, your pants will work loose as you grapple. Each movement will cause the bunched fabric to shift and move, until you risk having your pants fall down. 

But when you use the drawstring to tighten the sides of the pants, then you have a secure fit every time you fight.

And because tying gi pants correctly is actually easier than bunching (as long as you know how), you can achieve a tightness and fit that works for you.

The drawstring on gi pants is already looped inside the waistband. When you pull outwards on either end of the drawstring, you tighten the entire waistband, removing any bunching. 

How Do You Know If Your Gi Pants Fit?

The fit of your gi pants is crucial, as this will determine just how easily you can move. Gi pants need to be loose enough that you have the full range of leg motions. However, they can’t be too loose, or they’ll get in the way as you fight. 

When you try your gi pants on, practice bending and squatting. There should be enough material at the knee that the movement is easy, but not so much fabric that it actually begins to inhibit your range.

Consider the fit all along the leg. Does it pull at the thighs or bunch at the knees? Are the seams stretched, or do they have room? Is the fabric heavy enough for consistent use? Squats and lunges can help you to assess the range of movement.

Length is also important. Gi pants with the right fit should rest roughly four finger widths above the ankle. Too long can inhibit movement, while too short might not meet competition standards.

If your pants are too long but the rest of the fit is good, consider getting them hemmed.

Most prefer to tie their gi pants for a snug fit. This will ensure that they won’t work loose when grappling or moving. But it’s down to you what kind of fit is preferred. A very tight fit might keep the pants in place, but some find it restrictive.

Or, Go For Elastic

If you’re still struggling to tie your gi pants, there is an easy solution: elastic. Elastic waistband gi pants are becoming more common, and many prefer the fit and movement they allow.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about the drawstring coming out whenever you have to do your laundry.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve mastered tying gi pants, it’s easy enough to get the fit just right. Make sure to move the drawstring away from the body, and don’t let the material of the waistband bunch up.

A good fit might not make you a better fighter, but a bad fit can be a disaster in an intense match. Or even in an easy-going practice. Tie your gi pants correctly by letting the drawstring do all the work.

Christopher Anderson
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