Last week I had the joy of crawling out of my apartment to make three Amazon returns, all of which had separate drop-off locations. By bicycle. In the rain. You might say it was a less-than-enjoyable string of errands. “Oops, I ordered the wrong product,” was all I had to say to my online merchant at the end of this dilemma.
It’s easy to make these kind of impulse mistakes when we are hours into an online shopping session, glued to our smart tablets and Apple products. Yet, it’s easier still to overlook some of the consequences when we choose to shop this way for Jiu Jitsu gear. Our academy has seen plenty of students and visitors alike show up to class with sub-par equipment, only to bleed dye from their clothes onto the mat (These stains can take weeks to fade out!). Perhaps it was a fluke, but I’ve even torn a training partner’s gi, almost in half, just from hanging onto his lapel playing open guard. As diligent Jiu Jitsu students, it’s our responsibility to circumvent the chances of equipment failure, especially when it can very quickly become grounds for disqualification in tournament. We just invest too much human effort and sentiment in our training to blow it all on a torn seam.
First and foremost, find yourself a product expert. Someone who knows what’s what. Maybe someone who’s had his or her own share of mishaps. Simply, someone who you know trains super hard, but always manages to have a clean gi. Look no further than your fellow upper belts and coaches. In this day and age, they are sure have gone through enough equipment to have boiled their favorite gi or rashguard brands down to a handful of choices. Brand ambassadors share similar amounts of experience, but are specific to the equipment provided by their sponsor, meaning they not only have a concentrated product knowledge of the brand, but also feedback on how their sponsor runs their business. They likely will be able to tell you if the business’s product support and warranty departments are on-point, or if they tend to give the run-around.
Visit our academy and it’s no surprise: it’s a Moya Brand x RVCA dance party. There are plenty of other high-quality brands the Culture Shop has on the horizon, but those two are great examples that we’ve had from the start. Forget vanity. It’s not that. A jiu jitsu player with clean training attire is to a chef with a sharp knife.
Lastly, take advantage of the brick-and-mortar storefront. You’ll have a product expert like me at the register to answer any questions regarding sizing, fabric quality, or ETA on special-orders. We’ll also be able to weigh in with our personal experiences with the product and vendor, and, most importantly, guarantee you won’t regret your purchases. We are the ones at work behind the scenes, making sure the shelves are stocked with the best equipment, time and time again. Just remember to do us a favor: when homie asks where you got your phresh gi, just tell ‘em, “I’ve got a guy.”