It seems I had done a thorough enough job when I reviewed the Gorilla“Hitman“ cotton rip-stop gi, to warrant Mike over at Gorilla to give me a closer look at his new 2012 “Apeman” crystal weave gi.
This time around, I got the opportunity to learn a little more about Mike and Gorilla Fight Gear.
Mike started Gorilla fight gear back in 2005 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. At that time a back injury forced Mike to have a long and hard look at his career in law enforcement. To hedge his bets, he started a fight gear company: Gorilla Fight Gear.
Gorilla Fight Gear BJJ gi’s are some of the more cutting edge designs on the market and I think it all stems from Mike’s willingness to try and innovate. Not every style choice is a home run in my opinion, but I respect the mindset of trying to keep things fresh and on the edge..
In Mike’s own words “What sets us apart I would say it's our customer service, if you have an issue with a product I’ll do everything in my power to make it right. Other then that, I’m always crazy about making a better product, so I’m constantly on the look out for new materials or concepts that would make Gorilla Fight Gear unique, I just don't like being the same as everyone else.”
When I asked about what new products he is thinking about designing, “All our new BJJ gear we have planned for the future all revolves around fabric like bamboo, hemp and even some synthetic fabrics… Make sure we have more gi models in our slim and big sizes. As for other bjj related items we plan on bring in some BJJ accessories and t-shirts. We have to see about that as the main priority (right now) is to remain stocked up at all times.
I had asked him about his training and he explained that it has been sporadic due to a bunch of different injuries. If you’re interested, Mike keeps a training blog at www.fatninjas.com
|The APEMAN from the Gorilla website|
I ordered the 2012 “Apeman” in blue from Gorilla Fight Gear's website. I ordered it in an A5 size. I generally order an A5 and then super hot wash and nuclear dry it to shrink fit down to a roomy A4.
I now own ultra-light gi’s (which are great for hot weather) and heavy durable gi’s (that help keep my opponents grips off). This gi would be a welcome “middle ground” between the two. The most interesting part of this gi for me was the “crystal weave”. Promisiing to be a little different than the regular sea of "pearl" weaves, light "gold" weaves and the like.
The “Apeman” sells for $149.00 off the website with a Canada Post Flat Shipping Rate of $9.95 to Ontario. Throw in roughly 20 bucks for Ontario taxes and it tops out at just a couple bucks south of $180... gi in hand (or dojo)
The gi came neatly wrapped a few days after ordering it. I ripped into the packaging and found three large zip-lock bags, each containing a different article. The package contained 1) a “crystal weave” top 2) a pair of regular Gorilla twill pants and 3) a premium white belt.
My initial impression of the crystal weave as I unfolded it was “this thing is soft!” It is by far the softest gi I have felt. The weave could only be described as a cross between a gold weave and a old school single weave. It is light feeling and seems to breathe well.
The top also has some fairly loud styling to it, with a large embroidered star on the from crest of the jacket, and white contrasting “trim” around the jacket and pant side vents. It is much more pronounced than I had thought based on the pictures on the website. Also along some of the major seams, the stitching is white to contrast the blue fabric. It seems as a conscious style choice, not all of the seams are stitched with the white thread.
|The jacket and pants ....in all their glory|
I carefully went over the top stitch-by-stitch. It is well constructed with no "problem area's" I think since Gorilla has been making BJJ gi's since 2005, they have long since worked out any issues with their gi's. As I have come to expect, everything is well stitched, well re-enforced, and (mostly) well thought out.
|The "artistic depth-of-field collar shot"|
Being over thirty, I think my days of rocking the explosive-in-your-face clothing is well behind me. I have never owned a piece of clothing with an energy drink logo on it, and I dont intend to start. In complete fairness though, the star may appeal to a younger demographic, and certainly will help you to stand apart from your peers...if that's your thing.
|Embroidering the proverbial target on you?|
From a quality standpoint, the star is well embroidered, and is small enough that a team lapel patch will fit over it and cover it completely... but just barely.
|View from inside the jacket...if you put a patch over the front.. this will stay to haunt you|
Finally, there is perhaps a demographic that might be heavily attracted to this star: The Dallas Cowboy fans.
Since Professor Carlos Machado is based in Texas, and this is a heavily Machado based blog, perhaps some people attending his school, are also Cowboys fans.... hey... you never know.
Anyways...enough about the star.
The gi top has a few more labels on it, a small gorilla patch at the bottom of the left collar, a stylized "G" black-belt logo on the right sleeve, and an maker/sizing tag inside the back of the jacket.
|For some reason I didn't take a pic of the arm embroidery....Hmmm... I thought I did... oh well.. I ripped this one from Gorilla's website so you get the idea...|
The sleeves on this gi are more tailored than the Hitman gi I reviewed. They are more like a Gameness style sleeve (if you know what I am referring to) I never liked the wide sleeves that resemble a judo gi, or the sleeves that are so tight they restrict movement. These ones are a perfect balance between the two.
|Sleeve Stitching Close Up|
|Sleeve Cuff Re-enforcement (folded inside out for clarity)|
|Side vent in an action shot!!....just look at that venting performance!!!|
|Side vent plus the inside re-enforced area|
|If you think about it... the biggest "rip-zone" when some savage is yanking you around, is from top to midway along the jackets collar...Exactly the place Gorilla has re-enforced.|
|If you dislike it, it looks easy to remove it with a stitch ripper|
The pants are fairly straight forward medium-weight cotton twill...except for the crotch re-enforcement which is the same "crystal weave" as the jacket.. Same as the jacket, it is trimmed with white fabric, and has some contrast stitching in white at various seams. The pants have six loops to weave your drawstring through, make sure you can cinch your pants tight without any bunching in the front. A nice touch. They fit on the baggy side, and are plenty roomy for movement...
|The little re-enforcing triangle is still sewn inside where all the seams come together... picture is curiously unavailable... maybe I'm slipping?|
There is no new ground broken on the pant cuffs or the belt loops or drawstrings. All areas are well built and re-enforced. The only real thing of note here is the flat style drawstring. I prefer a rope style, so in my mind a flat drawstring will always be inferior. Your opinion may differ.
|Pant cuff flipped inside out to show the re-enforcement|
|Again... the pant cuff close up|
|The "flat" style drawstring|
As I said in my review of the Gorilla "Hitman" ripstop gi, Gorilla makes sure to double up the knee-pad well. It covers almost the entire leg of the pants and is heavily stitched. I hate knee-pads that cover as much of the knee as a drink coaster would. Rarely do they stay in place long enough to keep the doubled up fabric "where the rubber meets the road"....so to speak. How many Lucky gi's have a hole just outside the knee-pad area?...I don't know...but I'll bet a few..
|The start of the knee pad|
The side vents on the pants help to showcase a beautiful little feature of this gi. The rear waist is slightly offset higher than the front. Untold amounts of people have been spared views of their opponents plumbers crack while in turtle simply because of this small design feature... If you have ever felt traditional pants "slip" down while doing forward rolls, then these are the pants for you.
|I probably could have straightened out the fabric a little more to really highlight the offset...|
|Side vent with the full view of the re-enforced area around it. NOTE: the area ti the right that looks like a rip... is just where the belt loop is stitched|
And finally, something I have only seen on Gorilla Fight Gear pants: A re-enforced seat area. I don't really know why there needs to be double fabric along you butt crack... and I probably don't want to know why... but.. I am somehow glad it is there...
|I messed with the contrast on this photo to try and highlight the re-enforcing patch along the butt crack|
As Mike at Gorilla said, I’m constantly on the look out for new materials or concepts that would make Gorilla Fight Gear unique". I think with all things "on the edge" your bound to occasionally be hit-or-miss. The star on the lapel is a "miss" for me. It is too big and flashy. I prefer a more subtle styling. Perhaps if it was a patch, and not embroidery, I could have simply removed it.
I instead ended up putting a school lapel patch over it...problem solved.
With styling aside, it is still a bad-ass gi that is well constructed, rolls light and fluid, and is the rival of any gi in the $200+ market. Gorilla listens to their customers and tweaks their gear to give the public what they want. It fits well around the shoulders, has no seam on the back, and slims the arms down to give it that "true BJJ cut" feeling. This is no modified Judo gi.
I like the "crystal weave" fabric and find that it breathes really well. Sometimes with other companies "pearl weaves", I find they start to feel like wet paper-towel against your skin when soaked with sweat-which is gross. This Apeman feels soft and breathable when soaked...and still weighs in the same range as a "pearl weave"... Gorilla is really on to something with this fabric.
The fabric that re-enforces the crotch provides a nice breathable area for all your bits. It is such a small thing, and yet really helps to cool you down when you back-to-back-to-back roll.
Overall, it is a great second or third gi.. It is kind of expensive for a first gi. It is especially nice as a milestone present to yourself (like getting your blue belt) It is well put together, refined, and has tons of cutting edge features.
|We are both wearing this gi before shrinking it down in the wash... so it is huge on both of us...lol|
This review represents my own opinions. I am not an expert by any means in cotton, garment construction, or fabric stress. I am just a regular BJJ student who loves Jiu Jitsu. I consider myself as independent and impartial as one can get. I am not sponsored by Gorilla, though I did receive this gi free of charge for the purposes of reviewing it.. If you have any questions about this review, please comment below or email me at lifevsjiujitsu@gmail(dot)com. I hope you enjoyed the large detailed photos I included; it is something I think many reviews are lacking. Thanks for reading.