“Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”
Do you fix your Gi?
Something I've noticed time after time is that some athletes always fix their Gis. And then there are athletes who don't.
I prefer, from an aesthetic point of view, for athletes to fix their Gis.
While it is true I get some good shots of an open Gi that exposes an athlete's abs, it isn't just ab shots that makes for a good picture. The whole methodical and purposeful way an athlete fixes the Gi makes for some interesting shots, too. Athletes also look much more composed when their Gi is properly fixed with a well-tied belt.
I've asked many of the non-fixers, "Why don't you fix you Gi?" and without exception they all answer, "Because fixing my Gi is the last thing on my mind when I am competing."
Also, without exception, is that none of these non-fixer athletes have ever won gold at Worlds, Pans, Masters, or the ADCC (which is No Gi, however, many athletes who have won the ADCC train in a Gi as well as No Gi).
This got me wondering if there might be a connection to fixing your Gi and a champion mindset?
I decided to ask some champions about it.
Tarsis Humpreys is an IBJJF Black Belt World Champion and a member of the Abu Dhabi Pro Hall of Fame.
I asked Tarsis about fixing his Gi and if that was something he did.
"Yes, I fix my Gi because it is about respect. My Gi is my nice suit, and I am working when I am on the mat. Our Gi is fixed when we get into the fight, and it is the way we should get out of the fight."
I asked him if this is something he makes a point to teach his students?
"Yes. I tell them even if the fight was really aggressive and even if you lost and are mad, it is about self control and respect. That is why we do Jiu Jitsu; that is why we are Martial Artists; we must have self control and discipline over our emotions and feelings and be respectful. Fixing your Gi is a sign of respect."
Gezary Matuda is a Black Belt World and Pan American Champion and one of the best known female BJJ athletes in the world. I told her I noticed she always fixes her Gi and asked her why.
"I fix my belt all the time when I fight but yes my teacher tells me to fix my belt all the time! I teach all my students to fix their Gi and belt and to never fix a Gi and belt looking straight to a black belt- they need to turn around and fix their Gi. Never throw your belt on the floor, never step on somebody's belt and never let anyone step on yours...for me the belt was made to be tied on the waist!"
There is a theme beginning to emerge: Respect.
ADCC Black Belt Champion Orlando Sanchez had this to say about fixing your Gi:
"Yes, of course, you always start and finish with your Gi fixed, belt tied sharp; it is a sign of respect."
I asked him who taught him that?
"Carlos Gracie, Jr. is the originator and teaches that the Gi is very important. Always looking your best is important; it is about respect for the Martial Art."
Rafael Lovato, Jr. is a Black Belt World, Pan American, Masters, Brazilian and European Champion.
He put it this way:
"It is the mindset of a Samurai: Your Gi is your armor, your patch is your shield and your belt is your sword.
It is very important you treat them with respect.
You don't just throw your belt off to the side; you don't let your Gi look all raggedy and we always fix it. It is just part of the process.
I definitely teach this to my students. Every time after the round is over we always stand up and fix our Gis and tie our belts and breathe and walk- that is how we reset the mindset and recover; and also to put on your poker face...get ready for the next round. I was taught this by Sensei Saulo and I carry that through to my students. You have to treat your Gi and belt with respect."
So. Back to my first question: Do you fix your Gi?
If you don't want to think about fixing your Gi because it is the last thing on your mind, you may want to consider that these champion athletes DO think about it, and it is part of their champion mindset.
If athletes who have attained the highest levels of the sport consider it important to fix their Gis, maybe you should, too.
Besides, you look much better in pictures when your Gi is fixed.