I finally got a bunch of belts. Like, too many belts. The values in the table below are for the specific belts I have – I’d expect some manufacturing variations.
The table below scrolls horizontally as a heads up. I’m not good enough at WordPress to change it.
|Belt||Material||Size||Weight||Width||Thickness||Rows||Length (Advertised)||Length (Unwashed)||Length (1st Wash)||Shrinkage|
|Scramble Tanren V4||Cotton||A3||336g||44mm||6mm||8||305cm||120.5″||118″||2.5″|
|Ronin Brand (Made in Japan)||Cotton||A3||419g||48mm||6mm||12||119″ (302cm)||118.75″||113″||5.75″|
|Fuji Pearl Weave||Pearl Weave||A3||279g||43mm||5mm||9||116″||117″||115″||2″|
|Kingz Gi Material Premium V2||Pearl Weave||A3||371g||44mm||6mm||8||122″||120.5″||118.5″||2″|
|Kanji Katana||Pearl Weave||A3||389g||44mm||6mm||8||123″||121″||119.75″||1.25″|
|Ronin Supply Co||Pearl Weave||A2||277g||47mm||5.5mm||8||N/A||113″||112″||1″|
|Killer Bee Gi Hybrid Weave||Ligustica MK II||A3||375g||39mm||5.5mm||8||119″||122.75″||121.25″||1.5″|
|Vandal Kimonos 350 Pearl||Pearl Weave||A3||325g||42mm||4mm||8||119″||119.5″||116″||3.5″|
|Future Premium Pearl Weave||Pearl Weave||A3||324g||45mm||6mm||8||N/A||119″||118.5″||0.5″|
|Ka’yo Premium Woven||Pearl Weave||A3||325g||43mm||6mm||8||N/A||115.75″||114.75″||1″|
|CTRL Industries Deluxe||Pearl Weave||A3||244g||39mm||3.5mm||8||120″||117″||112.25″||4.75″|
|Valor Elite Gi Material||Rice Grain Weave||A4||310g||40mm||5mm||8||121″||120″||113.5″||6.5″|
|Hayabusa Pro Jiu-Jitsu Gi Belt||Rip Stop||A3||250g||45mm||5mm||8||120″||N/A||115.25″||N/A|
- Weight was measured with a kitchen scale accurate to 1g
- Width was measured on vernier calipers. Belts vary in width over their length; the table reflects the mode of several measurements taken at semi-random spots on the belt. You can expect different spots on the belt to vary 1-2mm in width.
- Thickness was measured with the same vernier calipers. I rounded to the nearest 0.5mm for simplicity. These also vary a little bit so this is also the mode of several measurements, though there’s substantially less variation (< 0.5mm) over the length of the belt.
- Rows are just the number of rows of stitching I counted. I’ve double-checked these against the counts reported by the brands when possible.
- Length was measured on a tape measure so I had to use imperial (sorry, I don’t have a metric tape measure). Values are rounded to the nearest 1/4″.
- Washing – all belts were washed in cold water and tumble dried on the lowest heat setting. Like gis, shrinking will vary based on how you wash them, but this is at least a comparison of all these belts washed the exact same way.
At the time of writing this I’m still just a brown belt, but a lot of these belts are black belts. Someone is going to be really upset and say I shouldn’t be wearing black belts even to test them, and to you I say “that’s your hangup”. These belts are a mix of ones I purchased myself, were sent to me by the brands when I contacted them, or the Hayabusa I was promoted to brown belt with. It didn’t make sense for me to buy a bunch of brown belts given that I’ve been a brown belt for almost three years already. The reality is, some of these are expensive belts that I’m hoping to wear for years to come and I don’t plan to be the guy who’s a brown belt for a decade.
The basic Fuji belt is pretty much the same as every other basic cotton belt I’ve ever had. I’ve included it here for the sake of comparison. These measurements are a new black belt so that the number of washes and everything would be identical. The numbers might vary on my other Fuji belts, but they’ll all be pretty close to this one.
As a disclaimer – both the BJJ gym I coach at and the judo club I train at have wholesale accounts with Fuji. This hasn’t impacted my evaluation that it is, in fact, a belt.
TL;DR: Is a belt.
I really just wanted to know how this would compare to Fuji because it’s a brand I see advertised a lot. Honestly, it has some stitching weirdness on it, but I’d attribute that to the kind of quality control you can expect out of this price point. As an aside, I’m going to be commenting on how the rank bar is affixed to each belt and this one does at least have the extra rows of stitching that more expensive belts generally do.
Other than being short for the size this pretty much just affirmed what I had expected going in – pretty much all of the basic 100% cotton belts aren’t different enough to note.They may have different numbers of rows of stitching, they may have different widths here and there, but in the below $20 price point, there’s just not much variation. “Works as poorly as any other belt” is a pretty accurate description here.
TL;DR: Also is a belt. Weird stitching on mine, but likely due to QC at this price point.
Scramble Tanren V4
This is noticeably thicker, wider, and heavier than the first two entries. There’s certainly more belt. It’s a medium-firm belt and the kanji embroidered on it is probably the big selling point. Interestingly the rank bar is held on only by an outside rectangle (as with the cheaper belts). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but combined with the number of rows of stitching it’s likely this would be a belt that tatters with age. It doesn’t really stay tied because of its firmness, but since it’s a cotton belt it should eventually break in. It’s nicer than the Fuji or Sanabul, but I don’t think I’d buy this style of belt again myself. If you like thicker belts that hold their shape, this could be for you.
TL;DR: Medium-firm belt missing certain elements I’d consider “premium”. Buy it if you like Scramble or the embroidered kanji.
Ronin Brand (Made in Japan)
This is an expensive fucking belt. Let’s just get that out of the way. It’s relatively unique – way more rows of stitching, substantially softer cotton exterior, wider than any other belt on the list. Even though the thickness measures pretty much identically to the Scramble, I’d say it feels even thicker in the hand (though again, not in measurement). It’s pretty firm and based on my experience with other belts it will take a long time to break in (I’ll update if/when it does, but don’t hold your breath). The rank bar not only has the outer rectangle, but 10 extra rows of stitching (to match the 12 of the rest of the belt) so it’s substantially more secure on the belt, this is a trait I’d normally look for in “premium” belts which is why I noted its absence on the Scramble. And yeah, it shrunk almost 6 inches in one wash – that’s not a typo. That is abnormal for cotton belts, but might be down to the core and softer cotton exterior. The cost means I pretty much could never justify recommending this, but it is a nice belt.
TL;DR: Actually premium but shrunk a lot. Buy it if you have way too much money to spare and like big belts.
Gi Material Belts
It’s a pearl weave belt. Fuji remains the definition of basic for me. This one has a label on two sides, but there’s nothing really to note compared to the other pearl weave belts evaluated here. It’s a basic belt at an affordable price. It stays tied better than its basic counterpart despite its medium firmness, but that’s generally true of all the gi material belts and probably why you’d pick one over a basic cotton belt. This has the basic no-frills rectangle stitching to hold the rank bar on.
Same disclaimer as above – wholesale accounts are available to me, doesn’t impact my evaluation.
TL;DR: Is a pearl weave belt.
The Kingz pearl weave belt does seem to be a bit of an “upgrade” over the Fuji pearl weave. It’s substantially heavier, slightly wider, and noticeably thicker. I’d consider this a medium stiffness among the evaluated belts. I was actually surprised by how much different from the Fuji pearl weave this feels. I wouldn’t be upset getting either, but this does appear a bit stiffer and is noticeably bigger. This does have the extra rows of stitching throughout the rank bar.
TL;DR: Justifiable upgrade over Fuji pearl weave.
This belt is identical to the Kingz pearl weave but substantially more expensive. I don’t even mean “oh, they’re close enough” or anything like that – the labels are in almost the same spot (differ by millimetres), they’re identical width/thickness, and the stitching pattern on the rank bars are the same. These are, within normal variation of manufacturing, the same belt. Given the cost difference, I can’t really justify this belt – just buy a Kingz pearl weave if you’re eyeing this model in particular. If you want the embroidery, I don’t think Kingz does that.
I was on the fence between a Katana and a Kaze given that I knew I wasn’t going to be buying both given how expensive shipping from Korea to the US is. I tried to reach out to Kanji by email and message on Instagram to no avail to find out about each belt to make my decision. Given Kanji’s stance that you’ll pay return shipping, how expensive the belt is, and how expensive shipping each way is, I didn’t feel great about this purchase. I do regret not getting the Kaze because it might be different enough from others to justify it, but alas, I chose Katana and got a belt that’s only real unique point is the brand label. I’d give the Kaze a shot given other belts on the list, but for the price I just can’t swing it right now.
TL;DR: Not worth it. Buy the Kingz belt for an identical item much cheaper unless you need the embroidery. The Kaze may be a different story.
Ronin Supply Company
This belt became my daily driver after I got it. It’s a medium-soft firmness pearl weave belt that had almost no break-in time so it stayed tied from the second or third wear. The A2 is a bit short, but it hasn’t really shrunk much after the initial wash. This belt is already starting to fade around the edges giving it a worn look. I call this out because it’s unique among pearl weave belts – none of the others seem to have lost any color after washing so far. The rank bar not only has the basic rectangle but two extra lines of stitching along the top and bottom of the rectangle that I haven’t seen on any other belt – sort of toes the line between basic and premium. This belt is also wider than others by a fair margin so the shortness actually means it makes a big knot and small tails even for the length. I really like this belt and will probably be down-cycling it to the next A2 brown belt we promote so it can live a full life.
This one was sent to me free of charge by Ronin Supply Co and I got to chat with them a bit about different belts and how the supplier chain works. I don’t think that has impacted my evaluation of this belt and I’m glad I have it and the Future Kimonos ones as new daily drivers.
TL;DR: A bit of dark horse for me, I really liked it. Unfortunately it’s chronically sold out.
Killer Bee Gi
This isn’t a true pearl weave, it’s the Ligustica MK II hybrid weave unique to KBG. Parts of this belt were 40mm wide, but the average measurement on the calipers was actually 39mm that I’m not positive if this would pass uniform inspection at IBJJF. If you do need them to measure, maybe have them do so close to the rank bar where the belt is its widest. Extra rows of stitching in the rank bar, normal range for shriking. It’s a good medium firmness belt. The one big thing I do need to complain about is that one of the rows of stitching just doesn’t go into the belt (isn’t actually stitched) about half way through the belt for a good 20cm run. Given my other positive experiences with KBG I want to call this an oversight, but it was a pretty obvious issue and I had to cut the thread and tie it off on both sides to prevent it from pulling the rest of the row out.
TL;DR: Unique weave, but otherwise is a pearl weave belt. One big stitching issue on mine.
This is another nice pearl weave that I’d strongly consider as an upgrade over the Fuji belt. It’s much lighter than the Kingz and only medium-soft stiffness – I actually wasn’t positive if it had a core at first and the 4mm thickness doesn’t help that perception. Like the RSC belt it has very little break-in time and you could probably skip the break-in all together by putting it in the dryer on no heat with a tennis ball for an hour. Stays tied without being completely floppy. Again, extra rows of stitching along the rank bar as you’d expect from “premium” belts. The cost on this was surprisingly affordable compared to some of the others here. Vandal’s naming would lead me to believe this is a 350 gsm pearl weave (and their URL would lead me to believe it’s supposed to be a 325 gsm). The reduced weight has been thinking it might be, but the CTRL Industries 350 gsm belt is even lighter.
TL;DR: Lighter than other offerings and still a nice pearl weave. Buy it if you like a good belt with a short break-in period.
Future was sold out of black belts so this is one of the few brown belts on this list (along with the RSC and Hayabusa). The color on it is super vivid compared to the others. I’m almost tempted to buy a blue and purple belt from them for folks who should be promoted after the pandemic just to see how vivid the other colors are. In a lot of ways this wears really similarly to the RSC belt and I’d also consider this medium-soft firmness. It doesn’t have the extra rows of stitching in the rank bar (basic rectangle), so bear that in mind, but it’s wearing pretty well. Belts like this justify pearl weave to me – the short break in period before they stay tied is what has really drawn me to this category.
TL;DR: Bright color, very similar to RSC but less wide.
I pretty much forgot this brand existed until I was reminded on Instagram. The owner of a local gym that I’m on good terms with reps their stuff a lot and actually has a discount code you can use. If you know anyone who wears a lot of Ka’yo stuff it would probably be worth asking them if they have a discount code you could use.
The belt isn’t that much different from the Kingz/Kanji but the rank bar is rip stop which is unique (rectangle stitching with no extra rows). It’s another medium firmness belt without obvious stitching issues so there’s not much to say here. It’ll break in with time the same as the rest and definitely seems to have a core.
TL;DR: Is a pearl weave belt with a rip stop rank bar
There’s so much to say about this belt. While most of the other belts are heavier pearl weave material (up to 450 gsm), this one is 350 gsm. It doesn’t really seem to have a core; it’s a soft/floppy belt. It’s almost like a Green Gi belt in terms of how floppy we’re talking. This means it shrunk like crazy in the wash (4.75″), but its paltry thickness and width mean the knot is pretty small and it ends up being pretty similar in length to the other belts once tied anyway. If I were to get another one of these, I’d probably avoid putting it in the dryer for myself, but if you like short tails, it’s really easy to shrink this one down. It does have the extra rows of stitching in the rank bar. If it were made from hemp I’d almost say this is the Green Gi belt you’ve been looking for.
Like the Killer Bee Gi belt, this one came in at 39mm on average (with some spots on the belt being 40mm). Were someone to want to check the width for uniform check, I’d have them measure down by the rank bar.
TL;DR: While not quite as light as basic cotton belts, it’s definitely the thinnest, floppiest of the pearl weave belts evaluated here.
Valor isn’t a pearl weave belt, it’s a rice grain weave. If you’re unsure of the difference, go grab a basic single weave gi and a pearl weave gi and hold them next to each other. This is another case of “does this even have a core?” It’s another really floppy belt and takes the crown for shrinking the most (6.5″). Luckily it started even longer than the CTRL Industries belt and is similarly not too wide so the knot doesn’t take away too much of the length when tied.
This also has some schmutz in the stitching on the rank bar (looks like really sturdy lint) and had loose threads abounding on the rank bar. I’m still struggling to get the schmutz off and I had to cut and tie those threads off, which I can’t say led me to feel great about the quality control situation. I was also surprised because when Meerkatsu reviewed this belt back in 2016, it had the extra rows of stitching in the rank bar while this one doesn’t. The only difference I can think of (other than 4 years of time) is that I bought from Valor USA (though it seems to be the same company). It’s not a bad belt, but if I had bought this based on Meerkatsu’s review, especially because they tout that they were the top of his review on their US page for the belt, I’d be a bit miffed.
TL;DR: The rice grain weave is unique, but I can’t say I’m thrilled about the rank bar.
Okay, so after seeing all these pearl weave belts and the Valor rice grain weave belt I thought, “wouldn’t it be interesting to see a rip stop belt?” And then I remembered the belt I was promoted to brown belt with is a rip stop belt. This belt isn’t available anymore but used to be sold by Hayabusa as their “Pro Jiu-Jitsu Gi Belt”. It always felt a bit wider than the other belts I was used to (again, cheapo cotton belts are around 40mm wide) though at this point the width is comfortable to me. I’ve pretty much just included this for comparison because of the novelty of it.