Breaking Muscle receives no compensation in exchange for reviews. We received this product for free and did not experience typical customer service. The opinions expressed belong solely to the writer.
Flow Kimonos contacted me to do a review on their new Hemp Series BJJ belt in November 2014. Over the past three months, I’ve worn this belt in training and I love it.
It’s Just a Belt, Right?
Buying a belt for Brazilian jiu jitsu can be tricky. You might not think so because it’s just a piece of fabric you tie around your waist and forget about, right? No. Not right. Problems can arise.
In the past, I’ve had three issues with BJJ belts:
- Poor Quality: My years at blue belt were my worst decision-making years when it came to belts. The first one I bought was bad. It was thick and cheap-looking. When I tied it, the knot was huge because it was so thick. I won’t name the company, but I will say I was surprised at how bad it was considering how much I love their gis.
- Color: I bought another belt, this time from Jiu Jitsu Pro Gear. The belt was high-quality and lasted me a long time, but when I met new BJJ people, I was always asked if I was a blue belt or a purple belt. Additionally, before I was sponsored by Killer Bee Kimonos, I got my purple belt from them for free. Jesse Bellevance, the owner, offered them for free to anyone who wanted them because the color ran in test batches. I resolved the color bleeding issue, but I’ve seen posts on Facebook from friends who weren’t so lucky. So the shade of your belt is important as well.
- How Well It Stays Tied: The last aspect to consider is how well the belt stays tied. Sometimes it can depend on the belt, or sometimes on how it’s tied. Rener Gracie offers three ways to tie your belt in the video below. I always use the Super Lock variation. It still comes untied, but doesn’t it look nice?
One thing I can guarantee about the Flow Kimonos belt is that it will last. The product description on their website informs customers that this belt “was created to be heavy duty and will require time to break in. Hemp ages gracefully – it becomes softer and the color becomes more subdued.”
“If you are someone who plans ahead and wants that perfect belt, you can’t go wrong with the Flow Kimonos Hemp belt.”
Hemp is also a lot stronger than cotton. According to Hemp Couture, hemp is “three to eight times as strong, depending on the weave.” That’s what we need in a belt. You’ll wear your belt to every class for years, so you don’t want to waste your money on one that will fray and fall apart.
Flow Kimonos has also given us a peek at how the belts are made on their blog, so check it out to see how much work goes into making each one.
Fit and Performance
Because the Flow Series belt is so thick and stiff in the beginning, it is more apt to come untied during rolling. The thin belts that come free with some gis stay tied longer, but the trade-off could be durability and quality.
“My waist is about twenty-eight inches and I found size A1 to be suitable, though I probably would have avoided the drier if I realized it would shrink so much.”
After a few washes, I measured the belt and it was 98″ long. Since then I have washed this belt in both cold and hot water, depending upon which gi I was washing it with. I’ve also dried it in the dryer. When I measured the belt this morning for my review, it was 95″ long. I was surprised to see shrinkage of three inches.
The product description indicates that this size, A1, is 101″. This means there has been an overall shrinkage of five inches, or five percent, so keep that in mind when selecting a size. The width of the belt remained steady at 1.5″. My waist is about 28″ and I found size A1 to be suitable, though I probably would have avoided the dryer if I realized it would shrink so much.
- 11oz 100% hemp twill sheath
- Inner core is constructed of two layers of high-density cotton webbing
- Eight rows of stitching
- 40s/3 polyester sewing thread
- 1-3/5″ belt width
- 1/4″ belt thickness
- 4-1/3″ grading bar for stripes
- Made in China
As I mentioned, I’ve had issues in the past with a blue belt that could be interpreted as either blue or purple. The Flow Kimonos purple belt is unquestionably purple. It’s a pretty purple that would tempt anyone to pass on brown.
“The color was quite vibrant when it arrived but has since become a softer, calmer shade of purple.”
I asked some friends what they thought of the color and one replied, “the accuracy of the shade of purple made me envisage Krishna, and I gently wept.” Fortunately the color of this belt did not gently weep onto other items in the laundry. The color was quite vibrant when it arrived, but has since become a softer, calmer shade of purple. To see more photos, visit my blog.
My collection of gi belts
You Can Never Have Too Many Belts
If you already have a belt, don’t feel as though you can’t use another. I actually have three purple belts now, and the variety comes in handy if one of them is still wet from the wash or if I can’t find one. I keep a bag with a full set of training gear in my trunk, just in case.
BJJ belts are important to practitioners. Some people buy a belt well in advance of promotions so they can wear it immediately, and others wait to get the nod before buying. If you are someone who plans ahead and wants that perfect belt, you can’t go wrong with the Flow Kimonos Hemp belt. It will take a long time to break in, but if you’re not Kit Dale or BJ Penn, you’ve got lots of time.
The Flow Kimonos Hemp Belt is available for $50.00 at FlowKimonos.com.
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