It’s a crazy life, being the editor of a jiu-jitsu magazine. There are definitely perks along with headaches. One perceived perk to many would be the fact that nearly every day the UPS driver is showing up with a box that, minus the wrapping paper, makes every day feel like Christmas. With each delivery, there’s bound to be something that fits me that I can test. If I were a gi collector who liked to post photos of his gi closet on social media, I’d be in heaven. But what might seem like a dream come true is, in reality, a struggle for me. Like the guy that complains that winning the lottery ruined his life. Sure, most of us would call him crazy. For me, when I go to a competition and I see gi’s that have been worn to death and look oh so comfortable from wear and tear that only countless hours on the mats can produce, I’m jealous. With my obligation to test and keep up with all the different gi’s hitting the market I don’t have that option to settle down with one gi for the long haul. Call it failure to commit. So every time a new gi comes in I imagine, “Is this the one?” Is this the gi I can finally settle down with?
Enter the Manto “Vai Finaliza!” which translated from Portuguese to English is, “Go Finish!” Everybody knows that coffee is for finishers, and who doesn’t want to finish? This is the first Manto gi I’ve ever worn. I’ve always liked Manto’s clean gi designs. So, when the Vai Finaliza! came through the office in an A2 (usually my size) I jumped at the chance to give it a roll and see if this is the gi I can finally settle down with.
I’m not sure if I’ve told you guys yet, but I’m big fan of rip-stop pants. They don’t stretch like twill does, so as long as they fit my larger-than-average backside, I’m happy (5’ 8”, 202lbs). The pants are made from rip-stop material made from 100% cotton. The MVF is a limited edition and available in both black or white with red contrast stitching. As you can see, I tested the white model. The pants, like the jacket, feature red contrast stitching throughout. All of the seams in the gusset and throughout the pants are triple-stitched. Doubled up knee padding runs from about mid-shin to mid-thigh. The padding material is the same rip-stop that the pants are made from. The stitching is clean, and for the most part, straight and well done throughout the pants. A nylon rope drawstring loops through the waist of the pants and four nylon belt loops help keep the drawstring in place. The side slits of the pants are finished with the same nylon material to add a nice clean touch. Inside the waistline is nylon tape with “Manto Vai Finaliza!” embroidered on it. That same tape material can be found down south at the cuff-end of the pants. A Manto Jiu-Jitsu logo patch can be found up high on the left side thigh and a “MVF” logo on the right shin. Both of these patches are made from very soft material and shouldn’t pose any negative impact on the feel.
Let’s face it, this is where the magic happens, when you’re about to hit the mats and you pop your arms through the sleeves and drape the lapels over each other. You want a gi that gives you that burst of confidence that says, “I will be finishing today! I’m going to earn that cup of coffee!” From the first time putting it on I can say that the MVF is that type of jacket. The jacket is what Manto calls their Adjusted Fit. It’s cut from 550 gsm pearl weave cotton. From my experience I’ve seen that spec before and found that the feel of the material can range from stiff and rough, to soft and smooth. The MVF falls more towards the soft and smooth side of the spectrum. However, sometimes soft can be too soft if the gi stretches under use. We’ll have to wait and see about that. But back to the jacket. Manto made a huge fan in me thanks to this Adjusted Fit. The A2 jacket fit me “perfectly” with a great sleeve length, it closes completely in the front without looking like a double breasted suit, good length, I won’t be overly concerned about my lapels being used against me and full range of movement up in the shoulders.
The jacket features the same contrast stitching found in the pants; all of the seams where the fabric comes together are triple-stitched. The lapel/collar is filled with EVA foam; I’d consider the feel of the foam to be medium stiffness. The shoulders are reinforced with a sublimated material that features the MVF logo and the silhouette of a fighter after a victory. The jacket is a single piece cut, which means there’s no need for any reinforcement in the armpits. Reinforcement can be found in the side slits. The same finishing tape found on the pants runs along the bottom inside skirt of the jacket and a strip of rip-stop on the outsides. The sleeve cuffs also get a strip of the branded tape along the insides. The look of the MVF is clean, white and red are the only visible colors on the outside of the jacket. A Manto logo with two combatants squaring up can be found on the left side sleeve, an MVF logo below the neck in the back, another MVF logo on the right side sleeve, a larger MVF logo on the left side rib cage, and finally a “Vai Finaliza!” script is embroidered on the front of the left side. When I started to document all these logos I was surprised there were so many. I was surprised because the gi has such a clean look I didn’t realize how much branding was on it. I guess that’s a testament to good design, all the logos are nicely done and none are too overpowering or gaudy. Lastly, there is a logo patch with washing instructions on the inside right lapel.
Fit and Feel
Manto’s Adjusted Fit offers guidance on washing the gi to your desired fit: wash in hot water to shrink until you find the fit you like, then lock it in with cold. The claim is that the product has a natural shrink rate of about 3-5%. From the first time on, the gi fit me nicely so I washed it in cold from the very beginning and have been washing in cold ever since and hang drying it. My observed shrink fits within that window. Sometimes hang drying can cause your gi to dry stiff as a board; this has to do with the detergent you use and the fact that when the fabric dries it wants to keep the position it was in when it was wet. That stiffness softened up again after just a few minutes when putting the gi on each time. Overall, the fit and feel was very comfortable and had a lightweight feeling to it.
Rolling With It
During testing I rolled with the MVF for about a dozen hours, broken up over about 8 training sessions, with a washing each time in between. Overall, my experience with the gi has been great. It’s nice and soft, I thought this could be a problem if I found myself looking like a kid in his dad’s best suit if the sleeves stretched, but this was thankfully not the case. I even wore this gi with my time on the photo shoot with Henry Akins in this issue. So, if you want to see more of me in “action,” check that article out. As for the quality and wear and tear, there have been no signs of any premature wear, or tears for that matter. Twelve hours isn’t a long time to get a real feel for how a gi’s going to perform in the long run, but I honestly don’t foresee any problems with the MVF, there’s no fraying in the material, or stitching coming undone. This is a gi that should last me for countless hours on the mats.
This is definitely a gi I could see settling down with. Unfortunately, the life of perpetual gi bachelorhood precludes me from settling down for too long. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you should catch me at a competition or in a photo shoot sporting the VAI FINALIZA! Hopefully, I will have earned that cup of coffee. The MVF is not an inexpensive gi, but it’s not at the high-end of the spectrum either. Its $174.95 price tag is in line with gi’s of comparable quality. This being my first Manto Gi, I’m excited to discover that their cut fits me so well. I’ll definitely be looking to start another romance with a Manto gi soon!