How we reviewed
I’ve been wanting to review a couple of belts for awhile now; so I was able to gather some nice belts from good brands and decided do a comparison review rather than reviewing them individually.
I was able to get belts from Scramble, Vandal Kimonos, Ronin, Ctrl Industries and Karaato. I looked at some basic stats and compared them all together. All belts on this review are size A3:
Belt comparison all in CM Brand Length After
Thickness Width Stitches
Price Ronim 309 307 0.5 4.3 8 0.8 10 $19.99 Vandal 303 302 0.5 4 8 0.6 14 $20.00 Scramble 309 296 0.7 4 8 0.8 11.5 $29.99 Crtl 305 300 0.6 4.5 8 0.8 10.5 $19.99 Kataroo 302 294 0.4 4.5 11 0.6 11.5 $19.99 +
And before we start checking the belts out, PLEASE, WASH YOUR BELT!
Also, I strongly suggest you don’t throw your belt in the dryer. Belts, depending on the material, can shrink A LOT. They dry pretty easily so just hang it somewhere. Personal experience: I had to order 2 belts from Japan once because the dryer ruined the length of the first one. Do you know how expensive shipping from Japan is?
I’m sad to say that Scramble’s belt was the biggest disappointment. It features nice details like two Japanese kanji above the tag, solid grade bar and it’s thick (the thickest we reviewed) but they don’t look great together. Let’s start with the brand tag. It’s big and shiny. The Japanese kanji and the scramble logo are made of sparkly silver material that will make everybody look at it. It’s just like those artificial fish baits. To make things worse the tag was sewed unaligned with the belt. The stitching on it was not straight so the tag literally sticks out of the edge of the belt. It’s very ugly. The Black Kanji on the top of the brand label is a great idea but like my wife said, “it looks like a stain.” The embroidery for the kanji is done before the belt stitches so you lose visibility of the detail. Another problem is that the lines are too thick so you can’t really tell what the embroidery is. I also had problems with the color. The belt looks purple-ish. I thought it would just be an initial thing and fade to the correct hue of blue after a couple of washes; it didn’t. It actually stained one of my gis during a wash cycle and the belt became a lighter purple. I know it’s hard to see in the pictures, but I had several people at class tell me that my belt looked purple.
Lastly, since this belt is thick it gave me two problems. First, it bothered my back because when you’re on the ground the belt makes a huge bump and it’s very uncomfortable to wear. It’s a soft belt but very thick. Second, the belt looked old too quickly; there are several small white spots on it already, especially on the edges. These are the official specks for the belt from Scramble’s website:
- Thick, sturdy 100% cotton construction!
- Tying and untying action!
- Super straight edges!
- Rectangular, belt-shaped design
- 57% more beltiness than previous belts
- IT’S A BELT
It retails for $24.99 and you can get it on their website.
Vandal Kimonos |
This is a great belt. The blue color of the Vandal is great. It’s a dark rich blue. The belt is not very wide and not too thick. It features the longest grading bar of all which is a nice feature. It has a unique and very elegant grading bar with two white bars on both ends. It’s like the professor black belts. I checked to see if there was a rule on the IBJJF rule book that would say something against it but I couldn’t find it, so it’s IBJJF legal. Very traditional BJJ schools can use a different graduation method for black belts. Sometimes when someone gets his/her black belt for the first year the grading bar is white and the Black Belt can only promote others up to Brown. This is like a trial period. After that, the belt is changed to one that has a red grading bar without the white bars on the ends. At the end of the second year, the belt is changed one last time to a red grading bar and white stripes on both ends indicating that the black belt is now a Professor and is ready to start getting stripes on his belt and promoting others to Black Belt. Here is a great video of Mestre Relson Gracie talking about the traditional belt system:
Now back to the Vandal Belt: since the beginning of the review the belt felt very soft and after several washes the color faded just a little. Another great detail is that the Vandal tag changes it’s color depending on the color of the belt. Fantastic attention to details. Overall, it is very comfortable good looking and a great in-between belt for all the specks we looked for.
The Vandal belt also gave me the best knots. It’s width and thickness speck worked perfectly for me and I was able to keep the knot on my belt tied for a long time, even with the regular traditional knot. You can get the Vandal Kimono belts at their website the belt retails for $20.
Ronin Brand |
This is almost like the Vandal belt but a little bit and tad wider longer. The Ronin tag is more colorful featuring the Brazilian, American and Japanese flags. It’s a little wider than the Vandal, but it has the same thickness. So, it’s not only a longer belt but a heavier one too. The Ronin belt felt really soft and comfortable to wear. It was also the belt that I noticed faded the least; It should keep the nice blue for a long time.The Ronin Brand belt has the smallest grading bar of all the belts we reviewed. I would recommend this belt if you are looking for a wide and solid belt. You can get it a their website and the belt retails for $19.99.
Ctrl Industries |
The Ctrl belt is very unique and has my favorite shade of blue. It’s dark and vivid. The tag is nice; it features the Cristo Redentor with the Brazilian flag colors behind it. Appearance wise the tag and blue work really well with each other. I didn’t like that they stitched the tag size on the belt. I’m not sure what’s the need of it. I do not need to be remembered what my belt size is; it’s strange. Ctrl has one of the thickest belts we tested (just behind the Scramble.)
The color held well after several washes and the belt felt comfortable the whole time I was wearing it. I didn’t like that the grading bar is small. The belt is wide, like the Kataroo, and that’s a plus because I really liked this tone of blue. The belt also comes with a CTRL sticker. It retails for $19.99 and it’s available at their website.
Kataaro makes custom belts. They are amazing. I’ve caught myself several times just looking at their pictures on facebook. So, I decided to order a custom embroidery belt. I chose 2 designs, for my belt, the furinkasan and the Ryu Reviews logo. They were extremely nice and I loved the result. The embroidery is top notch. The quality is impressive and you can create the belt any way you want. This presents a problem for me as I can’t review something that came exactly how I ordered. Of course, I’ll like it! So, I’ll let you know what I ordered:
- Size A3 (120inches)
- 1.75 in (11 row)
The color is lighter than the other belts, and I would have preferred it to be darker like the Ctrl or the Vandal. Also, the SOFT option will make the belt the thinnest of all the ones we reviewed. I feel it is almost too thin. The good thing about it is that it has 11 rows of stitches instead of the regular 8. Despite it being soft and thin, it is a firm belt.
I think that the only problem I have with the Karaato belt (on this configuration I ordered) is that the belt doesn’t stay tied for very long. Maybe because the belt is too thin? I believe that once this belt gets seasoned then this issue will go away, but I haven’t noticed this on the other belts. The belt did not fade much after several washes. Another plus for me is that I hardly notice I am wearing the belt during training. When I’m ready for another belt I’ll order the thick one from Karaato and check the difference. I have to say I’m very happy with this custom belt. It turned out better than what I was expecting. The Karaato belt comes with a little 7.5cm x 7.5cm Kataaro patch and a Care Instructions card that says:
- Do not wash your kataaro belt.
- If you must wash then we suggest: Wash in cold water with mild detergent (no bleach)
- Since it will shrink, stretch belt to the original length
- Clamp to a rigid object such a board until dry
Prices for custom belts from Kataaro varies depending on what you would like. I truly believe that you can get what you want on a belt with Kataaro’s help. Their prices start at $19.99, they are Made in the USA and you can order one at their website. Pictures from Kataaro:
The Ideal Belt
After trying all those belts outs and checking the difference in material, construction, design and colors I decided to assemble my ideal belt:
- Color: Ctrl
- Grading Bar: Vandal
- Tag: Vandal
- Thickness: Ctrl
- Wide speck: Ronin
- Customization: Kataaro
- Price: Vandal, Ctrl or Ronin
Belts might look the same but they are not. They come in different sizes, widths, color hue, thickness, etc. Make sure you make your research if you’re planing on getting a new belt. Specially in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where the avarage time a person spend with a belt is two years. You change your gi all the time but the belt is almost always the same. I still have most the belts that I wore in my martial arts life and they mean a lot to me because they are part of my history.
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