Much like Mark Morrison you knew that he’d be back, and here he is again guest writer Samurai =================================================================
Well I’ve been called back to active service following my review of the Bruno Alvez seminar at the top of the year.
In the mean time a lot has happened; Grandao is back on the mats (“This Death Star is fully operational!” is the battle cry I heard which caused me to LMAO), our illustrious leader John Goldson received his black belt from Lagarto and…to prove there is always hope, I got my blue belt on the same day :-)
So my Samurai skills are today focused on the Caged Steel Short Sleeve Rash vest.
Firstly I don’t know why they’ve gone with “vest” as opposed to “guard” but I’ll use the terms interchangeably. I always think of Rab C Nesbitt and Homer Simpson when I hear “vest”…
The Caged Steel brand is an offshoot of the MMA gym which goes by the same name. They get off to a fantastic start with being based in God’s own county…Yorkshire! As you all know we Yorkshire folk work harder than anyone else (Just watch the ‘4 Yorkshire men’ sketch on YouTube lol) and despite being busy putting ferrets down our trousers and instigating industrial action we have a plethora of solid MMA, BJJ and Thai gyms in the county.
First impressions are good. The black with lime green stitching is a good colour combo. The stitching is rubberised which, it is claimed, prevents it from becoming tangled in the Velcro on shorts etc. The rash vest material is dubbed “Duo Breathe” and “Sharkskin” – more on this later.
The material was much thicker than my Manto rash guards and the athletic Nike ones I purchased many moons ago. This wasn’t a bad thing and gave the garment a more substantial feel.
The elastic at the bottom of the vest was also the widest and most taut I have seen on such a product. When donned, you certainly feel it clamping in around the top of your legs. I’d feared this would inhibit free movement during rolling but needn’t have worried. It was perfectly comfortable and didn’t ride up. The neck line is also great and snug. I experienced no problems with errant fingers grabbing for my gi and accidentally grabbing the top of my rash guard too.
The stitching also doesn’t go under the armpit but either side of the sleeve/rib panel of the garment. This prevents the irritation that can develop otherwise.
A word on sizing too. Whilst I’m not a dainty little fella I’m no man mountain either! I wear an A3 in a gi and a Large in all my rash guards. This was an XXL! It fitted well; just like my L’s but almost gave me a heart attack as far as the success of my weight loss programme was concerned :-)
The branding is the “Caged Steel” logo on one arm and the upper back of the vest. In small print it says ‘Grappling Jiu Jitsu MMA’ across the chest. Sadly it is not a sublimated print and will therefore show clear signs of wear and washing. I personally can’t see why sublimated print isn’t adopted as a standard, particularly when such items are branded and that forms part of the “added value”.
At this point I pause and ask “What makes an MMA rash guard/vest?” One assumes, expects quite frankly, that it has been designed with the specific rigours of BJJ/MMA in mind. When the printed logos disappear what are you left with?
My best efforts turned up nothing about “Duo Breathe” and “Sharkskin” as materials. I then checked what I had suspected within minutes of actually handling the garment…it was essentially a rash guard used in diving.
I compared it to the O’Neil one I use when I dive and the attributes I’ve described above (elastic width, rubberised stitching etc) were all present.
Now there’s nothing wrong with this per se but you can pick up branded diving rash guards for £20 – £30 and high profile MMA/BJJ rash guards from £30-£40. With the Caged Steel coming in at £29.99 what warrants the extra money? What is the added value?
If it’s the branding then I don’t personally think it’s strong enough to warrant the premium; particularly as it will disappear due to it not being sublimated.
So in answer to “When the printed logos disappear what are you left with?” I have to answer a generic, all be it very functional for BJJ/MMA, diving rash guard.