A while back, the Verbal Grappling Podcast featured legendary judoka/jiujiteiro Dan Camarillo as one of the guests on an episode. During that episode, Camarillo mentioned that he is launching a new gi brand, Armhunter.
With new brands popping up very frequently nowadays, I normally am not too enthused when I hear about yet another brand starting, but if you know about Dan’s reputation you know that anything he gets involved in is often worth keeping tabs on. The guy has been a major asset to the jiu jitsu community for a long time now, and chances are if he puts his brand on a product, it’s going to be a good one.
I had a conversation with Dan about his forthcoming product line, and learned a bit about what he put into it.
“I have always wanted to have my own brand but not just gis. I want to sell everything. What finally pushed me to go through with it was my job situation. I worked for an oil company for 13 years. When the market for oil dropped they got rid of a lot of people. So now I teach jiu jitsu full time and I want more to do. So that’s what I did. gis first though.”
Very often, when companies start new product lines, they simply copy another company’s concept and move forward with that, in Dan’s case he’s taking a very different approach “I have not done too much research on other brands. But I have been on the mat for a long time. I know what makes a good gi. I have some great ideas set up for the next three years if things pan out, and if they do, then you’ll see how unique my line will be. This is new to me but I have had time to sit and think and that’s the first step.”
So what does Dan Camarillo value in a BJJ gi? “I’m starting to really like the tapered fit. This first line is just that. The Gi has to last. I had the first sample for a while now and put it through some tests for sure. I like my GI’s that feel tough but not too heavy and not too light. If it’s too light I don’t feel like it’s a part of me and if it’s too heavy then I can’t move. I like to be fast when I fight and this gi lets me be just that. I have worn a lot of gis in my life and this one is one of my favorites.”
Anyone who has ever interacted with Dan Camarillo knows that he is a special kind of person. He cares deeply about jiu jitsu and gladly builds close relationships with other people who feel the same way about the gentle art. That said Dan has brought in top notch help to develop his brand. “Let’s just say they are made from the same factory as some of the other leading names out there. I had a close friend help me out with this. I’ll be honest, it’s not easy to start this, yet it’s easy to get burned! I get asked if I want clothes made from companies almost every other day. I just don’t see how that many legit companies can be out there. I did try to shop around and yes, it almost cost me. The other deal was almost made. I’m glad I didn’t go through with it.”
Keep an eye out for Armhunter in 2016, “I don’t want to say too much about my gis and the ideas I have just yet. Each product will have a theme and will be limited. I won’t make another batch the same, maybe a different color. But when those are out, it’s on to new ideas. As far as other stuff goes, I’ll have some amazing looking hoodies out soon. Rash guards too!”