Open Mat Radio’s Grappler’s Closet
“Supporting grassroots grappling brands”
OPEN MAT RADIO: What inspires your designs/style?
GAWAKOTO: Jiujitsu & art, comic art to be exact. I’ve been an avid fan of the medium since I was a kid. Only managed to afford the addiction when I was in college; read a lot – from superhero comic books to Vertigo titles (Vertigo is DC comics’ mature readers line). Up to now I am still a fan and read occasionally.
OPEN MAT RADIO: What is unique about your brand? Why should grapplers want to wear your gear/support your brand?
GAWAKOTO: Since the brand started, I’ve always avoided designs that are already out there not because they are not nice but I didn’t want the industry to be saturated with similar designs. My art style has always been influenced by comic art and I haven’t really seen anyone or any brand utilizing such style. So I thought it might just work and it would probably also put me apart from other brands out there. Grapplers, Mixed martial artists or any martial artist are expressing themselves in their art. They should be able to do that as well with their gear or clothing. So if you’re a geek, nerd or just somebody that likes ‘comic art or art in general’ and does martial arts, then Gawakoto is the brand for you.
OPEN MAT RADIO: Who do you sponsor? Any BJJ/MMA fighters or events? Are you looking for more people to sponsor? If so, what are you looking for?
GAWAKOTO: The brand doesn’t really sponsor any athlete (at the moment) as such. But I do give out gear to some competitors out there from time to time. Probably, the most notable one is Abraham Marte of Basico Jiujitsu from the Dominican Republic. He’s such a big supporter of the brand and he even wore the patches in the Worlds recently.
The Kabuki Kimo-Noh
OPEN MAT RADIO:What special features/design elements should we note? What material is it made of?
GAWAKOTO: The Kabuki Kimo-Noh is a collab project by Gawakoto & Marvel writer/illustrator David Mack. In case you don’t know him yet, David Mack is a multi-awarded comic book artist and New York times best-selling author. He penned and painted some parts the recent Daredevil: End of Days with Brian Michael Bendis, Klaus Johnson & Bill Sienkiewicz. The Kabuki Kimo-Noh was designed by me with David’s comic book art from his comic creation, Kabuki. This gi is designed for competition (pearl weave 420 gsm, 10 oz drill cotton, competition cut) and is adorned with David’s awesome illustration. This collaboration pretty much embodies the essence of Gawakoto– bringing visual art into martial art.
OPEN MAT RADIO: Where can people purchase your gear?
GAWAKOTO: Available at www.gawakoto.co.uk (UK) and some major retailers such as MMAwarehouse & Martial arts supplies (US), Bull terrier (japan), Fightwear.ru (Russia), Topranksports.co.uk (UK), K1- extreme (Philippines) We are getting more enquiries recently. So hopefully, grapplers should be able to grab them much easier.