Pin Ups

You know what I hate? People taking themselves too seriously. One of the ways that manifests is people who are “jiu jitsu fighters.” They use words like “fight”, describe matches as “wars” or “battles”. I’m all for the fluidity of the English language, but that all seems overblown.

My reaction to that was to create jiu jitsu pin ups. My grandfather and his friends used pin ups during WWII to boost morale. They were kids, younger than I was at the time, going through one of the most heinous conflicts in human history. They needed all the help they could to keep going. Pin uips were also the precursor to Rule 34. Anything can be a pin up, and if something exists, there is probably a pin up of it. Since so many people in the jiu jitsu community seemed to think that they were going through something serious, I figured we should give them the same morale boost my grandfather earned.

Tatami Pin Up Gi Follow Up

A few years after the Pin Up gi was released by Tatami, we actually designed a follow up. Then the Lloyd Irvin scandal broke and we knew we couldn’t release it. Add that to the list of things he ruined. There was, thankfully, a ton of reaction to what went on with his team and a lot of good dialogue came out of it. That year, for April Fool’s Day, Tatami and I put together a companion to the Pin Up Gi – a little something special for everyone else and a quiet tribute to the gi we would never put out.

Later that year, my friends Nikki Sullivan and Ketra Bartek went to compete in the World Championships as purple belts. These two are absolute killers – two of the toughest, most game people I’ve ever met, male or female. We dug out the April Fool’s design and they rocked it. Seeing them in these shirts was a huge part of the discussion I’d always wanted the pin ups to cause. In the meantime, I’ve seen these rocked by straight men, gay men and women in the community. I couldn’t be happier. 


I was driving home from work one day when I got a call from someone I'd never met. It was Chico Lopez, a Navy man and jiu jitsu practitioner who was starting up a new printing company and wanted me help to design a logo. He wanted the kind of girl he'd always seen on the old Navy guys he came up around. Screen printing and pin ups, for a service member? Can't pass it up.

FIgure Four FIghtwear

A few years ago, after my reputation at the go-to-guy for jiu jitsu pin ups was firmly established, I got an email from a gentleman who wanted a pin up project done. I was tempted to pass, but he insisted he wanted to do it as a tribute to his wife. The project changed and grew, but was a good chance to try some new things. 

Assorted Pin Ups

As long as we're at it, here are a few more I did. One of the absurdities I've always appreciate about pin ups is that they were the original Rule 34. That is, if there is a thing, there is a pin up about it.