Before You Buy a Martial Arts Uniform

Most martial arts schools require you to wear a uniform. It's tradition. It's esprit de corps. It's the way it's done. Martial arts uniforms are two-piece outfits, consisting of a kimono or pullover-style top, and loose-fitting pull-on pants. Your rank belt is worn over the top, wrapped around your waist. In Japanese, the martial arts uniform is called a "gi". In Korean, it's called a "dobok". Here's things to consider when buying a uniform.

Specific to Your Style
Many styles require a uniform that is specific to that style. For example, judo uniforms, called "judogi", are made of heavy canvas and are reinforced at the gripping points. Tae kwon do uniforms usually have a v-neck pullover top, instead of the kimono-style wrap used in karate and judo gi. Pick the right gi for your style. Ask your instructor or senior students to confirm your choice if necessary.

Pick Loose for a Kickin' Fit
Don't choose a uniform that's too tight. You'll need to move your limbs and body in a whole lot of crazy ways, so a nice "relaxed" fit is best. Most uniforms are sized with a funny unisex system, where a size 2 works for a 100 lb person standing around 5 feet tall, up to a size 6, for a 6 foot tall, 200 LB person. Tournament cut uniforms have shorter arms and legs to help you move faster.

White Gi are Always in Fashion
You can't go wrong with a traditional color, like white. In some arts, namely ninjutsu, the traditional color is black, so choose accordingly. While an American flag-patterned gi allows you to show your patriotism, it's not really appropriate for everyday classes. Save the flag motif, tiger-stripe, and camouflage uniforms for demonstrations and tournaments.

Quality Lasts
Buy an all-cotton, well-made gi. Uniforms are usually divided into lightweight, mediumweight, and heavyweight lines, with prices increasing as the weight of the canvas goes up. A heavyweight gi might seem too bulky to wear, but a good one will provide absorbency for better comfort. Polyester blends might be cheaper and seem easier to care for but won't be comfortable during a sweaty workout.

 Before You Buy    Related Resources
• Before You Buy a Martial Arts Uniform
• Martial Arts: Equipment

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