A mainstay in world sport, Karate is one of the commonly practiced martial arts on the planet.
Despite sometimes being used as a generic term for martials arts, Karate has its own defined practices, forms, and traditions.
Practitioners are attracted by the virtues, wisdom and self discipline that the art teaches and promotes; benefiting wider society and daily practices.
However, when it comes to finding the best karate gi, the decision making process can still be tricky for some. This is particularly true with the wealth of brands and products available online.
This is why we have put together this helpful guide to our top 5 products suitable for men, women, and children.
So without further ado, here are our picks!
Best Karate Gis
OUR TOP PICK
Available in black and white, the Karate gi from Adidas offers lightweight, durable material that promotes freedom of movement, and protection from wear and tear.
Available in a wide variety of sizes, and with a free black or white belt included, the Adidas gi consists of a polyester cotton blend that promotes breathability and comfort, even during the most intense of training sessions.
- Affordable price tag
- High quality design
- Durable fabric
- Breathable and lightweight
- Choice of two colors
- Variety of sizes
- Sizes can run small
More durable and heavy duty than the lightweight student gis, this family made medium weight gi from Ronin Brand comes in a variety of sizes and two colors (black or white) to accomodate all sizes and preferences.
With a weight of 9 ounces, this gi is made of 100% drill combed cotton, and is designed to stay cool during even the hottest of bouts.
It is also sweat absorbent, improving and promoting comfort in a variety of different demanding situations.
The comprehensive size chart accommodates most body types.
Sizes 3 and up include a drawstring pant, whilst all gis come with a white belt to keep them closed and secure.
Perfectly designed and boasting faster movement, maneuvering and enhancement of skills, this gi is designed for those who want to make a good impression physically, as well as technically.
The nature of the material also makes it resistant to dirt and sweat, and easier to clean than blended fabrics, offering you a functional, cool looking uniform whatever the situation.
- Produced by a family owned company since 1980
- Durable, high quality design
- 100% drill combed cotton
- Lightweight and breathable
- Resistant to dirt and sweat
- Easily cleaned
- Modest price tag
- Alterations may be required on some body types
Available in a variety of sizes and four colors (red, white, royal blue, and black), these lightweight gis from PFG Essential are an affordable, high quality choice for amateurs and professionals alike.
Made from a polyester cotton blend to promote breathability and sweat absorption, these gis are machine washable, feature a drawstring fasten, and were made domestically in the United States.
The durable 8 ounce material helps minimize shrinkage, and the durability, lightweight design, and reinforced ripstop stitching on major tension points means that this is the perfect all rounder gi to accommodate any number of demanding situations.
With overlapping seams and a heavy duty double stitch construction, the material becomes better and more comfortable with each wash, not to mention being long lasting and continually functional.
Specially stitched to allow greater freedom of movement across the shoulders and all major joint locations, this is the perfect gi for comfort, mobility, and rugged durability, whether you are training or competing professionally.
- Modest price tag
- Durable construction
- High quality design
- Ripstop stitching to prevent wear and tear
- Lightweight and breathable
- Choice of colors and sizes
- Coach certified
- Thinner than some gis
This gi is a breathable polyester/cotton blend, with elastic drawstring closure, and a wide choice of sizes.
Available in white, this uniform comes with a free white belt to keep the gi secured and fastened.
The material means it doesn’t easily wrinkle or stain, and the lightweight design means that your child can remain cool and comfortable even during vigorous activity.
Easy to clean through either hand or machine washing, the Fluory is shrink resistant, thanks to preshrinking during manufacturing, meaning you won’t get any unfortunate surprises on your first wash.
- Cheap price tag
- Durable material
- Lightweight and breathable
- Sweat absorbent
- Easy to clean
- Wrinkle, stain, and shrink resistant
- Includes jacket, pants, and belt
- Thin material
- Sizes run small
At another modest price comes this children’s Karate gi from Namazu.
Specifically designed to improve performance, this uniform allows a wide range of movement without discomfort or risk of injury/chafing, and the lightweight material promotes comfort and breathability even during the most intense training sessions.
The ultra-high grade polyester/cotton blend is easy to care for and easy to clean, and is perfect for children who are prone to messes and stains.
The professional, meticulous sewing reinforces tension points to stop them from ripping or splitting during unconventional movement and Kata forms, and the varied sizing means that all body types are accommodated for comfortably.
The company also has great and easy customer service, and are happy to help if there is any problem with your child’s gi!
- Cheap price tag
- High quality material
- Professionally stitched
- Sturdy and durable
- Lightweight and breathable
- Customer service supported
- Choice of sizes
- Jacket, belt, and pants included
- Sizes tend to run small
When purchasing a gi, be it for training or professional Karate competitions, there are several things that are important to consider before you buy.
With any customer focused product, the price tag is always going to be a major deciding factor.
As far as price goes, there are some factors to consider, namely garment quality, longevity, and value for money.
With regards to certain items of clothing, like leatherwear and other such materials, paying more money generally assures a better quality of product, however when it comes to sporting goods there are plenty of mid-range items that will do the job without breaking the bank.
Value For Money
Ultimately it comes down to value for money, and how you measure that value.
This of course depends on the brand, the product being sold, and the specific needs and preferences of the individual wearer.
However, don’t be fooled by a price tag.
A cheaper price is not necessarily an indicator of poor quality, and similarly, a more expensive top-range garment is not necessarily reflective of its longevity, durability, or functionality.
The best bet for quality is to follow the reviews, checking to see where the common denominators are found amongst the existing customer base, and placing this against your needs and wants.
With any clothing, the design is always going to be important.
People generally buy clothing, be it for daily use or sports, because they find the design attractive and appealing to look at.
With a gi, the important elements are the material it is made from, the fit, and the overall design and shape.
The kind of material is paramount, as it needs to be tough and able to withstand a variety of combat situations and the associated wear.
It also needs to be somewhat sweat absorbent and breathable to promote maximum comfort.
The fit is also incredibly important, especially when it comes to organized competitive fighting.
The fit needs to be baggy enough so as not to affect the range of movement during combat, but also fitted enough so as not to become an exploitable weakness that the opponent can use against you.
Once again, the shape and design also needs to aid free movement, allowing the wearer to perform their Kata, twist, grapple, spar, and engage in all manner of combat with minimal discomfort and restrictions.
Because of this, the gi shouldn’t be baggy under the arms, nor between the legs, as this could seriously restrict movement during use.
Similarly the sleeves and legs shouldn't be so long as to cause obstructions or potential accidents during fighting.
Depending on the style of Karate you are practicing, or indeed simply on personal preference, different sleeve, trouser, and lapel lengths can be employed and worn.
Whilst less commonly associated with clothing, specific items still offer specific features that are unique to them.
This could consist of specially designed breathable fabric, innovative and durable stitching techniques, or even a unique design quality, such as a patch, badge, or sash that can’t be found anywhere else.
These can all be deciding factors that can be used to set items apart from one another during the decision making process.
Beginning as a common fighting style amongst the Pechin class of warriors in the Japanese Ryukyu kingdom (modern day Okinawa), the Japanese developed the martial art after encountering widespread Chinese immigration and cultural exchanges during the Ming Dynasty.
The political centralization of Okinawa by King Sho Hashi in 1429, the policy of banning weapons under King Sho Shin in 1477, and the invasion from the Shimazu Clan in 1609 also directly encouraged the development and honing of unarmed martial arts in Japan.
In modern society, Karate is a popular sport for people all around the world.
The popularity of martial arts in cinema has led to a long lasting fascination in the west and Europe in particular, where they remain a popular pastime, sport, exercise regime, and source of self defense.
There are three main applications for Karate: as an art (called Budo), as a combat sport, or as a form of self defense.
Modern Japanese style Karate also encourages the establishment of kokoro, or “attitude”, placing importance on the formation of inner fearlessness, perseverance, virtue, and leadership skills.
In terms of physical training, there are three main areas that are focused upon: kihon, kata, and kumite.
In Japanese, kihon means “basics”, and focuses on the establishment of the fundamentals in prospective students.
This can include striking, fighting stances, kicks, punches, and blocks, and is usually done in large groups of students (known as karateka).
Kata, or “shape/model” refers to the teaching of forms representing various offensive and defensive styles.
The term bunkai is used to refer to situations where these forms are practiced on living opponents. This shows the specific usefulness of all of the forms, and is a good way for students to practice and employ them in their daily lives.
Kumite, or “meeting of hands”, refers to sparring within karate, and is the main source of hand to hand active combat within the martial art.
Practiced both as sport and self defense training, the levels of physical contact can vary greatly depending on the age range, skill level, and gender of the combatants.
The WKF (World Karate Federation) suggests light contact should be employed during training and competition.
Dojo kun, or “training hall rules” are the codes of conduct which govern Karate from both a training, self defense, and professional standpoint.
These are commonly found at the front of the dojo, and are often recited at the beginning of every class as a means of learning, discipline, and the implementation of long lasting good behaviors.
Within Shotokan Karate, there are five guiding principles, and despite their translations and understandings changing and varying, they are believed to encourage:
- Self discipline.
Whilst stricter versions do exist, these are considered to be the five guiding principles of Karate as a martial art, and are often taught, practiced, and recited regularly by classes of students.
Whilst there are several variations depending on the school of Karate, the general principles tend to revolve around being polite, self assured, well-mannered, respectful, hard working, and honest, all virtues that continually make Karate a popular choice for parents looking to guide their children’s behavior in a positive way.
Called a gi or doh-gi, modern Karate uniforms are generally made of light canvas cloth, and come in three distinct styles: Kata, European, and Japanese.
The Kata style is quite rare, and is more of an aesthetic design, consisting of shorter sleeves for greater movement.
The European style has longer sleeves and trousers, and has a shorter lapel. Despite coming in a variety of colors, the most common Karate uniform is white, although this is generally up to the discretion of the master.
With short sleeves and trousers for less restriction, the Japanese cut is the most traditional and true to form style. It possesses a longer lapel to stop it from riding up above the belt during combat and training.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Gsm?
Gsm stands for grams per meter, and is the internationally accepted metric measurement for fabric thickness and density.
What Materials Are Best?
While there is no agreed upon fabric, most gis are commonly made from cotton, have pearl weave jackets, and ripstop pants to ensure longevity and comfort.
Is Cotton Best?
Whilst cotton is certainly breathable, rugged, and widely used, polyester/cotton blends are also perfectly fine choices.
What Does “Drill Combed” Mean?
Combed drill is a type of tightly woven cotton in a diagonal pattern.
It is commonly used to make uniforms and workwear, as well as gis and uniforms for martial arts.
Does Price Affect Quality?
Whilst it can be an indicator, there are plenty of alternatives online that offer quality for affordable prices.
And there we have it, our breakdown of the best gis on the market for you and your children!
Remember, the things to look out for when buying a gi are durability, lightweight designs, breathability, range of movement, and above all else, comfort.
If you are still struggling to make a decision, or are unsure what would be right for you or your Karate school, then why not ask your coach?
They are more than familiar with the best equipment for the job, and would be more than happy to recommend!