Most people who do a martial art that uses a gi are used to seeing the traditional white gi.
And many might be familiar with the blue gi too. What are these colors for?
While it’s certainly possible to make a gi in any color, they traditionally only come in an extremely limited set of colors (Find out how to make your own Gi here).
If you’re going to take part in a Judo, Karate, or BJJ competition (as well as other sports that require the use of a gi), then you’ll normally only be allowed to fight in either a white or a blue gi.
And indeed, for most training sessions where you’ll wear a gi, you’ll be wearing a white one.
A lot of schools won’t even let their participants wear a blue gi unless they’ve achieved a certain skill ranking in the art they’re studying.
However, some schools will let you wear whatever color of gi you like! Just be aware that you likely won’t be able to use it in competition, so consider whether it’s worth the money you want to spend on it!
The traditional white gi was originally adopted for use in Judo by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo.
Other fighting arts today that use the gi took it from judo. And, just as in judo, the majority of the time, practitioners of these arts use the white gi.
The gi is tough, durable, and as most students are in a white gi, it keeps everyone on the same level as far as clothing is concerned.
There’s no need to worry about fashion trends with a basic white gi! It could be said to symbolize simplicity and purity.
In fact, there is very little need for a lot of people to ever use a different colored gi!
One of the things about the white gi is that it’s ubiquitous, too – you can always get a new white gi, but you might have trouble finding a replacement for your torn pink camo gi!
Even though you don’t need anything more than a white gi the vast majority of the time, it’s not uncommon for more advanced players to wear a blue gi too.
A lot of the time, this is actually directly restricted by the club or school that the martial artist belongs to.
Often, they’ll have to attain a certain high level in their chosen art before they’ll be allowed to wear a blue gi at training.
So, in some ways, students might see it as a badge of honor. Of course, some schools may not allow blue gis from being worn in class at all, so as not to put some students above others.
Other classes might not care at all what color gi you wear!
The blue gi is also accepted for use in competition by the International Judo Federation (IJF) and the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).
The use of both the white and blue gi in competition, for one thing, provides an easy way to distinguish one competitor from another.
If you want to look like a badass, you want a black gi, right? And it might well be for that sort of reason why you’re not allowed to wear a black gi in judo.
After all, having one person stand out with the coolest looking gi in the room kinda goes against the spirit of having all the students come into the class as equals, ya know?
Of course, some places don’t mind at all what color gi you wear.
In fact, a black gi is one of the colors officially accepted by the IBJJF, so you’re often completely fine to wear a black gi if you like!
Mind you, having a black gi could also make people think you’re the kind of person that thinks they’re a badass – and that’s not a good look on anybody. Awesome for posing in front of the mirror though.
One reason why gis don’t really come in different colors very often is because of tradition. This is, simply put, how things have always been done!
And one of the reasons for this tradition is to encourage a group spirit and dynamic in training classes.
If everyone is wearing the same thing (and there’s no Billy Badass with his sexy black gi), then everyone is essentially coming into the class as an equal.
EVeryone’s wearing a plain, tough bit of cloth around them, no matter what they were doing or earning before they stepped into the dojo.
Having different colors kinda steps away from that, and makes individual players stand out.
After all, that’s what fashion is for! But fashion doesn’t have a place in the dojo, and therefore a lot of teachers frown upon their students turning classes into fashion shows.
Besides which, who really cares about messing up a plain white gi?
Sure, it sucks, but you can easily get another. Ruining a fancy expensive gi, though, is going to make you wonder why you bothered.
None of this is to say that, if you really want a gi that comes in a different color, that you can’t have one! You can feel free to own whatever sort of gi you like.
And if your school doesn’t have any restriction on the color of gi you’re allowed to wear, then that’s no problem at all!
Just be aware that you might not get a lot of use out of it. After all, you likely won’t be able to use it in competitions.
And many schools simply won’t let you train with a fancy colored gi! You might get away with it for one session, but you’d likely get asked to bring a white gi next time.
Or, you might even be told to grab a white gi out of the spares pile to be allowed to train. Good luck getting that to fit!
Hopefully this guide has helped you to learn everything you needed to know about white gis, blue gis, black gis, and why these colors are used!