Most people are familiar with the typical karate uniform: a white outfit adorned with a brightly colored belt, made from a thick material.
However, most people do not know the official name for the uniform, or the different sections.
In this article, we will discuss the official karate uniform, what makes it complete, and what it truly means to a karate practitioner.
So, let’s get started.
The Karate Gi
The uniform worn while practicing karate is known as the ‘gi’ (空手着 or 空手衣), and it is pronounced ‘ghee.’ It also is usual to refer to the karate gi you’re wearing as a ‘karategi’ (空手着 or 空手衣).
The term karate gi, or karategi, is the condensed version of the terms dogi and keikogi. ‘Dogi’ means “the cloth of the way” in Japanese, and keikogi means “the cloth of practice.”
When combined, the two terms represents karate’s founding principles, and how karate itself is considered as a way of life rather than just a combat system.
Other Japanese martial arts, such as Judo and Jiu-jitsu, use the gi and its modifications.
The Material And Colors Of A Karate Gi
The gi is generally manufactured of 100% cotton, and comes in a variety of densities.
Typically, the material is quite thick, but also fairly lightweight so that the student/master can move around easily while wearing the uniform.
Students in contemporary karate schools may wear gis made of advanced polyester fabric that is breathable and flexible.
The airy material is made to keep the individual cool while they practice their hand and leg motions.
The most traditional color to wear is, undoubtedly, white, and blue is also quite popular, possibly coming in a close second.
However, the gi comes in a variety of hues, including black, crimson, pink, and much more. In fact, they can be purchased in pretty much any color.
The Parts Of A Gi
The gi is made up of three separate parts:
- The kimono (the jacket, or upper section of the gi)
- The zubon (the pants, or lower section of the gi)
- The obi (the colored belt)
All of these components, particularly the obi/belt, are extremely important to a karate practitioner, and should be properly cleaned and properly maintained often.
The Kimono (Upper Part Of The Uniform)
The kimono, or jacket, is designed in a crossing style – so it is folded across the torso and tied up – with a V-shaped neckline.
The kimono is designed to be a loose-fitting garment which allows trainers to easily move their arms while throwing a punch, as well as other moves that involve moving around with their upper half.
The migoro is the kimono’s uppermost layer, which covers the chest and back above the waistline.
The sode is the name for the sleeves. These must be measured correctly so that the wearer’s hands are not covered at any time.
The sodeguchi is the end part of the sleeves, or the cuffs.
The waki is the part of the kimono that is positioned underneath the wearer’s armpits. This must also be measured correctly so that it is not too tight around the student’s chest area.
The Zubon (Lower Part Of The Uniform)
The zubon is the lower portion of the Karate outfit, namely the pants.
The zubon, like the kimono, must be fitted with slack in order to enable students to move their legs freely while performing kicks, or any other moves that involve the movement of the lower half of the body.
They must also be correctly tailored so that the trainer does not trip over themselves during practise.
The uesuto is the section of the zubon around the waist. This will be covered by the obi, or the karate belt (more on that later).
The mata is the section that covers the groin area of the wearer.
The himo is the name for the strings on the zubon.
The hiza is the part that covers the knees of the trousers.
The suso is the name given for the cuffs of the zubon.
The Obi (Karate Belt)
For any karate practitioner, the karate belt, also known as the obi, is an essential aspect of their training.
It helps keep things comfy and fluid by keeping the gi straps secured throughout practice.
In karate, mastering the appropriate belt tying technique is a significant achievement.
The practical process of tying the belt in the traditional manner aligns with several of karate’s philosophical precepts, and it becomes a representation of the art’s life lessons.
The obi comes in a variety of colors, but unlike the gi’s color, you cannot pick and choose which one you want to wear.
The colors reflect the student’s rank, and they change as he or she develops and advances in their position.
The order of the colors differ with each karate school, but typically, the first belt a karate student will adorn at the start of their journey would be colored white. The final belt is usually colored black.
Here is an example of an order of obi colors given to a practicing student of karate:
- White Belt
- Yellow Belt
- Orange Belt
- Green Belt
- Blue Belt
- Purple Belt
- Red Belt
- Brown Belt
- Black Belt
Once the student has completed their initial training and earned each color, they will then be given the option to move onto their dan grades, which is the next step following receiving the black belt.
Stripes can also be awarded to the student, and may be attached to their belt, whichever color it may be.
While you may not think that it is important to know the name and different sections of the karate uniform, knowing these facts will strengthen your bond with the practice.
The gi is something to be respected and taken care of, and should be taken seriously by its wearer.
We hope you found this article helpful and interesting.