Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking to buy the perfect martial arts uniform. Whether you are looking for a Taekwondo uniform, Karate Gi, Judo Gi, or even a Jiujitsu Gi you will need to keep these things in mind.
Firstly if you are just looking into getting into martial arts and haven’t found a school or instructor yet then that should be your first step. Many martial arts schools have restrictions or requirements on the type and style of martial arts uniform needed for classes and competition. It’s at least easier if you know the style of martial arts you will be practicing. Some styles have very similar uniforms that can be used without problem, for example Tae Kwon Do and Karate. However other martial arts like Kung Fu, Aikido and Kendo have very different looking uniforms.
Do I need a lightweight, middleweight, or heavyweight uniform?
You may even need or want more than one type of uniform. For example in some martial arts it is traditional to wear heavier, thicker canvas type cotton uniforms for competitions. They are high quality and look very impressive when ironed and even sound better when you move. However these can be pretty hot for doing your everyday training and are of course a little more expensive. So think about getting a few light weight thinner uniforms for training on a daily basis. These may not last as long as the competition versions but it will definitely improve your training, and will probably be more similar the the feel of what you wear outside of the dojo in the street, which is where most people are really worried about performing well. Usually, Taekwondo and Karate uniforms fall into one of the following 3 categories:
- Lightweight (around 6 oz.), a.k.a. Student uniform. This is usually the uniform that costs the least, it will not last as long as a medium or heavyweight, but is great for a beginner and as a second uniform for student.
- Medium weight uniform (around 10 oz.). This is the most versatile uniform weight. You will find this type can handle a lot of punishment and soak up a lot of sweat. Often, this is the best value for your money.
- Heavyweight (around 14 oz. and higher), a.k.a. Instructor or Master uniform. An excellent choice, especially if you practice a lot of grappling. It will last you the longest, absorb large quantities of sweat and keep you comfortable in most situations. The only complaint I’ve heard about heavyweight karate uniforms is that they take up more space in your training bag.
Do I want a drawstring or elastic waistband?
Traditional karate uniform pants come with a drawstring waist. The drawstring keeps your pants secure, even if pulled on. Just make sure the hem through which the drawstring goes is at least twice as wide as the drawstring itself. Otherwise the string tends to get jammed after the pants have been washed or are soaked in sweat.
Instead of, or in addition to a drawstring, a lot of uniforms sport an elastic waistband. Some people prefer the convenience of a waistband, but I wouldn’t rely on it to keep your karate pants on. If you must have it, make sure there is a string to back up the elastic. But then, you’re back to tying a string. Why bother with the elastic at all? It only puts constant pressure on your lower abdomen, interfering with your breathing. It’s your choice.
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