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The Karate Uniform: Gi

Shortly after starting to learn Karate, the new student will want to purchase the appropriate uniform and look like everyone else in the class.

The Gi is the traditional uniform of Karate, and its main purpose lies in its functionality. This applies to all of the Japanese and Okinawan Karate styles. Judo uniforms are also called Gi.

Why wear a Gi in Karate?

A Gi has the advantage that it is very robust and comfortable at the same time. It will survive a substational amount of pulling, tearing and contact with the ground to a degree that other type of clothing cannot handle. Typically a Karate Gi comes with quite short sleeves and pants, so that you don't get caught with your finger or trip over yourself. A Gi allows you great freedom of motion, which is required as in Karate you'll kick and punch with both speed and power.

For a Karate beginner, wearing a Gi also has a psychological effect, as it makes you feel more "real" when you wear the Gi, and you also feel as if you fit in better with all the other Gi-wearing students.
Karate Kick
There are several types of Karate Uniforms available, from light-weight to heavy-weight that suit different styles, climatic conditions and body weight. In general, most Karate schools and clubs (dojos) allow any type of white Gi but require you to attach their particular badge on the Gi.

A typical Karate Gi is made of three parts. The jacket, pants and belt.

How to choose a Karate Gi

The simplest way to get your new Karate uniform (Gi) is to ask your instructor. Most Karate schools (Dojos) have a supplier who looks after their equipment requirements and provides them with uniforms at a discount that is passed on to the student.

Some schools insist you purchase your Karate Gi through them and will not let you wear any other type of uniform. Thus it is very important to check with your instructor before purchasing a uniform by yourself.
Your instructor will probably be able to take one look at you and tell you exactly what size Gi you require and be able to have it ready for you to wear at your next class.

Some Karate schools carry stock of the uniforms they wear so you may be able to have your new Gi the very first day you begin your martial arts journey.


Uniform sizes / Gi sizes

Apart from the obvious requirement of choosing the uniform which your particular dojo wears, you need to get the right size to fit you.

Most uniform manufacturers use a size chart that corresponds numbers to height. However, this size system varies depending on manufacturer, country and origin. For example, Karate uniforms made for the American and Australian market are usually larger, whereas those made for the Asian market like Japan and Korea are slightly smaller, which is especially noticeable in the sleeve and pants length.


Typical Size Chart
Size # height/cm height/ft
00 120 cm 4'
0 130 4'4"
1 140 4'7"
2 150 4'11"
3 160 5'3"
4 170 5'7"
5 180 5'11"
6 190 6'3"
7 200 6'7'

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