In this article I'll teach you the key things to keep in mind when shopping for the best karate gi for your needs. These criteria will tell you exactly how a Karate Gi should fit.
My name is Colton Woodard, and I'm a karate instructor in the US. Thank you for reading this article today.
There's a few differences between kata and kihon dogi, which are two types of Karate Uniforms, and I'll show you what kind I'm currently wearing.
To begin, let's take a closer look at what you should be on the lookout for when fitting a karate uniform.
If you're training in kata, kihon dogi for karate, these are a few things to watch for.
Here is a Seishin Kata Gi, notice the fit of the sleeves on the forearm and the cape length.
In order to give you a quick answer, the length of this arm section should be measured from the wrist to the elbow and then placed in between these two points. I.e. Half Way. I like mine slightly longer than this.
Punching while wearing a gi that's longer than your wrist is inconvenient since the touches your hand every time you perform a technique.
To avoid this, make sure the gi sleeve is no longer than your wrist.
It may be too short if you use exactly half way on the forearm because the dogi may come up as you train.
For the Gi Top, or Jacket: I recommend that the length be somewhere in the middle of your thigh, so that it does not come up or come down too much when you do stances and is not flocking around your knee area. Too short and it will come out of your belt while doing kata and you'll have to constantly pull it down.
As a result of the current "big silhouette" clothing trend where the Karate Gi has a big cape and wide legs, I find it easier to move around when my dog's shoulder line ends right where my shoulder does and arm begins, and the side cut of the gi where the closures are stitched in fit right at the waist level.
You'll see my lightweight Kumite gi covers the ankle bones and wrist bones but doesn't cover the hands. The cape is nice and long so it doesn't untuck from the belt during matches. Also, the fabric is breathable and flexible for high kicks and free mobility. Lastly, the cut is slim to the body so that the fabric doesn't get in the way.
The Karate Gi pants should be wide enough for the sides to close when tied so nobody has to see your underwear in the dojo or at tournaments. High waisted options exist as well. The groin of the pants should be adequate length and not too long or short.
The Karate Gi pants should measure to half way up the shin. I like to measure a little longer than this.
When I measure my Karate Gi pants I add 2 inches to both sides of the thigh to allow for lots of room for kicks and deep stances. To get the WKF look, add 3 inches to each side at the hem after the knee. It will create the flared look.
Last but not least, the quality of the Karate Gi hems should be taken into consideration, which means that if you have a decent gi, this end is fine, but if you have a cheap one, this end should be folded over and stitched together to create a heavier seam.
You want a gi with thick seams to retain shape and add snap. The weight is usually a 12oz for professional kata use. Some 10oz or hybrid exists to have a lighter feel but the material is more canvas so it snaps better.
The weight of my fighting gi, I mean of my Kumite do gi, is somewhere around half or one-third of the kata, so maybe 8oz. I like them to be very light and so that they dry very quickly.
The Kumite Gi are going to be breathable and light so people can see through it once you start sweating which is a bit of a downside, so I usually wear performance spandex under them like compression pants or shorts.
I really like the Shureido Kumite gi, and honestly they are so comfortable I often perfer them when I'm just walking around the dojo and teaching classes. Sometimes the Kata gi are very stiff and uncomfortable.
Choosing a Karate gi based on your uses is rather the most important choice.
Kata his are good for competition and for heavy use in the dojo with light grappling or bunkai. Although if you do a lot of exercise in your classes or sparring then the Kumite Gi is the way to go.
Personally I have amassed about 25 kata gi and only 6 Kumite gi at the time of this article and every year or so I give a couple away to students who can afford a new gi and out grew their old ones. When you do karate for a living and also compete, you tend to go through a lot of Karate gi.
If you don't know your size, check out the brands sizing chart and it's always a good idea to go with a half size up if you are unsure about something. This way you can easily sew a hem to shorten something, where adding fabric is almost impossible.
My Kumite Gi Choice: Shureido WAZA
My Kata Gi Choice: Shureido New Wave 3
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About the Author:
Colton Woodard is a 7th Degree Black Belt in Kuniba Kai Karate Do and holds the title of Kyoshi as well. He loves to teach Karate, Kobudo, and Iaido and considers himself a lifetime student in pursuit of self improvement in both Martial Arts and in Character. Colton loves to visit Japan and speaks conversational Japanese and can write quite a few Kanji. He is a Karate competitor and coach and loves to exercise and make new memories with people all over the world.
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