One of the most exciting things about beginning to learn karate at a dojo (or martial arts school) is purchasing karate gear. Definitely, wearing the traditional karate uniform – yes, the one you see in movies – would put you in the proper frame of mind and remind you of the thrill of learning those cool karate moves.
Apart from the thrill of trying out those karate moves, however, learning karate would involve tremendous discipline and persistence. The first step to buying a karate uniform (called a “gi”) would help set you in the proper frame of mind to help you get into the action.
Before you buy your karate uniform, make sure that you inquire from the dojo if they have specific regulations about what the uniform should look like, particularly what color it must be and what patches and insignias should be incorporated in the uniform. Some traditional karate schools would require its students to only wear white (this is comparable to how ballet schools would never allow their ballerinas to wear any other color but pink and black during classes), although others would have their students wear colors such as red, black and blue to represent the colors of their dojo.
To be absolutely sure that you conform to the dojo’s uniform standards, consider buying a set straight from the dojo’s supply store (most karate schools have this), or ask them for names of stores and uniform suppliers where most of the students purchase uniforms.
Uniforms are usually purchased ready-made, in sets of both the karate jacket and karate pants, which are usually held up by drawstrings. Do remember that size and fit is very important especially in karate, since you would need to be able to do rapid and big movements. Make sure that the pants are appropriate for your size (it should never be too long, or you might be at risk of slipping on the hemline), and that it’s not too big to get in the way of your movements (you wouldn’t want your opponent to be able to easily grab you by holding on to the extra cloth). If your body is of unique proportions (for example, you are top-heavy but your bottom is more slender), consider buying different sizes for the top and bottom; or you may opt to have one custom-made according to your size. It’s important that you try on the uniform to ensure that it fits you well; have the necessary alterations made (some karate uniform suppliers would provide this service for free; it doesn’t hurt to ask).
Apart from the fit and the size, another consideration when buying a karate uniform is the fabric weight. Karate uniforms are categorized into lightweight (which is the least expensive kind), medium weight and heavyweight (most expensive). What weight you would buy would depend mostly on how serious you are at karate, and how intensive your workout would be. Lightweight is good for basic beginner practice and for children, while heavyweight would be able to withstand the most grappling and absorb lots of sweat. Medium weight would provide the best balance between the two.
Another consideration would be the make. Though there are karate uniforms made of mixed polyester and cotton (to provide resistance to wrinkles), the best would be made of 100% cotton for the best sweat absorption
There you have it! Hopefully these tips on helping you buy a karate uniform would keep you in good fighting form. Good luck!