Martial arts uniforms already have an important job. And they do it well! Good martial arts equipment plays a vital roll in allowing us to train and compete. Great martial arts equipment can even help us perform better in all of that training and competition.
But what happens when martial arts equipment starts to wear out and isn’t in perfect shape for tournaments or gym life anymore? Or when you have an amazing piece of gear that looks and feels cool, but just isn’t working for you in your training for whatever reason? Is it time to scrap them? Or is there something else they could be doing after their retirement?
Here are five ideas for repurposing martial arts uniforms that can give your favorite gis, belts, and boxing shorts a second act.
1. Turn your old gi into a training partner.
Putting an out of action Karate, Judo, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi top and a belt on a grappling dummy can add a whole new level to your solo martial arts training. With the addition of the gi, you’ll be able to work on grip strength and position in your drills. Both of which are vital if you spend any time training or competing in the gi. And even if you spend most of your time doing no-gi, playing around with a gi on a grappling dummy could give you a new challenge and push you to open up your mind to new approaches.
If you don’t have a grappling dummy, or you can’t fit a gi on the one you have, you can also make your own. All you’ll need is an old gi, some towels, a pillow or a plushie, and a belt. Check out our blog post “Martial Arts DIY: How To Make A Throwing Dummy” for more information.
2. Take your gear to the gym.
The other kind. A martial arts uniform that’s no longer dojo-ready can still be a productive part of your cross-training.
You can add an exciting new challenge to your functional training and work on your grip strength by taking an old gi top to the gym, threading it through a v-bar or the handles of a TRX and gripping the sleeves to execute your rows and pulldowns. If that’s not tough enough, you can also throw one over a pull-up bar, provided that the weave is still strong enough to support your weight.
If you find that a little too awkward, you also have the option of cutting off a sleeve and threading it through. (You can also try this at home by cutting off a gi sleeve and sliding it through the handle of a kettlebell.)
Beyond the weight room, old Karate, Judo, and BJJ belts make great yoga straps.
3. Recycle and repurpose.
If you’re willing to cut it up, you can do a lot more than make a lifting sleeve out of your old martial arts gear. There’s a whole world of hacks and crafts that you can try with the pieces.
Old gis can become great shopping bags and purses. You can even make the straps out of old belts. Or you can turn them all into squares for a memory quilt.
Those pieces can also get a second chance at martial arts life in the form of patches for newer training gear.
4. Chill on the couch with an old friend.
The things that make your martial arts gear no longer suitable for training are the same things that will make them perfect for recreational use. The fabric is worn down, thin, and soft. It perfectly suits your body and you’re already comfortable in it. What more could you want from lounge wear?
A worn old pair of gi pants is perfect for bumming around the house, doing basic housework, or participating in other hobbies. So are retired pairs of boxing and Muay Thai shorts. (One of this blogger’s old training partners turned her Thai shorts into sleepwear when their fighting days were over. She said they were the most comfortable PJs she’d ever had!)
If you want to get a little fancier, a well-worn gi top can also make a nice housecoat.
5. Take it out on the town.
If you want to get even fancier, you can take your old gear and make it fashion.
It might be a little avant-garde, but there is actually precedent for martial arts-inspired looks.
Gi-influenced jackets and Karate-influenced belts started showing up on runways in the early 2010s and those influences—and more—are still going strong in high fashion and street wear today. Adding a piece of an old martial arts uniform to an exiting outfit could put you on the leading edge of style.
And if you like the idea, but aren’t sure that your older gear is up to the task, you could always treat yourself to some athleisure wear from ProForce Sport. (We’ll have more on that in our next blog.)