Can’t tell a dobok from a gi? Wondering what makes a Judo gi different from a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi — and how they both compare to a Karate uniform? Want to know why they’re not the same? You’ve come to the right place.
Whether you’re a new martial artist doing your research before buying a judo uniform wholesale or just a curious onlooker interested in reading up on the variations in gis, this guide will give you an overview of the look, function, and evolution of four of the most popular uniforms in martial arts today.
Every martial art has its own techniques, philosophy, and grading system. In order to address and accommodate these concerns, a specific uniform for each martial art has also developed over time. People who practice Karate, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, and Tae Kwon Do have different needs and priorities when it comes to training and competition, so their respective uniforms also have their own unique characteristics. Let’s take a look at how the differences in these martial arts express themselves in their respective uniforms.
The Judo Gi
Like all gis, the judo gi is a two-piece uniform that includes pants and a jacket that is wrapped around the torso. The jacket is then kept in place with a colored belt that symbolizes your rank in the martial art. Judo gis are made of cotton and come in multiple colors (most commonly white and blue).
From there, the specific demands of Judo start to become apparent in the Judo gi. Judo involves a strong focus on grips — grabbing your opponent’s gi in order to control their movement and to help you execute throws and chokes on them — so the Judo gi features reinforced stitching at key grip points like the shoulders, sleeves, and chest to withstand that extra wear and tear. Most Judo pants also come with reinforced knees to help them endure the pressure of throws, takedowns, and grappling. The Judo gi’s collar is also much thicker, which is both for durability and to help accommodate the martial art’s grip-based techniques. In addition the color variations available, Judo gis also come in different weights and weaves. Most of these variations are a matter of personal preference, although Judo competitions will have specific rules concerning things like length and the size of the sleeves. If you’re not sure what choices are best for you, it’s wise to consult with your coaches to see what your school prefers and what uniform regulations you will need to follow in competition.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi
Of all martial arts uniforms, the Judo gi and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi are the most similar in nature, likely as a result of BJJ’s roots in Judo. In fact, many BJJ gyms allow beginners or casual participants to train in a Judo gi. Once you get more serious about BJJ, though, you can start to see how a traditional Judo gi can put you at a disadvantage, and start to understand why the BJJ uniform has evolved the way it has.
Judo gi tops are generally long and have wide sleeves, which is perfect for Judo’s focus but leaves a martial artist open to submission-based attacks that use your own uniform against you in BJJ. This is why the BJJ gi’s jacket fits tighter to the body, and has a shorter skirt. Its sleeves are also shorter and narrower.
Like Judo gis, Jiu-jitsu gis come in different colors , weights, and weaves. Some can even be decorated with patches and embroidery. While these possibilities allow BJJ fighters to personalize their gis, some gyms will have rules about what colors and patches are allowed in class. Jiu-Jitsu tournaments also come with their own regulations about sleeve and pant measurements to ensure fairness. Again, it’s always best to check with your instructors before making any decisions about gi purchase and decoration.
The Karate Gi
Like BJJ and Judo gis, the Karate gi is also made up a fairly loose-fitting pants a top that is secured in place with a colored belt that denotes the wearer’s rank. The top of a Karate uniform comes in a few more variations than its counterparts, though. While a jacket top is the most common option for the Karate gi, pull-over tops are also available for convenience.
Karate uniforms can come in a cotton and polyester blend (the more affordable option for beginners), or in 100% cotton (which is more durable and able to meet and withstand the demands of harder and more serious training). They come in light, medium, and heavy weights and are available in multiple colors, with white being the most popular choice. The perfect combination of top style, fabric, weight, and color depends on your training, goals, asnd preferences as a martial artist. As always, though, it is best to check with your coaches and with tournament regulations to make sure that your uniform choice is appropriate for your gym and any competitions that you want to participate in.
The Tae Kwon Do uniform, also known as the dobok, has evolved from the Karate gi, much like Tae Kwon Do itself has evolved from its original Karate influence. Take the top part of the dobok, for example. While most other martial arts favor a jacket, the top of TKD uniform has embraced a more shirt-like top with a v-neck. The reason for this is that it allows TKD participants to execute the discipline’s fast and precise strikes without having to worry that their jackets could slip or fall open at any time. Like BJJ, Karate, and Judo gis, v-neck Tae Kwon Do uniforms come in different styles, weights, and colors. While most of these choices will depend on the tastes and goals of the individual martial artist, there is one rule unique to TKD that must be followed when you’re selecting your uniform: black v-neck collars are specifically for black belts and should only be worn by people who achieved that rank in Tae Kwon Do.