What's With the Uniform?
Many people wonder why we wear uniforms in martial arts, so I thought I'd share a little about them in this post.
The Gi (Uniform)
Gi (a Japanese martial art uniform) come in many different sizes, textures, color, and design. Your gi will complement the specific art you choose to study. For example a judo gi will have a much thicker texture for grappling and throwing while a Jujitsu gi features knee patches to accommodate the friction of rolling and grappling.
Karate gi can be light weight which is usually used by beginner students. The heavy weight Karate gi also features a very thick texture but is also loose in specific areas of the body so that we can move and shift.
Proper care is of course very important. If cared for correctly, your gi will last for years--if not decades. Your gi should be used and handled in the dojo. It's OK when your new clean white gi gets dirty. Blood, sweat and tears are a good thing for your gi as well as yourself!
To wash your gi use cold water and your favorite detergent . Never use bleach. Bleach will weaken the fabric over the years. Always air dry your gi. Never " cook" it in a hot dryer.
After the gi has air dried you will find it may be stiff and " wrinkly ". Simply shake out the wrinkles or toss it in the dryer on a no heat tumble setting for a minute. If you do find yourself needing to dry your gi in the dryer then use the drying machine on low heat. Otherwise , keep the uniform out of the dryer.
The Obi (Belt)
Tradition says to never wash your obi. The mythical belief is that a washed obi is washing away knowledge learned. Of course this is a false belief. But it is true that one should never wash their obi, this is so that the " wear and tear" of the tattered obi truly reflects the years of hard work and of taking the obi on and off. Not from the washing machine and dryer.
Getting your gi ready for competition is also very important . Simply follow the care instructions above. The only difference is to starch your gi. A starched gi will add more "pop" to your punches and kicks which gives your kata added pizzazz for competition. Beware , starch and dry cleaning can weaken the fibers of the gi so use this process sparingly.
The gi is also used in what is called gi waza. Gi waza (gi techniques) are self defense techniques that use the gi in creative ways to cause the opponent to submit. In this case the gi is considered a weapon!
A clean gi looks good and feels good. If you view the gi as karate equipment then like all karate equipment , if the gi is properly cared for, your gi can strengthen the karate spirit!