How to choose the right karate gi

Karate gi

How to choose the right karate gi


Choosing the right karate gi is something you should take a little time over. Here are a few helpful tips to get you past the first hurdle!

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One of the many questions that seems to be asked a lot is what kind of uniform should one get?

Finding the right karate gi requires more than simply choosing the right colour and size. In truth, there are many factors to consider before settling on the one that is most likely to be right for you. A lot of people will have their own views on the many different weights, cuts and brands available. Depending on your needs and who you ask, the best uniform for you may change from time to time. But how can you choose the best?

Here are some of the things that you’ll want to consider when shopping for a karate uniform.

Material weight

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran, considering the best material weight is advisable. Before deciding, you should understand different weights so that you can buy one that suits your needs and your level of training. You may choose lightweight (6 or 8 ounces), middleweight (10 ounces) or heavyweight (12 ounces or over). Generally, lightweight is like your typical school uniform. It’s actually the first uniform that you are given or will buy when you sign up for classes. They are not only light but are also cooler than the other weights.

This is useful when you are starting out as, amongst other things, you may find the training particularly strenuous. In this situation, it is better to wear light clothing. However, if you are more experienced or fitter, and looking for an everyday practice uniform then middleweight is ideal. In fact, it is the most recommended intermediate or advanced students because it can also last a long time, depending on quality. The heavyweight karate gi, which is the most expensive and is used for activities like kata, or for competition or events where a well-tailored karategi is needed, is often the gi of preference for more experienced karateka, who like the way the gi hangs and produces a snapping sound during training or competing.


The two main colours of karate gi used these days are black and white. White is not only the most prominent but is also the most widely acceptable. Black, on the other hand, is still used widely and is also deeply rooted. In truth, anything apart from these colours is often considered too modern, unless your particular club or association prefers them. For lower rank students, most schools require that the students have white uniforms. It is, therefore, important to keep this in mind and find out more from your instructor before choosing.


Karate gi sizes are based predominantly on the height of the wearer and generally range from 100cm to the largest at 210cm, although this size is rare. Most manufacturers use these sizes or a corresponding number (175cm can be referred to as size 4.5, for example). Before choosing your size, you should know your height. After that, consider your build. If your build is not within standard range look at other sizes or seek advice. Where your build forces you to go for larger uniforms, your trousers may be too long and might need a bit of adjustment. However, if your weight is less than your height would generally expect, you may need to take the next size down, although this is not common.

Some parents get larger uniforms for their kids so that they can grow into them. If choosing this method, be careful not to go too large, as some kids grow faster than others. Also, if it is just too big, it hinders training


Be aware also, there are two main cuts of gi, namely Japanese, or kata cut, and European or Kumite cut. Whilst both can be used for general training, each has its own specialist area, as the names suggest.


Prices vary a great deal. Generally, lightweight gis are cheaper than heavyweights. Heavyweights can cost as a much as £200 or more, although the brand you choose will also have an effect. What makes the difference in brands is generally the quality of the material used, how well they lay on the body and the material weight. In addition to this are such considerations as how quickly the garment wears out and the amount and type of stitching that has been used to give the gi strength and durability.

Fabric and shrinkage

The most popular fabrics are pure cotton and cotton/polyester blend. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. For instance, even though pure cotton is costly and has a greater shrinkage rate, it is absorbent, breathable and more traditional. On the other hand, cotton/polyester blend generally lighter and more affordable but it’s synthetic and less breathable. Depending on the cotton it’s important to pay attention to the fabric shrinkage. Although some fabrics are sold pre-shrunk a certain amount of shrinkage can be brought about depending on how you wash and care for the gi.

A recent addition to the material choices is cotton/viscose. This has the advantages of being lighter than pure cotton, but more breathable than cotton/polyester. It is also less likely to shrink, given proper care.


When shopping for a good karate gi, look for people who wear different brands and ask questions. People have their favourites. Also, contact a company like Martial Arts Kit and ask for advice. We are here to help and happy to answer any questions you may have that will help in your decision making process.

When it comes to choosing the best uniform, getting one that is right for you is important. Do some research, know what you need, and settle on the best match.


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