Whether you’re just beginning martial arts training or you’ve been a practitioner for years, you may have encountered challenges in finding uniforms that have the right fit. Contrary to the popular saying, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to martial arts uniforms. Moreover, a single size might not fit correctly either. After all, many of us aren’t proportionate; we may require a larger top and a smaller bottom, or vice versa. Unfortunately, though, many people – especially those just starting out – buy ill-fitting uniforms from their instructors. But before exploring the possibilities for well-fitting uniforms, let’s look at the basics:
Basic Martial Arts Uniforms
The type of uniform you need depends upon the type of martial arts training you’re taking. For example, karate uniforms are significantly different than judo uniforms. In the Japanese practice of judo, the judoka uses his opponent’s strength against him, and therefore needs a thick jacket that is difficult to grab. For that reason, judo uniforms – or judogi – typically consist of a pants and a quilted cotton jacket that is much thicker than karate jackets. There are also single weave jackets, which are lighter and more useful in long practice sessions to prevent overheating, and thick double weave jackets that are essential for competition.
In contrast to karate uniforms, judo uniforms, and tae kwon do uniforms, which are cotton and feature a crossover front with a belt closure, traditional kung fu jackets are typically made from silk and feature a front button closure. Those practicing kendo – the Japanese equivalent of fencing – usually wear a hakama and a kimono.
One of the latest trends in uniforms is martial arts cargo pants, which combine comfort with versatility. The cargo pants are available in a variety of colors, including camouflage prints, and usually have a stripe running down the outside of each leg.
Mixing and Matching
When you buy martial arts uniforms from a dojo or dojang, you normally buy a set consisting of the same size and color pants and top. Today, however, there are online sources where you can mix and match sizes and colors that fit both your body shape and your sense of style.
When you purchase martial arts uniforms online, it’s important to pay close attention to the site’s size charts and buy tops and pants that will fit well. It’s not uncommon for the best sites to carry sizes ranging from 000 (which would most likely fit a three-year-old) to 12 (which would fit someone well over six feet tall). Taking an extra moment to get the right fit will make you feel better and more confident while practicing or competing.
It’s also important to select the proper fabric weight for your specific martial art and skill level. A beginner, for example, might go with a medium weight karate jacket, while an experienced practitioner might need a super-heavyweight fabrication.
If you’re part of a demo team, you can easily outfit your entire team in their proper sizes, and find a wide selection of color schemes from which to choose.
Finding the right martial arts uniforms is, of course, only one element of learning the arts. However, when you get the right fit, you can more easily concentrate on developing the stances, values, and mental preparedness that will enable you to excel.