Karate is a popular form of martial arts loved by many people across the world. Unlike what many people think, karate is not about fighting it is about discipline and self-defense.
It teaches you how to maintain coolness when everyone around you is losing theirs. Karate is about how you can defend yourself only when necessary.
This martial art is also great for your body as it involves exercising, movement and stretching, which can burn up to 500 calories in an hour.
Starting karate is easy because all you need is to find a good school and get a uniform, called the karate GI.
What you should know before buying a karate GI
Karate uniforms come in a wide range of styles, weights, and cuts. This means if you are planning on buying one, you need to consider a number of things.
The ideal type
Karate uniforms are categorized into two – kata gi and kumite gi.
Kata gi is typically used for a choreographed form of karate or Kata. It is heavy as well as more well made.
Kumite gi on the other hand is usually used for training and sparring. It is lighter compared to Kata gi, and much more flexible.
Type of karate gi for a tournament
Not every karate gi is suitable for international tournaments. Kumite gi is mostly used but must be approved by the World Karate Federation (WKF), a body that governs Karate sport.
International competitors are however immune to this regulation and can buy any karate gi they need.
If you are just doing local tournaments, then a normal gi is just fine. You do not have to worry about WKF approval.
In terms of weight, there are three major categories:
Lightweight: Normally used by beginners and kids and weighs between 140 and 200 grams (5oz – 7oz)
Middleweight: Used by most karate students notwithstanding of their ranks and weighs from 255 to 368 grams (9oz – 13oz)
Heavyweight: Used almost exclusively by highly ranked masters in demonstrations in front of crowds. It doesn’t have a concrete purpose and cannot be worn in tournaments. It weighs between 368 and 481 grams (13oz – 17oz).
In addition to the categories listed above, you should also consider the climate in which you will be training.
Wearing a heavy gi in 90 degree temperatures would not be good.
The number one factor you should consider in a karate gi is comfort. Remember you will be moving, kicking, and punching while wearing the uniform, so it should be comfortable.
Karate gi pants are made to be durable and long lasting. The most popular fabric is 100% cotton, but you can also choose GIs made from a mix of materials. Any material besides cotton may not last long.
Jacket length is determined by your personal style and preference. Some people like it short while others prefer long.
Sometimes the length of the karate GI jacket may also be determined by the amount of fabric left below the belt. The ideal length, however, should not get in your way you throwing a kick or a punch.
Does the color really matter?
Yes, every karate class has its own uniform color. So before buying, be sure to check with your master or gym and find out what they allow. Some schools allow all colors, in which case you can customize the uniform to suit your style.
The last factor to consider before buying a karate GI is the price. You need to find the right balance between price and the quality of the uniform to get the value for your money.
Does karate gi shrink?
Karate gi, just like most other clothes, may shrink unless you get a high-quality product or a gi that is pre-shrunk.
You may want to buy a larger size and hem the pants and sleeves up. Once your child grows you can undo the hem and lower the length to get the perfect fit.
Cotton fabric tends to shrink up to 9%, particularly in the first couple of washes.
A blend of cotton and polyester will shrink less compared to 100% cotton. For kids, it is recommended to buy a poly-cotton uniform because of its minimum shrinkage, which is suitable for fast-growing kids.
High-quality karate gi uniforms from reputable manufacturers come pre-shrunk so that it does not shrink significantly.
Karate GI Reviews
Ronin Karate Gi – Heavyweight Karate Uniform
Made of high quality, pure cotton, Ronin Karate Gi is cut in an old-fashioned style that will be ideal for any karate student or master.
The uniform is designed by experienced kimono makers and tried and tested by seasoned sportsmen to ensure that it is of the right standard.
Weight-wise, it comes in a range of sizes so it can be used by anyone. Each weight class is oversized to provide room for shrinkage, which is 1 to 3 inches on your first wash.
Another quality you may find pleasing about this karate GI is that it is easy to clean, whether you use your hands or machine. It also dries quickly.
The design is not restrictive but instead, it is comfortable and made to boost your skills. The uniform is ideal for trainings and tournaments.
It comes in only two main colors – black and white.
- The weight of the fabric is quite exceptional
- It last longer due to the material used to make it (pure cotton)
- Comes in a little bit larger size than normal to cater for shrinkage
- The GI well designed with great quality fabric that can endure strenuous training
- Even with shrinkage, the uniform can run a bit large, be careful when sizing
- The material wrinkles due to thickness
Hawk Sports Karate Uniform
Hawk Sports Karate Uniform is ideal for both adults and kids and designed for competition and training use.
The brand behind this product, Hawk Sports, has taken the concept of karate GI into another level with the design and material.
This uniform offers full unhindered movements in all angles of motion, both for high kicks and low stance.
The jacket is designed so you can add customized club associations and logos.
This uniform is also very lightweight, having been made from a durable blend of polyester and cotton, which also reduces shrinkage.
The pants feature a waistband with belts for a flexible fit.
One of the most recommendable feature of this karate Gi is however that you can select the size based on the exact height.
- The material is made from a blend of cotton and polyester, which reduces shrinkage
- The uniforms are true to size
- Unlike most karate GIs, this one comes with a complimentary belt
- It is loose-fitting for free unrestricted movement
- Flawless return policy
- The cords that hold the uniform together may not be the best
Macho 5oz Ultra-Light Weight Karate Gi
This karate gi from Macho Martial Arts is made from a blend of 45% polyester and 55% cotton for maximum comfort.
You can order using the size chart or a little bit larger if you are afraid of shrinkage.
It has an adaptable waist with a belt, while the crotch has wedge-shaped inseam inserts for added comfortability.
- Ideal blend of polyester and cotton
- Comes with a free white belt
- The material feels comfortable in almost every condition
- The waist can be a little tight
- This jacket is a little short
Century Martial Arts
With both top and pants along with a free belt, this karate GI uniform may be ideal for you or your kid.
The material feels comfortable and easy to clean and maintain. It is also durable, thanks to the optimal blend of cotton and polyester.
The 1 ¾ inch waist features a covered adaptable and closed pull cord.
Century Martial Arts comes in two main colors, namely white and black as well as two weights class- heavyweight and lightweight.
Adult GIs are between size 3 and 7 while children’s uniforms are between 000 and 2.
- The weight of the material is ideal for training and taking part in tournaments
- A very lightweight and durable uniform
- Great value for money
- The uniform is a little thin
Ronin Brand Karate GI
Another karate gi from Ronin, this product is ideal for individuals using lightweight uniforms. It is made of pure scoured drill cotton and can maintain coolness even in warm temperatures. The material can absorb the sweat for added comfort.
The gi comes with various sizes starting from 1 to 10, meaning it can be used by kids and adults. You also receive drawstring pants for sizes 3 and high.
Every size (1 to 10) comes with belts, jackets, and pants.
It is nicely designed to allow you free movement during your training.
Finally, it is easy to clean and will dry fast.
- The sizes fit all karate ages and skills
- Strong and long-lasting fabric
- The material absorbs sweat, leaving you cool throughout your training
- Can use price charts to order the Gi
- Comes in only one color (white)
- Not suitable for hard grappling
Hayabusa Winged Strike Youth Karate Uniform
Unlike most uniforms in this list, Hayabusa Winged Strike Youth Karate Uniform features a combination of dark and red colors, reminiscent of the samurai.
It is a vintage karate uniform that offers plenty of comforts and unrestricted movement you need in training as well as competition.
It is lightweight and low maintenance, which can prove to be a sound long-term investment.
- Free fit for absolute unrestricted movement
- Comes in different color set
- It is comfortable and lightweight
- The size can be misleading
Adidas Student Karate Black & White
For all levels of training, I recommend this GI from Adidas. The uniform is made of an ideal blend of material (40% cotton and 60% polyester). It also has a flexible waistband for added comfort.
The mesh patch at the back of the top of the uniform is for air circulation.
It is durable and easy to maintain.
- Mesh patch behind the jacket and pant help with ventilation
- It is durable thanks to the many strengthened areas
- The gi is lightweight and ideal for beginners
- The waistband does not allow free movement
I personally like the Ronin Karate GI – Heavyweight Karate Uniform. It is ideal for people of all ages and sizes and is designed to offer freedom of movement and last long.
It is heavy so you may want to also buy a lighter gi for the hot summer months. Any of the gi’s we mentioned above will work for a child or an adult. The key is ordering the right size.