Guide to Martial Arts Uniforms

Martial Arts Uniform : What is it?

Martial Arts Uniforms

Martial arts uniforms are two-piece outfits worn in the training and practice of martial arts. They consist of a kimono or pull-over style top, loose fitting pull-on pants, and a belt.  Different martial arts uniforms are available for the various types of martial arts such as karate, judo, tae kwon do, aikido, and kung-fu. 

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Types of Martial Arts Uniforms

Martial Arts UniformsMartial Arts Uniforms

Kinds of Martial Arts Uniforms include the following:


The karate uniform is called “gi” in Japanese and “dobok” in Korean.
It is usually made of 100% cotton or cotton with polyester blends.
It comes in white, brown, and black depending on the skill level.

Karategi is the uniform made for training, and it is lighter and loose fitting than the one used in tournaments.

The tournament karate uniform has shorter sleeves and pants, which makes it harder to grab by the opponent.

The belt of a karate uniform determines the wearer's rank, with white as the lowest (or ungraded) and black as the highest. It also comes in yellow, blue, red, green, and brown.
The fabric used in making karate uniform is light to maximize speed and mobility.


The judo uniform is called “judogi” in Japanese.
It is used in practice and in competitions.
The judo training uniform is called “jujutsugi,” and is lighter than the judogi.
It consists of a very heavy jacket called uwagi and a lighter canvas-style pants called zubon.

The uwagi is made of heavy cotton or cotton blends.
It is cut from a heavy canvas-style cloth close to, but more tightly woven than terrycloth.
The zubon is similar in cut to karate pants but with heavier stitching and double layer kneepatches.

Tae Kwon Do

The tae kwon do uniform is made up of a white, V-neck jacket and white, loose fitting pants.

It is heavier than a karate uniform but lighter than a judo uniform.
It is worn with protective gear such as a head mask for protection from kicks.


The aikido uniform (“aikidogi” in Japanese) is used in aikido training.
It can be made of tightly woven terrycloth or heavy canvas material.
It has heavily reinforced pants or zubon for making defensive moves from a seated position .

The uwagi or jacket is longer at the waist. It has slightly shorter sleeves for doing wrist grabs at lower levels.


The kung-fu uniform is made up of a jacket and trousers.
It is simple and designed for making swift and fluid movements.
The can be made of cotton, polyester, or silk.

The loose fitting trousers have an elastic, drawstring waist, a gusseted crotch, and elastic ribbed ankles.

The jacket has rollback cuffs, a mandarin collar, side vents, and frog buttons or knots in black with red, black with white, or completely black.

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Choosing Martial Arts Uniforms (Buying tips)

Compliance:  Choose a martial arts uniform that complies with your school's requirements, as some schools require special cuts or patches sewn on the jacket.

Fit:  Look for a martial arts uniform with a relaxed fit. It allows you to move your limbs and body freely.

Fabric: Choose a martial arts uniform made of 100% cotton if you want maximum sweat absorption. You can also get one made of a cotton and polyester blend combination because it is cheaper, easier to maintain, and wrinkle resistant.

Drawstring:  Choose drawstring pants over those with an elastic waistband for better comfort. Elastic waistbands put constant pressure on the lower abdomen, which can interfere with breathing.  

Craftsmanship:  Choose drawstring pants with wide hems, gussets, and additional double inseams to prevent them from ripping easily.  Choose a martial arts uniform with cuffs in the sleeves and pant legs made with several rows of interlocked stitching to prevent the cuffs from folding over after washing.

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