Every sport requires some sort of uniform or another, and that is indeed true for karate. The uniform in question here is known as a gi, and while it would seem that just picking up any old one from your local sports store would be the way to go, there are actually several things that need to be considered before you buy. We will go into as much detail as possible about those things, but it should be noted that we are looking specifically at red karate gi’s, although they do come in a variety of other colors with white being the most common. Regardless of color, your gi’s should all contain the same elements, which is what we are going to look at now.
The first thing you should be aware of when signing up for a karate class is that some places may use the word gi, while others will simply say uniform. They are the exact same thing, so don’t feel as though you ae getting the wrong things based solely on how they are described. The uniform is made up of 3 distinct elements, which are the jacket, pants, and belt. The jackets will often feature patches, most of which are to show an association with a particular school or teacher. This is not necessarily an essential part of the gi, but is something that is commonly seen.
We will talk more about the jacket in a moment, but for now, let’s focus on what you should be looking for in the construction of the pants. One of the most important parts of the any good karate pants can be found in the crotch. Look for pants that have a gusseted crotch, as these will be stronger and less prone to tearing. This particular style also helps with the movement of the person wearing the pants, as it allows for better angles to be achieved when kicking and stretching. Karate pants can be held up in one of two ways, which is either by a string, like you would find in sweat pants, or an elasticated waistband. While what you choose here comes down to personal preference, it is the latter option that tends to be easier to manage, especially if you are buying a gi for little kids.
The fabric type and weight are the next things that need to be considered when purchasing a red karate gi. The fabric usually comes down to a choice of two, which are 100% cotton or a cotton/polyester blend. There are pros and cons to each type, but the biggest concern when it comes to the cotton uniforms is that they can shrink in the wash, which means you really need to be careful when caring for them. The latter option is easy to maintain, lighter in weight, and probably better suited to kids.
You may hear people talk about the weight of the uniform, which can be a little confusing if you are new to the world of karate. The weight is broken down in 3 specific types, each of which well will explain below:
- Lightweight (5oz. to 6oz.) – If you enroll in a martial arts school that offers a free uniform as part of your membership, this is most likely what you will get. They are light, but more importantly, they are usually inexpensive, which means that this will likely not be your last karate gi. This does not mean that a lightweight uniform is no good, though, as many martial arts pros use these uniforms for training sessions.
- Medium-Weight (7oz. to 8.5oz.) – This fabric weight is a good deal more durable and is used for everyday training. These uniforms are going to last a lot longer than the lightweight variety, and you can also get them in either of the fabric types that we mentioned earlier. More variety in colors, too, which means you can get your red karate gi in this weight.
- Heavyweight (10oz. to 14oz.) – Chances are, this is the fabric weight that your class instructor will be wearing. This fabric weight is also what is usually worn in demonstrations and competitions. These uniforms are built to last and take a beating.
Now that you know more about the karate uniform, it’s time to take a look at some possible options. Again, since we are focusing on the red karate gi in this piece, each of the uniforms listed below will be available in that color, if you so desire.
ProForce Gladiator 7.5 oz. Elastic Drawstring Medium Weight Uniform
The first uniform that we are going to look at is the ProForce Gladiator, which comes in a rather glorious red color, as well as several others. This one falls into the medium weight category that we discussed earlier, which means that it will be a rugged gi that will be able to stand up to the rigors of everyday training sessions. If you are taking lessons or training on a daily basis, you will probably want to upgrade from the uniform that you were given by the school, as that one is not likely to stand up to what it is going to be put through.
The actual fabric weight of this uniform comes in at 7.5oz. and it checks many of the boxes that we discussed when talking about selecting a good uniform. Many of you are probably going to like the elasticated waistband on this one, as it offers a level of comfort and flexibility that you don’t always get with the drawstring varieties. In the grand scheme of things, though, the waistband is probably a little way down the list of important things when choosing a red karate gi.
As mentioned earlier, it is the construction of the pants that can prove to be make or break when choosing a uniform. The reason we included this particular gi in the list is because of the thought that has been put into the way these pants are made. The crotch of the pants is gusseted, and that means an extra level of durability that you just don’t get with some pants. This element also helps with your movement when wearing the pants, as that construction allows you to be a good deal more flexible when kicking and stretching.
The entire uniform is made from a cotton/polyester blend, making it a good deal easier to maintain and clean, especially given the shrinking issues that you can get with full cotton uniforms. The fabric is designed to be wrinkle-free, a handy little feature when you are forced to carry around your gi in a sports bag. Perhaps most importantly, though, the material in the jacket and pants is stitched using reinforced seams. This is a uniform that is going to be easily able to withstand the tugging and pulling that is will be introduced to during training sessions, as well as in competitions.
The ProForce Gladiator uniform comes in several different sizes, so you shouldn’t have any issue finding one that is a perfect fit for any sized individual. The price that you will pay for this one is incredibly fair given the quality of the construction and fit, and we believe that you will definitely get value for money, as this is a uniform that has been built to last. Definitely a good selection for those of you that are serious about taking karate training or lessons on a long-term basis. If this one doesn’t appeal to you, let’s go to the next one on our list…
Tiger Claw 7.5 Oz Student Karate Uniform
The Tiger Claw red karate gi is a little different than the previous one that we just discussed, buy it’s another that would be an excellent addition to your karate gear. One of the biggest benefits of this one versus the ProForce Gladiator is that it is a little more affordable, whilst still having the quality of the other uniform. Again, this is one that is going to be for those of you who are going to be training on a regular basis. It also never hurts to have an extra gi in your closet, just in case you end up having issues with the one that you wear on a daily basis.
Before we get to some of the differences between the Tiger Claw and the ProForce uniforms, let start by taking a looking at some of the similarities. The most obvious of this is the fabric weight, with this one the same as the other uniform at 7.5oz., which puts it right in the middle weight class. Again, this gi is available in the red color that we have been focusing on for this pieces, as well as several other hues. We may have forgot to mention that you get a white belt with the ProForce gi, and the same is true for this uniform.
The biggest difference between the two uniforms is the waistband on this one. It too is elasticated, but it also comes with a drawstring in place. This is handy for a couple of reasons, with the most obvious being that it’s nice to have a backup method of cinching if the elastic decides to give out. Another thing to consider here is if you are looking to get into karate to get in shape. You may end up losing inches that makes the elastic not as tight around the waist as it needs to be. Having the drawstring in place helps with that particular issue.
The Tiger Claw uniform is another one that is a cotton/polyester blend, which again means that you are not going to have issues with shrinking or wrinkling. This is another very well made uniform, with gusseted crotch in the pants and double inseam stitching. These are not pants that should go to split on you or feel uncomfortable when you are performing your karate moves. This in itself is a big selling point, as you don’t want to be worrying about the fit and feel when you are trying to train.
The Tiger Claw uniform comes in a variety of different sizes, with some to suit little kids just starting in karate, all the way up to larger adults who need a durable uniform that can take a beating. We are not suggesting that you run out and buy any of the uniforms that we are discussing here, as we are simply showing you all the options that are available to you. We have shown you two, now, but there is still one more to come…
Bold Middleweight 7.5 oz Traditional Karate Uniform
Regarding the Bold Middleweight 7.5 oz Traditional Karate Uniform, you may have noticed that we are focusing on the medium or middleweight uniforms with the three that we have chosen, and that is for good reason. Our assumption is that most of you who are reading this piece are doing so because you are looking to get into karate for fitness, self-defense, or some other reason. If that is indeed the case, then we would also assume that you would want a red karate gi that will last you for quite some time. There is no point in getting a lightweight uniform if you plan on going all in on karate, as that will likely mean that you will have to by a replacement gi at a later date.
What we have done here is provide you with three different uniforms at three different price points. This one is the lowest on the scale, but again, that does not mean that it is not a quality gi, because it most certainly is. Out thought was that this would be a good starter uniform for those of you getting into karate unsure as to whether it is going to be for you. If you find that it’s not what you had hoped for, you will not have made a huge investment. If, on the other hand, you find that you love the spot, you will have a uniform that is tugged enough to take a bit of a beating.
Once again, the fabric weight for this one comes in at 7.5oz., which is about where you want to be for a uniform that is going to be used regularly. While it’s a little more rugged than the lightweight gi’s, it is also a little more sturdily built, which is exactly what you want once you have instructors and other people in the class tugging on your jacket as you practice your news moved.
The pants on your uniform need to be as strong and durable as the jacket, if not more so, whilst also still being comfortable to wear and move around in. The pants with this uniform certainly fit that bill, starting with the elastic drawstring waistband. They also have a three-piece gusset in the crotch of the pants, which is something that should be considered an absolute must. As we have already said, that extra layer of fabric strength helps with movement and comfort, both of which are great when training.
It is worth noting that this uniform is a good deal lower on the price scale, but that is not something that should put you off. This is a well-built uniform, but if you do end up feeling that you would like something a little higher up the price totem pole, such as the ProForce Gladiator, gi, then this will still serve as a very solid replacement training kit. We believe that we have given you three very good options here, so now let’s talk a little more about your new uniform…
Some Final Thoughts on the Red Karate Gi
Once you have your new red karate gi, you are going to make sure that you wear it properly. While this may seem like a straightforward step, there are some definite do’s and don’ts when getting ready to go train or take part in a competition. The pants are quite self-explanatory, but things get a little trickier when it comes to the jacket and belt, the latter of which is commonly referred to an obi. Let’s quickly break down how to put both on, although if you find that you are struggling, your instructor will be more than happy to show you how to do things just right. Still, it would be nice to take the floor ready to go from the off, which is sure to score you some brownie points.
Let’s start with looking at how to properly put on the gi jacket:
- Slip on the top of your uniform as you would a regular jacket
- Before you tie together the strings located inside the jacket, you will want to ensure that the flap on the right is folded in the direction of the left side
- Once you have folded the left side flap over to the right, you can then tie the interior strings
- If properly done, the left side flap should be sitting on the outside
It seems a little bit complex, but in reality, once you do it a couple of times, you will be able to tie up your jacket without eve giving it a second thought. It may take a little longer to master the belt, but again, with some practice, it’s something that you can learn quite quickly. There are a few more steps involved here, so let’s take a closer look:
- Locate the center of the belt and hold it flat against your waist, ensuring that the end of the belt with the label on is sitting on your left side
- The center should remain flat as you wrap the obi around your waist
- Next up, cross the obi around your back with the ends of the belt crossing the middle of your back before being wrapped across to opposite sides
- Both ends of your obi should then be wrapped around the sides of your waist. At this point, run your fingers all the way around the belt to ensure that it is flat and smooth to your body
- The obi is then crossed across the stomach, with the left side being on the inside, flat to the stomach
- The outer layer is then wrapped under the other layers, pulling both ends in a diagonal to tighten the belt
- The end of the belt that comes out the left at the top should be bent to the right and then looped and tightened
We understand that this may all sound very confusing if you have never had your hands on a karate belt before, but there are also plenty of YouTube videos out there that will help walk you through the process, step by step.
Another thing to consider is caring for your karate uniform. We don’t recommend going with the 100% cotton uniforms unless they are for kids that are going to grow out of them and a need a new one as they grow. The cotton/polyester blend gi’s hold up the best, simply because they won’t shrink in the wash, and they will remain relatively wrinkle free. Combine that with a medium or middle fabric weight and you will have yourself a uniform that should serve you well for many years to come.
The one thing that we do suggest is that you talk to the instructor at the karate school you plan on attending, as some of them have very definite ideas about which type of uniform should be worn to class. There are some out there who will only allow students to wear white uniforms, which would make your red karate gi a bit of a bad purchase. If you look around, though, you are sure to find a karate studio that is happy to kept you show off your style, as long as you are serious about attending lessons and listening to what the instructor has to say.
Karate is a sport that people of all ages can enjoy, and is great for getting in shape, as well as for learning how to defend yourself. We hope that the tips we have delivered here will make the sport even more enjoyable.
Just to sum up, here are the three red karate gi’s again: