Karate is still one of the most popular martial arts that many people practice, whether it’s for competing, self-defense, the cardiovascular and overall health benefits, or to lose weight. If you’re looking to pick up karate for any of the aforementioned reasons – great! But before you go to your local dojo and have your first training session, you need to get yourself a karate suit, also known as karate GI. But before you do, there are a couple of important considerations to factor in, in order to ensure you get the best karate GI your money can buy.
First and foremost, you’ll have to make the decision of choosing between cotton, polyester or a cotton/polyester blend uniform. This is arguably the most important decision you’ll have to make, so you should take the following into account.
Traditional karate GIs are made of cotton, so if you want yours to be authentic, cotton is definitely your best choice. This material is naturally absorbent, which is a very important feature because a cotton karate suit will whisk away sweat from your body, thus making you more comfortable when training. Plus, cotton is less likely to irritate your skin, as there’s less industrial refining going in its production.
Polyester, on the other hand, doesn’t shrink when being washed, but most high-quality karate GIs are pre-shrunk anyway. Moreover, polyester is incredibly more durable and it can last significantly longer than cotton. Additionally, polyester resists stains more efficiently, so you don’t have to put a lot of effort into maintaining it.
Next, you have to consider the weight of the karate uniform. Generally, uniforms can be lightweight (5-6oz), medium-weight (7-8.5oz) and heavyweight (10-14oz). Lightweight uniforms are the recommended type for beginners, as they’re the least expensive ones, but they don’t weigh you down and keep you cool. Medium-weight uniforms are the best type overall, as they have a great balance between coolness, weight, and strength, meaning they’ll last you long and won’t weigh you down that much. And lastly, heavyweight uniforms are ideal for competition and teaching, simply because they look great and are incredibly strong.
Consider how difficult taking care of the karate GI you pick is going to be. Ideally, you want to wash the GI right after you’re done training in it so that the sweat doesn’t have time to set in. Further, make sure you wash the GI in cold water so that it retains its natural colour. Never use bleach and don’t dry it using a dryer of any kind.