The end of the karate gi?

Posted on 28 March 2017

The end of the karate gi?

At a lot of dojos, people are turned off by the traditional karate gi. With the rise in popularity of mixed martial arts, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract students to traditional martial arts, such as karate.

Isn’t it about time that karate fell in line with other martial arts and moved away from the traditional white karate gi? Many karate schools are now training with MMA Equipment/Gear.

Many authors have written on this topic, but the fact of the matter is that a traditional karate uniform can look funny to the common person off the street. When instructors are asked why their students have to wear their gi, some struggle to answer without citing “tradition” over and over. There are many stories on the internet about adults who refused to participate in karate because they thought the karate uniform looked silly.

Some traditional karate instructors note that people desire to be trained in martial arts such as karate because of an inner drive. They have worn the traditional white karate uniform their entire lives and have never experienced the events noted above. They have actually experienced quite the opposite.

Students, who are new to karate, they claim, often feel energized and see their attitudes change in a positive way when they don their karate gi before class. It allows all students to be at the same level and no one person has a better uniform than those around them.

Some recall their first days wearing a gi. It feels like you have just joined a new family and being welcomed into their arms is unlike anything else you can ever experience. You have joined a tradition that began a long time ago, and now you are an important part of it.

The gi is more than a belt, more than just the cotton cloth. It becomes a part of you. A traditional karate gi is one of the most important parts of karate as it reflects discipline, equality, strength, and tradition. If we were to take away the uniform, what else would we have to remove? Would we have to stop bowing when we enter the dojo? Would we remove everything that is done to show respect just because people have done it in the past?

Any person who is not interested in wearing a karate gi is probably not interested in learning anything other than how to fight, which is not what karate is about at all. They don’t want to learn reverence, courteousness, devotion, or service.

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