Karate Uniforms Buying Guide (Light, Medium, Heavy)

As most martial arts enthusiasts know, a uniform is an important part of training. While beginning karate students may think one uniform is identical to another, this couldn't be further from the truth. The karategi, or gi for short, comes in different fabrics and varying fabric weights. Gis also come in different colors depending on the student's level of experience and the requirements of the teacher. Learning about the different types of karate uniforms helps shoppers make an informed purchase. Karate students looking for a good quality gi often turn to AWMA, a reliable source for martial arts and boxing products.


Fabric Type


Karate uniforms come in two types of fabric: a cotton-poly blend featuring 55 percent cotton and 45 percent polyester or 100 percent cotton fabric. Many cotton-poly uniforms feature a light or medium weight and they are less likely to shrink than 100 percent cotton products. This material makes a good everyday training uniform for adults. Most children's gis are made with a cotton-poly blend for ease of wear.


Gis made from 100 percent cotton come in many weights, from light to heavy. Because this material is prone to shrinkage, cotton gis must be washed in cold water and air-dried. Use of these uniforms is often limited to instruction, demonstration and competition.




Because karate involves very active movement, uniforms must be stitched carefully. Shoppers looking for long-lasting gis should search for products with triple stitching.


Fabric Weight


Typically, karategis come in three different weights:


  • Lightweight – from 5 to 6 ounces
  • Medium-weight – from 7 to 8.5 ounces
  • Heavyweight – from 10 to 14 ounces or more


Lightweight uniforms are used by beginning students and for everyday training because they offer ease of movement and tend to keep the body cooler. However, with lighter fabric comes lower quality, which makes lightweight uniforms the least expensive.


Because they offer a good blend of weight and durability, medium-weight uniforms make a popular choice for everyday karate training. Manufacturers like ProForce® offer a wider selection of sizes and colors in the medium-weight range, and products can be found in 100 percent cotton and in cotton-polyester blend fabric.


Heavyweight gis are most often used for instruction, competition or demonstration. The canvas-like material delivers long-lasting durability, and it features a snapping sound during movement, which adds to the drama of a demonstration or performance. Usually, heavyweight gis are crafted solely from 100 percent cotton.


Karate Uniform Colors


Typically, karate schools require beginning students to wear white or black uniforms. Colored uniforms like red and blue are worn by more experienced students or those who have earned a black belt.


Karate Uniform Sizes


Karate students rely on sizing charts to find a uniform with the proper fit. Uniform sizes range from 0000 to 8, going from smallest to largest. To begin, shoppers look on a sizing chart for their height range and then find the corresponding weight range. Occasionally, a uniform that accommodates a student's weight will need to be tailored to attain the proper length. Karate students find lightweight to heavyweight karate uniforms in a variety of sizes and colors at AWMA. Brands like ProForce® ensure good quality and comfortable fit.


Karate Belts


Karate belts are fashioned for double wrapping, which means the belt wraps twice around the waist before it is tied off. One exception is a child's belt, which features hook and loop closure and only wraps once around the waist. Parents and instructors looking for children's belts find a variety of ProForce® belts at AWMA.


Finding the Proper Belt Size


Generally, the size of a karate belt matches the uniform size. Occasionally, students require a larger or smaller belt. Karate belts range from size 00 at 72 inches to size 7 at slightly more than 131 inches. To achieve the proper size for a karate belt, wrap a string or a measuring tape around the part of the waist where the belt is worn. Multiply this length by three, and select the size that measures closest to that length.


When shopping for gis, karate students, instructors and competitors should consider the size of the uniform, its weight, the desired color and the purpose of the uniform, whether for competition or training. Reading reviews of different brands helps ensure a high-quality product as well as features like triple stitching.


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