Feel like a Karate Master with these Best Karate Gi
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I used to buy cheap Karate uniforms.
The problem with them low-quality uniform is that they are so poorly made that don’t last long and they don’t look good. That might be okay when you’re a beginner, but when you reach the green or blue belt, it’s worth investing in a quality uniform.
I wrote this guide for you so that you can make the best decision when it comes to buying a Karate-gi (yes, its called Karate-gi, NOT kimono!).
What are the Best Karate Uniforms?
So, you’re looking for the best Karate gi? You’ve come to the right place. I’ve been practicing Karate for 35 years, so you can probably guess that I tried many brands of Karate uniform. Let me talk to you about my favorite ones.
Before we start, I’d like to mention that I reviewed only high-end Karate uniform. Every company or brand have uniforms of various quality and price, but in this article, I’m focussing on superior quality Gis only.
1. Shureido Uniforms
I’ll be honest right off the bat, Shureido has been my favorite brand of Karate uniform for more than 25 years. For those who might not know, Shureido is well-known, long-established, world-famous Karate Gi manufacturer from Okinawa, Japan, the birthplace of Karate.
In my honest opinion, Shureido provides the highest quality Karate uniform on the market. Like any Japanese company, they aim to fully satisfy their customers by taking exceptional care of their products. Every Shureido uniform and belt are cut and sewn by hand. If you go to Shureido store in Okinawa, you can even buy custom-made uniforms made by their master craftsmen.
You can clearly see by examining a Shureido Karate uniform that attention to detail goes into every uniform. Every Gi is made in Okinawa, with superior craft and using the best in sewing techniques and material. The result is excellent looking Karate uniforms that are durable and resistant. While the classic karate gi has seen many variations in fabric and stitching, Shureido’s basic design has remained untouched for years.
This review is based on my TK-11 Shureido Uniform .
The fit and cut
I love Shureido’s cut the best. Compared to Seishin or Tokaido uniforms, Shureido has a more relaxed cut (loose cotton top and pants). These loose-fitting uniforms are designed for comfort and allow a wide range of movement during training. Sure it’s a bit baggy, but that’s what I like about it. Be sure to choose the size well as Shureido uniforms are made large.
Shureido only uses the best material; all their Gi’s are made from a special Japanese linen canvas. What I like about the Shureido’s fabric is that it isn’t too heavy or rigid; it has just the right firmness and holds its shape very well, even after years of usage. The material is really tough; it can handle grabs and pulls without any problem. Don’t be surprised, a new Shureido gi is slightly blue-hued, which fades over time. Shureido “blues” its fabric to guard against yellowing.
As you guessed it, Shureido uniforms have the traditional Okinawan cut – longer jacket, shorter sleeves, and shorter pants. It feels great every time you put it on for a training session. Because the top is loose-fitting, it’s is very comfortable, and it uses unique stitchings that keeps the shape of the Gi intact, even after many times washing it.
Like to top, Shureido pants are looser than other Karate uniforms and are also very comfortable, which is something I love. They sit comfortably on the waist with enough room for stretching and kicking. Depending on the model, they come with either 2 or 4 loops for the cord, and like the Gi top, they can take lots of punishment.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I really love Shureido. It’s actually my favorite uniform company, and it has been for years. That’s why I can confirm that the quality of this uniform is fantastic and that it can deal with hard training. Other reasons why I like Shureido uniforms so much is that they look good, and are super comfortable. With Shureido, you’ll get the best quality without the slightest compromise. I’ve been using Shureido uniform or more than 25 years, and I’ll definitely continue to do so.
- Made with high-quality Japanese linen canvas,
- The uniform has a loose cut,
- Very comfortable and doesn’t restrict movement,
- Uncompromised quality,
- Can endure tough training sessions,
- Reinforced stitchings
- Blue hue helps protect the white keikogi from yellow discoloration
- The uniform has a loose cut, some people like it, some don’t (I do!)
- Be careful when choosing a size, Shureido are made loose,
Material: Original blue-hued Japanese 100% cotton (linen)
Cut type: Okinawan Cut (shorter sleeves and pants), loose cut
Price: $250 to $345$ USD
Other models available: NW-1/NW-2, KC-10/TKC-10, K-10/TK-10/KB-10/TKB-10, KW-11/KB-11, KA-9
For more information, check the Shureido Uniform on Amazon .
2. Tokaido Uniforms
Together with Shureido, Tokaido is one of the major and oldest Karate uniform manufacturers. Since 1956, Tokaido has been providing practitioners all over the world with some of the finest Karate uniforms.
All Tokaido uniforms are cut and sewn by hand by artisans whose expertise has been acquired through long years of dedication to their art. Tokaido uniforms are made out of cotton that comes from a centuries-old process. Tokaido was actually the first company in the world to manufacture uniforms exclusively for Karate practice.
Tokaido produces two main styles of karate uniform: a standard version used more for regular training and kata competition, and a lighter version used more for kumite competition.
I based this review on my Tokaido Ultimate.
The fit and cut
Compared to Shureido uniforms, Tokaido has a standard, slimmer cut. It’s a great cut, and it looks good, but personally, I find it to be too slim and ‘narrow’ for my taste. Even if the uniform is labeled as “Japanese cut”, the sleeves, pants are a little longer than the Shureido cut, but shorter than the European cut. Because Tokaido uniforms are slimmer, I would advise to buy one size up just to be safe.
Like other uniforms in this list, Tokaido uses only the best fabrics. High-end Tokaido uniforms have multiple stitches and reinforced seams for extra strength. In terms of durability, I must say that Tokaido’s high-grade cotton canvas, is pretty tough and resistant – it’s comparable to Shureido’s material.
Nothing special to say about Tokaido’s top except that its made of excellent quality, and will provide you with many years of service. Also, as I mentioned before, Tokaido uniforms are on the slim side. Personally, I’m not comfortable with tight-fitting sleeves and body – it’s just not for me. I don’t have a broad build, I’m more on the athletic side, but I like my uniform to be loose. It’s worth noting that the end seams of the sleeves are reinforced for added resistance.
Most Tokaido uniform has low waist pants and traditional drawstring. Like the top, Tokaido’s pants are a little too slim for my taste. If you like that it’s perfect, but I prefer looser pants. Other than that, the Tokaido pants are of excellent quality, as the top.
Even if my Tokaido uniform is a bit too slim for my taste, I can tell you that this Gi’s quality is awesome. It’s definitely comfortable if you like the close-fitting cut. Tokaido uniforms look great and are a great choice overall. They are made with the best materials and the best fabrics on the market. If you’re looking for a high level, high performance, slim fitted Karate uniform, Tokaido is for you.
- First-class Karate gi destined to experts,
- Made from top-quality, durable fabric,
- Multiple stitches and reinforced seams,
- Official World Karate Federation (WKF) certification,
- Retain its shape after washing many times
- Slim fitting cut,
- Sleeves and pants are a little too long for my taste,
- Watch out when you buy, Tokaido uniforms are slim fitting.
Material: 100% natural cotton
Cut type: Japanese Cut (normal lenght sleeves, high waist), slim fitting
Price: $335 to $355 USD
Models available: Yakudo, Saw Traditional Heavyweight Uniform, Hiryuu, Ibuki, Shikon, Bushin, Otowa, Hayate, Kongo, Ken-zero, Kumite Master Athletic, Tokaido WKF Kumite Master Pro, Tokaido WKF Hayate Ultralight Kumite, Tokaido WKF Yakudo Heavyweight Kata
For more information, check the Tokaido Uniform on Amazon .
3. Seishin Uniforms
For those who don’t know, Seishin Gi was crowdfunded, and is the “new” famous uniform of Jesse Enkamp (The Karate Nerd), the renowned blogger and teacher. The Karate uniform took the web by storm and is endorsed by many famous Karate Masters and a large number of well known Karate practitioners from around the world.
I started reading Seishin reviews, and I couldn’t believe that it was really as good as people said it was! I didn’t want to believe all the hype about this Gi. I settled my mind and decided to buy one and see for myself. This review is based on the Seishin Premium Uniform and not their Okinawa or Supreme Editions.
The fit and cut
I have to admit that the cut and the design of the Seishin uniform are impeccable. Of course, it’s impossible to make a gi that fits everyone perfectly, but if you choose the right size, you will find that the Seishin gi will fit very well. Of course, if your body type is unconventional, the fit will naturally differ.
The first thing that I noticed when I put my Seishin on is that this gi is very comfortable, BUT it’s quite thin, and that’s an issue for me. I expected the material to be heavier; it actually feels like a lightweight Karate uniform. I understand the material is breathable, but I’m not a big fan of lightweight uniforms, but that’s just me. Don’t get me wrong, Seishin is really is an excellent Karate uniform, but it’s just too light and thin for me. In terms of durability, even if it has reinforced stitching in the seams, I started to see signs of aging about six months after starting using it. Also, after you washed it around ten times, you’ll notice a visible difference in its overall shape.
The top seems to be nothing special except that is has a very nice cut and feels very light. The material, sewing, and arms cut are top quality. There’s even a pocket inside of the gi, that’s a bright idea as you can carry a pen and a small notebook during seminars.
The pants are simply excellent and are, in my opinion, the best selling point of this uniform. They are incredibly comfy, and they move with you very well. Most importantly, they tie exceptionally well, without friction. I have not seen pants like this anywhere else.
Unlike the vast majority of Karate uniform, the Seishin Gi contains several ventilation areas on the leg and jacket, which actively help to cool the practitioner during practice. These air ventilation pockets are placed in both the crotch and the armpit of the Seishin jacket and pants, giving the uniform enhanced breathability.
I personally like the uniform overall, and I can tell you that if you want a lightweight training uniform, you won’t go wrong with a Seishin Gi. The material used for this uniform is of excellent quality, but I don’t think it’s tough enough for severe training conditions, especially when it comes to self-defense applications. There’s a visible effort to make this uniform suitable for both Kata and Kumite, and it’s all in Jesse Enkamp’s honor.
- Look like a heavyweight gi, but feel like a lightweight gi (if you like that),
- Material is very soft compared to the almost canvas-like finish of some uniforms,
- Pants have quadruple loops & pleats, and are very easy to tie,
- Air ventilation in crotch and armpit of both jacket & pants is a great addition,
- Great range of freedom for effortless deep stances & high kicks
- Excellent quality material, but feels too light for my taste,
- Durability is okay, but does not compare to Shureido or Tokaido,
- I’m not a big fan of the embroidered logo on the chest and in the back (I don’t like to “show off” the brand of a gi),
- Not sure about the “V” shape on the pant’s waist.
Material: 100% natural cotton
Weight range: 1.3kg to 1.4kg
Cut type: Japanese Cut (normal lenght sleeves and pants), semi-slim fitting)
Price range: $365 USD
Models available: Seishin Supreme and Seishin Okinawa Edition
For more information, check the Seishin Premium Uniform on Amazon .
|Okinawan Cut (shorter sleeves and pants), loose cut
|Japanese Cut (normal lenght sleeves, high waist), slim fitting
|Japanese Cut (normal lenght sleeves and pants, high waist), semi-slim fitting
Why should I buy a high-quality Karate uniform?
Low price-tag Karate uniform gets yellow quickly, rip quite easily and, let’s be honest here, don’t look really good. Buying a high-quality Karate uniform, and even if the price is obviously higher, will make you save money in the long run.
There are many reasons why buying a high-quality Karate uniform is a great idea, but of course, these uniforms can be pricey, but it’s totally worth the money. Here are the most common reasons why buying a high-quality karate-gi is an excellent idea if you are a serious practitioner.
1. They’ll last years
Cheap uniforms can sometimes last only a few months. Heavyweight high-quality Karate uniforms are durable, often lasting up to 10 years of active use if taken care of properly. I kept my Shureido for at least 11 years before I bought a Seishin Uniform. Karate-gis are made from a canvas style cloth because of its ability to stand up to considerable amounts of rigorous application and abuse without restricting the mobility of the karateka.
2. Stitching is solid
Let’s face it, if you’re a serious karateka, you put a lot of demand on your gi. That’s precisely why you need a high-quality uniform with heavy lapel and reinforced stitching at crucial grip points for increased durability. If you’re like me, you probably ripped off a sleeve once or twice, that’s why you need solid stitching. Some brands have six lines of stitching for the collar and seven lines of stitching in the pants – they won’t rip easily and will last for years.
3. Doesn’t easily get dirty or change color
To cut down on costs, cheap Karate uniforms are made of polyester or cotton/polyester blend and get dirty and/or “yellow” pretty quickly. It’s not the case with a high-quality uniform as they are made of 100 percent cotton. They maintain their white color much longer and don’t stain easily, whether from sweat or blood.
4. Makes you look good, and feel good
There’s no doubt about it, a high-quality Karate uniform makes you look! Much better than a cheap one does! What? Nothing wrong here! Ever heard of the Japanese word midashinami? It’s the Japanese principle of elegance, beauty, and refinement that finds its origins in Bushido, the code of honor of the Samurai. Yamamoto Tsunemoto gives this advice to Samurai in his book Hagakure: “Every day you took care of yourself so that if it were your last, you would die presentably”.
5. Makes you feel more confident
Just like wearing nice clothing makes you feel good and assured, wearing a good quality Karate uniform also makes you feel more confident and sure of yourself. It’s a psychological reaction, but just the mere act of putting on a good quality Karate-gi, you’ll notice your confidence going up! It’ll make you feel great too! Surprisingly, this positive and uplifted state of mind will, in return, influence your body, which will result in a boost of your Karate level. Don’t believe me? Try, and you’ll see.
6. Better snapping sounds
Okay, I’ll admit it, having a Karate-gi that “snaps” when you hit is not a must, but it’s pretty cool to have! High-quality Karate uniforms are made with better quality, thicker material, and they snap better than the cheap ones.
7. Pants attach way better
I’m sure I’m not the only one, but one of the most frustrating things for me about cheap Karate uniform is the fact that the pants are often tough to tie. I mean, you have to fight with the ties to attach them at the waist. Not only that, some cheap Gi even have the loop (where you pass the cord in) right in the middle of the pants and you have to tie them up on the side! How bad design is that? The high-end karate uniforms that I have chosen to put in this list all have pants that are easy to tie and untie, especially the Seishin.
8. Comes in heavyweight fabric
The weight of the material determines how rigid, sturdy, and durable the Karate-gi will be. Heavyweight karate uniforms weight around 1.8-1.9 kg and are worn by experienced practitioners, high ranked karateka or Masters. Because these Karate-gi are made with heavier fabrics, they feel more rigid, thicker, and robust than the two others. These uniforms can last a long time.
9. WKF Approved
Top-quality Karate uniforms are approved by the World Karate Federation (WKF). Personally, I don’t care about this because I don’t participate in competitions, but maybe you do.
One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong if you decide to buy any of these 3 Karate uniforms. Each brand design and craft their uniform with the highest standards and the best high-quality material.
It the end, it’s a matter of preference. If you like a looser cut, you should go with Shureido. On the other hand, if you like slim-fitting uniforms, Tokaido is probably your best choice, but if you want a lightweight uniform, then Seishin is the way to go.
Personally, I love Shureido Karate uniforms the best, but hey, that’s just me. What Karate uniform brand do you like best?
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