Updated: Sep 16
To someone who is new to Karate, the uniform may seem a bit strange. Why do we all have to dress this way? What is the history? Why white? Why shouldn't I buy the cheapest uniform I can find on Amazon?
A simple answer is that the uniform is a piece of our training equipment. It is designed to help us learn Karate techniques and not rip or fail during practice. The strong stitching and design was adopted/modified from Judo uniforms in the early part of the 20th century. The white uniform represents the values of purity, absence of ego, and simplicity. It gives no outward indication of social status so that all students train as equals. In practical terms, it is also white because it shows clearly the cleanliness of the uniform. As a matter of respect and safety, all students are expected to maintain a clean and hygienic uniform when training.
So why shouldn't we try to source out the cheapest uniform that we can find? Because cheaper uniforms are usually constructed of cheap material with inferior stitching. We rely on the uniform to provide us with tactile and audible feedback while training to ensure that we are maintaining the correct form in a number of our basic techniques. An inferior uniform robs a student of the best training experience and makes it more challenging to learn the correct techniques.
Bottom line, your uniform should be considered as an important piece of your training equipment. If you need assistance in selecting a uniform that is right for you, it is always best to speak with your instructor. They will know how well your uniform will need to perform for the challenges ahead.