A martial arts gi refers to a uniform worn in the practice of martial arts. The Japanese word keikogi (meaning practice dress or clothes) is typically shortened to gi in English. The Korean term for a martial arts uniform is dobok. In English, the word gi is pronounced as “gee” and the Japanese and Korean terms are often used interchangeably, regardless of what style martial arts is being practiced.
Karate, Judo, Taekwondo, Jujutsu, and Kenjutsu are examples of various types of martial arts. In English terms, a martial arts gi is the uniform worn by a practitioner of any of the martial arts. The uniform may vary, depending on the specific martial art practiced, but the most common uniform is the standard white top and pant worn with various belts. A design or emblem specific to the organization may be found screen printed or embroidered onto the uniform in some location.
The uniform is typically loose fitting and constructed of lightweight fabric, although certain martial arts may employ different weight fabrics and different styles of pants or tops. Typically, there is an order of belt colors that signifies a practitioner’s progress through training and rank.
In part, a martial arts gi may be designed to be true to the form of art being practiced, but designs may also relate to a specific school or method. Uniform standards are often set forth in competitive martial arts, and competition may require a specific weight fabric or style.
Generally speaking, a person would not need specific knowledge of a dobok or gi when beginning martial arts. Typically, the studio or school where a practitioner begins designates a specific uniform to be worn to classes. Whether or not the uniform is purchased, rented, or included in class registration or fees is dependent on the individual school. In cases where multiple uniforms may be needed, many retailers also sell various forms of the martial arts gi as supplies, and individuals may sell used uniforms cheaply. Before a student purchases a uniform, however, it is a good idea to find out from the instructor if a specific style is required for classes or competition.