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Keikogi (稽古着 or 稽古衣) or dōgi (道着) is a uniform for training, used in martial arts derived from Japan, or budō. (Keiko means practice, gi means dress or clothes.) The prototype for the modern keikogi emerged in the late 19th century. The keikogi was developed by judo founder Kanō Jigorō.[1] Japanese martial arts historian Dave Lowry speculates Kanō derived the uniform's design from the uniforms of Japanese firefighters' heavy hemp jackets called "hanten".[1] By 1920, the keikogi as it exists today was worn by Kanō's students for judo practice. The Kodokan (judo headquarters) has a photo taken in 1920 that shows Kanō wearing a modern keikogi.[2]

These two judoka are wearing judogi

Until the 1920s, Okinawan karate practice was usually performed in everyday clothes. Given the social climate between the Japanese and Okinawans during this time, karate was seen as brutish compared to Japanese martial arts which had their roots in samurai culture, such as jujutsu. To help market karate to the Japanese, Gichin Funakoshi—the founder of Shotokan karate and the instructor responsible for importing karate to mainland Japan—adopted a uniform style similar to Kanō's design.[3] Over time, Karate practitioners modified the keikogi for karate by lightening the weave of the fabric and adding strings to the inside of the jacket that are tied to keep the jacket neatly closed. The jacket is also held closed by the belt or obi.

The top part of the keikogi is called the uwagi (uwa means "upper" and, again, "gi" means clothes). The pants of the keikogi are called shitabaki, which is the Japanese word for pants.

In modern times, one can find any color uniform. In competitive judo, one contestant wears a white uniform and his or her opponent wears a blue one. However, traditionally, the keikogi was white.[4]

In English, the keikogi is almost always referred to simply as gi, which would be an incorrect use of the word in Japanese, but is well understood in context. Often keiko is replaced with the name of the Japanese martial art being practiced.

In Russian, Polish, and French, this kind of uniform is often called a kimono.

Commonly used keikogi include:

Keiko can also be replaced by which refers to the way, meaning both the martial art and the lifestyle of the martial artist. In this it is similar to the term for Korean martial arts uniforms, dobok.

Keikogi materials[edit]

  • Single weave: A lighter material, cooler for use in the summer.
  • Double weave: A very thick material, not as cool as other weaves.
  • Gold weave: In-between a single and double weave thickness was initially required by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation in order to standardize gis for competitions.[5]
  • Platinum weave: Lighter than gold weave, cooler for use in the summer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lowry, Dave (2006). In the Dojo. Boston: Weatherhill. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-8348-0572-9. 
  2. ^ Lowry, Dave (2006). In the Dojo. Boston: Weatherhill. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-8348-0572-9. 
  3. ^ Lowry, Dave (2006). In the Dojo. Boston: Weatherhill. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-8348-0572-9. 
  4. ^ Lowry, Dave (2006). In the Dojo. Boston: Weatherhill. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-8348-0572-9. 
  5. ^ "FAQ". Retrieved 2014-02-17. 

External links[edit]