The karate uniform is more than an article of clothing. Students of the martial arts need to get into a certain state of mind- as well as have practical clothing that will allow the student to twist, jump, kick and have complete freedom of movement. Martial arts students, whether they are students of karate, judo, or tae kwon do, all wear similar karate unifroms designed to withhold when pulled on. The materials of karate uniforms should not rip or tear, or become stretched out during normal karate movements and training sessions. Your karate uniforms should always show respect for your teacher, (the Sensei) the other students, and the martial arts by being worn clean, undamaged, and in the correct size. The pant legs and sleeves of your karate jacket should not be folded or rolled up when they are too long, instead, have the uniform altered to fit you correctly. A folded or rolled uniform could result in injury, and it is not the proper way to wear your martial arts uniform. Some Sensei's will allow their students to patch holes and worn areas of their karate uniforms; while others will require you to purchase a new uniform. Check with your martial arts instructor as to his or her specific rules on patching the uniforms.
The traditional karate uniform is called the "Gi", which is pronounced "Gee". It is the standard, bleached white uniform you think of most often when you visualize a karate martial arts student. The uniform consists of three pieces, and include a jacket, a pair of pants, and a belt, called the "obi". The color of the belt in karate uniforms indicates rank and seniority, and has been said to originate in Japan with the study of Judo, and has since been put into practice throughout the mainstream martial arts system. The darker the color of the belt, the higher the level of training and seniority the karate, judo, aikido or tae kwon do the student has obtained. In earlier times, students of the martial arts used to dye the belts a darker shade each time they "graduated" to a different level of training, because purchasing a new belt would be too expensive. In some studies, it has been said that the students would just allow their white belts to grow darker with age and use, and the darker the color would indicate a longer term of study. Today, most students just purchase a new belt in the color that represents their level of expertise.
Karate pants and karate jackets come in three different weights of materials designed for different levels of study, as well. If you are engaging in a lot of wrestling moves, and hand to hand contact with your trainer or fellow students, it's important that you select the denser, thicker karate uniforms to ensure they will hold up to the intensity of your training. You can choose from lightweight martial arts uniforms, medium weight, and heavy weight. The materials range from 5 ounces to 15 ounces.