The moment a student receives their uniform and belt is the moment they truly begin their martial arts journey.
It’s a special moment, usually marked by visible excitement, that sets the foundation for the future of their training. Here are just a few reasons why:
The Purpose of Uniforms
For centuries, uniforms have been used across countless industries. In schools, militaries, sports teams, and many other professions, uniforms have remained an element that helps people distinguish one team or organization from another. While uniforms are mainly used for this reason of identification, sports teams, the military and some other organizations have developed supplemental uniforms, alterations or additions to their uniforms that serve specialized purposes.
From the designation of rank in the hierarchy of an organization, to specialty in a particular skill or branch, modifications to a uniform are used to create smaller groups within the organization or team in order to distinguish its members and their accomplishments or responsibilities. Martial arts is no different. One of the greatest bonuses of martial arts training is that students learn to set and achieve goals – all because of the belt rank system. Belt ranks are indicators of progress, experience, perseverance, time, and dedication to your training. It’s a sign that a student has stuck with it through the hard times to achieve something truly amazing.
The Importance of Uniforms
No matter what type, uniforms give people a sense of unity and help to promote pride in being part of a larger organization or team. Loyalty to a group also increases and a feeling of being part of the team boosts the morale among everyone involved. Team members also feel more confident and enthusiastic because they belong to a group that has the same interests and goals. In the greater scope of things, this cohesiveness also creates brand recognition and consumer trust within the community.
In martial arts, wearing a uniform is an important custom and each style has their own traditional attire that represents it. These uniforms are worn in class for training as well as at formal events such as rank evaluations, tournaments, and demonstrations. When people are seen in a traditional martial arts uniform, it is recognized that they are a part of some form of the art. There is a sense of unity in their own individual style, but they also feel a sense of belonging to the martial arts world as a whole.
Your Uniform is a TRIGGER
Your uniform is not just a piece of clothing. It’s also a tool for mental and physical preparation. When you put on your uniform and tie your belt, you are preparing to give 100% of yourself to your training. In order to do that, you have to be able to leave everything else behind to ensure that you are both physically and mentally present during class so that you can experience all of the benefits of training.
Does the president of the United States go to work in sweatpants?
Does LeBron James show up to a game in a tux?
Of course not! Your uniform is a TRIGGER for your mind to understand that it’s game time as soon as you tie your belt. Embrace the impact of this moment and allow yourself the presence of mind to be motivated by your dedication to yourself.
Wearing your uniform is a way to show how committed you are to yourself in your training. In many cases, your uniform is made to help you safely participate in your training. It’s made to get dirty, withstand rigorous use, be comfortable and unrestrictive. It may feel a little strange wearing it at first, but you will soon become accustomed to it. Probably even grow to love wearing it because of the memories that will become associated with it.
All athletes, heroes, and professionals in the world have a trigger. We are no different.
- A basketball player may dribble the ball four times before shooting a three-point shot- that’s their trigger.
- A Superhero may straighten a photo of a lost loved one – that’s their trigger.
- A police officer may check their equipment before heading out on patrol – that’s their trigger.
YOUR trigger as a world-class martial artist is your uniform, and you’re training your brain for peak performance every time you put it on.
What Happens if You Forget to Bring Your Uniform?
We encourage people to train in their uniform whenever possible, but life happens. Once in a while, you might forget your uniform and be unable to wear it to class. A simple and honest conversation with your instructor to say “I’m sorry, I don’t have my uniform today. Is it possible to train like this today?” is all it takes.
You won’t usually be barred from training without your belt or uniform, so long as you’re dressed to participate safely. The acknowledgement of importance is what’s necessary here. To recognize that it is important to bring and wear your uniform during class as a way to show your commitment, create a sense of unity, get the best out of yourself and show others that you want to be there!
There are some occasions where wearing a full uniform is a must for participation though. These events include tournaments, rank evaluations, and belt promotions.
Types of Uniforms
While there are several different colors and aesthetic styles of karate uniform, or gi, they generally come in three basic types. Lightweight (5oz – 7oz student uniforms), medium weight (8oz – 10oz), and heavy weight (12oz – 14oz). Each weight has its differing purpose and advantage.
A heavy weight gi is tough and durable. This makes them a great choice for intense, frequent training and competition.
Medium weights provide a balance between comfort and performance.
Lightweight uniforms are designed and priced for comfort, making them a great option for beginner students and kids who will grow out of them frequently. They are also a great alternative to a heavier gi for summer training.
I hope this article has helped you understand the whys and importance of uniforms here at Glens Falls Karate Academy, and I look forward to seeing you in your class – looking sharp and ready to train!