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Keikogi (稽古着), or dōgi (道着), is a uniform for training in Japanese martial arts and their derivatives. (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. Japanese martial arts historian Dave Lowry speculates Kanō derived the uniform's design from the uniforms of Japanese firefighters' heavy hemp jackets, hanten (半纏). 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.
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. 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 (上着 uwa means "upper"). The pants of the keikogi are called shitabaki (下穿き), which literally means underpants (or zubon (ズボン), which means pants or trousers).
In modern times, white, black, blue and indigo are the most common colors of keikogi. In competitive judo, one contestant wears a white uniform and his or her opponent wears a blue one. However, traditionally, the keikogi was white.
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.
The alternate term keikoi (稽古衣) is also used in Japanese.
Commonly used keikogi include:
- Aikidogi (合気道着 or 合気道衣, aikido uniform)
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi / kimono (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uniform)
- Judogi (柔道着 or 柔道衣, judo uniform)
- Jujutsugi (柔術着 or 柔術衣, jujutsu uniform)
- Karategi (空手着 or 空手衣, karate uniform)
- Kendogi (剣道着 or 剣道衣, kendo uniform), consisting of an uwagi and a hakama
- Sambovka (Sambo Kurtka jacket).
Keiko can also be replaced by dō 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.
- 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.
- Platinum weave: Lighter than gold weave, cooler for use in the summer.
- Lowry, Dave (2006). In the Dojo. Boston: Weatherhill. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-8348-0572-9.
- Lowry, Dave (2006). In the Dojo. Boston: Weatherhill. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-8348-0572-9.
- Lowry, Dave (2006). In the Dojo. Boston: Weatherhill. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-8348-0572-9.
- Lowry, Dave (2006). In the Dojo. Boston: Weatherhill. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-8348-0572-9.
- "FAQ". Mkimonos.com. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
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