Monday, October 23, 2006

The White Gi - Judo's Tuxedo



Although I own 4 Judogi (3 of which still fit), and have no plans to buy anymore at the moment, I still like to surf some Judo Gi websites now and then to see what they're offering up, and if they have any sales or specials. Last night, on Hatashita's web site I came across this gi (to the right) - in Black and Yellow. This seems to be another step in the direction of the commercialization of JudoGi. For decades the Judo Gi was just plain and simple - a white cotton jacket coupled with a pair of white cotton drawstring pants and a belt representing your rank. Yes there were different qualities of Gis, different manufacturers, but at the end of the day, eveyone looked the same. No ostensible logos, no flashy shoulder patches, and no one really cared. This is a far cry from today where Judo Gi Manufacturers take a page out of the fashion design books and have embroidered sleeve logos and use differentiating insignia to identify different models. Shoulder patches and insignia, normally used in international competition to identify players from different countries (i.e. the black, orange and yellow stripes on the shoulders of the German team), have now creeped their ways into local dojos as well, from companies like Fire Eagle, Toraki, and Adidas. Even the usually conservative Mizuno has jumped on the bandwagon, by offering it's Jimmy Pedro signature model with shoulder stripes (pictured below left; you can get one at KodokanGear).


And no Judo wardrobe is ever complete without a Blue Gi (I have one myself), which since 1997, has been mandatory for all international and elite competitions. Yes, its not just plain white or off white anymore, yet with all of the embellishments of the modern gi, there is something to be said about the plain white classic.

First and foremost, the plain white Judogi is one of Judo's Great Equalizers. The people in my judo class are a very diverse bunch, coming from many different nationalities, races, religions, ages, and professions. We walk in as maybe the South American investment banker, the Canadian reporter and the Japanese student, but that quickly changes. When we put on that gi

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