When you get to a higher level of Karate training, not only does your kata techniques and kumite skills get enhanced, you will also want an upgraded High quality Karate uniform.
Back in the 80's and early 90's, the best made karate uniforms were known to be manufactured in Japan & Okinawa (birth place of karate). Tokaido & Shureido were the two main Japanese brands that all the Traditional Karate athletes wanted to wear. If you wore one of these brands, it was like a statis of success in the karate world.Tokaido
uniforms throughout the U.S. has been known to be worn by many traditional Shotokan practioneers. The JKA has help Tokaido become very popular among the style. Tokaido is available in two styles. A traditonal cut, which many U.S. old timers wore and a Tournament cut style, which has become more popular over the last 3-7 years. The cloth on both style is a No.10 canvas produced from Japan. The weight of the cloth is 12oz. duck canvas. The cloth has a nice tight weave and offers a nice snap to it. Some say that the Tokaido uniforms these days are not the same as it used to be back in the 1980's. Back then it felt more stiff and heavier. However, some modern karate competitors like the lighter canvas for better mobility. Tokaido Japan has released their new Kumite karate gi. It's called the Tokaido NST Kumite uniform
. It's made of 100% fine quality cotton from Japan. Great for karate competiton fighting. I would compare this gi to the KI Mugen (orange label), Shureido KC-10, & Kamikaze Sovereign uniform.
When purchasing a Tokaido gi, it's recommended that you purchase a half to full size larger. The reason for this is that Tokaido uniforms sent to the United States have a Japanese sizing. They are not sized for westerners. For first timers buying a Tokaido (Japan), make sure to ask the vendor the correct sizing for your measurements.Shureido
- known as the cream of the crop of karate uniforms has been worn and still by many traditional Goju karate practioneers. Many Shotokan martial artist even wear Shureido's. Shureido has been known for high quality control for over 25 years in the karate gi industry. They offer about 3-5 different models to choose from and have a tournament cut and traditional cut gi. Shureido is known to make their uniform cut larger than all the brands. They use a Japanese No. 10 canvas also like Tokaido. Shureido maintains it's prestige in the U.S. by sending only limited amounts of supply to the States. They are known to be more on the expensive side, but if you can spend the bucks, you will not regret it. The most popular model is the K-10, which is 100% cotton and is a traditional cut gi. The Shureido gi's that is hardest to get in the U.S. (distributed in) is the
Shureido Kc-10 & Tkc-10 models
. Shureido Does have High quality karate uniform models that you cannot obatin in the United States. Two Models are the Shureido Mugen Instructor gi and the other is the Shureido Mugen Fighter Kumite gi
by is Wkf Approved. The Mugen fighter is known to be the highest quality Kumite gi in the world. It's very hard to get and very expensive. Most top team international Kumite Fighters prefer the Shureido Mugen Fighter and they are able to afford it by having their country pay for it. Both Mugens gi's by Shureido are in a league or their own.
As the mid-1990's passed other karate uniform manufactures knew that had to compete against the expensive Japanese brand karate gi's. What did they do ? They had factories in China, Taiwan, & Pakistan produce karate uniforms at an almost identical quality as the Japan made gi's but at a fraction of the price for the public. This made it alot more easier and affordable for the everyday martial artist who just wanted a nice heavyweight karate uniform to train in.
Tokon which in the U.S. is known now as Tokon has been manufacturing karate gi's for over 15 years. They specialize in the Tournament cut style uniforms. I would have to say in my opinion that their tournament cut gi is more comfortable that Shureido & Tokaido. Tokon has set the standard. Most popular models are the America & Europa. These 2 lines have made Tokon one of the most respected karate uniform brands through the world. They have a uniform called the Tokon Sovereign which is very similair to Shureido's most expensive model KC-10/TKC-10. The uniform is very smooth, light, comfortable & offers a very sound bearing snap when performing Kata. The uniform also is very easy to wash and dry. You can hang dry and the uniform will be dry within 30 minutes.
Ronin Brand, known for their high quality light weight & medium Karate uniforms has been distributing gi's throughtout the U.S. for over 25 years. Their student karate gi is equivalent to other companies medium weight uniforms. They have been selling a very nice 13.5 oz. Heavy weight uniform called the Competiton" Black/silver label which happens to be probably the best heavy weight gi for under $75.00. I beleive it retails between $50-$58. The stitching and workmanship is top of the line. This uniform I would have to say is the closest karate gi to the Shureido K-10 Model . The cut and sizing is almost identical. For the everyday heavyweight gi that you don't have to worry about specific washing instructions and special care, This Ronin Brand heavyweight is the choice. Ronin has recently came out with two new Heavy weight karate uniforms. The Shiai is the names. This new high end line from Ronin Brand has helped them to be a more prestigious karate uniform manufacturer. One has a nice royal blue/gold label & the other has a black/gold label. The Shiai Blue/gold label gi is more of a Kumite gi or everyday training gi that is 11oz. brushed canvas (almost identical to the Kamikaze Europa). It's very soft heavyweight and offers great mobility. It also offers great sweat absortion. The Shiai Black/gold label gi is made of a 14oz. Japanese No. 10 canvas. I beleive this uniform has to be the heaviest Karate uniform that conists of No. 10 canavs from Japan. It's a tournament cut gi and has a very similiar sizing to the Shureido Tk-10 gi . This Ronin Shiai black label uniform is compared to the Tokaido gi's from the late 1970's - 1980's. It's very stiff and excellant for Kata !!
Now getting of the Old School Stiff Heavy Kata uniforms, Ronin Brand now recently Manufactures a Light Soft Kumite Karate gi. They call it the Ronin Shiai Kumite Sport gi. It's made for the Karate competitor that that Competes on a high level of Karate or for the Student who just wants a very light & comfortable gi for sparring. This Kumite uniform is identical to the C. Pinna uniform from France. It's also compared to the Adidas Master Karate Gi . Both have similair cut and sizing, however the cloth on the Ronin Shiai Kumite Sport uniform is a more fine quality. To get more information about the Ronin brand karate uniformsm, you can check out Kinji San Martial Arts Suuplies. They are the U.S. distributors for Ronin brand.