Written by Sanko Lewis
Most martial arts have specialized clothing and equipment. The clothing will often display style-specific insignia in the form of badges.
Japanese StylesJapanese styles such as Karate, Judo and Jujitsu make use of a durable, light, medium or heavy weight white uniform, usually made of cotton. The uniform is known as a gi. The pants tend to have a drawstring waist and is loose fitting for ease of movement. The jacket is folded across the chest, and tied with the belt, indicating the rank of the practitioner.
For sparring groin protectors and mitts (a thin glove padding the knuckles) are usually compulsory.
Japanese martial arts related to weaponry, such as Aikido, Kendo (sword fighting), Iaido (sword drawing) and Kyudo (archery) wears a jacket and a hakama (a folded skirt). The hakama is usually black in color.
Korean StylesThe uniforms in Korean styles look similar to the uniforms used in Japanese martial arts; however, Korean martial art uniforms (called a dobok) is loosely based on the traditional Korean dress, known as hanbok. Both the jacket and pants are loose fitting, and made of durable material. Korean martial arts like Taekwondo and Taekkyeon tend to wear white dobok. Occasionally uniforms in other colors are used – usually black. Since Hapkido is related to Aikido, it is common for Hapkido practitioners to wear black pants and a white top.
For sparring, practitioners are required to wear protective equipment such as gloves or body armour, groin protection and a mouth guard.
Chinese StylesPractitioners in Chinese Martial Arts, like Tai Chi Ch’uan and Wing Chun, usually don in mandarin suits (often made of silk), with flat-bottomed shoes. A sash is often worn around the waist.
Chinese Martial Arts are known for various interesting conditioning methods and often include unusual training equipment, like the wooden dummy (mook yan jong).
Sparring Focused StylesMartial Arts that focus primarily on tournament sparring tend to have simplified uniforms, often only wearing trousers or shorts. Styles like Muay Thai, Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts usually only wear trousers or shorts (women add sportbras), as well as sparring equipment that include a groin guard, a mouth guard and sparring gloves.
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