Gi history originated with the martial arts form Karate about 1886. It was created out of necessity for its’ style and attributes. Needed was the freedom to move and maintain comfort in the hot sun of southern Japan. The top was fashioned like a robe, and the pants legs and sleeves were shortened to accommodate the fluid movements, and a belt to keep the robe closed. It was once said, a long time ago, that the gi was fashioned to suit a farmer or fisherman’s lifestyle and to hide the fact that Japanese were outlawed from the possession of weapons in the 13th century and it forced the practitioners(Karate) to train at night, hence the robe design that looked like pajamas . As the use of Karate spread, so did the use of the gi.
With time gi history changed with the times. The garments became heavier to function in colder areas of Japan. A gi was made of cotton then, but now can be made of blends of materials like cotton/ polyester and canvas. They, gi, are created of varying strengths of fabics to accommodate the sport. The lightweight materials allow the body to breath. If you are beginner, you might not yet be using techniques(throwing) requiring the heavier gi material or a heavier material in the sleeve or collar areas. And the use of even a heavier material promoting the “snapping” sound, like those in the Bruce Lee movies.
In the gi history, white was and is the traditional / common color. As the times have changed so has the gi. Black and blue are common colors now days. I have even seen colors like pink, purple and mixes like army print. Even the belt has seen its changes.
The gi history of the belt was to mark rank and skill. It was said in a Japanese dojo custom, that if your gi belt was dingy yellow, it was a sign of skilled practitioner. Different colored belts signify the different levels of skill the artists have. Post WWII, the Japanese hand dyed their belts ( white, blue, red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, and black). We pretty much follow that color scheme today with a few exceptions. Our modern traditions begin with a white belt ( signifying a beginner). Gray, a newer standard ( I don’t know all the information, so I will leave you with only this, your coach will know more). Followed by yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown and black. Red is reserved for those influence and fame takes them to the pinnacle of the art, a master. In addition to the colors of the belts there a stripes that were added to show you had tested and passed certain in-between promotional criteria. Stripes are not used in every academy. Stripes allow for the younger and elder students to be recognized for their knowledge, even though they might not be the strongest fighters or athletes(body types and techniques sometimes don’t work well together). Black belts do not use the stripes format. Their stripes are now known as degrees.
The history of the gi at Seaside Jiu Jitsu Academy is overtaking a change in their gi belts. The Lil Warriors (ages 4-6 ,starting in August 2012)(white gi) will have the lightest gi (they are building the fundamentals only) , accompanied by a pre tied (velcro closed) belts that are white/color/white. Their skills testing will take place every 2 months. With their acquired skills they will have the color between the white on their belts change in the ranks listed in the above paragraph. The Junior Warriors(ages 7-9)(white gi) will have belts that are color/white/color. As with all belts the ranks of colors still follow the above order. The exception here will be the Junior Warriors, who are in the Black Belt Club, their gi is blue and their belts are color/black/color. Also Black Belt Club(BBC) members will have a gold/black/gold belt between the yellow and orange rank. Warriors (ages 10-12)(white gi, BBC blue gi), will wear belts that are half white and half color. And the Teen class (ages 13-16) will wear solid colored belts, as will the adults. Testing for color rank / skill will take place every three months for the preceeding four classes.
Here at Seaside Jiu Jitsu Academy, we just celebrated the first belt ceremonies with the new color belts. There was standing room only for some proud parents and families, we had that many attend the ceremony. The delight on the children’s faces as they received their new belts and stripes was priceless. With summer vacation time nearly two-thirds over, we will be seeing more students enrolling into our programs. Maybe you or someone you know has had an interest in the martial arts. We offer a Women’s Boot Camp. We invite you to come and take a tour, take advantage of a 30 day free trial. You can click and link into our website for more information. Or simply give us a call and set up a tour of our facilities and see some classes for yourself or your children.
We can be reached here by phone, (503) 739-4080. You can reach our link by clicking | 30 Day Free Trial | Seaside Jiu Jitsu Academy |. As history continues , we hope to you’ll be here with us to watch gi history in the making.