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Classic Japanese Gi (Karate Uniform)

History of Gi

The karate gi derived its style and attributes out of necessity. Freedom of movement and comfort in the hot sun of southern Japan influenced karate gi's inception. The light materials, slightly shortened sleeves/pants and robe-like design, mirrors the lifestyle of those who invented it--the farmers and fishermen of Okinawa. Likewise, a theory suggests the gi served a dual purpose of sorts, ultimately lending to its style. It is thought that Imperial political pressures outlawing the possession of weapons in 13th-century Okinawa forced martial art practitioners to train at night. In that, the gi not only provided fluidity of movement, but it could quickly double as sleeping garments in case authorities encroached upon the training session. As karate spread and grew throughout all of Japan in the 20th century, slightly heavier materials and longer sleeves were introduced to make the clothing functional for karate students in colder, northern parts of the country.

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