The History of the Jiu-Jitsu Gi
Updated: Mar 18, 2019
Japanese warriors, also known as samurai’s were known to wear kimonos. A kimono is a robe-like garment with wide sleeves that is tied with a sash. They consisted of different colors which would signify their clan. Often times, the kimono was paired with wide pants known as hakamas. Both the kimono and hakama were worn underneath the samurai’s suit of armor in battle.
In the early years of the 1900s, the traditional kimono was deemed impractical by Dr. Jigoro Kano, a pioneer of the martial art called Judo. Kano decided to change the design of the garment to aid in more mobility for striking and grappling. This resulted in a sturdier, tighter and shorter uniform which is now what we call the gi.
Along with the design change, the colored versions of the original kimonos were also altered to a plain white gi instead. The idea behind white was the fact that students of Kano’s were all granted a gi before class and at the end of the session, needed to return it for washing. The white uniform lowered the impact of differences in the gym and created uniformity across the board.
Colored gi’s returned, courtesy to Reylson Gracie. The colors featured were white, blue or black. The gi’s underwent another design adjustment which featured longer sleeves.
1990 - Today
As jiu jitsu began to gain rapid steam due to the Gracie family, the number of students grew significantly as well as those who entered competitions. The uniforms featured sponsorship patches on them. Competition dues and fees were a financial burden to some athletes and the reliance on sponsorships surfaced.
Today the gi’s are made extremely durable to withstand much movement. The only official colors are white, black and blue. Sponsorship and logo patches are acceptable and even more prevalent today. The uniform features long sleeves, long pants in which both are slim cut.
The traditional routs of the gi still hold strong as the sport holds its ground in the continuance of the uniform.
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