Are Karate and Judo Suits the Same?

Karate and Judo are two of the most popular forms of martial arts. I know the uniforms that these martial arts use may look like a loose-fitting two-piece gown with a belt to keep it in place. Oh, don’t forget the V-neck. But they are actually more than that.

Karate suits and Judo suits are very similar. When viewed from a distance, it is almost impossible to differentiate between the two. However, Karate and Judo suits are different from each other. Judo uniforms are designed with reinforced stitching to accommodate the grappling style of the sport.

For this article, I am combining my experience with the research that I have done. So, if you have any questions regarding the different types of uniforms, you have come to the right place.  For everything you need to know, keep reading.

The history of Judo and Karate suits

The Judo suit was introduced during the 20th century. The suit was developed by Kano Jigoro. Kano took inspiration from a more traditional Japanese style of clothing. Most notably, he took inspiration from the Japanese Kimono.

The Judo suit has, for the most part, remained unchanged from when it was first introduced. There have been some changes, though.

The sleeves have gradually been lengthened to how they are today. The cotton that the suit is made from has also changed. When the Judo suit was first introduced, it was made with unbleached cotton. Today, we use bleached white cotton, and recently, we have seen black or blue Judo suits.

While some instructors prefer their students to wear the traditional white suit, it is not against the laws of Judo to wear a black or blue suit.

The modern Karate suit was actually introduced after the Judo suit. The karate suit adopted the judo suit and then made some adjustments to be more suited for karate.

Why Karate gi’s are white

One of my favorite things about martial arts is what it represents. It represents values, morals, and purity. The man that invented the Judo suit developed it with these values in mind. He felt that the unbleached cotton represented these values.

Do you wear clothes under a karate uniform

Males do not wear anything under their karate jacket. There must be no visible clothing underneath the jacket. For females, they are allowed to wear a bra underneath the jacket.

Of course, with the Judo or karate pants, you should always wear underwear.

Martial art suits

The suit that a martial arts practitioner wears is not just for show. They are designed to meet certain requirements depending on what discipline they are used for. In general, they are lightweight and looses fitting.

While the suits are similar to each other, each one is designed specifically for a specific form of martial art. In general, a martial art suit is made from a lightweight material and is loose-fitting. The suits are loose to allow for freedom of movement and flexibility.

Most martial art suits start with the name of the art form and end with a “gi.” The word “gi” actually came from judo and was born from the name “Keikogi.” The term “gi” in martial arts means “uniform.”

To better understand this, let’s break it down. Keiko means training or practice. The word gi means uniform. So, when we say “Keikogi,” it basically translates to “training uniform” or “training gear”.

Karate suits

The proper name for a karate suit is actually “Karate gi.” That roughly translates to “karate training gear.”  The karate suit is a lightweight material. The material used can differ depending on price and quality. There are two types of material that are most commonly used for a karate gi.

For adult suits, they are most commonly made from cotton only. Most kids karate suits are made from a combination of cotton and polyester. The breakdown is usually 55% cotton and 45% polyester. Lower quality adult suits are sometimes made with the combination of cotton and polyester.

A suit made from 100 % cotton is generally stronger than a suit made from poly-cotton. So, if you want to minimize the chances of your karate gi tearing, I recommend getting a good quality karate gi, one that is made from 100% cotton.

How should a karate gi fit

Because it is hard to predict the exact measurements of every single person that will buy a karate gi, you might be unlucky enough not to find one that fits you properly. If this happens, do not worry. You just need to make sure of a few things.

The karate gi pants should obviously feel comfortable around your waist. What happens sometimes is, the waist fits perfectly, but the pants are too long. You can always have them adjusted to fit your height.

For the top, the same concept applies. If you find one that fits properly, but the sleeves are too long, you can always have it adjusted. The sleeves of the top should end by your wrists. Because they are loose, this can be hard to judge. Stretch your arms out to make sure.

Remember, you will also be wearing a belt, and the belt helps with the fit.

Judo suits

A judo suit is called a “Judogi.”  The suit is a little bit tighter than a karate gi. The Judogi also has more padding than a karate suit, and it has reinforced stitching.

The reason for these differences is because Judo is more grappling focused. When you grab someone for a takedown, it is better for the suit to have less play. The extra padding acts as an added grip for grabs and grappling. The reinforced stitching is required as the grappling has a chance of ripping the suit.

Judo suits are made from the same material as karate gi. The main difference is, it is harder to find Judogi that is not made with 100% cotton. Again, the reason for this is, cotton is stronger than polyester. Judo suits need the extra strength for the same reasons that we discussed above.

Keeping your gi clean

One thing that martial arts teach us is discipline. It reflects poorly on a person if their gear is dirty. Leaving your gi in your bag also creates a bad odor. Having bad odor in contact sports such as martial arts also reflects poorly on a person.

You should wash your suit after each time you use it. Make sure to use cold water. Do not use heavy chemicals that could leave a stain or damage the suit. I do not recommend using a hot iron, instead, use a warm iron and go over the creases multiple times. This will help prevent burns.

When hanging your gi, try to use plastic pegs to help prevent stains. Remember, white shows stains a lot faster than other colors.


As we discussed in this article, the karate gi was developed after the Judogi. That is why they are so similar to each other. Even with their similarities, there are a few differences.

You should not wear a Judogi to karate training, and you should not wear a karate gi to Judo training. Both sports have specific rules, and the suits that they use are designed around those specific rules.

I recommend always getting a suit that is made from 100% cotton. This will help prevent damage to your suit. Spending that little bit extra once-off could save you time and money in the long run.

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