Are you purchasing a new Karate uniform (Gi)? There are hundreds of brands out there! It can be a bit like trying to find a particular needle, in a stack of needles – there are so many options! Material type, weight, stitching, sizes, etc., etc., etc. If you’re confused, well you’ve come to right place. We’ve taken the work out of buying a Karate uniform. That’s right! We’ve painstakingly tested hundreds of different Karate Uniforms and have come up with a list of the top 3. We based our decision on three criteria:
- Quality (Material and craftsmanship)
A Karate uniform is an investment. You’ll be using it for years, so you want to make sure you invest your cash in the Karate uniform that is going to stand the test of time. So, without further delay, here we go!
Number 1: White Tiger Gi – 16oz.
It’s lonely at the top, but someone has to lead. And make no
Mistake, White Tiger Gi leads the way. Their uniforms make no assumptions about what it takes to be the best. They tick all the boxes: best material, best fit, affordable, long lasting, quality. Lets dive into the details…
Fit: Lots of sizes to choose from kids all the way up to adults. White Tiger Gi has tons of options to choose from. The cut of the Gi is great; lots of room in the legs but not too bulky. Space in the crotch area, so you can throw those high kicks out until your heart is content! The legs are cut at the right length as well – just above the ankle so you’re not getting caught up when doing leg work, etc. The jacket fits like a glove! It’s the perfect length below the belt, so you’re not having to constantly adjust the jacket after ripping through an amazing Kata. Plenty of room around the chest area to help you feel like the uniform is breathing. And the armpits have lots of room too – because you don’t want to feel constricted when punching, etc. and the Gi delivers in this regard. Oh, one small detail reveals White Tiger’s eye for cut: The design around the neck is perfect… not so tight that it feels like the collar is choking you, but not too loose that it feels like the jacket is going to slip off over your shoulders. White Tiger Gi designers obviously spent a great deal of time on the design of their uniforms – it’s a small detail, but it’s important.
Quality: Not sure where White Tiger gets their cotton – but it’s amazing! Their 16oz. Gi is heavy-weight, but as soft as a feather AND white as snow! Honestly, their Gi is so comfortable, you’ll probably want to sleep in it – which could be useful if you suddenly wake up in the middle of the night and want to rip out some cross-decks. And the stitching is super high strength. An important factor if do any type of work with a partner (sparring, ground work, throws, etc., etc., etc.). Honestly though, the quality is in the finer details; re-enforced jacket ties, extra stitching in the parts that need it most like the seams around the arms and legs. Oh, and the uniform does not shrink like crazy when you wash it. This will come as a huge relief to many. We tested this on several brands and shrinkage is major concern. Thankfully, White Tiger has taken care of this and minimized the effects of shrinkage due to washing.
Price: If you have any doubts about this uniform, they will melt away when you see the price. From a quality standpoint, this Karate Gi stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the best brand names in the world – yet from a price-point, it’s leagues ahead. You’ll get the same (if not better quality) from White Tiger then you will from vendors like Shureido, but you’ll spend way less. A dream come true for folks who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a uniform. They ship world-wide, so no matter where you are, you can get your hands on their product.
Conclusion: Pound for pound, White Tiger Gi is the best Karate Gi – period. It offers quality that is on par with some of the “top” brands you’ve heard about, but it delivers on price and has made no compromises on the finer details. Looking for a high quality Gi? Look no further; White Tiger Gi is the way to go.
Number 2: Tôkon Takeshi
Based out of Sacramento California, Tôkon has been a long time player in the Karate Gi market. Recently, they’ve gone through bit of a re-branding exercise, eliminating some of their less popular uniforms from the product line. A good move actually, because having too many products can be a bit confusing for customers. Fortunately, Tôkon had their wits about them and didn’t axe their best product – their heavy weight, Takeshi Gi.
Fit: The Takeshi heavy weight has a great, standard cut. The arms and legs in particular are the appropriate length – not too long, but not too short either. The Jacket is cut well – perhaps more of a boxed or squared type feel, but only very slightly. Don’t misunderstand, the Gi’s design is very top-end. This uniform is meant for the serious martial artist. Tôkon obviously has benefited from a long tenure in this business, and it shows. The collar around the neck and the cut through the chest is pretty much perfect. It provides the Gi with that perfect balance between a heavy-weight feel, but allowing for ample movement. This uniform won’t restrict your technique in any way. We have also noted that the sizing of the legs gives the user freedom of movement – while not looking too oversized. A really great product!
Quality: Material wise – we’re very impressed with Tôkon’s Takeshi line. The cotton they’ve for the Takeshi is a great balance of breathability and heavy-weight, for the more serious Karate practitioner. As expected, Tôkon didn’t disappoint in durability either. Stitching is tight and clean… and very strong. Overall, the uniform is built to last a very long time. We did notice a very, very slight proneness to sweat stains, but this was so very slight that it was hardly even noticeable. Tôkon provides a great guide on their website here for the care and maintenance of the Gi. Workmanship was very impressive. Stitch lines are tight and edges are sharp. We’d expect nothing less from Tôkon in this regard. All-in-all, a great quality product!
Price: If there is one detractor from Tôkon – it’s the price. Tôkon is certainly on the higher end for what we think is reasonable to pay. Lets compare: The Takeshi is currently selling for $169USD. Our winning GI, White Tiger 16oz., is currently selling for $118USD. That’s a substantial difference! All in all, Tôkon is quite affordable when compared to brands like Tokaido or Shureido, however the two ladder brands claim to be the world’s elite Karate Gi (Not sure we agree), so the price of Tôkon we feel should come in at around the $140USD mark.
Conclusion: If it’s in your budget to pay a bit more, and you love the Tôkon brand – then this is the Gi for you. High quality points scored in both fit and craftsmanship. You can’t go wrong with a Tôkon.
Number 3: Tokaido WKF Yakudo
Since 1956, Tokaido has been manufacturing and distributing Karate uniforms world wide. Tokaido first started distributing products in Japan, where the company was founded. Since 1956, Karate practitioners all over the world have trusted Tokaido to deliver a quality product. The company has an interesting history as well – you can read about it here.
Fit: Tokaido uniforms are very traditional. The WKF Yokudo Gi features a boxed cut on Jacket and Pants. The Pants tend to be a bit shorter, with ample room in the legs. Conversely, the arms tend to be a bit longer – again giving that traditional look. The collar fits slightly tighter as well – but not uncomfortably so. Tokaido is steeped in tradition and that shines through in their designs.
Quality: Tokaido quality is equal to that of even White-Tiger Gi. The material is quite soft and durable and the craftsmanship is excellent. The uniform as a whole is very well put together. re-enforced stitching and re-enforment around jacket ties, etc. These uniforms are made to last. You’ll be wearing this uniform for years to come and the quality of the workmanship is up to the task! Tokaido has been making Karate uniforms since 1956 and it shows. You will not be disappointed with this product!
Price: This is where Tokaido falls flat. The Yukudo heavy-weight is a great uniform, but it’ll cost you $204 USD! And that does not include shipping. An expensive investment and perhaps if the nostalgia of the Tokaido story is important to you, it’s worth every penny, but comparing apples to apples, from a quality perspective, the uniform is slightly over priced.
Conclusion: Although a little more on the expensive side, Tokaido offers a uniform that is steeped in history, while also offering a high quality Karate uniform. Truly an investment for years to come.
Please comment below if you’ve also had the pleasure of wearing any of these brands. Thanks for reading!