The Correct Attire for Training in Aiki-Jujitsu
This section describes our accepted attire for practicing Aiki-Jujitsu. The traditional suit worn by practitioners of Japanese Martial Arts is the dogi, also called the keikogi or uniform specific to style, e.g. Aikidogi, Karategi, Judogi etc. You may see it described simply as the “gi” but this is not correct.
First we must consider why we wear the dogi. It provides the following benefits:
- Observing tradition. It helps us remember our roots
- It enables us to display our school and our grade
- It saves our day clothes from being damaged by being pulled about
- It is harder-wearing than T-shirts or tracksuits
- It preserves our dignity when we’re grappling
- It promotes a sense of belonging to a group
Underneath the dogi ladies must wear something to protect their dignity. For men this is optional. You may wish to wear a T-shirt or rashguard.
Jacket and trousers may be of the type used in many Japanese martial arts such as Karate or Judo. It's up to you how light or how durable they are. Typically we will use Karategi style. You may prefer overhead or wraparound style. When the wraparound type is used, the left side always crosses over the right. This is for both men and ladies. There are practical and traditional reasons for this. Our badge goes on the left side. The trousers and jacket are secured closed with ties, himo.
We use belts to display our grades. They are always worn on the outside of the dogi and tied using the reef knot (although you may see advanced members using more elaborate knots but they'll always be tidy and even.) The belt is crossed-over at the back but not twisted due to breakfalling onto it. Black belt students will have stripes ("dan bars") on the LEFT end. These will be in RED. They may also have some embroidery such as their name on the RIGHT end. This will always be red but may be in English or Japanese characters (katakana.) Because we have a different syllabus for juniors and adults we get junior students affirming adult grades. In this case they wear their junior belt with their adult grade as stripes ("mon bars") on the RIGHT side.
In a nod to our traditional background, black belt students may also wear the split-legged skirts, the hakama. For students of probationary first dan these are optional but for students of first dan and above they are mandatory for formal occasions such as gradings and also when practicing with the bokken (wooden sword.) Dan bars may be worn on one of the himo.
For footwear, straw sandals, zori, (or equivalent such as flip-flops) are recommended for off the mat. No outdoor footwear on the mats. Absolutely no socks unless you have a foot health problem or they are gripping socks for grappling.
There is also an overjacket, the haori, that may be worn on formal occasions but instructors of sixth dan and above.
- Students in WHITE jacket and trousers
- Instructors in BLACK trousers and WHITE jacket. For formal occasions also a black jacket.
- The head Instructor will wear WHITE trousers for class and BLACK for formal occasions. The jacket will be red
- Hakama are BLACK. The head instructor wears WHITE for class and BLACK for formal occasions.
We do need to adapt for summer, rare though it may be. In what counts as a hot British summer, the uniform may be trousers, appropriate martial arts T-shirt and belt. No hakama. A sweatband, hachimaki, may be worn.
And to consider safety, in addition to the above, the following are safety aspects:
- Students, male and female, may like to wear groin guards
- It is recommended that hair is tied back, but this is up to you
- No metalwork in the hair
- External piercings such as ears, nose, nipples and navels need to be removed or covered
- No wrist jewellery about the wrist including hair bands
- No rings with stones
It is worth noting that there is no immediate pressure to purchase any of our clothing and that gradings are optional