When Judo was first practiced, judoka wore kimono not the Judo Gi (Uniform) we see today. It wasn’t until 1907, that Professor Jigoro Kano started the tradition of practicing in Judo Gi with an obi. Kano choose white to show that, on the mat, all were equal. It wasn’t until 1986, that the blue Judo Gi was introduced to the sport. This was proposed to make the distinction between the competitors on the mat easier.
Judo competitors need to have a Judo Gi that, first and foremost, meets International Judo Federation (IJF) regulations, but also is close fitting, easy to move in and not too easy to grab; thus the need for the many different styles of Judo Gi.
Traditionally Judo uniforms are made of 100% cotton. But lately the trend is to have polyester blended in with the cotton to make a lighter yet stronger and more durable fabric. Anti bacteria and shrinkage control are some of the recent developments in Judo uniform construction. The Adidas J930 IJF is a Cotton Blend uniform which help reduce shrinkage.
Today there are many different styles of Judo Gi. They can range from the basic traditional practice gi for around $40 to over $300-dollar for the Mizuno Yawara
There are many brand name companies that make the popular Judo Gi including Adidas and Mizuno. For example, Adidas has four styles of Judo Gi available in the United States. Starting with their entry model The Adidas J500 TRAINING Uniform, the mid level competition uniform Adidas J650 CONTEST, the “Sensei gi” Adidas J800 & J800 IJF ELITE and the top of the line Adidas J930 & J930 IJF CHAMPION. Adidas Judo uniform are available in both white or blue for local competition, and the J800 IJF and J930 IJF for international competition.
The same is true for Mizuno who offers seven models for the U. S. market. Mizuno has been making Judo uniform for a long time and supplies the Japanese Olympic Judo Team. The base model for Mizuno is their white Mizuno Single Weave, with Jimmy Pedro the next step up. The Mizuno SHIAI is their base model double weave competition uniform, The next one up is the Mizuno SENPAI which is a double weave uniform, the Mizuno YAWARA with its technologically advanced 3D cut which curves around an athlete’s body for more flexibility and dynamic movements. The fabric is light weight but yet durable and is the hallmark of the Mizuno YAWARA. The Single Weave Mizuno and the SENPAI is available in white only where other Mizuno models are offered in white and Blue. The most recent Mizuno offers are the YUSHO IJF JAPAN and YUSHO ll IJF models. These two models are created for high level international competition and conforms with all IJF uniform requirement.
A basic distinction between Judo Gi is that between single and double weave. This refers to the strength and amount of the cotton used and how it is sewn. Double weave Judo Gi are generally much heaver and stiffer than the single weaves. In the case of the Mizuno YAWARA, and the YUSHO, the material is light weight similar to a single weave. The Yawara uses some of the best cotton available. There are significantly more reinforcements stitched into the fabric thus making the Mizuno YAWARA & YUSHO a light weight yet strong uniform that can with stand an incredible amount of wear and tear in training and competition.
As competitors know, the right Judo Gi can win the match. To be in the game you need a Judo Gi that works for you, while maintaining a high level of resistance for your opponent. Beyond that, choosing a Judo Gi is a matter of personal preference; some players like the stiffer feel of the Adidas J930 IJF CHAMPION, while others prefer the flexible feel of the Mizuno YUSHO IJF.
This article was originally written by Vinh Chung for The 2008 USJF Junior National Championships Program Guide which was held at the City College of San Francisco.