When an individual successfully passes the beginners class for Kendo, it will be necessary for them to wear the proper Kendo uniform which is generally called the Kendo gi. These are martial arts uniforms made specifically for Kendo the traditional Japanese martial arts that practice swordsmanship with the use of wooden swords or the bokken. The Kendo gi is made up of the Keikogi (jacket) or the Uwagi, and the Hakama (split, pleated skirt); the Kendo uniform should be worn right after training that goes on for about one to three months.
The Keikogi or Uwagi appears as a kimono-like jacket that is worn in Japan and it is the most recognizable and known as the top-half portion of a martial arts uniform. The third essential feature is its obi which helps secure and close the uwagi; these elements are usually made of quality thick cotton and the most common measurement of this would be around five centimeters or 2.0 inches wide. Just like with other types of traditional martial arts, the Kendo gi is made complete by the hakama.
The Materials and Make of the Kendo Uniform
The most common and popular material utilized to create the Kendo gi would be a thick and finely-embroidered cotton Sashiko fabric; each material is dyed a deep and beautiful indigo shade that eventually fades with time. The embroidery and dye are combined to make the fabric even more durable which is necessary for rigorous Kendo practice sessions. Most of the Kendo uniform is durable and strong enough to last for about five to ten years of continuous practice; plus the dye is said to have a special antibiotic effect which helps prevent the growth of mold or any form of bacteria during hot or humid weather conditions.
The common hakama that is seen by a lot of people is the black hakama, yet the whole Kendo clothing can also be featured in white. Generally, there are a lot of different types of Kendo uniforms and the main concern here is its color: in some traditional Kendo dojos, the instructor is the only person wearing the white uniform. Some people prefer wearing the white Kendo gi and hakama for their first set of Kendo uniform, so before starting with the martial art, they usually check the culture of the dojo before joining them for training.
The hakama features seven pleats: there are five pleats in front while the two are found at the back; each of these has a specific symbolic meaning which all stand for a specific virtue followed by the samurai. Each of the jackets contains and embodies the soul of each individual who uses and practices with it; most of the jackets also represent the person wearing this since it features the owners name or school that is embroidered clearly on the material. It has a very square-like appearance just like almost every traditional garment where the seams fall right below the shoulders and its sleeves fit perfectly but in a very wide angle.
Proper Use of the Kendo Gi
When wearing the Kendo clothing, its uwagi or keikogi (jacket) is the first item to be worn since it features an inner and outer tie to keep it firmly and neatly closed. The next piece that is worn is the hakama where its upper hem is connected and tied securely over the hips; it will be tied behind, then in front before its ends are properly tucked in. A persons appearance is said to reflect their character as well as their inner state which is why it is vital for every individual to dress neatly and appropriately. The jacket of the Kendo clothing should not be left to fall open, plus no undershirt should be seen beneath the jacket.
When it comes to the length of the jacket, it should be long enough to ensure that no skin is visible between the side slits and bottom hem of the hakama; and as for the hakama, its length should at least reach the ankles bone. For its back plate, this portion should be snug and fit adequately against an individuals lower back while the hakama should be tied around the hips; this provides a slight angle along the lower hem. All the tears and rips of the kendo clothing should be patched and not left for anyone to see; additionally, loose or dangling straps should also be fixed as soon as it appears.
Proper Storage and Care for the Kendo Uniform
Always remember to keep the Kendo gi in good appearance and shape by folding it properly and nicely every after practice. It is vital to store the hakama accordingly to prevent any form of damage, and to also extend the life of the attire especially those types that are made from silk. Also, the hakama has numerous pleats, and over time, these can lose its creases; when this needs to get re-creased, it is best to seek the help of a professional to do this especially during extreme cases.