If it is your first time buying a karategi, it may be hard to find the right gi for you.
Usually, if someone is buying something, they want to make sure that their money is well spent. This is the case for most goods and services, and can be achieved by knowing exactly what you are buying, and that what you are buying is right for you.
This is the same with karategis, you need to that what you are buying is exactly what you need.
You will find that most karate brands/manufacturers will sell karate uniforms in four weight categories: heavyweight, medium weight, lightweight and ultra-lightweight.
The actual weight classification varies for different brands, but I usually find that it roughly goes like this:
Ultra-light = under 7oz
Light = 7oz to 9oz
Medium = 9oz to 11oz
Heavy = above 12oz
But weight is not everything, as it really comes down to the gi’s design and material. However, I will do my best to describe what each weight category is like, even though it varies for different models and brands, and hopefully help you guys out!
Heavyweight gis provide lots of snap and usually hold their shape quite well. This is ideal for kata, as the snap makes your techniques feel more crisp, and since the gi holds its shape, will look more visually appealing.
A heavyweight gi is ideal for colder climates, as the increased “thickness” of the material will provide you with more insulation. However, this is a disadvantage in hot climates, as the gi will become soggy with sweat, therefore will lose its snap and shape. A heavyweight gi is also not ideal for kumite, as it is very heavy and does not allow for much movement.
You will find that most heavyweight gis are made of pure cotton (assuming they are of good quality).
These karategis are perhaps the “ideal” training gi. They still maintain some snap for kata, and they are not too heavy for kumite. As the name suggests, they are in the middle, so possess the qualities of both a heavyweight and lightweight. You will find that medium weight gis will suit you best in everyday training sessions.
However, medium weight gis are only decent for kumite, and only decent for kata, they don’t really excel in either.
Medium weight gis can be pure cotton, or they can be blended with polyester (in this situation, it will be mostly cotton).
Sometimes described as the “beginners uniform,” a lightweight gi is probably the first gi that people get when starting karate. They will usually be sold by the club you join, and will not be the best quality.
However, there are still great quality lightweight gis on the market.
They are suitable for kumite, as they are usually very light and provide freedom of movement. You may choose a lightweight gi if you live in a hot climate, as they don’t have much insulation and provide some airflow. Although, they are not ideal for kata, as they usually have no snap.
Lightweight gis are usually cotton and polyester blends, where it is usually even amounts of each.
These gis are for the serious kumite practitioner. They are a popular choice for WKF fighters, and are extremely light. They provide very little insulation, and allow for increased air airflow. They are probably the most technically advanced out of all the weight categories, as they are designed to be as light as possible. They are perfect for hard core training sessions and multiple kumite rounds.
Like the lightweight, ultra-lightweight gis have no snap. Also, they are often expensive due to their complexity.
They can be 100% polyester, and if not, there is usually very little cotton used.
Hopefully this has cleared up what the different weights are like, and provided you with the information to determine what karategi is best for you.
If you have any specific karategi you are looking at, leave a comment down below and I might be able to help!