When shopping for new karate products, such as gis or competition goods, people often don’t know which brands/manufacturers to buy from, or they just stick with one and don’t open up to anything new (which isn’t really that bad).
This may be because they are unaware of the quality of a brand/manufacturer, or simply don’t know what other companies are like.
To help you out (hopefully), I have created a short list of the five best karate brands/manufacturers. I made this list because I realise how frustrating it is to be shopping and not getting the information you want, since descriptions are usually quite vague and not very useful.
Now, these are not in any particular order, since it really comes down to preference (what you like and what you don’t) and what you are looking for.
I have just picked five, that it my experience, are the best karate brands/manufacturers. I will be listing their pros and cons, as well as the best places to buy them.
Shureido is a world famous brand who are located in Okinawa “the birthplace of karate.” They have a wide variety of training gis, as well as a few competition ones as well. They also have high quality belts and protective gear. The most popular models that Shureido sell are the New Wave 3 (for kata) and the Waza (for kumite). The New Wave 3 is worn by World Kata Champions Ryo Kiyuna and Kiyou Shimuzu, and is a very popular choice for world class competitors.
The Waza is also worn by kumite champions, such as Ryutaro Araga and Ko Matsuhisa, and is one of the lightest gi’s on the market (just 600 grams for size 5). A big selling point for Shureido is that everything is made in Japan, so it is almost a guarantee that you will be getting quality products. Their uniforms are also very stylish and aesthetically pleasing.
However, it is very hard to order something from Shureido. Since everything is made in just a little shop in Okinawa, and due to the huge demand, it is very hard to get Shureido products. There are many suppliers online, but you will often find that they are sold out of what you need. Another problem, for me personally, was even though they have a wide range of training uniforms, they really only have two main models for competition.
You can order Shureido from many online suppliers, such as here http://www.shureidousa.com or http://www.shureidoweb.com . You will more than likely find that there is a Shureido supplier in your country, you will just have to search for them on the internet.
Hirota is also a world famous Japanese brand, with a wide variety of products. They specialize is kata gis, and in my opinion, they are the best in the world at making them. They have the Hirota #165 for kata, which is worn by World Champions Antonio Diaz and Rika Usami, and other great models such as the Takumi and Pinack for kata (which is my personal kata gi). Hirota is great, because they have so many different models that suit different people, and they also have the best belts (obi) in the world (in my opinion, and many others). Again, this brand is Japanese, so you can be sure that you are ordering a quality product.
On the downside, Hirota gi’s are very hard to get and are quite pricy. Most of them are also fully tailor made (which means you will have to provide measurements), which is not exactly a bad thing, it’s just a bit more expensive and requires the know-how. I also found that they do not have many good lightweight gi’s, which is forgivable, since their kata gi’s are of such a high quality. They also do not make any WKF protective gear, which is a shame.
I ordered my Hirota uniform from Kuroobiya – https://www.kuroobiya.com . Not only did they have great service, but they also helped me with the tailoring of my gi. You can see my full testimonial here: https://www.kuroobiya.com/shop/index.php?main_page=testimonials_manager&testimonials_id=364 .
Tokaido is another world famous brand, that is still technically Japanese (I will talk about that later). They have quality kata and kumite gi’s, such as the Hiryuu (kata) and the Onsuku (kumite). They also have some great training gi’s, and some of the best WKF equipment around.
Before, I said that Tokaido are “still technically Japanese”. This is because there are actually two Tokaido’s, one who make their products in Japan and one who make their products in Pakistan (and elsewhere). These two Tokaido’s are still the same company, however they make completely different products.
The products I listed before where the Japanese Tokaido, but some products of the other Tokaido include: The Kumite Master Pro Athletic (which is brand new and extremely lightweight) and The Kata Master Pro Athletic (which is also brand new, and worn by many kata champions, such as Ilja Smorguner). This Tokaido is heavily based around sport karate.
The disadvantages with the oversees made Tokaido, is that they are not Japanese made, and people often by them thinking that they are. They are also quite expensive considering they aren’t Japanese made. The problem with the Japanese Tokaido, is that they are absurdly expensive, due to their high quality.
You can order Japanese Tokaido products from here: https://www.kuroobiya.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=4_6 or http://www.tokaidojapan.com and the other Tokaido products from here http://www.tokaido.de/karate/de/budo/04/-/Homepage_Mainpage.html or https://www.dax-sports.com/en/brands/tokaido/ .
Arawaza is an extremely popular brand who specialize in sport karate. Each year Arawaza are coming up with new innovations that are constantly improving the performance of athletes who use their products. Their standout models in kumite are the three Onyx’s: The Evolution (2013), The Air (2015) and the Zero Gravity (2017). These uniforms are extremely popular, and are worn by the likes of Douglas Brose, Ernes Erkan and Amir Medizadeh. They also have high quality WKF protective gear. Most of Arawaza’s products are quite affordable, which is why they are such a popular choice. Their shipping is also very fast, and not too expensive.
A downside to this brand, is that even though their belts and kata gi’s are decent, there is no compare to that of any high quality Japanese manufacturer. Besides this, I cannot think of anything else wrong with Arawaza!
You can buy all of their products from the official website: https://www.arawaza.com/index.html .
Adidas are not known for their karate products, but they are a very popular choice for karateka’s around the world. You can get decent quality products for an unrivalled price. Their kumite uniforms really stand out, with some being worn by the famous Rafael Aghayev, as well as the majority of the French national team, and the kata uniforms are great if you are on a tight budget. They also have acceptable belts and protective gear.
Unfortunately, like Arawaza, there is no compare between Adidas’ kata gis and belts to that of a Japanese manufacturer, but this is forgivable since they are at such a great price.
You can buy Adidas uniforms from here https://jols.com.au/discipline/karate.html .
So there it is!
The five best karate brands/manufacturers.
Just because I thought these were the best, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other good brands. I could rattle off at least five more quality manufacturers that make great karate products… but let’s leave that for another day.
Also, if there is something you are looking to buy, but don’t have any information, leave a comment in the description and I might be able to help.