I wrote a post about karate gis yesterday, and focused a bit on brands, cost and durability, which I think can be pretty important if you’re a life-long student OR you’re just starting out and thinking of taking the Nestea plunge and buying your first gi. It can be a pretty particular decision, especially when the cost involved can be substantial. But since you can read about that here, I won’t get into all of that. Rather, today’s post will focus on what you wear OUTSIDE the dojo. Yes, you read that correctly…
There’s an interesting phenomenon that takes place when someone joins a club or organization that I’ll reluctantly admit that I’ve been guilty of, myself. They tend to purchase and wear a lot of swag. Basically, what I mean is that if a student joins a dojo, it usually won’t take long for them to start purchasing and wearing a club t-shirt or hoodie, wearing a track suit or buying the “yearly” dri-fit shirt. These items will often be worn out in public, either through a sense of pride or because they paid for it and don’t want to leave it sitting in their drawers.
And I get that… As I mentioned, I’ve been guilty of this myself. In fact, I still have some stuff that I occasionally wear, albeit under something else or in such a way as I don’t turn myself into a walking billboard for whatever location is involved OR I don’t turn myself into a walking target, which is the bigger concern. I was having a comment conversation with a fellow blogger who also happens to be a fellow martial artist (here’s looking at you, Silk Cords) and we were talking about how talking about karate or wearing karate apparel outside the dojo will usually incite short-sighted fools to try and prove themselves by fighting you.
Just to be clear, it’s not a BAD thing… Being excited and proud to have joined a dojo can be a good thing. And if you feel the need to wear a dry fit shirt with a giant yin yang on the back that says “karate” (I have one of those) then by all means, fill your proverbial boots. Just be aware of the type of attention you may draw. It kind of falls under the same category as avoiding the muscled idiot who goes to the bar wearing a “Tap Out” t-shirt… If he or she if advertising themselves in THAT manner, in THAT environment, the safe bet is they’re likely looking for trouble. I could be wrong and/or biased, but that’s also based on observation.
After a while, the fascination with wearing all the swag wears off, and the student becomes aware that such clothing items are best left to memory. Even students in Okinawa don’t wear karate apparel outside the dojo, and karate is the equivalent of what hockey is, here in Canada. Except the kids, of course. On class nights, you can them running to the dojos clad in their gis. I have an exception that comes in the form of the hoodie you see in the image above.
The crest I have on the shoulder reads “New England Academy of Karate and Judo,” which is Sensei’s school. I got that crest all the way back in my early white belt days and my intention is to never let it go. But let’s be honest, unless you get real cozy, you won’t be able to read what it says anyway. But the best way to win a fight is to never have had it in the first place. So, best practice is to keep from advertising yourself in such a way as to make a target of yourself. ☯