Recently, I wrote a post about a new garment I purchased, which is designed to look like a karate Gi. It’s called the “Hood-Gi,” and in case you missed the post, you can shop for one by visiting the Budo Brother’s website here. An no, before anyone gets high and mighty, I’m not being paid endorsement for referring their website to you, this is not an advertisement post and I’m not recommending this product over another. My post was literally just a person, excited at getting a piece of clothing that suits him and seems practical for its intended purpose.
Although I will confess that I draw some level of morbid fascination about receiving such comments, especially in a world where everyone and their dog post daily “fit checks,”showing their outfit for the day, it does raise an important question; one I wrote about in a post a couple of years ago but I’ve written so many posts now that I can basically start recycling from scratch… how much is too much and what kind of swag should one wear?
We all know the scenario. A new students joins the gym or the dojo, they’re excited about being part of something new, something they enjoy, so they start buying swag. All of sudden, the new students is wearing a karate shirt, karate jacket, karate pants and karate g-string… okay, maybe not that last one and I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that would be to train in, but you get my point. A student that joins something new will be motivated to show their pride and represent their club, which is not nothing to be ashamed of. But as the old saying goes, if you paint a target on your back, you should complain about the arrow in your shoulder.
Ironically, a solid example of this is from one of my favourite martial arts show, Cobra Kai. Anyone who’s watched it can instantly tell who’s with the dojo or not. How? By all the fuckin’ Cobra Kai clothing almost EVERYONE seems to be wearing. And one can easily see the issue this causes, considering multiple members of that dojo are easily identified and attacked as a result. Granted, I’ll admit that in the real world, Senseis usually aren’t rich and buying clothes for the entire student roster but the premise is sound.
one would honestly be better suited, emulating the Miyagi-Do students. I totally get that they’re supposed to be the protagonists anyway, but they don’t even train IN their dojo in swag. And this is likely the better approach. I’ve seen the same phenomenon with recently-graduated police officers, who go around flashing their agency’s hoodies or wearing police apparel off duty. no need for me to explain why THAT could be a potential problem! Although on a somewhat lower level, the same could be said of karate swag…
I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this myself. When I was in my formative years of karate training, I had t-shirts, track suits, gym bags and all sorts of other shit that let the world know that I was a practitioner of Uechi-Ryu karate. Hell, I have a tattoo on my left pec of our school’s name. It was rare for me to leave the house without at least one item of clothing that reflected our school crest. But as the years have passed and wisdom has slowly set in, I’ve come to realize that subtlety is the better option and although I do still have some “swag,” discretion is the better option and I try and keep myself from becoming a martial arts billboard.
One might ask, what’s the problem with wearing apparel or advertising one’s school? That’s a valid question and some may feel that I’m being paranoid in taking this position. The reality is that we live in a world where violence is often inflicted on others for no good reason other than for the sake of it. And in some cases, broadcasting that you practice a fighting art can make you a potential target to those who wish to impart said violence. Picturing walking into a bar or club with your friends, wearing karate apparel. Imagine a group of drunken idiots who are actually hungry for a fight… Seeing your “ABC Karate Club” t-shirt might just be what they need to say, “Hey, let’s fight THAT guy…”
Admittedly, that’s an extreme example but a valid one. That’s why for the most part, I keep my karate swag and apparel on the down-low. My recently-purchased Hood-Gi basically looks like a canvass hoodie and is pretty difficult to identify as a karate garment. That said, I’ve yet to wear it out in public. At the end of the day, it isn’t about hiding your style or not being proud of your skills. It’s about being humble enough to realize that you don’t have to. And it’s about your safety. Wanna wear your karate t-shirt under your hoodie or jacket? Have at it; you obviously paid for it. Simply consider that it may be in your better interest not to broadcast that you’re a karateka to the world. Food for thought… ☯️
One thought on “To Fit, Or Not To Fit…”
Yeah, I remember that last article about not painting a target on yourself. I’m still in full agreement there. I’ve had bad luck in past studios closing down on me because my instructors were better martial artists than managers, BUT they all taught that same principle. “Keeping your skills hidden prevents you from becoming a target and allows you the element of surprise if you’re ever forced to use them.”
That despite the fact that a few of them sold school shirts. 🙂
Budo Brothers has some nice looking gear. They’re certainly enamored of it though. $160 for Kali sticks? Yikes.