Keikogi (practice uniform)

Keikogi (practice uniform)

Why does everyone wear the same white uniform in Hakuzan-kai? It is not something we would ever wear on the street although the pants look similar to painter’s pants with a drawstring. Dr. Kano developed the modern keikogi because he wanted his students to have strong clothes that would resist tearing when gripped and pulled strongly. It was not similar to kimono that were typically worn outside but more similar to the heavy jacket worn by firefighters in Japan. Here are a few reasons we continue to wear white keikogi-

It is stronger than our everyday clothes. It helps provide a mindset that we are in the dojo to study something serious. It prevents practice from turning into a “fashion show”. Japanese people are very fond of uniforms. Most factory and service workers will always wear a standard uniform during work time. It provides a feeling of being on the same team and may also have some roots in Zen. When doing any activity, one should be totally focused. Monks would shave their heads and wear exactly the same clothes to avoid the mind wandering from their central purpose.

There is a downside to always wearing keikogi in the dojo. We become accustomed to having clothes that provide nice “handles” to grab for throwing and choking. Out on the street someone may have no shirt and we must adapt. That can be considered another aspect of “ju” (flexibility).

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