Every martial art has its own uniform. For example, Taekwondo has a dobok, and Karate has a dogi. Traditionally, the colour of the front cross-over jacket and the pants is white, while the belts are coloured, which signifies the skill level attained by the wearer.
However, nowadays, in many martial arts, the uniforms are undergoing a change, with experiments being done with different styles of jackets and pants, along with using different colours like black, blue, or red.
A uniform may also include shoes. For example, Taekwondo uses shoes that have a pivot point on its sole. This helps the practitioner to pivot and deliver spinning kicks effortlessly. The soles are usually black or white in colour.
A T-shirt coupled with shorts, track pants or leggings, may also be worn, provided the instructor or the organization allows such a uniform. Many martial arts schools make beginners wear any sport clothing, as the purpose of beginners is only to attain bodily fitness. Once a certain level of fitness is attained and if they are committed to pursue martial arts, then a test of fitness is held and thereafter, they are allowed to wear a dobok or a dogi.
Wearing a formal martial arts uniform provides several benefits.
A uniform promotes bonding and confidence
With everyone in the same uniform, everyone feels a ‘connectedness’, as if they are in a ‘community’ of martial artists. This ‘belongingness’ not only promotes bonding among the practitioners, but it also increases their levels of confidence.
A uniform fosters pride and achievement
The belt denotes the different skill levels that the practitioners have achieved. The wearer feels a sense of pride, which is rightfully gained by achieving higher levels of mental, physical and spiritual competency.
A uniform shows discipline and commands respect
Higher uniforms are never achieved without discipline, sheer hard work and dedicated application of the techniques. Higher uniforms command respect from one and all.
A uniform is designed to allow freedom of movement
The jacket of the dobok is so designed that the upper body can easily move in all directions. The ‘gusset’ in the pants allow for high kicks without tearing the stitches. Traditionally the pants used to have only draw strings, but nowadays, they have both an elasticated waist and a draw string. The belt is tied in a particular fashion so that it holds the uniform and also facilitates the body to execute a full range of motion, smoothly and comfortably.
A uniform is made to be durable
All uniforms are made from the best quality of raw materials, which can withstand the rigors of intense physical training over a long period of time.
A uniform prepares the wearer for training or competition
Simply by wearing a uniform, a practitioner is prepared both mentally and physically to participate in the training session or a competition. This preparation lends focus that helps the practitioner to perform better.
A uniform shows respect for the traditions of the art
By wearing a uniform, a practitioner shows respect to the traditions of the martial art. For example, a practitioner wearing a dobok, displays a commitment towards the tenets of Taekwon-Do, the moral culture in Taekwon-Do, and an understanding of the philosophy of Taekwon-Do.