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Various identifying aspects of a gi (martial arts uniform)

Any uniform is a dress code, whose primary function is identification. The usage of a uniform, as a means of identification, may be broadly classified as:
—general identification
—specific identification

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General identification

A general identification occurs when the uniform denotes belongingness to a particular group or social entity. For example, schoolchildren wear a particular uniform that identifies their belongingness to a particular school. Likewise, different professions have different identifying uniforms. For example, a gi (martial arts uniform) identifies a martial artist, a white overcoat identifies a doctor, and a police uniform identifies a person serving in the police force.

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Specific identification

A specific identification occurs after the general identification is done. For example, an obi (martial arts belt) can specifically identify the rank of a marital artist wearing a gi. Similarly, the uniform of a beginner and an instructor have specific identifying features. An instructor may have specific identifications like a black belt, or a jacket having a black collar or pants having black strips; whereas, a beginner usually has a white belt worn over a white gi.

Other identifying aspects

Besides the above general and specific identifying marks, a uniform can also carry other identifying aspects, which may be broadly classified as follows:

—symbolic identification
—social identification
—cultural identification

All the above identifying aspects are usually merged together. Symbolic identifying marks like a coloured belt provide symbolic identification, but it also provides social and cultural identifications. Likewise, social identifying marks like martial arts badges also signify symbolic and cultural identifications. Similarly, cultural identifying features like lettering in one or two languages, also provide symbolic and social identifications.

Symbolic identification

Symbols provide further identification. For example, the colour of the belt identifies the skill level and the stripes on the belt identify greater skill levels attained by the martial artist. A black collar or black strips on the jacket or the pants identify a black belt. Extra stitching on knees identify a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) gi.

Social identification

Sewing a badge of an organization or a martial arts school, provides social identification. The badge shows the affiliation of the martial artist with that particular martial arts school. Besides the badge, even the fabric of the gi can provide social identification. For example, a heavy canvas gi socially identifies an instructor or an advanced practitioner from a beginner whose gi is much lighter in weight.

Cultural identification

Lettering in one to two languages show cultural identification. “Muay Thai” written in Thai lettering shows the culture of the martial art of Thailand. Similarly, “Taekwon-Do” written in Korean and English languages, show the spread of the culture of the Korean martial art of Taekwon-Do in English speaking countries. The fashion can also show cultural identification. Like a kimono-style jacket worn in Karate and Judo can show Japanese culture.

Other identifying aspects

General, specific, symbolic, social, cultural identifying features in a gi are usually provided by the fabric, colour, stitching, badges, and lettering. However, there are also other identifying aspects of a gi as follows:

—high quality
—ease of washing
—level of comfort

All these aspects should be considered before buying a gi.


Some other aspects are functionality and practicality. If the colour fades, or the belt shreds from the edges, or the stitching gets torn at high-pressure areas, or the fabric does not soak sweat, or the gi is not a perfect fit, or the full range of motion is restricted, or the gi is simply uncomfortable, then all the aspects of a gi are of no or little practical value.

At Pacific Sports, each gi is tested for its high quality, ease of washing, durability, and level of comfort. They are priced reasonably, so that they become affordable. Moreover, subscription to the monthly newsletter offers discounts and many other benefits. Additionally, items on sale have drastic price reductions without any compromise in quality.


  1. van der Steen, R. (2021). Materialising a Black Belt: A cultural analytical approach to clothing and capital in martial arts. (Master’s Thesis, Lund University). LUP Student Papers. Available at: [Accessed on 8 Sep 2022]

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