Kitchen Kimono / Keikogi
Keikogi (稽古着 or 稽古衣?) or dōgi (道着) is a uniform for training, used in martial arts derived from Japan, or budō. (keiko means practice, gi means dress or clothes). The prototype for the modern keikogi emerged in the late 19th century. The keikogi was developed by judo founder Kanō Jigorō. Japanese martial arts historian Dave Lowry speculates Kano derived the uniform’s design from the uniforms of Japanese firefighter’s heavy hemp jackets called “hanten.” By 1920, the keikogi as it exists today was worn by Kano’s students for judo practice. The Kodokan (judo headquarters) has a photo taken in 1920 that shows Kano wearing a modern keikogi.
Until the 1920s, Okinawan karate practice was usually performed in everyday clothes. Given the social climate between the Japanese and Okinawans during this time, karate was seen as brutish compared to Japanese martial arts which had their roots in samurai culture, such as jujutsu. To help market karate to the Japanese, Gichin Funakoshi – the founder of Shotokan karate and the instructor responsible for importing karate to mainland Japan—adopted a uniform style similar to Kano’s design. Over time, Karate practitioners modified the keikogi for karate by lightening the weave of the fabric and adding strings to the inside of the jacket that are tied to keep the jacket neatly closed. The jacket is also held closed by the belt or obi.
The top part of the keikogi is called the uwagi (uwa means “upper” and, again, “gi” means clothes). The pants of the keikogi are called shitabaki, which is the Japanese word for pants.
In modern times, one can find any color uniform. In competitive judo, one contestant wears a white uniform and his or her opponent wears a blue one. However, traditionally, the keikogi was white.
In English, the term keikogi is sometimes referred to simply as the gi, which would be an incorrect use of the word in Japanese. Often keiko is replaced with the name of the Japanese martial art being practiced.
Ira Hadžić http://www.WanderAtLarge.com/