Judo’s founder, Jigoro Kano, forever changed the world of Martial Arts when he awarded the first “Black belts” over a hundred and thirty years ago. Sensei Kano awarded two of his students, Shiro Saigo and Tomita Tsunejiro, with black belts in 1883, simply to recognize and mark that they were no longer beginner students. At that time, there were only two belt colors: white and black.

After that, nearly all, certainly most Japanese Martial Arts, started to use a belt system as a method to mark a student’s progress.  And popular culture went about creating a story, almost mythical, about the importance of “Black belt” expertise.

What I find remarkable is that the more important innovation of the Judogi is barely mentioned or understood. The belt, called an Obi, is only one part of the training attire developed by Sensei Kano for the practice of Judo. Prior to his development of standard training attire, Martial Art students would wear clothing common for its day, which in Japan was typically a Kimono, but they varied greatly in style and quality. When Kano introduced the first standard “Judogi” in 1906 it was comprised of three parts: Pants or trousers, called “shitabaki” or “zubon”, a heavy jacket called a “uwagi”, but sometimes still referred to as a “kimono”, and the belt, or “obi”, to keep the jacket closed.

The jacket is durable and heavy to withstand the hard training environment of the Judo dojo. Other attire is easily ruined and sometimes won’t even last a single training session. Of importance to us here in Arizona, especially to our younger students, is the extreme heat.  So, during the summer we enjoy a relaxed, more casual, dress code (Gi pants and Coach Decker t-shirt).

As summer in the valley draws to end, so does our casual dress code. It’s time for us who embrace the code of warriorship to again don the appropriate armor of our calling, the Judogi. I want to invite everyone to get reacquainted with wearing the Gi. Start bringing yours to class. If you don’t yet have one, it’s time to make that investment. By September 7th, wearing a Judogi will be required for all Mat Monkeys and Judo classes. They are strongly recommended for all adult Self-Defense classes.

Kickboxing students may continue to wear shorts and t-shirt for those practices. In fact, we now have Coach Decker Martial Art Hybrid Fight shorts available for purchase that are perfect for our Fighting Fit Kickboxing classes. These unique hybrid shorts combine the features, fit and feel of MMA board shorts and Muay Thai shorts in a single model.  The short cut and stretch panels give a full range of motion without excess material, which looks and feels great! This is a limited time opportunity, so order your pair now!

You can purchase Tee-shirts, Gi’s and Fight-shorts from our online store at coachdecker.com or in person at Coach Decker’s Martial Arts Academy.