Keikogi is the name of the uniform made of cotton worn in various martial arts (first adopted by those who claim of Budo), whose meaning is "training uniform" (keiko: training; gi: uniform). It is erroneously cited as 'Kimono', which is a traditional clothing of daily use in Japan which can be translated as "thing to wear" (ki: wear; mono: thing).
The keikogi can also be nicknamed as 'Dogi', meaning "the uniform worn in the way" (of the art of your choice).
It was introduced in 1907 by Jigoro Kano, and was later adopted by other martial arts. It was originally white, to represent a pure mind. There are since then models of other colors to differentiate tori (one that applies the technique) from uke (who receives the technique) in tournaments.
It is divided into three parts:
• Top jacket - Uwagi
• Bottom pants - Shitabaki
• Belt - Obi
Judogi and Jiu-jitsu gi models used in competitions are thick (made from a double weave cotton). There are also lighter models (single weave cotton), but practitioners from those fighting styles mainly use thicker uniforms as they are harder to grab and more durable. Jiu jitsu gi differs slightly from judogi by having tighter cuffs on the pants and jacket, and a shorter skirt (beneath the belt) to allow a closer fit, and to provide less material for an opponent to manipulate.
Karategi is light to allow better punches and kicks.
Aikidogi can vary in thickness. It has shorter sleeves reaching to just below the elbow, to help training from wist grabs, and longer skirt around the waist to allow to tuck the uwagi into the hakama.
Dobok is modeled on the Judogi.
Some keikogi models have a "cotton rice" structure to better withstand the grabs.
The practitioner who uses a keikogi wears also a belt that determines his graduation level.
Jigoro Kano was the first to establish a ranking system to distinguish the different levels of his students. In the ancient schools of Jujutsu, students were usually graduated through certificates written by their teachers ensuring they possessed a certain level of learning.
Kano divided his students into Mudansha (beginner) and Yodansha (graduated). The mudanshas wore a white belt and were subdivided into Kyus (skill level). The yodanshas wore a black belt and had their graduation divided into Dans (degree). The white color represented the beginner, as a color of purity and simplicity, and black represented the one who is filled with knowledge.
The colored belt system for the various kyus was created later by the British Judo Association and has been since adopted by almost all martial arts. It varies
according to the different associations but generally follows this trend (top down):
There is usually a highest dan degree that is specially reserved for the founder of the martial art and is represented by a red belt.