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Our Uniform, Our Tradition
You may have seen photos from our trips to the Shaolin Temple in China and noticed that the monks wear a very specific uniform when they are teaching, practicing, or working out. The uniform we wear is different from the monks, but the tradition is similar: we wear our uniform as a sign of respect for our learning and our practice in the dojo.
There are different names for martial arts uniforms depending on the style and to some extent where you are training. For example Shaolin Monks wear a kasaya or robe, a Taekwondo practitioner wears a dobok and Karate practitioners wear a gi or keikogi. At Shaolin Studios we wear a gi for the Shaolin Kempo style that our students start out with, as kempo has karate roots. We also wear this uniform because of its broad recognition in the U.S. along with its durability.
Our uniform consists of cotton pants and top worn with a belt to indicate rank. Students who prefer to not wear their gi top during class can opt to wear a Shaolin Studios t-shirt with the gi pants and their belt to class. When testing however, students are required to wear their full uniform: pants, top, and belt.
Just as the belt we wear indicates our rank, at our studio uniform color also indicates special achievements. Everyone begins their training as a white belt and everyone begins wearing a white uniform. When students reach purple belt rank, they may opt to wear the black gi in recognition of this milestone; and, at Black Belt they may mix and match the black and white uniforms. Fourth degree Black Belts may opt to wear the red gi top while our Chief Instructor is the only one who wears a blue one. Senior Master Steve and Senior Master Lisa have gray uniform tops indicating their Master-level status and Grandmaster Steve DeMasco typically wears a uniform trimmed with gold.
Additionally, we’ve recently added one more uniform style. Jr. Adults who have been accepted into our leadership program may wear a special black uniform with red piping.
If you’d like to read more here’s a great article about the history of karategi: