Karate Dōgu


There are several items of uniform and equipment (called dōgu in Japanese) required for participation in karate classes.  These items are described in detail on this page.

The first of these items is a keikō-gi or karate-gi.  This is the essential item for karate practice.  It is constructed of durable cotton canvass in order to withstand the rigours of karate training.  The keikō-gi serves a number of important purposes.  It prevents soiling and damage to everyday clothes or workout gear that is not designed for budō training. 

Another item of great importance is the dental protector or mouth guard.

Karate-gi (aka Keikō-gi)


Karate-gi (uniform)A keikō-gi ("training clothes") or karate-gi ("karate clothes") is the fundamental item that participants in our karate classes must acquire as soon as possible after enrolling in class.  The karate-gi consists of three parts:  the uwagi (jacket), zubon (trousers), and obi (belt).

Although newcomers may participate in class for up to two months wearing normal, loose fitting workout clothing, a karate-gi is required for participation after that, and no participant  is eligible for promotion in rank unless and until he or she has acquired a karate-gi conforming to AAU and Seishin-Kan standards.

AAU and Seishin-Kan Karate-Gi Standards:

  • The gi must be plain white, with no piping, stripes, or other decorations.

  • If desired, a Seishin-Kan, KNBK, or AAU membership patch may be affixed to the upper-left side of the uwagi (jacket), approximately over the heart.

  • The uwagi sleeves must extend to at least half the length of the forearm, but not beyond the bend of the wrist.

  • The bottom of the uwagi must fully cover the buttocks, but no more than three-quarters of the thigh.

  • The zubon (trousers) must cover at least two-thirds of the shin, but not extend below the ankle bone.

  • Neither the sleeves nor trouser legs may be rolled up (must have a sewn hem).

  • The ends of the tied obi (belt) must hang at least 6 inches (15 cm) below the knot, but not lower than the top of the knee.

  • Female participants must wear an all-white t-shirt or sports bra beneath the uwagi (jacket).

The karate-gi must be kept clean, in good repair, and odor-free.  Anyone with an excessively dirty, damaged, or malodorous gi will be barred from class participation.

Dental Protection (Mouthguard)

Basic Mouthguard

A dental protector (mouthguard) is required for use during all class activities in which strikes to the face are simulated and practiced.  A basic dental protector, like the one shown at left, can be purchased at any sporting goods store for $2.00 to $3.00.  Most are designed to be heated in boiling water, then formed to the upper teeth before use.  Please be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions for fitting and use carefully.


Kumite Gloves (Fist Covers)

Fist GuardAnother essential item of dōgu (equipment) is a pair of kumite gloves or fist covers.  The type of kumite glove used in AAU competition is NOT designed to protect either the wearer's fist or the training partner's body from the effects of a strike.  Instead, the kumite glove is a targeting aid, designed to provide an accurate measure of correct striking distance during training and competition.

The goal of the kumite glove is to develop sun-dome, which is the ability to strike precisely one inch from the partner's body.  The padding of the kumite glove is one inch thick, so that a correctly placed strike causes the leading edge of the glove to lightly touch or brush the partner with little or no palpable contact to the body.

No Seishin-Kan participant will be permitted to practice any form of kumite unless he or she is wearing kumite gloves.

Groin Protection

Groin Protection (Cup)It is strongly recommended that all male students also wear groin protection in class.  In classical karate-dō, kicks are rarely directed above waist level.  The primary targets of kicks are knees, inner thighs, and the pubic bone, so the majority of kicks practiced in class are at roughly groin level.  This means that if accidental contact occurs, it will most likely be to the groin!

You've been warned!


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