Comparative: How to choose your Aikido Gi (Kimono)

The different Seido models


Choosing a Dogi is not a simple task, especially if you are a beginner. Light-, standard-, heavy-weight, traditional cut, modern cut, original cut: There are many models and choosing the one that best suits you does not only depend on the thickness of the fabric! Here we will discuss the different Seido models, fully representative of all the existing “Made in Japan” Aikido Gi. However, low-end Dogi made outside of Japan are not to be part of the topic.


Seido Super High End Aikidogi WA800

Let us start with an important point. In this comparison we will mainly use the word “Aikido Gi”. “Gi” in Japanese means “clothing”, while “Kimono” is the traditional Japanese garment often worn for ceremonies. The term “Aikido Kimono” has been improperly used in the west for decades and it is now difficult to correct this error. It is also possible to use the term “Keikogi” (meaning work/practice clothes) Dogi (clothing of the way) or Aikido Gi (clothing of Aikido), but not “Aikido Kimono” which does not make sense in Japanese. Indeed, who would wear a traditional silk Kimono for martial art’s practice?! (This said, let’s be honest: O’Sensei did! But that is another story.) In short, from now on “Aikido Kimono” => “Aikidogi” !

§ Some background on Aikido Gi

The Aikidogi was created and its present form defined in the 60s by a famous Japanese brand still active today, originally specialized in Judo equipment. The Aikido Gi was created following consultation with the teachers of the Hombu Dojo at that time. However, we should keep in mind the technical limitations and the needs of the practitioners back then. This famous brand being initially a famous Judogi maker at the time (they no longer work in this field), the result was the “traditional” cut that can still be found under several brands, including Seido, but actually very close to the Judogi cut (the old/traditional Judogi cut). For decades this cut has not changed even though the needs and the morphology of the practitioners did. Meanwhile, other models were created by different companies, often with little background to work with, based on a very limited number of opinions and no real expertise. Aikido is a non competitive sport and there is no sponsorship system. The manufacturing of Aikido equipment does not interest many people and there is no large-scale study on the body type or the needs of the practitioners. Today, Seido is trying to make a difference, by collecting opinions from various existing groups, but the problems remain largely the same. The manufacturing of Aikido equipment does not enjoy the same means as that of Judo, Karate or other competitive disciplines.

Former Aikido Gi, handmade, not existing anymore

Former Aikido Gi/Judo Gi, fully hand-woven: Why does this not exist anymore in Japan?

§ What type (weight) for my practice?

There are broadly three types of Aikido Gi:

The models called “light-weight” or “ultra-light-weight” for hot regions or travelling. The Japanese summer with temperatures up to 40°C and a humidity of 90%, a lack of air-conditioning in most Dojos, one can easily understand the success of these models here. They are also popular among practitioners who go to seminars often. Light because of the reduced thickness of the fabric, they also absorb less sweat and are therefore also lighter to carry after practice. Further, they dry quickly.
However, often criticized is the lack of solidity. This is true to a certain degree, but the Japanese fabrics are of excellent quality as is the type of weaving, especially designed to make the fabric as resistant as possible given its finesse.

The models called “standard” or “classic” are usually made of “rice grain weaving” (Sashiko) fabric, single layer (Hitoesashi) with a “diamond weaving” (Hishisashi) fabric on the lower part. Its general appearance is almost identical to that of a Judogi. Neither especially light nor heavy, these models are very versatile and therefore often recommended for beginners and actually worn by the vast majority of the Japanese practitioners. Japanese Judo equipment makers don’t manufacture any single layer Dogi nowadays, and made in Japan single layer Gi are basically only produced for Aikidoists.

The “heavyweight” or “super-heavyweight”models are also made of “rice grain weaving” (Sashiko) fabric and a “diamond weaving” (Hishisashi) fabric on the lower part, but double-layered (double weaving to be precise or Futaesashi), (which is the reason for its heavy weight), and with a cut very close to that of the Judogi of top brands like Mizuno or KuSakura. These heavy-weight models are often called “Senshuyo” (competitor) or “Shihanyo” (for Shihan, teachers). Naming them “competitor” does not really make sense in Aikido, but the “Shihan” models are often extremely thick and heavy, with a vertical back-seam (rather unpleasant for Ukemi).

Light Weight Aikidogi Seido KS200 (Aiki)

Light Weight Aikidogi Seido KS200 (Aiki)

(By the way, it is a running joke among practitioners to say: “Shihanyo! – for those who do not practice Ukemi anymore!”).
Rarely favored in Japan, these models are still popular with western practitioners. This is probably due to the fact that before the arrival of the “Made in Japan” Aikidogi on the international market, everyone wore heavy and thick Judogi and many practitioners still wear them today.

Why choose a light- or semi- over a heavy-weight model?

For the Aikido practice, or at least in our opinion, it is desirable to at least have the possibility to let your trainings partner strongly grasp your Dogi in order to perform a correct technique. The Judogi on the other hand are not only thick and stiff but also rough, especially designed to make seizures as difficult as possible during competitions.
However, note that the WA800 Extra-Soft Aikidogi (Double Layer) is treated with a biomass flow-through solution that makes the Dogi ultra soft and very pleasant to the touch.
The lightweight models are considered for the practice during summer, warm areas and for practitioners who travel a lot and need to carry 2 or 3 jackets in their suitcase.

§ Concerning the cut

Two major elements have to be considered. The first: the length of the jacket and sleeves, and the second: the width of the jacket (and further the vertical back seam):

As indicated in the short historical summery at the beginning of the article, the so called “traditional” cut is based on the Judogi cut and thus very wide and with sleeves covering the wrists but with a relatively short jacket. The AS200, WA300 and WA600 models are based on this cut, respecting the tradition, but from our point of view it is not what is best and most adapted for Aikido. Our team is still trying to figure out what a “real” Aikidogi designed especially for Aikidoka could and should be like.

The Aikidogi labelled “New Aikido Cut” are models with shortened sleeves, lengthened jacket and whenever possible without back seam. This goes for the AS100 (rice grain weaving, single-layer), AS250 (identical to the AS200 fabric), Aiki (super lightweight) models. These Dogi are generally for rather skinny practitioners.

The second point concerns therefore the width of the jacket and in particular the presence or absence of a vertical back seam. What you should know however, is that the back seam also has its advantages. It allows a straighter cut (not necessarily thinner), they generally fit better and adapt more easily to all body types. On the other hand we do not recommend it for double-layer models regarding the discomfort during falls. Thus, the double-layer “semi-heavy” has no back seam. This is also the case for the AS100 and AS250 models, both single layer, and the lightweight Aiki KS200 model.
To eliminate the “puffed” effect on the trunk , we tried various combinations of modifications. The Aiki and the AS100 models therefore have a thinner cut (slim cut) than all the other models.

To summarize: In Aikido we generally need shorter sleeves, a longer jacket that stays in the Hakama and especially a jacket not too wide. Judoka are on average 10 kg heavier than their ideal weight, but this is not the case for most Aikidoka who may consider their “traditional cut” jacket as too large.
All of this, of course, is in the end a matter of personal taste.

§ Concerning the pants

In Aikido, the choice of the pants also needs to be discussed. Indeed, because of the Suwariwaza (kneeling) practice and the falls, the pants “suffer” much more than in most other martial arts. We therefore recommend pants that have not only reinforced knee patch but are doubled from thighs to ankles, ensuring maximum durability on all sensitive parts of the pants. That said, it is difficult to achieve “super light” pants.

In the Seido catalog, the pants that are offered with the models AS200, AS250, WA300, WA600 and WA800 are classic, 100% cotton, reinforced from thighs to ankles. Even the pants of the AS100 entry model set designed for beginners features the same characteristics. Although the pants of the Aiki model are made based on the same principle regarding the reinforcement, we are using the same fabric as that for the jacket. The pants are still relatively heavy but dry faster.

Reinforced Aikido Pants AS200 Seido

Classic Aikido Pants – Biotech AS200

§ Comparison of the different Seido models

Klick on the name of the model to directly get to the product description on SeidoShop.


Aikido Gi comparative according to its use and material
Model Material/Weight Durability Drying Cup Pricing
Aikido Gi “Aiki”
KS200
100% Coton
Light-Weight
** **** New Aikido Cut
No back seam
***
Standard Single Layer Aikido Gi
AS100
100% Coton
Standard weight
*** *** New Aikido Cut
No back seam
**
Deluxe Single Layer Aikidogi
AS200
100% Coton
Standard weight
*** *** Traditional cut
With back seam
***
Deluxe Single Layer Aikido Gi “Slim Cut”
AS250
100% Coton
Standard weight
*** *** New Aikido Cut
No back seam
***
Classic Double Layer Aikido Gi
WA300
100% Coton
Heavy-weight
**** ** Traditional cut
No back seam
****
Deluxe Double Layer Aikido Gi
WA600
100% Coton
Extra heavy weight, double sewing
***** * Traditional cut
with back seam
*****
Deluxe Extra-Soft Double Layer Aikido Gi
WA800
100% Coton
Extra heavy-weight, extra soft treatment
***** * Traditional cut
With back seam
*****

How to choose your size

The choice of your size depends on two factors.Your size (height) but also your body type, and your weight in general.

If you are at or under your ideal weight (e.g. less than 70 kg : 180 cm) you may consider taking a half -size smaller than what is indicated on the size chart.

If you are around or above your ideal weight, (e.g. more than 90 kg : 180 cm) it is the opposite, you might opt for a half-size bigger.

It is true that the cotton models shrink, but this is taken into account in the recommended sizes on the size chart. However, the detailed measurements (digits) are the measurements of the workshop output (shrinkage not included). The shrinkage is indicated for every product on the “product details”.

Detailed size charts with the measurements (digits) of the workshop output are available for every product on the “product details” of SeidoShop.com

Detailed measurements for Seido Aikido Gi

Detailed measurements for Seido Aikido Gi.

Concerning the pricing

Prices vary according to three factors. The cost of the fabric, the cost of labor and the size (which is related to the other two factors), not to mention the exchange rate, as our prices are fixed in YEN.
Japan is a developed country, therefore the cost of labor is relatively high. Moreover, Japan’s geographical limitation makes the cotton expensive. In return, the quality of the equipment is unique, thanks to a decades-old expertise of the workshops and a long history of cotton fabric production in the Aichi region.

However, buying a “Japanese” product, truly and a 100% “Made in Japan” is a consumer choice. As a Aikido practitioner, sensitized to a certain ethical standard, you may ask yourself the question: “How/who and what are the conditions under which I want my equipment to be manufactured of?”