Friday, May 20, 2011

Naginata Gi (Uniforms) and Sizing

The 1st-year students at my base school just got their Naginata gi (uniforms) yesterday (before that they just wore their regular gym uniforms). They were so excited! In honor of that I'll write about my gi.

When I went to my local martial arts store, a woman who works there just looked at me from a distance and proclaimed that my keiko-gi (top) should be a size 3 and my hakama (pants) should be a size 5. She didn't measure me or anything, so I just took her word for it because a) my Japanese isn't good enough to know how to ask her for measurements, and b) the store doesn't have a fitting room.

I think both are a bit too big. The keiko-gi is supposed to be longer than the side-slits of the hakama. Mine is, but it's also little baggy. The hakama were about 2.5 inches too long -- they're supposed to sit at the waist and fall to the ankle. Until recently I just wore the hakama higher up around my ribs, but I finally got around to hemming them to the proper length.

The obi (sash) goes around the waist over the keiko-gi and under the hakama. When I was at the store they didn't seem to know what I was talking about when I asked for an obi, so a member of my Naginata club was really nice and gave me an extra one that she had. A Naginata obi is 1 foot wide; it's folded lengthwise into thirds similar to how a letter is folded to make it 4 inches wide. I don't know if obi have sizes; you just want it to be long enough to wrap twice around your waist and then tie in a bow.

Every keiko-gi that I've seen in person is white (though I've seen some videos of people wearing black ones). Naginata hakama are always navy blue or black; almost all the ones I've seen in person are black (including mine). My obi is white, but the 1st-year students at my base school got black ones.

I wear a tank top and yoga shorts under my gi (and undergarments under them).  I don't know if those are the correct things to wear under a gi, but whenever I've worn them no one said I was doing anything wrong.  Once I wore a bra (without a tank top) under my gi and when I was changing another member of my Naginata club asked if I was cold, which is the Japanese way of telling others that they're not wearing an appropriate amount of clothing.

Here's a rough list of Naginata gi sizes, based on size charts I've found online adjusted to the length of my gi. Disclaimer: It seems like different manufacturers and different countries have different sizing systems, so use these only as a starting point and try things on if you can. Also allow for shrinkage if your gi contains cotton and you'll be putting it in the dryer or ironing it.

Keiko-gi are measured by the length from the shoulder to the hem.
  • size 1 is about 27.5 inches long (probably for someone 4'9" - 4'11" tall)
  • size 1.5 is about 29 inches long (probably for someone 4'11" - 5'1" tall)
  • size 2 is about 30.5 inches long (probably for someone 5'1" - 5'3" tall)
  • size 2.5 is about 32 inches long (probably for someone 5'3" - 5'5" tall)
  • size 3 is about 33.5 inches long (probably for someone 5'5" - 5'7" tall)
  • size 3.5 is about 35 inches long (probably for someone 5'7" - 5'9" tall)
  • size 4 is about 36.5 inches long (probably for someone 5'9" - 5'11" tall)
  • size 4.5 is about 38 inches long (probably for someone 5'11" - 6'1" tall)
  • size 5 is about 39.5 inches long (probably for someone 6'1" - 6'3" tall)
Hakama are measured by the length from the waist to the ankle.
  • size 1 (or size 22 in a different system) is about 29 inches long
  • size 2 (or size 23 in a different system) is about 31.5 inches long
  • size 3 (or size 24 in a different system) is about 34 inches long
  • size 4 (or size 25 in a different system) is about 36.5 inches long
  • size 5 (or size 26 in a different system) is about 39 inches long
  • size 6 (or size 27 in a different system) is about 41.5 inches long
  • size 7 (or size 28 in a different system) is about 44 inches long
  • size 8 (or size 29 in a different system) is about 46.5 inches long
  • size 9 (or size 30 in a different system) is about 49 inches long
Which means I should have gotten a size 2 keiko-gi and a size 4 hakama.

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