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  • Indigo or white?

    I just had a question about the color of Keiko-gi. Many of the beginners, well, essentially everyone has indigo cloths on yet; there are two people within the more experienced class that have white keiko-gi. I'm just a beginner and I asked someone about it and they said traditionally white was for beginners. Has anyone else heard this?



    I'm not going to go out and purchase anything yet, at least for 10 weeks until the beginner class ends - I don't want to cover up my footwork.



    Cheers!

  • #2
    Indigo.. I heard white is for woman or Japanese Police department(special department).. I just assumed you are male. Indigo is cool color !!!

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    • #3
      Depends on the school. Some schools set the white top for beginners. Most schools just stick with the Blue..But now a days there really isnt any real set standard...Just abide by your particular dojo's rules...Look at the whole Korean National team...The are all white, men and women... I would get the white for regular practice...When you are doing all the stretches, etc...and heavy work out...it picks up stain fast from you and the dirt off the ground...When you start wearing the bogu then it will start to turn blue...
      White really looks cool because you stand out and is a different look but its a pain to keep clean.

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      • #4
        White tends to be worn only by women in Japan and to be worn by just about everyone in Korea.

        Outside of Korea I haven't seen very many men wearing white. It is also rare for women to wear white.

        It may be helpful when making your choice to have an understanding of why white was introduced.

        My understanding of that history is that during the American occupation of Japan, kendo was banned. Then the Americans realised that they weren't being particularly successful in banning kendo and so they allowed people to practice kendo, but required the kendoka to wear white.

        At that stage in Japanese culture, it was shameful to wear white, especially for martial arts practice. I think that the Americans were hoping that the Japanese would not continue practising kendo if they had to wear white.

        The Japanese then decided that they would embrace the practice of kendo while wearing white as a show of inner strength.

        So, you can pretty much choose what colour hakama and gi you want to wear, but the fact is that most people wear indigo colour.

        Catherine

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        • #5
          wow, thanks everyone. Yeah, I think that when I do decide to purchase keiko-gi and hakama, that I will go with Indigo. It would seem really hard to keep anything white clean and presentable!

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          • #6
            white doesn't fade when you put it in the washer

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            • #7
              This question came up some time ago.

              It isnt the top so much as the bogu you wear. Obviously the aim is to try and look smart at all times. Its a "Uniform". Problem is if you wear a white top with blue himo you end up with a blue crossed line that does not wash out. That's of course you are "so" good you dont even raise up a sweat.

              Likewise white himo on an indigo top will turn blue.

              I know some choose a different coloured top to the hakama but I still clearly remember a friend/teacher who once turned up with a white top apologizing profusely that his blue ones were in the wash and he was so sorry to be dressed so stupidly.

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              • #8
                Hi! A sensei on another forum posted that actually all beginners (by which I think he meant mudansha who have been given permission to wear keikogi and hakama) should wear white keikogi with indigo or black (tetron) hakama. I think this is traditionally what one does in an "old school" dojo; the blue keikogi is something one graduates into after achieving a certain rank or seniority. But, at least at my dojo, everyone wears blue and I think the reason for this is that some people are constrained financially, you know, so it seems unreasonable to require everyone to buy a white keikogi only to have to purchase a blue one down the road. For pragmatic reasons, it seems more reasonable to just let everyone get into the blue keikogi once they are permitted to wear gi/hakama. So, I think the way this issue is resolved is probably dojo-specific and you should ask your sensei which policy applies to your dojo.

                Hope this helps!

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                • #9
                  Hi Ctan,

                  I have not heard of that tradition. From what I have seen, beginners wear a lesser quality hakama and gi - eg the tetron gi (of a colour chosen based on the above discussion) or a uniform handed down from a senior kendoka and graduate to a better quality uniform as their kendo improves.

                  Catherine

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                  • #10
                    Hi, Catherine! Actually, I got that info (old school = white keikogi for beginners) from Mizobe sensei of WestSide Kendo Dojo. I think he said this on the dojo forum somewhere but the forum (http://pub31.ezboard.com/bwestsidekendo) appears to be down at the moment. I'll check back in with the exact thread when it gets back up.

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                    • #11
                      I don't know where you got that one about the occupation forces forcing people to wear white, Catherine! White has always been a symbol of purity in Japan, this didn't change after the war. What references do you have for that? Nothing I've read about the period mentions it, nor any of the sensei I know from that time.

                      Basically you have 2 options when wearing keiko-gi/hakama - indigo, to use the healing power of the dye to protect you from cuts and scratches, or white, to show purity of spirit.

                      Many dojo have different rules about coloured keikogi, and it also depends on the area you come from. One of my sensei would always have most of the people in the dojo wear white keiko-gi in summer.

                      Its probably more from a practical point of view that you go to indigo if you begin with white - you'll be training more often, hence you'll need to wash a white one a lot more often than an indigo one, and they're cheaper, so good for kids who may not stick at it any longer than a year at most. Same goes for the black/blue polyester hakama, cheaper and easier for Mum to take care of. Remember almost all beginners in Japan are kids.

                      Hamish

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ctan
                        Hi, Catherine! Actually, I got that info (old school = white keikogi for beginners) from Mizobe sensei of WestSide Kendo Dojo. I think he said this on the dojo forum somewhere but the forum (http://pub31.ezboard.com/bwestsidekendo) appears to be down at the moment. I'll check back in with the exact thread when it gets back up.
                        At our dojang we do the same thing.. white gi w/ very dark blue hakama for beginners.. after about a year when they get to 6 keup they can wear all blue

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bodhisattva29
                          ... Many of the beginners, well, essentially everyone has indigo cloths on yet; there are two people within the more experienced class that have white keiko-gi...
                          You will be told when you get to wear a uniform. At that point, ask about uniform color, what is acceptable uniform color. About 99.9 percent of the time, you will not get your head chopped off for asking.

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                          • #14
                            Hi, Catherine! This is the follow up as promised. I can't seem to find the old posts I was thinking of on the Westside kendo forum (maybe they did a spring cleaning, maybe I'm just not finding the posts), but here's the info from their dojo website's FAQ anyway:

                            http://www.westsidekendo.com/

                            The Kendo uniform consists of the keiko-gi (jacket) and the hakama (skirt like trousers). Beginners should were a white keiko-gi and a dark blue or black hakama.

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                            • #15
                              White vs/ Unbleached White

                              Hi everyone,

                              From what I understand, there is white and unbleached white, which looks more like beige than white.

                              Some places that I've been too, beginners are encouraged to wear a bleached white top, or have a white stripe on the indigo-gi to indicate that you are not yudansha...for example, see the folks in the corners of the picture here:

                              http://www.geocities.com/covinakendo/2001_dojo.JPG

                              While uniform colors / policy will vary from place to place, I was under the impression that wearing all unbleached white was something for shihans or priests or if you have special conditions (i.e. physical disability).

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