Originally published on 20JAN2011 for Examiner.com
K&B, LLC co-owner and instructor Don Alley is a martial arts, personal protection, and emergency preparedness writer. Many of his articles originally appeared in Examiner.com. As these articles are able to be retrieved from old web caches, they will be posted here.
Martial artists tend to look at their clothing a bit differently than others. The practice in the dojo with a dedicated uniform (called a dogi), is a traditional rationale that ensures neatness, safety, and uniform training, such as lapel grab techniques. It also help ensure student safety in the case of jewelry or other accessories that may cause cuts, strangles, or other injury. Once off the mats, many martial artists look for qualities in their clothes that are similar to a dogi.
Allowing for a full range of motion is important, especially with kicking arts. Martial artists look for looser fitting clothing, pants with gusseted crotches, and durable but lightweight fabric to withstand the rigors of a fight. When clothes become too restrictive, it can impede the ability to use a technique or throw a useful kick. One’s clothing should not be on the side of an assailant.
For footwear, light athletic style shoes are preferred, which will help protect the feet but still allow for the speed necessary to launch kicks or perform footwork. Of course, traction plays an important part of this. When dress shoes must be worn, it is beneficial to look for something that can serve as well as an athletic shoe. More and more men’s dress shoes are adopting athletic type soles and treads. Women, though, have a hard time finding shoes that offer function as well as fashion.
Many martial artists have a few items they choose to carry as well, and having extra pockets, or easily accessible compartments helps a lot. Of course, having multiple pockets is a great way to ensure having multiple defense mechanisms, so if one finds themselves in some type of pin or hold, there is always something accessible. Carrying stuff in a bag, backpack, satchel, or purse is asking for trouble, as these items can be readily removed, or forgotten. It’s best to have one’s protection items on-body carried.
For men, cargo pants come in a variety of styles now, from very baggy and casual to an almost Docker-esque business casual style. Add in a regular polo shirt, and decent casual shoes, and the martial artist dressed as such can be ready for an altercation without fear he will be limited or restricted by clothing choices.
Women have it a bit harder, but dressier slacks and finding a decent flat style shoe is possible.
So, when clothes shopping, keep your requirements in mind. Ensure all the tools you train with are available to you, and consider what, if any, limitations the clothing considered will bring.