Shotokan Masterclass 2011

Fortune’s favour is fickle, they say. This year Shotokan Masterclass (SMC2011) programme didn’t quiet turn out as we planned.

But everything turned out for the best.

At the SMC2011, we had seven guests from Australia, six from the Avon Valley Shotokan Karate (Perth) Australia and one from Goshin-ryu Sydney, training alongside our members, and exchanging ideas. We thank Ken Bainbridge sensei (4th Dan), Helen Bainbridge sensei (3rd Dan), Russell Johnson (2nd Dan), Samantha Douglas (2nd Dan), Jordan Turnoch (1st Dan), Andrew Ledge (6th Kyu) & Leo Pintos (2nd Dan) for sharing the your time with us.

From the 2nd of July to the 3rd of the July, the training commenced. The sessions we taken in turn by Azlimmi sensei, Ken Sensei & Helen Sensei, each injecting his/her experience and understanding of shotokan karate into the training sessions.

On the evening of July 3rd, a kyu grading session was conducted for SKA members. 14 SKA members who attended the SCM2011 sat (though there wasn’t much sitting done) for their respective level grading. Ken & Helen sensei graciously accepted the invitation to sit in as guest examiners, and expressed their satisfaction at the level of karate the students showed. The results of the grading are as follows:

3rd Kyu

1. Batrisyia Iman Himzal (SKA Honbu)

4th Kyu

1. Resi Nopiyanti bt. Joni (SKA Pasir Gudang)

2. Megat Amirul Syahmi b. Megat Razman Syah (SKA Honbu)

5th Kyu

1. Aliff Daniel b. Khalid (SKA Pasir Gudang)

2. Megat Amirul Sufi b. Megat Razman Syah (SKA Honbu)

3. Reksi Hidayat b. Joni (SKA Pasir Gudang)

6th Kyu

1. Hadirah Dania Himzal (SKA Honbu)

2. Amira Syahira bt. Mesli (SKA Pasir Gudang)

3. A’rash Amanie b. Khalid (SKA Pasir Gudang)

4. Julita Aisyah bt. Khalid (SKA Pasir Gudang)

7th Kyu

1. Faiz Asraf b. Saparudin (SKA Honbu)

2. Muhd. Darunnafis b. Abd. Halip (SKA Pasir Gudang)

3. Muhd. Izzudin b. Mohd. Effendi (SKA Pasir Gudang)

9th Kyu

1. Yugesh a/l Raj Babu

We congratulate the students on passing the grading.

On the 4th of July, the visitors (Australians) were taken to the Kota Tinggi Waterfalls for some R&R by Azlimmi sensei & family accompanied by Bro. Asmadi Ahmad (SKA Singapore Shibu-cho) & family and Bro. Faiz Asraf. We were treated to some very delicious munchies made by Sister Azrinah Abu Basri (herself a brown belt in Shito-ryu… once upon a time) and had a great time just fooling around for the day. The highlight (for yours truly) was a recording of Ken sensei performing the Tensho-no-kata at the waterfalls…. precious. The video can be watched on Azlimmi’s sensei videocam 🙂 on request. After spending the day at the waterfalls, the group headed back just in time to get some rest before getting ready for the 8.30pm class at the dojo. Again, Ken & Helen sensei with Sammie senpai attended the training and got to meet other SKA members who didn’t make it for the SMC2011.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

photos by Faiz Asraf

Overall, it was a memorable experience. Once again we thank Ken & Helen sensei and their team for sharing this wonderfl time with us.

The following are photos of the SMC2011 by Faiz Asraf on facebook:

Shotokan Masterclass 2011

At the Waterfalls [ALBUM 1] [ALBUM 2]

At the Airport



The Pressures Of Competitions (Part 1)

In the next few days, 19 members of the SKA will be participating in an open tournament. For the few, this is their umpteenth time on the competitive tatami, but for the most of them, this will be their first time.

Competitions (to me a form of test) brings pressure to all involved. For the coaches, it is the pressure of preparing the team. For the team manager, it is the pressure of getting the logistics (& everything else!!) ready. For the seasoned team members, it is the pressre of improving their track record, or moving up to a new category. For the newbies, it is the terror of stepping on an unknown tatami to face an unknown opponent, and last but not least, for the supporters (family members, friends, sponsors, etc)  the pressure of watching their team endure what would normally not be ‘civilised behaviour’ ; attacking an unknown person unprovoked. So you get the picture, pressure cooker all around.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of competitions.

But, it is a necessary evil. Though I do not like to enter competitions (personally, I hate the attention when standing in the middle of the tatami and having tons of people watching…… as an instructor, I hate allocating training time to train the few who are entering competitions , time taken away from training the on how to better use their body (& mind) in perfecting their technique and making each technique as a defensive.. and offensive tool at any scenario), it gives an extra dimension to a students martial art development that dojo training, no matter how intense can provide. We all like to think we give the best training, compared to other dojos, but the reality is, peer to peer ‘fights’ (for lack of a better word) among dojo mates (no matter how competitive) does not give that same edge, that same adrenaline rush we get during a fight (kumite or kata) during a competition. In a dojo session, we worry about hitting our friend too hard, or a kohai (junior) intimidated by a senpai (senior), or reversed, a senpai worry pushing a kohai too much. A smile or a snicker from our dojo opponent will also get us smiling.

This is not lack of discipline, this is human nature.

The dojo is not a battle ground, it is a place of learning, a school.

Then competitions becomes necessary, to test the skills of our modern day weekend samurai. Imagine this, a soldier spends his whole life shooting at targets on the practice range experience a different psychological hurdle when staring at a live human target down the barrel of the same rifle he (or she) has used thousands of times before. Lobbing a live grenade into a practice bunker is different than consciously lobbing a live grenade a group of enemy hostiles. Some handle the transition easier than others. Some, not all.

So there we stand, into the shadow of the valley of death (forgive my moment of dramatisation) either staring at an opponent on the opposite side of the referee, wondering what kind of fighting experience he has (or not), or, as in kata, staring inwardly, focusing all our will and training not to cock up our well rehearsed kata, ignoring the facial, body and verbal language of all those around us, so that we may execute our routine as hoped.

But before we can get there on the tatami, we are at the dojo, training. Competition Training, Squad Training.. whatever you call it. The focus of such training is not only to give your team a fighting chance, but a chance to actually bring back some faux silverware to adore the dojo walls. The majority of the ‘OPEN TOURNAMENTS’ run of the rules defined by the Word Karate Federation (WKF). So preparations are made to give the participants the best chance to win within the rules set by this organisation (the following view is made from a perspective of a Shotokan instructor):

[KATA TRAINING] Heian and Tekki katas for the most are out. Face it, no matter how brilliant your Heian Yondan or Godan, it can’t compare to the like of Seipai & Seinchin (unless your opponent performs them really badly). So you have to do the 4 Shotokan Shitei kata – Kanku-dai, Jion, Empi and Bassai-dai. In a normal dojo (my yardstick for normal dojo is a dojo that follows the JKA/SKIF style training syllabus), it’ll take sometime around a year and a half to two years for a student to have gone through the 8 kyu levels before to start learning the Shotokan Shitei Kata. That is, in this world where time is now measured in nano-seconds,  a long time for someone to stand aside and watch his/her ‘senior’ pack up their gear and travel to kingdoms far far away in search of glory and fame. What option is there left? One, the newbie enters the competition with his exceptional Heian kata and lose. Or in the words of a certain ‘life coach’ (whatever that means); gain experience. Two, the coach/instructor has to teach the relatively new student an ‘advance kata’ do that he has a fighting chance. Either way, they lose. I don’t know about other instructors, but my students, have been pressuring me to teach them an ‘advance kata’ so that they have a chance to win. And these students have still yet to come to grips with basic kata. So, to either keep the student from walking out and joining a dojo that can fulfil their needs, or to satisfy their own inner ego and to stop the losing streak and not be patient while the students gain ‘experience’, we teach them one advance kata. Then it snowballs, two kata, three kata……….. no matter the result, they both lose.  Soon the dojo forgoes the Heian katas altogether and other unpopular kata for having no ‘return value on investment’ and the decline starts. It is wrong to teach a 6th Kyu Bassai-dai or Kanku-sho?? It is wrong if it is meant to bolster the dojo’s competition chances. It is not wrong (my own opinion) if it is used as a tool to show the student the possibilities of kata training (lets face it, the Heians are not the most exciting kata on the Shotokan roster).

Back to today, I had earlier conducted a private training for some students heading out for fame and glory this weekend. 3/4 of the training was on kata (OK.. I’m guilty of favouring kata to kumite… so shoot me). I have a shodan, practicing Kanku-sho, Hangetsu, and Gankaku, a nikyu practicing Bassai-dai, Jion and Kanku-sho, and a rokkyu practicing Kanku-sho, Heian Yondan and Heian Sandan.

My analysis : the shodan has to get over his insecurities on what makes a kata ‘hard’ and just execute (not perform) the kata from the heart and not be too analytical of his kata, the nikyu has to push herself the extra 5% in all her moves, and that kata has to come from good kihon and the rokkyu.. oohhh the adorable six and a half year old rokkyu (didn’t I say that she was only six and a half years old??) has got to stop comparing herself from her brother and sisters and just enjoy herself in whatever she does. But kids just don’t get it when we say, winning doesn’t matter… what matters is that you give 110% when you step on the tatami. The bigger battle is with yourself. If you have done your best, then you have won, medal or no medal…. And children, heed my warning, do not stoop to plastic and robotic kata movements, noisy breathing and body slapping.. you know how much I hate those. Make your kata come to life.. heart and soul… better to crash and burn that to fade away.

Unsu by Yahara Mikio Sensei

I’ve got to stop now, the word count on my typing editor shows 1300 words and counting.. that is more that I wanted to do by a thousand.  Tomorrow I will digress (or ramble) on the effect of competition on kumite training and my analysis of the remainder of the training I had with three wonderful kids earlier today…. or was it yesterday???



Karate Symbology

I’m going to moonlight as the esteemed Dr. Robert Langdon (for those who don’t know who he is and have lived in a cave for the past couple of years.. God have mercy on your soul!!!) tonight and open a discussion on the influence of symbology in karate. Now, I will be the first to admit, I am not an expert on this subject, and only offering my two cents on the matter.

There are certain symbols, designs if you please, that has become identified with certain organisations.  Karate symbology is heavily influenced by Japanese symbology, especially the way they create their mon. So most karate symbols tend to be minimalistic. One of the most famous symbol in in karate has to be the Tora-no-maki (a.k.a. the Shotokan Tiger) a symbol created to adorn the world famous book of Funakishin Gichin O’sensei; Karate-do Kyohan.

The first thing that crosses any karate-ka’s when coming across is ‘SHOTOKAN’, Funakoshi style karate. For any clubs having this symbol or variation(s) of it are immediately recognised as advertising it’s Shotokan roots (note that I say ‘recognise as advertising’, not recognised as.) Famous Shotokan organisations carrying this symbol are Shotokan Karate-do International Federation (SKIF), International Shotokan Karate-do Federation (ISKF) and World Shotokan Karate-do Federation (WSKF). Oddly enough, the two most eldest shotokan organisations, Japan Karate Association (JKA) and the Shotokai does not carry this symbol in their logo. Which brings me to another example, the famous JKA logo.

The rising sun symbol is another famous karate symbol, representing the JKA branch of Shotokan. It is similar to the symbol of the Prefecture of Okinawa (below). Most offshoots of the JKA (especially after the 1999 break-up) carries a variation of this design. Okazaki sensei’s ISKF carries the modified JKA logo with the shotokan tiger in the middle (from it’s legacy as the American branch of the JKA). The JKS, WTKO, KUGB, FSKA, AJKA-I and WJKA, to name a few, are others who sport variations of the logo. Anywhere in the karate community, if someone displays either the tiger or the rising sun, they will be associated with Shotokan, and if the second, specifically the JKA.

 Other prominent karate ryu (school) symbols are :

*Shito-ryu (WSKF) / Okinawan Goju-ryu (IOGKF) / Goju-kai (JKF Goju-kai)

These symbols identify the school and sometimes the sub-branch of the school. Use of the symbol or variations of any symbol automatically associates the said group with the originator of the symbol, no matter how far removed from the original family the group is.

Variants of Shotokan Organisational Logos/Symbols:


Variants of sub-branches of Shito-ryu using the fist symbol :

*Shito-ryu Hayashi-ha / Shito-ryu Kusano-ha / Shito-ryu Shukokai

OK… what does it all mean? And does it really matter? In the grand scheme of thing, IMHO, not really. But some symbols, like the IKGA & JKA symbols are protected by international copyright. And the main point of having a symbol is identification. By displaying the upturned fist logo, members of the karate fraternity will identify you as a student of Goju-ryuha. So if you use that symbol and then say that you are a Shotokan student.. people will be confused… to say the least. So, when designing a club logo, t-shirt or poster, be aware of the historical and symbolic reference of your graphical elements. It will not only make your presentation stronger, but make your dojo branding strong and to the point.



Malaysian Martial Arts Community


Last Wednesday (6th of May, 2009) the pro-tem committee members (representing arts such as taekwondo, karate, silat, armed forces unarmed combat, etc) of the Malaysian Martial Arts Community (MCM) decended on the Ministry of Youth and Sports (Youth Registrar’s Office) to discuss on the next step in incorporating MCM as a body for Martial Arts.

Interested parties can contact MCM Pro-Tem President, Mr. Su Eng Kooi for further information or visit the website

REPORT : Shotokan Joint Training With Shotoshinkai


On Sunday (22nd March: 11.00 am) we participated in the Shotokan Karate Joint Training organized by the Shotoshinkai Karate Association at the Kelab Darul Ehsan in Ampang Jaya, Selangor. 11 members of the Academy (3 from our Johor Dojo and 8 from our Melaka Dojo) participated in the trainng with other karate-ka from Kuala Lumpur.


The session started with Ridzuan Sensei of the Shotoshinkai giving a brief introduction about the Shotoshinkai. Then Azlimmi Sensei proceeded with the warm-up session.


After warm-up, the participants went through the the basics of Gohon & Sanbon Kumite. Ridzuan Sensei pointed out the details and applications of the exercise. The participants then had a chance to try out the pointers that Ridzuan Sensei gave on each other.

Click below to view full photo album.

Shotokan Joint Training KDE 2009

Neil’s Article On Shotokanway


Neil O’Connor trained at our Taman Merdeka group in 2008. He is currently… to our collective envy… training at the Japan Karate Association (JKA) Honbu Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. Neil was training with the Karate Union Of Great Britain (KUGB) and JKA in England. Neil has written a great essay on his experience in training with some of the world’s best Shotokan instructors at the JKA on the Shotokanway website, one of the best online resources for shotokan practitioners.



It has been a great and eventful year at SKA.

This year witnessed SKA joining Yahara Sensei’s KWF and also new classes starting in Johor Darul Takzim. We have another great year planned out. Two of the most important events planned out this year would be the Shoto Camp & Friendship (May) and the Karate Kids Camp (December). Keep your fingers crossed and hoped that our planning will bear fruit this year.

We would like to wish all family, friends & members a Happy New Year and we look forward to more kisk-ass training… OSS!!!

Yaguchi Sensei’s Mind And Body Like Bullet

This book is a gem! Packed full of history, stories and information about the formative years of the JKA, The Instructors class, the formation of the ISKF and of course, Yaguchi himself. The book has been created by Catherine Pinch with a love and respect that is rarely seen these days. Even before opening the book it is clear that there is a tremendous respect for the man and his karate. The front cover featuring an original oil painting of Sensei Yaguchi, through to the testimonials, recollections and the thoughts of some of the greatest living karateka today, reinforce in the readers mind that Yaguchi is a man of vision, dedication and loyalty to the art of karate.

The many tributes in the book come from senior instructors with 25, 30 and even 35 years training with Sensei Yaguchi. Indeed some of these instructors have become his extended family and have even relocated their homes, their lives and their work to train with him. Such is the love, respect and dedication of many of his followers.

Sensei Enoeda in England received similar adulation and it is pleasing to see the great camaraderie and friendship that existed between Yaguchi and Enoeda. Early on in the book there are references to Enoeda and the very first picture inside the book shows Yaguchi and Enoeda together enjoying some free time.

The tributes given by Yaguchi’s senior students are honest and revealing and describe the many sides of Yaguchi as a friend, a husband, a father and an instructor. The humor, the fun, the instinct and the foresight together with the complete dedication to his family and karate all shine through and are touchingly described in the many wonderful tributes, stories and recollections made by his students and instructors. The book must serve as a wonderful reminder to Master Yaguchi of the dedication and gratitude that his extended karate family has for him.

Over many years one may train with many great masters of Karate, however, it is difficult and even impossible to get to know them on a deeper personal level. This book completely bridges that gap and the reader will gain a rare insight into the very special world of Master Yaguchi.

Aside from the stories, history and information, the book’s greatest strength is in its narrative style. It is hard to imagine that you are not sitting in Yaguchi’s own home whilst he describes in great detail his most personal life inside and outside the world of karate. Even better than a film or video the book allows a personal dialogue between the reader and Yaguchi himself, as he describes his early years in Japan and his later experiences and life in the USA. The book is a must for all karate students, instructors and enthusiasts. Get hold of a copy today!

(Review by Rod Butler)

KWF International Masters Camp Algeria

KWF ALGERIA CAMP with Chief Instructor Mikio Yahara on OCTOBER 24-26th

To all international karate athletes participating in the International Master camp in North Africa (Algeria) The Governor of Tebessa ( Algeria ) Mr. Harfouch el wali de Tebessa is happy to inform you that he will offer free accommodation and meals for the duration of the camp.

The accommodation will be about 5 mins away from the venue, in a luxurious Hotel with 106 rooms. Places are however LIMITED.

Please contact International Shihan Sid Tadrist with the names and numbers of participating so I book you in by the 9th of October.

E-mail Contact (Sid Tadrist Sensei)

Yahara Black Belt Blog

Our friend in the KWF Honbu, Paul Kallender-Umezu has started a blog that gives

 a blow-by-blow (literally, sometimes”) account of Honbu Dojo Yahara Karate on a weekly basis

on the training sessions conducted by Yahara Sensei. So member and fans of the KWF and Yahara Sensei not lucky enough to train with him on a regular basis can read Paul’s blog and see what is happening there.

Click here to visit Yahara Black Belt Blog


If my memory still serves me right, it has been three weeks since my motorcycle accident. No biggie.  There are not that many scratches on me, but the few that are there are quiet deep. The wound on my left palm has yet to heal and the wound on the right elbow, is festering again. I went to the doctor this morning to have myself checked out again. My cracked tibia seem to be healing well, but no jumping…. shucks… no tobi-geris… for a while. I try to make to classes and present a strong front. The biggest problem is my left palm….. some one suggested gel therapy to make it heal faster… and to keep away activity on the palm.

My scooter’s is another problem. Ever since the accident, the gears’ sorta stuck. It won’t go into nuetral automaticcally. But it still gets me from point A to B…. 🙂

I hope to full recovery in a week…

Choosing the right threads…hhhhmm…Part 2

A . Choosing your belt

Choosing the type of Outer

There are basically three different types of outer material for belts to choose from. Each has its own particular properties.

  • 100% cotton
  • 100% satin
  • Silk

The advantage of the 100% cotton outer is that it is the most traditional. The colour fades naturally over time and the belt ages beautifully. It also has very good durability and tends to tie better as there is more friction so less slip of the knot.

The advantage of the satin outer is that it has a nice shiny look and retains its deep colour for longer. It also has good durability and doesn’t fade or fray as much.

The advantage of the silk outer is that it is undoubtedly the best looking belt and is truly a luxury. It has a nice shine (but not glare) and ages the most beautifully giving faded, experienced look desired by many. Because of the delicacy of the material it tends to sit the most naturally of the three types, and is the most malleable.

Choosing the Belt Width and Thickness

This is controlled by the properties of the inner core. All three manufacturers offer a range of belts based on the width and thickness of the belt. Please see each manufacturer’s belt types for description.

The normal belts are of normal thickness (single cotton core) and are usually 3.5cm wide. The thinner normal belts have the advantage that they are cheaper and easier to tie and keep in place.

The upper range belts tend to have a double thick cotton core and are usually 4.5cm wide. The thicker, wider belts have the advantage that they look much better and are far more durable. Long term, they are a much better investment.

Choosing a Manufacturer

All major manufacturers produce the highest quality of products and choosing the manufacturer is again down to personal choice. This can be based on personal preference, club standard or recommendation. Many people will try to match their belt with their dogi.

Choosing the size

For the standard thickness and normal belts, I recommend using the formula:

  • (Waist in cm) x 2 + 110 to 120 cm (depending on if you want a standard length belt or long hanging belt. This can in turn be dependant on the amount of embroidery.)

for the extra thick and wide belts I recommend:

  • (waist in cm) x 2 + 120 to 130cm (depending on if you want a standard length belt or long hanging belt. This can in turn be dependant on the amount of embroidery.)

This is because, as the belts are thicker and wider, the knot tends to be bigger and the belt will hang shorter when tied.

Getting Embroidery

Getting embroidery done on belts is standard practice in Japan and very common elsewhere. It is the best way to show recognition of one’s achievement, or respect for ones style or associations (besides looking fantastic).

All these manufacturers pride themselves on their embroidery. On the special order made belts in particular, the belt is made after the embroidery is done onto the material. Thus the embroidery does not go through the belt (as seen on cheaper belts sold by other companies). This is a sign of true craftsmanship in the eyes of these manufacturers.

Each manufacturer uses a different standard font to distinguish themselves (but other fonts may be available on request). The standard colour is golden brown but all manufacturers can do a range of colours.

Regarding the type and language of embroidery, again this is based on personal choice or the standard within the club or association.

B. Caring for your belt

Contrary to popular belief, you can actually clean your belt! There is no need to possess an old smelly, mouldy belt in order to prove your dedication to training or your seniority.

If you follow some simple rules you can have a quality belt which will serve you for a long time.

Cotton Belts

These belts are machine washable though I personally recommend hand washing and gently spinning in a machine.

1. Wash as needed

You do not need to wash your belt so often, but regular washing is viable. Depending on your training frequency, I recommend about once a month for frequent trainers. In summer and humid climates it is better not to let sweat dry on it too often, so more frequently might be advisable. Be aware however that the more you wash, the more likely your belt is to fade.

2. Wash seperately on a delicate cycle

Do not wash with your belt with your dogi unless grey is your preferred dogi colour. Also washing with a lot of clothes will cause it to be tangled and mangled with the clothes. Satin belts may be damaged by mangling with the fibres of rougher cloth.

3. Do not hot wash

As with dogi, only cold wash. This not only preserves the colour of the belt, but also prolongs its life. Note: It is easier to cold wash by hand.

4. Use mild detergents only

Obviously don’t use detergents with bleach. “Hand wash” or “delicates” detergents are best and you only need a little.

5. Do not use commercial dryers or tumble dry

I recommend a light spin and hang drying outside. Stretch and flatten the belt before hanging out, but not in direct sun..

Silk and Satin Belts

As the outside covering is more delicate, I recommend only lightly hand washing with “delicate” or silk detergent and not machine washing at all. A delicate spin cycle can be used to dry the belt a little, before hang drying. See above.

Frequent wiping with a lightly damp cloth/towel after training and allowing to fully dry by hanging outside, will prolong the lifespan of your belt as well as negate the need for frequent washing.


Should you wish to ignore the recommendations above then, again, I suggest soaking your belt in acid overnight then drying in bright sunlight. I then recommend purchasing a new belt from me and repeating the process every month!

Choosing the right threads… hhhhmm…. part 1

A. Choosing your dogi

How to Choose the Right Dogi

A luxury dogi from one of the major manufacturers is an investment in yourself and your karate. So choosing the correct dogi is extremely important. I assume most people who are considering these dogi have karate experience, and are looking to replace, upgrade or try another brand of dogi.

If you are a beginner (or child) then I recommend starting off with the light beginner dogi and then investing in a more expensive one, once you have decided to continue your training long term.

1. Think about your needs :Think about what the dogi is going to be used for. Purposes include:

  • Top level competition i) kata or ii) kumite
  • Kata specific practice

  • Kumite specific practice

  • General purpose for everyday training

  • Summer training in hot climates

  • Winter training in cold climates



Heavy weight

Good for Kata, instructors, demonstrations, cold conditions, heavy contact training

Medium weight

Good for general purpose everyday training and where comfort and good mobility are required.


Usually beginner suits but also suitable for kumite practice or hot climates

Super lightweights

Ideal for fast action kumite and hot conditions.

They can also be divided by material type:



100% cotton

Traditional material used, has advantage of durability, breathability and natural comfort. In my opinion, cooler in summer

Poly-cotton blends

The new age material of dogi offer increased comfort, mobility, sweat absorption / diffusion and easier care.

Please note that the material grade or type used may vary between the manufacturers.

2. Decide which brand :Factors to take into account are:

  • Purpose
  • Brand loyalty
  • Price
  • Recommendation of others
  • Personal preference

3. Decide the size

The most important point here is to read the size charts carefully. Do not just go by your old dogi size, especially if it is a different manufacturer or cut. Also bear in mind that if your current dogi size is now too small, the same size will likely meet the same fate sooner or later. Remember all dogi shrink to some extent so you need to take this into account. (100% Cotton dogi shrink more than poly-cotton dogi.)

My philosophy is that since it is going to shrink, it is always safer to go bigger than smaller as something (adjustments) can be done about a bigger dogi, but if it is too small then it will make a set of very expensive dish-cloths.

4. Decide if you need adjustments or tailoring

Adjustments : As mentioned above getting a bigger size is always safer, however as the arms and legs may be too long, I recommend getting them professionally adjusted by the manufacturer. They make a small charge for this, but it is worth it as they will calculate the length that you will need to take into account for shrinkage. They will also make the stitching perfectly the same as the original.

If you require this service please write down THE FINAL LENGTH (in cm) YOU WANT IT TO BE after shrinkage.

How to measure : Please use an old dogi that you have and measure from the seam to the tip of the cuff for sleeves and from the top of the waist to the tip of the cuff for bottoms. Then make your adjustments based on that. Remember give me the final lengths you want it to be, and the manufacturer will take into account the shrinkage based on the type of dogi.


Full tailoring is available for all the dogi and you can see that there some exclusive tailor-made dogi.

Points to consider before getting fully tailor made are the extra cost, the extra time it takes and the possibility of errors from your measurements. I usually don’t recommend this option to the average karate-ka unless they have a very disproportionately sized body. However for the elite world level competitor or master then this may be a preference.

About shrinkage

According to the manufacturers:

  • 100% cotton dogi tend to shrink about 5-7cm (over a period of 2 years). This measurement is given based on the assumption that you do not hot wash or tumble dry (commercial dryers).
  • The poly-cotton blends tend to shrink about 2-3cm (over a period of 2 years). This measurement is given based on the assumption that you do not hot wash or tumble dry (commercial dryers).

5. Decide if you want it personalized.

Most people who invest in a top of the range dogi tend to have it personalized with their name embroidered on. This goes just above the label on the Jacket and next to the label on the bottoms. Embroidery is available in Alphabet, Katakana and kanji.

Not only does this give your dogi a personalized, unique touch, but it looks incredibly good. It also gives it a security feature, should anyone try to claim your dogi!

B. Caring for your dogi

How to take care of your dogi

If you purchase one of these high quality dogi then you can expect quality and durability. However, with proper care you can get many many years of service out of them. Here are a few simple rules to follow in order to get maximum satisfaction from your dogi.

1. Wash your dogi regularly.

Regularly means ideally after every session or realistically after every two or three sessions max.

This is not just for personal hygiene reasons or for the benefit of your co-trainers. Buy not allowing your dogi to become over-soiled, dirty or yellowed with dried in sweat, you will also be able to follow rules number 2, 3 and 4.

2. Do not hot wash your dogi

On the label it says to “COLD WASH ONLY” the dogi. This may not be possible in western machines but use the lowest temperature setting. Not only does this minimize shrinkage but it also minimizes damage to the material. Go easy on the spin cycle. A slower spin is less likely to damage your dogi. If you follow rule number 1 and 4, then hot washing is not necessary.

3. Do not use Bleach

If you follow rule number 1, this should never be necessary. Even blood / soil and other stains can be removed without bleach if it is done right away, rather than allowing it to dry for a long period.

4. Use milder detergents without bleach

If you follow rule number 1 this is very feasible. For stained dogi (eg. blood), I recommend spot removing by hand with a small bit of detergent or for heavy soiling, soaking a few hours in a lukewarm detergent solution, then washing as usual.

5. Do not use fabric conditioner

Fabric conditioner not only blocks the pores in the cotton material thereby locking in dirt and sweat, it also contributes to damaging the fibers of the material. Avoid using it.

6. Do not tumble dry

It clearly says on the label of every dogi “DO NOT USE COMMERCIAL DRYERS” yet people insist on using them. Not only does this shrink the dogi (reducing usable lifespan), but it also damages it such that it gradually becomes stiffer and more likely to rip. Hang dry your dogi (but not in direct sunlight)!

If you really really must use a dryer, then use a big commercial dryer (not home washer /dryers combos) and set it to the delicate setting and dry the dogi alone. Its much better to dry slowly at low temperatures that quickly at scorching temperatures.

7. Wash your dogi separately

If this is possible then I highly recommend it. The more room in your machine, the cleaner it is likely to be. Also there is no chance of colour-run accidents or graying. This may be obvious to most, but never wash your dogi with your belt!

8. If you Iron, do so carefully

There are people who follow the “body iron” rule that during the warm up of a session, their body heat and sweat will self iron the dogi. However, most people prefer to iron. Unfortunately because of the material of many dogi, high temperatures are needed. If possible minimize the temperature you need to use by stretching and flattening the material while it is wet, when you hang it. Hot ironing a damp dogi will make it go yellow.

9. Love your dogi

Independent studies (by a guy named Harry) have shown that the more you love your dogi, the more you are likely to take care of it and the longer it is likely to last.

The only time I would suggest hot washing and tumble drying is if the newly purchased dogi is too large. In this case a few cycles will help the dogi to fit with minumal damage compared to frequent hot wash/tumble drying.

For people who wish to disregard the above advice, then I highly recommend soaking your dogi in acid for a week to speed up the process and them purchasing new ones from me on a regular basis!

Bassai-Dai Bunkai

Last night 2 new students, Redza & Saiful, who are training to be cross-graded in Shotokan practiced their Bassai-dai. I emphasised on the bunkai of the opening movement. That practice took a better of of the hour. The Bassai-Dai they have been practicing was reather ‘unique’ and had to be tweaked to meet the requirements.