Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To Gi or Not to Gi...

Okay, now that I had made up my mind to sign up for the adult karate class, chickened out a few times, thought about psychiatric evaluation, and came to the conclusion that I was, in fact, still intimidated, but going through with the class anyway, I had to have something to wear to the class. I could just wear sweats and a t-shirt, but everyone else wore a gi. The last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself by looking different right from the get-go.

My first step was to look in the yellow pages to find a martial arts supply store. Hah! There was one store that was also a "fitness" store. It was about 30 miles from our house (which was okay at the time as it was "pre-$4/gallon gas". My husband and I took a drive so I could try on a gi because being a woman about 50 lbs overweight, the chances of me buying a gi online without trying it on first were about as likely as there ever being a Clay Aiken, Jr. (Hey, wait a minute, that is actually in process right now, isn't it? Okay, bad example. How about as likely as a Michael Jackson Jr…oops, that happened, too, didn't it?) Oh, well, you get what I mean - I wasn't going to buy a gi without trying it on first. Any overweight ladies out there will know EXACTLY what I mean by that.

So, we go in the store and there is one little section, and I mean a very little section of uniforms and a large selection of colored belts. That was it. Almost the entire store was exercise machines. Well, since gi's are not made of a stretch fabric, and my tummy is my worst feature, I needed a size bigger than they had in stock…or so I thought. The one they had fit but I was afraid at the first kick I did, the pants would split and I would have martial arts' first crouchless gi pants! So, they special ordered the next size up for me. I was disappointed because I do not get to try it on until it comes in. Heck, I could have ordered it off the internet and not even had to drive all that way when they came back in. But again, gas was a frugal $2.99 per gallon back in the good old days (aka: early 2007).

A week later, the new, larger gi arrives at the dinky little excuse for a martial arts store and we make the trek out there again so I can try it on and buy it if it fits properly. I open the bag and the gi that has been custom ordered for me is a soft, brushed cotton, and very heavy material. Did I mention I am a sweater? Not like a knit top - like a perspirator! So, I knew this was not going to be pretty upon physical exertion. I go in the hideously dirty/tiny restroom/storage room/janitor's closet and tried to put on this pristine white gi without getting anything on it. The pants are about 7" too long and the crouch is about halfway down my thigh. But it is the next size up form the next one down which was just a bit too snug. So, what's a girl to do? I bought it at a price that was a little inflated. Took it home and figured I would hem the pants, which I did. But because gi's are sized for men who are not in the least overweight, the legs are not tapered at all. So, the size I bought is really made for a 6'3" man because I took off 7" and the hem was so wide that I looked kind of silly. And let's not even discuss the top that was also cut for a 6'3" man. It looked like a bathrobe on this 5'4" woman! But again, what was I supposed to do?

Meanwhile, I looked at thrift stores, hoping I'd find a better fitting gi. I had read that people sign up for martial arts classes, but rarely stick with it. So, there had to be a ton of unwanted gi's out there donated by the former karatekas, right? Wrong. They may be quitters but they are apparently optimists as well, holding onto those gi's for when they "get back into it". I found nothing except children's uniforms, and I found a lot of them. (I haven't had to buy my son a brand new gi yet.) Eventually, I did find a lighter weight top that fit better. I paired it up with the heavier weight pants and the first incarnation of my uniform was finally "ready to wear".


Brian said...

Hey MAM (Martial Arts Mom)

So yea I just started I martial arts blog too!

I'm surprised your sensei/instructor did not provide you with a gi, or buy you one? Well I'm glad your doing well. What kind of karate is it?

Martial Arts Mom said...

Cool, Brian. Please send me a link to your blog. Our school is 30 years old or so but it is based out of a community center, but very reputable. When I was going through this gi ordeal, I did not yet know that the sensei order from Asian World Martial Arts online and gets great school discounts, so I - being "Miss Research" and "Miss Fugality" of 2008 (or any other year) stumbled through it on my own. Thanks for the comment and don't forget to give us the link to your blog.