How to Fold Your Karate Gi Like a Japanese

There are many ways to fold the Karate uniform.

Some better than others.karate_uniform_folded

Although I’ve heard horror stories of people who stuff their gi in a bag without ever folding it at all, I suggest you learn at least ONE way to fold your precious Karate gi.

Why?

Because it helps maintain a nice fit, keeps it wrinkle-free and makes it easy to transport!

Today, I will teach you TWO ways to fold your gi:

  • The first method is called “Shikaku no Gi” (squarely folded gi) and works best if you’re packing your gi neatly along with other stuff.
  • The second way is called “Maki no Gi” (rolled gi) and works best if you’re carrying the gi without a training bag but still want to look cool.

I actually learned these while I lived in Okinawa – the birthplace of Karate.

Check it out!

Explanation:

#1. Shikaku no Gi (Square Fold)

SHIKAKU-GI

Step by Step:

SHIKAKU-GI-STEPS

Instructions:

  1. Put your folded pants over your open jacket.
  2. Fold the jacket sides over the pants, then fold back the sleeves.
  3. Fold up the jacket/pants from the bottom twice.
  4. Tie your belt around the whole package.
  5. Put it in your training bag like a boss!

#2. Maki no Gi (Round Fold)

MAKI-GI

Step by Step:

MAKI-GI-STEPS

Instructions:

  1. Put your folded pants over your open jacket.
  2. Fold the jacket sides over the pants, then fold back the sleeves.
  3. Roll up the jacket/pants from the bottom.
  4. Tie your belt around the gi sausage.
  5. Swing over your shoulder and travel the world!

__________________________

That’s it.

Two simple ways of folding your gi – just like the Japanese.

Send this to a friend who could find this article helpful!

Good luck! ; -)

39 Comments

  • Andrew
    Thank you so much, Jesse-san! If I do anything, (which, sadly, I usually don't) I hang up my jacket and loosely fold my pants and drape them across my bag. Now, I have a real way to do it!
    • My pleasure Andrew-san! Happy to help.
  • Andre
    Thank you. Can you elaborate on how to tie the belt around the folded gi?
    • Hi Andre-san! Thanks for asking. It's pretty simple actually - make a loop around the gi and then stuff the loose ends through the loop. Hard to explain in words, but study the illustrations.
      • Andre
        Thank you very much. I will try when I get home and compare it with my current method. :-)
  • TWong
    For some reason, the images are not showing up for me...
  • barnold
    Jesse, do you fold your gi like this after you train? Do you wash it after every practice? I left my neatly folded sweaty gi in my gear bag too long and it molded! Now I still may use it for a few practices without washing, but I always remove it from my bag when I get home, hang it and let the sweat air dry.
  • Krissie
    Thank you. I will definitely try both methods to see which work best for our family. With 2 adults and 5 kids training getting the right gi to the right person can cause havoc. Have you any tips on keeping mitts/pads/mouth guards/groin guards/chest protectors together?
  • Kevin Cullen
    You are correct. Been doing it these ways for 42 years.
  • To further assist Andre: Sometimes simply looping the obi around the folded gi isn't enough. The loop loosens, shifts, opens up unless you are holding the belt ends and the weight of the gi keeps the loop closed. I make a square knot, same as when wearing my obi, which does not loosen or come apart. Hope this helps.
  • Krissie: Many manufacturers suggest placing the fist pads inside the headgear, keeping it from crushing. One of my guys inserts his mouthguard in a hole in the headgear. Footgear can be attached to each other, with the straps going around a chest protector or headgear strap.
  • Laurence
    This brought back many happy memories from long ago. When I began the study, back in 1967, I was too poor to afford a gym bag. The class was in downtown Seattle at the YMCA but affordable parking was about 1/4 mile away, so I simply rolled up my GI ( Maki - no Gi) and walked to class.I've thought, from time to time, about writing about the early days of Karate in Seattle. There were only two schools - a YMCA and a "Belts for Bucks" plus one invitation only private class, which I was later invited to join and later teach.In a lot of ways the 60's were happy times, although our ignorance of Karate was immense. I have spent many years researching our history and of how the information and teaching methods differ in both the 1960s and in 2014 from that of 1870.Laurence Lance Nanadan Matsumura Seito
    • pitoy ampil
      Lawrence, Just a side comment that I like what you mentioned of some of us having had to start with limited funds.... and I was one of them as a 16 year old with no gym bag and with even the cheapest gi one can find and/or even a hand-me-down judo=gi........ it was only much much later that I could get one of the standard crispy sounding ones........OSSS... Pete PS: and a domo arigato gozaimasu to Jessie
  • Michael
    Osu Jesse-san. Would the first folding technique be similar to this:http://youtu.be/dIWvR3pMQ1sWhich one works the best for making sure that the Gi stays crease-free. The technique in the video is the one I use but it doesn't do the best job as there will be a crease if kept in this state for 2 days. Or should one only fold your Gi in the morning before work? (PS: my mornings are chaotic already :p )
    • This how I have always folded my gi. Though I have the top of the pants a little lower, at the same line as the armpits.
  • Awesome article. In Wales during the early 70s we were taught the roll method, but the jacket went inside the gi bottoms. Personally I now like the square method! Osu!
  • Liam
    I love doing both. Especially the maki no GI.
  • Jabir karateka
    Am familiar with maki no gi, tnx 4 d shikaku no gi
  • Ian
    May I point out that the gi in the illustration isa) so small it is obviously for a young child, andb) being tied up with a black belt.I'm not sure if this means it is a well-folded gi, or the third sign of the Apocalypse. Hmm ...
  • Samantha
    These are both great methods! I use both, depending on whether I'm using my backpack (cycling to the dojo aka round fold) or my larger gym/duffel bag, which fits my spare clothes more easily (driving to the dojo aka square fold).
  • Shawn
    Thanks! My gi is a wrinkley mess because i stuff it into my bag... Im going to start doing this folding thing. Here is a gi tip from me: If you use a gym bag, put a couple packets of silica in it (you know the DO NOT EAT thingies in vitamin bottles or protein supplements and computer part boxes) Helps keep things from getting moldy. Moldy gi's stink!
  • Will
    A variation to the square fold method involves wrapping your belt a slightly different way. basically, you wrap your belt horizontally around the folded gi, and when you loop the belt on the other side, you wrap it vertically as well. tie it back on the other side, and your gi is secured on both sides. it's helpful in that the belt better secures the gi so that if you have multiple training sessions (I train Isshinryu and Jiujitsu) you aren't putting a funky gi in with a clean gi.
    • Adri
      I use the same method, eventhough my sensei told me it makes my gi look like a christmaspresent (especially with a green belt) :)
  • charles
    hey, jessy as is written in kanji "Shikaku no Gi" and "Maki no Gi"
  • talprofs
    Great article, @jesse -- so thank you very much. Maki no gi method taught to me by my first Judo instructor almost 40 years ago... However, very glad to have read this article, prompted by the fact that a novice at the dojo where I now study Karate has just purchased his first dogi. As his senior, it will therefore be my privilege to show him how to fold his dogi. talprofs
  • Arjun shetty
    I never knew there is also an method to fold our Gi, thank you for this simple but interesting article
  • Gage
    This is awesome! I've always been interested in learning these methods, but no one was ever able to show me. Now I don't have to carry a giant hanging gi bag to competitions and class. Thank you Jesse-san!
  • Ossu! Thanks! I saw the video a few days ago and have been doing the maki no gi folding. I love how the gi fits nicely into my bag now. Before class I put the gi on my bed to fold - no problem. After class, the fold is a bit tricky but I've found that if you can get at least the top of the center third of the gi onto a bench, it's do-able. There's even room at the bottom of the jacket for the sweaty underwear.
  • John
    I wash and dry my gi after every practice. But I wear heavy Gis. 14 oz Arawaza uniforms. Others I know wear Shureido. These are thick and heavy uniforms that are very hard to fold. i tend to hang mine like a suit. Will these methods of folding work for heavy uniforms?
  • Jesse. Years ago I learned the "folding of the gi" as if it was some sort of religious act. I self-importantly taught it to my students. Then I learned that it just encouraged the students to skip laundering the gi after every class. Fifteen year old boys need to be pushed to establish a lifetime commitment to good personal hygiene. I stopped teaching "the fold" and encouraged the students to just throw the gis in their bags and launder the damn things. It brings to mind the story from "Moving Zen" about the two filthy Canadians who preferred to smell as some sort of intimidation tactic.
    • @Bryce Flemming - LOL that is soooo true! Folding a stinky, sweaty gi fries their circuits. Subsequently asking them to toss the bundle into the washer is way too much for them to handle :-) You are wise to leave the folding of the gi "thing" to those of us who have to somehow cram everything into a small bag because a larger bag won't fit in the tiny little half-lockers at the community college :-)
  • usualtraveler
    Jesse, folding a gi at home has never been a problem. You have the space and you have the time at homeI would like to learn how to fold gi after training when I'm back in small changing room that's full with other karatekas. Right now I kinda fold it once and then roll it while holding in my hands, works OK-ish for pants and not-so-great for jacket.
    • @ usualtravler - If you can get the center third of the top half of the jacket onto a bench, you're good to go. It takes a little practice, but I've done this loads of times after class :-)
  • Hi Jesse, Nice description and illustrations of the two most common methods of folding a dogi. One thing I would like to add to that as it seems some people have the wrong idea is that this method of folding a dogi is for transporting the dogi (from home to dojo and back) only. it is NOT FOR STORING A USED DOGI in your bag until the next session. If it is soaked in sweat, of course it will be smelly the next time, and become yellow over time (which will not wash out) and in extreme cases go moldy. It will also ruin the fabric of the dogi. (See those yellow stains in the arm pits and crotch that never seem to come out, or the grime on the collar and cuffs which are equally as difficult to remove? where do you think they come from?)Once you transport your dogi home, you should ideally wash it as soon as possible in a cold water wash (after every session). You can "economize" by using a quick wash setting if lightly soiled. short, frequent washes are much better than long infrequent washes which will inevitably need higher temperatures to get the dirt out. If not possible or practical to wash after every session then you should hang it to dry in a well ventilated place. Do not put it on a radiator or on the boiler to dry as this will lock in the sweat, dirt and grime even more causing yellowing. I generally recommend washing dogi at the very least once a week if you only train twice a week, and investing in more than one dogi if you train more.
    • Hi Hamid-san, thanks for your useful advice! Brings back memories of when I used to order my dogi from you. Keep up the great work! Onegaishimasu.
  • Thank you Jesse San. We do miss you! (though I do follow your blog regularly, just often don't have time to comment)Ganbarimasu!
  • Novice
    My mother just showed me how to fold clothes better so I can make everything fit into my training bag (I'm bad with clothes). I showed her this article and then she said "It's just like how I did this except for the added belt" and then she grabbed a belt and showed me. Mothers <3
  • Graziela
    Sadly, since I have a judo gi, which has thicker material than a karate gi, I can't do one of these(I tried), but then I get my black kobudo jacket and my karate gi, I will do one of these or both! Thanks for making a post about it, Jesse-san!

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