Not much can be confirmed other than Funakoshi adopted the Judo-gi from Kano Sensei, of Judo fame, along with the belt system. The earliest I see photo’s of the “gi” is 1924 at the Japan Kenkyu Club and a group shot with Funakoshi Sensei in 1924 as well. This seems to confirm the first uses of it. Funakoshi Sensei provided the Japanese a demo of karate in 1921.

I would surmise that this was the correct time span of meeting Kano and adopting the uniform when he actually set up a dojo at a University, etc. It is seen again in 36 for his book as well.

All in all the uniform we wear today is basically a Japanese creation for Judo and adopted to Okinawa Karate by Funakoshi Gichin Sensei, creator of Shotokan Karate. It could have migrated to Okinawa at any time thereafter by students of Funakoshi Sensei who may have traveled back and forth to his dojo in Japan.

As for Isshinryu, the uniform and belts didn’t appear to “catch on” until the late fifties when the Marines got involved heavily in his dojo and training. It was a Marine who gave him a uniform and a Marine who gave him an obi to wear, etc. but this may not be when he had one but maybe when he started to use one on a regular basis. Earlier photos show Tatsuo in a gi, i.e. there are pictures of Tatsuo in gi, i.e. 1954, but as to exact year, etc. it is still not verifiable. Other photo’s such as of motobu in 1944 where a student appears to be wearing gi pants. Itosu Anko Sensei died in 1915 but a picture of him has students apparently wearing gi’s.


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