By Blake Lakewood, March 25, 2015
The Classic Taekwondo Uniform or dobok comes in a variety of designs, colors, and styles, but they all represent a different progression through your taekwondo journey. Traditionally Taekwondo students typically wear a V-neck uniform; a comfortable v-neck pull-over top (a jacket) with loose-fitting pants (trousers) and a belt. This Classic Uniform used by the color belts, is usually in white and comes in several weights and styles. As a beginner most schools like you to wear a plain white uniform.
Typically uniforms are constructed from a lighter more breathable poly-cotton or 100% cotton canvas for greater flexibility; however the new preferred uniform material is made of a textured corduroy type material for greater moisture absorption.
Uniforms can be absent of any inscriptions or can be special ordered with the school logo on the back. Usually you can only obtain the school logo uniform directly through the school. Most uniform distributors will not add a custom logo for a single client and your schools logo is probably copyrighted disallowing them from legally adding such a logo.
Demonstration Team Uniforms are available in just about any color and mixture of colors imaginable; however solid colors appear more popular. It is not inconceivable to have the students name engraved somewhere on the uniform, possibly on one of the pant legs and of course the school logo on the back of the jacket. Demo teams perform choreographed taekwondo moves, usually to a musical track, at competitions, school advertising events (open houses), and school business exposure events (town days or parades).
Black Belt Club Uniforms
Some schools have special “deals” where you can pay your tuition up front for the classes required to obtain a black belt or the next level black belt. If going for a first degree black belt, you probably will get a unique uniform usually with the inscription “black belt club” somewhere on the uniform. On the surface, this appears like a good idea, except if the student decides a few weeks after you pay the tuition that they are not interested in taekwondo anymore. In this situation, you hope that there is a rebate policy because many schools do not allow a refund after a certain period of time has passed. Make sure to check your contract before signing it!
If you are unsure of your child’s ability to be able to perform the necessary moves, punches, or kicks required, then you should observe them carefully in their classes for the first month or so. For this observation period, pay the normal tuition and let the school know of you intentions. Be sure the school knows that you are interested in the special blackbelt club “deal” but you are unsure of the abilities of your child and you want to pay normal tuition for a few months. During this evaluation period, it is also a good time to pay attention to your child’s interaction with the instructors and master. If there is no spark between the master and your child, it may be time to find another school. After the observation period, if you and your child are in agreement that your child can complete the tasks necessary to obtain a black belt, then it is time to negotiate with the school for the black belt club tuition.
Some schools run special offers for a period of a month to three months where you have a reduced tuition and you may receive a uniform or school T-Shirt. This is also another inexpensive way to determine if your child will still be interested in taekwondo after this introductory period. If they are not interested, you have signed no contract and you can just walk away.
If your child is very receptive to TKD and can’t wait to attend the next class, then there may be an additional benefit to join the black belt club. Many times students belonging to the black belt club can attend as many training sessions (classes) at their belt level that they wish during the week. Meanwhile the student under the standard tuition may only be allowed x number of classes a week. Of course, this all depends upon the rules of the school and whether they even have a black belt club or equivalent.
Black Belt Uniform
An official black belt uniform, or Taekwondo instructor or junior instructor uniform, will contain a black collar or black trim around the hem of the top. These uniforms are usually given to the student after a successful completion of their black belt test. Don’t purchase one until you are a black belt unless your instructor or master gives you the OK to wear one. Your initial fist degree black belt uniform may contain the phrase “Black Belt” or “1st Dan” somewhere on the uniform. Typical locations are on the lower portion of the back of the jacket or on either pant leg.
Considerations when Purchasing a Uniform:
- As your child grows, an alternative to purchasing a possible more expensive uniform from the school is to purchase the uniform online or through a local distributor. Keep in mind, many local martial art warehouses or stores may allow you to purchase the pants or jacket separately. Just remember that if you purchase the jacket, the official school logo will not be on the back.
- The best length of the pants is when the hem of the lower part of the leg is just below the ankle bone. This is the ideal situation because the bottoms of the pants are not touching the floor. If the pants legs are too long they can get caught under the heel of the student and some unique non-taekwondo moves may result and possible injury if the student should trip and fall.
- If your child is growing rapidly, some parents will purchase pants several sizes longer then the child is currently wearing and fold up (or under) the pants and stitch (sew) them. This way as the student continues to grow, they can un-stitch, re-hem and re-stitch the pant legs to the child’s new height. Obviously, this is only an option for a parent that knows how to sew by hand or machine.
- Another option when choosing a new uniform for your child is to purchase a bigger size. They can turn the waist of the trousers over to make the legs a little shorter.
- When ordering online, pay attention to size / weight charts. Watch out, they may be in metric.
- If you go to a martial arts store or warehouse, don’t assume that the uniform sizes are labeled correctly. If possible, try the uniform on. At a minimum make sure there is a return or exchange policy before purchasing the uniform.
- Check with the master or instructor before ordering a uniform online. If the school is strict about wearing your uniform during classes, you want to make sure your uniform choice matches that of your child’s taekwondo school.
- You may have to make sure your uniform choice matches the association that the school belongs to (WTF, ATA, ITF, etc. ). Look for approved by WTF or similar in the ad.
- Some schools do not care what type uniform you wear during normal classes, but you may be required to wear your school uniform during belt testing. If this is the case, you can purchase your daily uniform online, or from a local martial arts store or warehouse without too much anxiety.