Kendo Jackets or Keikogi is a uniform for training, used in martial arts derived from Japan, or bud¬_. (keiko means practice, gi means dress or clothes). The prototype for the modern keikogi emerged in the late 19th century. The keikogi was developed by judo founder Kan¬_ Jigor¬_. Japanese martial arts historian Dave Lowry speculates Kano derived the uniform's design from the uniforms of Japanese firefighter's heavy hemp jackets called "hanten." By 1920, the keikogi as it exists today was worn by Kano's students for judo practice. The Kodokan (judo headquarters) has a photo taken in 1920 that shows Kano wearing a modern keikogi.
Until the 1920s, Okinawan karate practice was usually performed in everyday clothes. Given the social climate between the Japanese and Okinawans during this time, karate was seen as brutish compared to Japanese martial arts which had their roots in samurai culture, such as jujutsu. To help market karate to the Japanese, Gichin Funakoshi -- the founder of Shotokan karate and the instructor responsible for importing karate to mainland JapanÁ»adopted a uniform style similar to Kano's design. Over time, Karate practitioners modified the keikogi for karate by lightening the weave of the fabric and adding strings to the inside of the jacket that are tied to keep the jacket neatly closed. The jacket is also held closed by the belt or obi.