Some people question the use of uniforms in martial arts training, pointing out that in a real fighting situation you will seldom be wearing your uniform and that you need to be able to fight in other types of clothing for practical effectiveness. There is some truth to this, and it is useful for martial arts students to practice their fighting movements in other types of clothing and in fact in environments outside of the training studio in order to better prepare themselves for real conflicts if they should arise, but despite this there are still some really good reasons why we wear a uniform for the bulk of our training.
While being able to use your fighting techniques in any type of clothing is desirable, if you were to train in your regular clothes all the time, this would become very expensive. Many of the clothes that we wear day to day are not designed to withstand the demands of rigorous physical training. They tend to tear or stretch out of shape when grabbed or moved through a large range of motion. This may not matter in a situation where you are trying to defend yourself from an attacker, but if you regularly damage your clothes each week you will spend a lot of time repairing them or money replacing them.
The uniforms we wear are designed to hold up to the grabbing, tugging, pulling and repetitive large range of motion movements we put them through. The black colour also means that they tend not to get marked and stained easily.
Our state of mind responds to whats around us, including the clothes we are wearing. If we are in an office wearing a suit, we will tend to think and behave a certain way. If we are at a beach wearing togs, we will tend to think and act another way. Wearing a uniform helps us to get into the mindset we need to focus on our training and get the most out of it. I often find it remarkable to observe the change in behaviour in some of our junior students between the times when they are wearing their uniforms and when they are not. They tend to be MUCH more focused when they are in their complete uniform including their belt. The same is true for adult students as well, but perhaps not quite as noticeable.
We wear a uniform out of tradition to remember the roots of our martial art. The belts also help us to maintain order in our classes. When students are all wearing their belts they know where to line up in the class and it also makes teaching the class easier as the group can be divided on the basis of belts so that students can focus on what they need to be learning.
We wear uniforms to foster unity with our fellow students and to represent our martial arts school. This is true in class, and even more true when we become involved in performing demonstrations or entering competitions. Our uniforms, including our badges indicate where we have trained and who we represent. Students may begin wearing a uniform as soon as they like, but may only wear our schools badges after they have graded.
The Long White Cloud Kung Fu badge may be worn after achieving yellow belt and the Five Animal Fist badge may be worn after achieving orange belt. Other badges are obtained with further study and training after black belt. I hope that all of our students will wear their uniforms with pride and represent Long White Cloud Kung Fu well!