I have just joined a dojo, and though I practiced martial arts in the past, I never needed a Gi for what I was doing. When I was researching Gi's I came across a couple references of individuals who provided hand-made hemp/cotton Gi. I was greatly intrigued by this, because not only is Hemp a more ecological fiber than conventional cotton, but it is 4 times as strong, allowing for a lighter fabric with the same strength. Hemp is quite stiff when bought, but gets softer with each washing, and because it is stronger when wet, it does not lose its strength after multiple proper washings.
(*NOTE: for those of you thinking about making jokes right now, Hemp fiber is absolutely THC free, and the only high you would get from smoking it would be from a lack of oxygen to your brain from holding your breath)
Unfortunately, one supplier no longer has a viable web-site, and the other (Ground-Force Kimonos), will not have a line available till summer. I believe in absolute practicality, and did not want more than one gi, or an outfit that could not really be used for any other purpose, so I did not order a cotton one. I kept looking, and found references for a suitable alternative with www.rawganique.com
. They sell 70%hemp 30% organic cotton "Hemp Yoga Karate Pants" (http://www.rawganique.com/PantsKarate.htm
), and a "Hemp Karate Meditation Samui E Jacket" (http://www.rawganique.com/Dept-Mens/...et-samui-e.htm
The pants run about $86 US, and the jacket about $74. They are sustainably made in Europe with no slave/sweatshop labor. They come in several colors, the pants with several sizes, and the jacket in extra small, uni-size, and extra large
I purchased both, in the unbleached/undyed cream color. They arrived a week later from Canada.
I have practiced twice in them. I love how I feel now that I have a gi to train in, and not only that, I love the ancient natural feeling of the material. I learned that summer kimono used to be manufactured from hemp till US post war pressure, so I feel that what I am wearing is even authentic to the spirit of this art that I am beginning to practice.
As to the functionality, the material feels extremely strong, like fibrous chain mail. I was going to line the knees before I started practicing, but i might not even bother. My sensei likes the material, and mentioned no criticism for me using it instead of a more common type.
One criticism is that the jacket (unisize) is just a wee little bit short, but not too inhibitively so. To let you know, I am 5'8", medium build for female, would be small build for mens sizes.
I also get fairly sweaty in it, but havn't worn it since I washed it. I think it might get airier as it relaxes. I also don't know how sweaty I would get in another gi.
My camera battery has died to never be resuscitated, so will post pictures in a few days...