Greetings from rainy Brittany. What’s with the title Bagua uniforms vs rubber boots?
If you look at videos of Bagua online you are likely to come across people with a range of different clothes on. There are people who wear classic wushu silk pajamas. I think there are also growing number of folk clad in long, flowing Daoist robes. Finally, there are the people like me who aren’t wearing anything that looks like a uniform (ok not quite true, I have t-shirts with logos).
Uniforms do have some functions
In the case of Judo/Jiujitsu/Shuaijao and other arts that are full-on grappling arts the clothes they wear are tough. A simple t-shirt will rip very quickly if exposed to the forces of training. Watch pushing hands competitions and you will see t-shirts ripping all the time.
What about the robes and pajamas? These have two main functions. The first is marketing – they are a way to distinguish schools/styles so potential students can recognise them. Once you have bought a uniform, the investment acts as a tie to the school.
Secondly, you will associate the uniform with practice. Putting on the uniform becomes a ritual that prepares you for practice. While dressed in the uniform you are less likely to be distracted by the need to do some task, or the dog who wants to play and will stick to your training. Perhaps the uniform has no pockets for that killer distraction, the mobile phone.
The downsides of uniforms and robes
On the other hand, I also see uniforms as an impediment to training sometimes. Personally, I’d rather not need to change my clothes to train, and given where Iive, I don’t want to worry about getting my clothes dirty. Equally, if I’m training with partners I don’t want to wear clothes I need to worry about.
There is another aspect to the fancy uniforms that does not appeal to me. Often teachers use clothes to give an impression of authenticity and also to compensate for any lack of actual skill. Loose clothes hide body movement and tend to look more elegant. Sometimes I think of it like the ‘stolen valour’ people who dress as veterans without having actually served.
Finally, there is a cosplay aspect to these uniforms. Cosplay is an interesting outlet for creativity and expression but it is not something that especially interests me. Equally, I am less interested in students who are impressed by clothes and don’t look deeper.
There are no traditional Bagua uniforms. Back in the day, they used contemporary clothing. These days I do the same! I hope you appreciate my traditional Breton robes – perfect for genuine mud stepping.
If this kind of informal, practical approach appeals to you take a look at my courses where community and learning is more important than clothing.