In-Depth Review Arawaza Amber Evolution Kata Uniform - by Ricardo Alexandre Da Cruz – 4th DanF ormer Brazil’s Kata Champion
ARAWAZA AMBER EVOLUTION REVIEW
Since I started joining high-level Kata competitions (and that was almost 30 years ago!), I had been trying to buy a high quality Japanese Karate-Gi. However, given Brazil’s financial crisis and the high taxes for imports, it had always been nearly impracticable.
Brazilian uniforms do have good quality, using good fabrics and nice finishes, but the cut is the major problem in most brands and none of them offers tailor-made service. A heavier-weight gi must be very comfortable in order to provide freedom of movement even after becoming sweaty from long training sessions in such a hot country like Brazil. Most of the ones I had tended to get tight and rough under the armpits, waist and thighs, to the point of scraping the skin.
After a lot of research I ended up giving up, but my good old friend and long-time team mate – 2 times WKF World Kumite Champion Douglas Brose – who also happens to be Arawaza’s number one endorser in the world – having a signature model uniform - and representative of the brand in Brazil, told me he was about to receive the new Amber EVO Kata Gi. I went on the web to look for info on the product and the new features really caught my attention, especially the Okinawan-style high-waist pants and the reinforced stitching, just like the top-name Japanese uniforms such as Shureido’s NW3 and Hirota’s #163 – long-time favorites among Japanese top-level Kata competitors.
Brose asked me if I could give my opinion on the uniform after trying it in case I felt any improvements could be made. I was going to write something for him only, but since I only have positive things to point out, I am publicly posting this.
UNPACKING: The Amber EVO comes nicely packed in an eye-catching white plastic bag with Arawaza’s logos printed in golden, brown and silver. The first thing that caught my attention was how light the package felt. I was expecting a much heavier load to carry around, but the Amber EVO weighs just like your regular medium-weight uniform.
THE JACKET: The collar has five lines of seamless, smooth stitching, pretty tough but soft for the touch. The Arawaza name comes embroidered in shiny white on both shoulders, with the round-cornered square logo on top of the sleeves. Arawaza beautifully embroidered their “A” logo in amber on the left chest and on the back, right under the collar – as determined by WKF. Both the wrists and the bottom of the jacket have 10 reinforced stitches, which just like the ones on the collar are very soft for the touch. The sleeves get slightly narrower the closer to the wrist. However, they are not tight and look great. The strings on the waist are made of a lighter, silky fabric and have the Arawaza logo all over their length – a demonstration of attention to detail – very different from the ordinary canvas strings that end up falling apart after a few tight knotting. It has the brown Arawaza Amber EVO and WKF Approved labels nicely sewn at the bottom of the jacket.
THE PANTS: Definitely, the most remarkable “evolution” on the Amber series.
The legs are wide and roomy, bringing freedom of movement for the legs. I was used to feeling uncomfortable when taking lower stances like Shiko-Dachi, for instance – for most uniforms tend to get tight on the thighs, therefore locking my knees and hindering my moves. However, the Amber EVO pants smoothly move along with you and the reinforced 10-stitch hem makes your stances look good. The extra inches on the waist are covered with a thin, vented quick-dry synthetic fabric on the inside, which enables sweat to be absorbed by the outer thicker fabric thus bringing the feeling that the waist is not at all sweaty, making it easy to be taken off after training. The string is made of the same fabric as the uniform, with high quality reinforced stitching. It takes a while getting used to the high-waist pleated design, but it is also much better to keep your jacket in place. Most Karate practitioners tend to pull their pants up more than usual so that the pants are above the hipbones providing a thicker surface where to tie their belts on, not having that loose feeling with the jacket wobbly moving up and down every time you make that otherwise “flawless” Jōdan-Uke. That is not the case with the Amber EVO, for the extra inches on the waist provide enough support under the jacket, making both the belt and the jacket stay firmly in place, while you can comfortably tie the string around your hipbones. By tying your belt over the thick knot on regular pants and the jacket, you end up with a very uncomfortable fit and some sore skin on your belly. The Amber EVO pants feel as if they are floating around your legs. I wonder why most manufacturers still have not adopted this design for their heavier weight uniforms. Okinawans definitely knew what they were doing when creating this kind of pants. Points go to Arawaza for joining innovation and tradition!
IN ACTION: The uniform feels and looks great providing freedom of movement. The light feeling and smooth fabric delivers a nice snapping sound that Kata competitors love and look for in a professional uniform like this one - without costing you an eye and a leg. Heavyweight Karate uniforms that feel like an “armor” after getting wet have always been common ground, but that’s not the case with the Amber EVO. It actually seems to fit way better after a little bit of sweat. My students who represent our city in Team Kata have also bought themselves the Amber EVO in the same size (#5 – 180cm) as I did. No matter how slightly different in height and build the boys are, the team looks much more homogeneous. By seeing them perform I could see the consistency in the manufacturing in each uniform.
I highly recommend this uniform for any athletes looking for a nice Kata competition gi, instructors and the serious practitioners who take Karate as a real Martial Art.
It has now become my number one choice in Karate uniforms and I am sure it will become the most used WKF Homologated Kata uniform in the world very soon. My next purchase is going to be their recently released Japanese Kata Belts. If they follow the high standards of this uniform, they will certainly be another pleasant surprise when I get my hands on them.
Congratulations Arawaza and keep up with the good work! You do have a new satisfied and loyal customer/ endorser.
By Ricardo Alexandre da Cruz – 4th Dan
Former Brazil’s Kata National Champion and PKF Pan-American Bronze Medalist, Brazil Inoue-Ha Shitō-Ryū Keishin-Kai Technical Director and Florianópolis Kata Team’s Coach.