Depending on your training center, T-shirts might be a standard element of your uniform. There are benefits to this trend: easier cleaning, a lighter pack and more comfort during training. However, it means you have to choose T-shirts that stand up to hard contact and repetitive motion as effectively as traditional martial arts gear.
Take the guesswork out of your decision by learning some manufacturing language. Once you're familiar with all of these terms, you'll know exactly what to expect when your new gear arrives at your door. Here's an expanded glossary along with a few tips on how to shop the AWMA online catalog.
You can customize the color, style and design on certain shirts. Look for these options in a pull-down menu near the shirt sizes. For example, you can print ProForce® USA T-shirts to represent your choice of the most popular martial arts teams.
Use the drop-down menu in the product description to see all the available sizes. Sizes are standard in the T-shirt market. A large shirt from the AWMA online store usually fits exactly the same as a large from another major provider of human contact sports gear. This is known as retail fit, and you might even see that term listed in some descriptions.
Besides size, fiber content is one of the most important considerations when you're choosing a T-shirt. Different materials have specific properties:
- Cotton: soft, natural, breathable and strong
- Polyester: dries quickly, resists fading and has high durability
Many shirts combine both of these fibers. A good example is half-cotton, half-polyester DryBlend®. This blend provides strength, moisture wicking and breathability.
Cotton Processing Methods
Beyond basic fiber content descriptions, you look for some specific terms that refer to the way cotton is treated before it's made into cloth:
- Combed: The cotton combing process involves running raw, farmed cotton through a machine; the long teeth of these commercial combs remove shorter strands of cotton, and the result is stronger, softer threads.
- Ringspun: This takes combing one step further by twisting the threads to thin them out and make them more even. Ringspun cotton produces softer, lightweight T-shirts; if you see a singles rating, that refers to the thickness of the strands: a higher singles number means a finer, lighter material.
Most competitive martial artists are familiar with certain weight classes: featherweight, heavyweight and welterweight, to name a few. You find weight ratings in T-shirts as well. The ounce measurement that accompanies most clothing descriptions in the AWMA catalog refers to the weight of a square yard of fabric. For example, the girls' sizes of the ProForce® short-sleeve shirt are cut from a 4.3-ounce jersey weave.
You might think that heavier fabric is better for standing up to the rigorous activity involved in human contact sports. After all, every punch you throw and hit you take puts strain on your T-shirt. However, just like with competitive weight classes, numbers often don't tell the whole story. Lighter, higher-quality materials can rival the toughness of heavier fabrics with ease.
Understanding the Construction
Manufacturers use a variety of techniques to improve the comfort, durability and appearance of T-shirts:
- Shoulder tape: This refers to a reinforced piece of fabric that prevents the shoulder seam from unraveling or stretching.
- Side seam: This means that your shirt is sewn together on the sides, and T-shirts made this way generally fit better than cheaper, tubular shirts.
- Self-fabric binding: A binding is a way of finishing an edge, such as a neck hole, and self-fabric means that the fabric is the same type as used in the T-shirt.
- Rib-knit: You see this term most often in the context of collars, and it's a type of fabric that has a ridged appearance.
- Double-needle: Double-stitched or double-needle construction uses two threads simultaneously to reinforce seams and provide more durability.
- Fitted: This usually means the T-shirt is cut so that it has a more distinct shape, usually for style or comfort purposes.
Shirt tags irritate some people. For others, these labels are useful, familiar or even lucky. Most T-shirts have one of these three options:
- On-fabric printed label
- Tear-away tag
- Sewn tag
A Matching Set
T-shirts are an essential part of your equipment, just like your pads, guards and gloves. Ensure high quality and a professional appearance by going with a single brand for everything. That doesn't mean you have to sacrifice individuality. ProForce® is a good option if you want to customize your gear. It has a range of equipment grades, sizes for adults and children, a variety of apparel options and plenty of colors for pads.