There is no direct translation for the word “dobok.”
Technically, “do” means “way,” and “bok” means “clothing.” So, dobok literally translates to “way clothing.” But that doesn’t really mean anything.
Gi, which is the Japanese version of the dobok, is actually short for Keikogi, which simply means “uniform.” So, even if you worked at McDonald’s, you would be wearing a Gi.
The Koreans place a much higher meaning on the word “Dobok,” and so do we. To me, the dobok means “uniform that you train Tae Kwon-Do in,” even though the dobok is also used in other Korean martial arts.
There are many different kinds of dobok.
There is the cotton/canvas, polyester blends, etc. Some people will actually wear different doboks for different applications. For instance, they may wear a lighter dobok when they’re fighting and a heavier dobok when they’re doing patterns, because they feel like they pop better. Doboks are intentionally kind of baggy so that you can move around in them.
The ITF uses v-neck doboks that have a velcro enclosure in the front. Some traditional doboks tie in the front, which makes them a little more like Karate gi’s.
Traditionally, in Tae Kwon-Do, the dobok is white, although there are some black ones. The basic dobok in my school is white, but we also honor black doboks as well. We tend to keep things very traditional and not use a lot of colors. Since we are all wearing one, the dobok is a way to unify us as a school.
The dobok is symbolic of many things.
I tell my young students that it’s like putting your Superman suit on. When you change into your dobok, you’re changing you. By taking off your street clothes, you are shedding yourself of your outside influences, and by putting on your dobok, you are immersing yourself completely in the world of Tae Kwon-Do.
As you are putting your dobok on, you should be mentally preparing yourself. As I’m putting mine on, I’m not just putting on a shirt and pants. It is an important step in preparation for me to then go and perform something that I love. To practice something that gives me the ability to save my own life, if necessary. To do something that earns me the respect and admiration of my students, my instructors, and my fellow Tae Kwon-Do masters.
When I cinch up my belt over my dobok, it is symbolic to me too. In a way, I am locking things in place. My knowledge of Tae Kwon-Do, the years of practice and training to get me where I am, it all lives in that belt.
My belt also serves as a label to let other people know who I am, and everything I have done to become Master Gorino.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!