Dragon Associates Inc.
Belt Embroidery & How we do it!
The very best quality
Japanese karate belt Embroidery
From Dragon Associates
We only embroider karate belts and uniforms and after 20 years we are really good at it!
In 1964, the Tajima Company of Nagoya, Japan, developed the industrial embroidery machine to embroider ladies’ formal kimono sashes (obi), as the cost of hand embroidery had become prohibitive. We took advantage of this technological breakthrough to overcome the long-standing problem of defacing karate belts by oversewing the embroidery design when assembling the belt.
Originally, the machine operator would guide the single layer of belt cover fabric through a swing-needle sewing machine with both hands to produce an embroidered design, “by eye.” He controlled machine speed with his left foot and the width of the zig-zag with a pad operated by his right knee. This needed skill and a great deal of experience. It was also impossible to correct anything if a mistake was made. Additionally, the black belt fabric would often show through the (gold or red) embroidery thread, spoiling the effect entirely.
In 1975 we became the British national distributor for the Tokaido company while their uniforms were still being made in Japan, and soon afterwards, their second-largest foreign distributor. As we have always been 50% Japanese-owned, we started importing custom-made embroidered belts from Tokaido around 1978. Unfortunately, they took a long time to arrive, they were costly, and the factory still did not have the commercial machines capable of embroidering all the way through the belt.
We decided to “do-it-ourselves” and spent months researching but found no answers. The new computer-controlled embroidery machines did not have the large Japanese fonts we needed, and what computer software there was tended to be primitive and very expensive. Custom embroidery, we discovered, was a secretive world, and the inhabitants wanted it to stay that way to limit choice and maximize their jncomes!
Coming from a graphics/book publishing background, we were able to modify existing, stable software to meet our needs. Then we reference point scanned hundreds of characters in the Japanese ‘alphabet” by hand, creating a collection of around 2,500 images in two distinct fonts at about double the size of our largest anticipated work output. After a certain amount of tweaking, we found the right combination of stitch density, sewing speed and thread tensions that gave excellent results consistently when using the very best materials.
We soon determined that to produce truly superior Japanese karate embroidery we needed to:
…buy the biggest and best Japanese made, multi-needle industrial embroidery sewing machine available, in our case from Tajima Industries, Nagoya, Japan the inventors of the automatic embroidery machine.
…train our Japanese speaking staff to use the proprietary software we had developed to individually digitize our own Japanese characters and designs in order to optimize their quality regardless of their reproduction size.
…never compromise on embroidery materials-therefore we use only German made Madera threads and Groz-Beckert needles that cost as much as 300% more than those of other makers.
Every belt is a custom project
You Work Exclusively with your own embroiderer
You worked hard for that belt, wear it with pride!
2. Go to our embroidery section and choose the type, color and location of the embroidery you need.If the design are the same length, we can remove the belt label for a small extra charge.
Remember that embroidery looks best when it starts around 2” from the belt tip and ends around two inches from where the belt is tied into a knot, If you decide to embroider both sides of your belt, order the designs separately and remember that it will look best if the shorter of the two embroidered designs goes on the end where the label is sewn.
3. When you have submitted your order, please call us on 818 889 3856 so we can discuss the layout with you so we produce exactly the belt that you want.
get to know Your Embroidery Consultant
Listen to our Advice
Different dojo may have suggestions they would like you to follow, so ask before ordering embroidered belts or uniforms. However, the belief that embroidery is not allowed is a fallacy.I have never trained at or even heard of a legitimate dojo where embroidery is banned.
Don’t try DIY and use a dictionary. Japanese is a very different language from English and things can go badly wrong if you do. Also, accept the fact also that some things just don’t translate because they are not common to both cultures. If you order your embroidered belts and uniforms from us we will provide you with perfect translations, free of charge. We guarantee that they will be correct!
Starting off with, for example, our newly introduced 1.75” SENPAI black belt at $9.95, if you add, Shotokan in Japanese (3 characters = $15) and your name in Japanese (Wilson 5 characters = $15) your total will be $39.95. Unlike other suppliers we do not charge for translations or setup.
All embroidery is done “in house” in our own studio, therefore we can usually ship your belt order within 72 hours of receipt.
Almost any time. We are open from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Mon – Sat Pacific Standard Time. Just call 818 889 3856 and speak to one of our expert staff.
As we produce much of what we sell we are able to offer a unique personal service to our customers. Just call us on 818 889 3856 and you will speak to someone who has spent their entire career dealing with quality martial arts equipment. If we don’t have what you are looking for we will tell you just that!
As with all custom made items the answer is no! The reason we work so closely with you during the design stage is to make sure that this does not happen!
If you are in any doubt whatsoever please call us and we will help you. Please remember that we have been around for a long time and all the senior instructors know us and recognize our work. Therefore we will not do anything that would embarrass you, or us!
If you are not sure how to order and have questions, please do call us and ask to speak to one of our embroidery specialists. This is also a good way to place your order as in the case of custom orders they will need special information from you as well. We are open from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Pacific Time Monday – Saturday. You can also e-mail directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
Japanese custom embroidery is a very specialized field in which we have a great deal of experience. Please have all your questions ready and we will speed you through the process and make it as easy and stress free as possible!
Make sure that your black belt is well made, expertly embroidered, and the Japanese is correctly spelled. Meijin guarantee all three!
Meijin Senpai Belts.
This is an actual example of our new SENPAI belt as used by the Tenchi Dojo in Dalton, GA. The belt costs just $9.95 and the five embroidered characters “Tenchi Goju Ryu,” $20.