Dragon Associates Inc.

Belt Embroidery & How we do it!

Click on the Maneki Nekko (right) for full details of this sample belt. On our website, the Maneki Nekko (beckoning cat) is where you will always find the most detailed information! 

Maneki Nekko Gold NB

Few people can produce embroidered karate belts the way we can!

The very best quality

Japanese karate belt

From Dragon Associates

Karate belt embroidery requires special equipment, skill and materials that few possess. The most important item is a Japanese, computer controlled industrial embroidery machine capable of sewing with precision through multiple layers of cotton canvas and felt. This is because, unless the force at the point of the needle is irresistible and the needle rigid and sharp, smooth lines will not be produced. The Japanese machines we use weigh over 800 lbs. and cost as much as the average family car! We are noted for the quality with which we embroider Chinese Characters (kangi) even on  the most difficult materials. This is because we digitize the characters by hand in our own studio so if a kanji includes complicated curves that need to be reproduced precisely, we program the embroidery machine to lower the sewing speed, and adjust stitch length continuously to avoid “bunching” and “gapping.” Hand digitizing involves a lot of extra work but it allows us to control the embroidery process with absolute precision, producing stitches as small as 1mm (0.03 inches) consistently, thus guaranteeing accurate reproduction. This quality difference sets us apart from everyone else in the field!

Japanese is a complicated language. A dictionary just won’t give you what you need.  

We only embroider karate belts and uniforms and after 20 years we are really good at it!

Our service is fast, reasonably priced and personalized. If you have any questions whatsoever, please call us. 818 889 3856.

When it comes to producing the finest custom embroidered karate belts, special equipment, special knowledge and a great deal of experience is what makes the difference. It's also helpful to be crazy about quality. You also need to be fluent in written and spoken Japanese and know a LOT about karate, its history and its many and varied styles! Embroidery mistakes cannot be “fixed” after they are sewn, so it is essential that everything is done right the first time! Do not trust your special needs to the ill-equipped and inexperienced, especially when the very best supplier is also the most reliable and reasonable!


In 1975 we became the UK national distributor for the Tokaido when their uniforms were still being made in Japan and soon became the second largest distributor outside Japan. As we have always been half Japanese owned, we began to import custom embroidered belts from Tokaido around 1978. Unfortunately, they took a long time to arrive, they were expensive, and the factory did not have the  commercial machines to embroider through the whole belt, so they were rendered by hand using swing-needle machines, making it necessary to sew over the design after the belt was assembled. 
In 1964, the Tajima Company of Nagoya, Japan, developed industrial embroidery machines to make kimono Obi, as the cost of hand embroidery had become prohibitive. We took advantage of this technological breakthrough to overcome the problem of defacing the embroidered design by oversewing when assembling the belt by sewing through the belt. By sewing all the way through the belt the finished product looked much better, was stronger, and more desirable!

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!

Important Things You Should Know About Japanese Belt Embroidery

get to know Your Embroidery Consultant

To ensure your complete satisfaction you will deal with the same embroidery consultant from start to finish.

Listen to our Advice

We can save you time, money and anguish. We are very experienced and will spend as much time with you as necessary to create the belt that you really want.

聞くは一時の恥, 聞かぬは末代の恥.

Remember the Japanese proverb: “To ask may be a moment's shame, but not to ask and to remain ignorant is an everlasting shame.” So, ask away! Call 818 889 3856 We are here to help and take pleasure in doing so!
client satisfaction
Correct completion of order
Ship within 72 hours of receipt of order

Questions And Answers

Different dojo may have suggestions they would like to 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!

Meijin Belt Specifications

Belt Size123456789
Belt Length78”86”94”102”110”118”126”134”142”

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 mamasan@dragon-tsunami.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!

Maneki Nekko White
Ordering Your Belt
To order a belt of the correct length, try one that fits you well, measure it, and check with our length chart. If you are thinking about embroidery on your new belt, make allowance for it. There is nothing that looks worse than some beautiful Japanese embroidery disappearing into a belt knot! If in doubt, as always, call us on 818 889 3856.

Click me for my belt tips!

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. 

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