How to make a Shaolin costume

Updated July 20, 2017

For centuries, Shaolin Buddhists have been renowned masters of kung fu -- making the warrior monks superheroes to many children. Although purchasing an actual Shaolin kung fu outfit might be prohibitive at Halloween, it is a relatively simple costume to make. By adapting a gi, or karate uniform, and adding accessories, you can achieve the same effect.

Choose a karate uniform one size too big, so that the costume will flow. Cut off the tunic's tie stings and move them up so they tie just under the right shoulder. At the bottom edge of the tunic, cut the slits so that they stop at the hip. Hem the edges of the slits.

Read the directions on the dye package. Put on the rubber gloves. Fill the sink with enough hot water that the fabric can move freely. Fill a measuring cup with 480 ml (2 cups) of hot water and squeeze half of the bottle of dye in and mix. Pour the mixture into the sink and put the both the tunic and the trousers in. Stir constantly for 10 to 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the uniform in hot water with washing powder. If the uniform colour is not bright enough repeat the process. Put the uniform to dry.

Cut 1 to 1.5 metres of yellow satin 20 cm (8 inches) wide, depending on waist size. Hem the edges. The colour yellow is important to the Shaolin monks. In the past the monks were the protector of the Emperor and were instructed to wear yellow, the colour of his retinue. They still wear yellow today.

To assemble the costume put the karate uniform on and tie the tunic underneath the arm. Pull the white leg warmers on over the bottom of the trousers. If you cannot find leg warmers, oversized, thick white socks will do. Take the elastic and cut in half. Pin one end to the bottom of the leg warmer and wrap it around the leg 3 times up and 3 times down. Pin it to itself. Repeat on the other side. Tie the sash around the waist in a square knot.

Things You'll Need

  • White karate uniform
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Orange dye
  • Rubber gloves
  • Measuring cup
  • Spoon
  • Yellow satin fabric
  • White leg warmers
  • 2 metres black elastic
  • Safety pins
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Stephanie Urban began her writing career in 1993. Her work can be found on such internet sites as, and She also has written for college publications through Miami Dade Community College. Urban is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English literature at Florida International University.