In the dojo, uniformity is the thing: We dress alike (in gi and obi) - right down to our shoe-less feet. Japanese culture and Okinawan tradition aside (meaning I understand the reasons behind being all gi-ed up and barefoot in the dojo), I don't think training in my baggy karate uniform and without my shoes emulates any kind of true self-defense situation at all. Really, the only time I'll probably ever need to defend myself like that is if I actually get jumped in the dojo, in my living room as I'm packing my gear bag and preparing for class or if I'm on the beach (where my swim suit would have to substitute for my gi).
I've mentioned before how some of my outside of the dojo clothing choices have caused me a bit of concern over the prospect of getting away from an attack or fighting back if necessary. A pencil skirt and kitten heels - my usual work attire - hardly make it easy to run away, throw a spinning kick or even be all that steady on concrete or cobblestones. But, since I wear that stuff for more hours each day than I'm in gi or sweats and a t-shirt, I guess chances are that a "man jumping out from behind the bushes" attack would probably happen when I'm wearing my "girl" clothes.
Earlier this spring, Sensei S held class in the dojo parking lot. I'd worn some sweats, a t-shirt and my favorite pair of slides to class - which made movement not so restrictive - but I soon found out that shoes change the game a bit. Unable to grip my toes into the ground, the very first front kick I threw sent my slide flying over Sensei's car. My uke was a brand-spanking new white belt who had been training for about three weeks and was still learning what the heck appropriate resistance/strength meant - which meant there were no gentle takedowns onto the blacktop at all. And since we were all so used to having the cool wooden dojo floor or the comfy mats underneath us (which make slapping out a whole lot easier), we all got a few scrapes that night if I remember correctly.
All that made me never want to go for realism on the "street" ever again. Sensei keeps telling us that one winter day, we're going to train in boots, long pants and coats - and I truly hope he forgets by the time the cold months roll around again. And he might, as he says we don't do the "real clothing" training more often because anything you can do barefoot in gi you should be able to do in espadrilles and a mini-skirt, but I'm not so sure.
To test that theory a bit, at a recent Women's Self Defense seminar I attended, I did the class in the jeans and a button-up shirt I'd worn all day. So not to soil the dojo's mats, we all kicked our shoes off at the door, but the belt of my jeans as well as my earrings, necklace and watch felt weird, as those things usually gets removed before we bow in. A little more "real" than the gi/no shoes scenario, but still not "pencil skirt and brief case" real, y'know?
Have you ever trained or thrown some techniques in regular clothes? Did you like it or miss your uniform?