Soja Martial Arts Pants Story

Hi, my name is Peter Ajemian and I'm asking you to watch this brief video and support our great project in a couple of ways. Soja, my martial arts and yoga studio in Oakland, is building the world's greatest martial arts pant that is perfect for the most demanding training and is pleasantly comfortable for just lounging.  We need your support in finalizing the last stages in the production process.

 

Brief history

Hi, my name is Peter Ajemian. I've practiced martial arts for most of my life, first in traditional Karate and then for the last 25 years in White Crane Silat. I’ve practiced Wing Tsun for the past eight years, and I’ve also integrated Russian Systema, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai into my practice. I teach classes every week in my Oakland studio — sometimes as many as six per day. For over 6 years I have sold martial arts pants and workout gear, and put these products to the test with throwing techniques and ground defense on the studio’s hardwood floors as well as outside on grass and concrete.

I have always been frustrated at the limited training gear options for martial artists, especially with pants. Ten years ago I started to imagine the best possible martial arts pant design:  superbly made, sturdy, easy to take care of, and adaptive for different martial arts needs (for high kicks as well as grappling). It also had to look good on both men and women. Nobody else is doing this, even after so many years — I continue to replace lamely designed pants again and again, and continue to sell these crappy options to my students for lack of better options.

Six years ago I opened my full time martial arts & yoga studio. I also continued to refine the design in my mind. I met with local clothing designers, but discovered that I needed more up-front cash to get started than I had available. Things really began moving around five years ago when I met my student Chris Schmidt, a professional industrial designer who aligned with the project’s goal. He agreed to help find the right local designer and invested enough capital to get us started. Working with Chris has been great. He's a lifetime martial artist himself, already a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, and now on his sixth year of traditional PGB Silat.

Over the past two years, Chris and I have met with a variety of designers and we've created four prototypes. We finally decided to work with Monique Fletcher, a local designer who believed in our project and understood that we were going to see this through no matter what it took. She also connected us with our local Oakland-based sewing factory. With Monique creating the production details, we have finally come up with a fabulous design that is locally created here in Oakland.

How are these pants different than other pants out there right now?

Current martial arts pants work ok, but they tend to look horrible on women and create what women hate: the “diaper butt” look.  Yoga pants that masquerade as martial arts pants look good on women, but they are not designed for hardcore training. Most of the synthetic textiles they use are too slippery on hard wood floors. They're designed for yoga, not for martial arts, even though they borrow names like "Kung Fu pant." The Soja martial arts pant is designed by and for dedicated martial artists who demand a great deal from their clothing gear. Sure, we all want to look good in them too, but they really gotta work and not fall apart when someone picks you up and throws you on the floor repeatedly.  Don't worry; we do the testing for you.  Non-martial arts people can also enjoy wearing them and they'll be a favorite pant to wear regardless if you're training seriously or relaxing around the house.

The Soja studio testing ground

My studio is the testing ground for these pants. I can tell you that I've worn the different prototypes of this pant design over the past two years. The current design is the only pant I wear now. I just wish I had it in about five different colors so that I could walk around with it all the time, in and outside of the studio.  I test it every day under diverse conditions. I wash and dry it myself and inspect it for shrinkage, balling up, ripping, and all the critical details.

Chris and I intentionally picked a female designer to work with over time because we wanted to be sure to create a design that works for men and women, with the difference being all about the hips. Designing for people with my type of lean, mean, athletic body is easy. We needed a designer who understood how to design for the curves of most women!  Yeah, we get it.

Soja's production goals

We want our pants to be made locally, in the friendliest working environment possible. We will integrate improvements and upgrade these pants continually with this ongoing project. Every time we do a new iteration, we find new ways to improve the details. You will receive the benefits!