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caelifera
10-19-2008, 08:01 PM
Here's me tiny dilemma in Aikido world.

I recently read that it is considered a kind "gesture" when the highest ranking student folds the head instructor's hakama. The person who normally folds our instructor's hakama recently moved away to become an uchi-deshi. No one has seemed to fill in, so I was wondering if I should.
I'm not the highest ranking (I'm actually one of the newest) and I'm the youngest. So should I or should I not offer to fold it? :freaky:
Thanks. :triangle:

James Davis
10-20-2008, 12:10 PM
Here's me tiny dilemma in Aikido world.

I recently read that it is considered a kind "gesture" when the highest ranking student folds the head instructor's hakama. The person who normally folds our instructor's hakama recently moved away to become an uchi-deshi. No one has seemed to fill in, so I was wondering if I should.
I'm not the highest ranking (I'm actually one of the newest) and I'm the youngest. So should I or should I not offer to fold it? :freaky:
Thanks. :triangle:

What, do you think he's gonna fly into a murderous rage? Just ask. He'll either say yes or no.;)

Mark Uttech
10-20-2008, 12:14 PM
Onegaishimasu. It is up to you. Simply offer; sensei will say yes or no.

In gassho,

Mark

Michael Hackett
10-20-2008, 12:43 PM
It is a nice gesture of respect to offer to fold the Sensei's hakama regardless of your rank. Folding the hakama is good experience as well. One of my friends always says that he can tell the quality of one's aikido by the way he folds the hakama. And its relaxing after a good hard class. Offer and then do it well.

Demetrio Cereijo
10-20-2008, 01:50 PM
One of my friends always says that he can tell the quality of one's aikido by the way he folds the hakama.

Interesting.... I don't fold the hakama.

To the OP:

Just ask your sensei.

Charles Hill
10-20-2008, 05:39 PM
Hi Christine,

Let me offer some different advice.

First, do you want to fold it? Do you see some kind of benefit?

Second, if yes, don't ask to do it, ask her to show you how to fold it. She will much more likely say yes to that request. Learn to fold the hakama with her hakama. Then the next day go up to her holding out your hand to get her hakama so you can fold it "for practice." It will then streamline and become a habit and you will be the person who folds Sensei's hakama.
Charles

gdandscompserv
10-20-2008, 07:45 PM
Some customs/tradition do not cross cultural lines very well.

caelifera
10-20-2008, 08:20 PM
Thank you everyone.

mjhacker
10-23-2008, 12:58 PM
I've been to dojo outside my family group where juniors have offered to fold my hakama for me. I can immediately detect whether they are offering it as a gift from their heart or they are required to do so by their teacher. In either case, I politely thank them and fold it myself, but in the latter, I find that I am quite creeped out.

patf
01-20-2010, 01:32 PM
What if a senior student asks you to go fold Senseis Hakama?

This happened to me and my immediate thought was that's not right, if you want someone to fold Senseis hakama as a sign of respect or otherwise, then they should be first in line. IMO, it should be something that is offered, not requested. Perhaps the senior student thought I would gain something from learning to fold a Hakama, I'm not sure.
Any I respectfully declined with a "No, Thanks".

It's not that I'm against a student folding their Senseis Hakama, but I think the offer should come from the higher ranking students first. IMO a low ranking student offering to fold because none of the higher ranking students offered is a failure of etiquette.

ninjaqutie
01-20-2010, 02:34 PM
If it is something you want to learn or do, then ask. The worst that can happen is they say no. Make sure you know how to fold a hakama well before you ask though. :) If you don't know, then you could have an opportunity to learn. My sensei just hangs his after class. The only time he has people fold his hakama is right before he goes away for a seminar or something. Last time he asked me he started with "Ashley, do you know how to fold a hakama?" knowing darn well that I fold my hakama after every iaido class. I responded with "Sensei, the question is can I fold a hakama well." He then handed me his hakama and responded with "We'll see."

Lyle Laizure
01-21-2010, 02:16 PM
If is it something you want to do make the offer. From there things will take care of themself.

Shadowfax
01-22-2010, 09:06 PM
One night my sensei was having some back pain problems and I offered to fold his Hakima for him.He declined but I could tell that it pleased him that I offered so I was glad I did. Just offer to do it if you want to. It is never wrong to be polite.

Takahama
01-22-2010, 10:29 PM
Out of cultural curiosity:

Where does this custom of folding a teacher's hakama come from? Possibly it may have originated from the old-style Japanese deshi system? Or is it simply a spontaneous act of gratitude towards the teacher after training?

Over many years of training here in Japan (Kansai), I've never seen it happen. But on the very rare occasions I've trained back home in the UK I've noticed it.

Somehow I think my teachers would be very surprised and a little uncomfortable about someone proposing to touch their stuff.

Perhaps it may occur in some Japanese dojo and I haven't witnessed it yet. I'm limited to Osaka Aikikai dojo and the odd summer trip to Shingu.

Peter Goldsbury
01-23-2010, 12:37 AM
Out of cultural curiosity:

Where does this custom of folding a teacher's hakama come from? Possibly it may have originated from the old-style Japanese deshi system? Or is it simply a spontaneous act of gratitude towards the teacher after training?

Over many years of training here in Japan (Kansai), I've never seen it happen. But on the very rare occasions I've trained back home in the UK I've noticed it.

Somehow I think my teachers would be very surprised and a little uncomfortable about someone proposing to touch their stuff.

Perhaps it may occur in some Japanese dojo and I haven't witnessed it yet. I'm limited to Osaka Aikikai dojo and the odd summer trip to Shingu.

Hello Michael,

I have never seen it done outside university clubs in Japan. During University club gasshuku, kohai (usually first year members) were expected to fold not just the hakama, but also the keikogi and obi, and in the prescribed club style, even washing the keikogi, if necessary.

All of the deshi who went to live outside Japan were either members of university clubs or taught at the same clubs and, of course, their hakama and keikogi would have been folded by students.

School and university aikido in Japan presents aspects of the sempai kohai system that I suspect many Americans would find unacceptable.

Best wishes

Takahama
01-23-2010, 05:34 AM
Hello Michael,

I have never seen it done outside university clubs in Japan. During University club gasshuku, kohai (usually first year members) were expected to fold not just the hakama, but also the keikogi and obi, and in the prescribed club style, even washing the keikogi, if necessary.

All of the deshi who went to live outside Japan were either members of university clubs or taught at the same clubs and, of course, their hakama and keikogi would have been folded by students.

School and university aikido in Japan presents aspects of the sempai kohai system that I suspect many Americans would find unacceptable.

Best wishes

Ah-ha! Of course, the sempai-kohai system. Thanks for the comment, it makes complete sense to me. Curiosity satisfied!

Interesting how an aspect of such a system has found its way into 'Western' dojo, yet doesn't appear to exist in public dojo here in Japan.

Peter Goldsbury
01-23-2010, 06:47 AM
Ah-ha! Of course, the sempai-kohai system. Thanks for the comment, it makes complete sense to me. Curiosity satisfied!

Interesting how an aspect of such a system has found its way into 'Western' dojo, yet doesn't appear to exist in public dojo here in Japan.

Michael,

Does Osaka Aikikai Hombu provide teachers for any university clubs? In Hiroshima, since I was a professor at Hiroshima University, I naturally trained hard at the university club. They have calmed down somewhat since I first came to Japan, but there used to be an element of raw, intense, craziness that university sports association (taiikukai) students brought to the martial arts that could match anything that aiki-bunnies are capable of. The spring and summer gasshuku were the prime opportunities for this craziness to be displayed. Sempai/kohai was taken very seriously indeed and the kohai had to address their sempai in appropriately polite Japanese: they still do.

Since I was not a student, I could not be a member of the club, but, in view of my dan rank, I was a kind of surrogate sempai. So, after practice a mudansha student approached and asked if he could fold my keikogi and hakama. At first I said No, but then my 'minder' (who was a fourth year student) came over and earnestly requested me to abide by the conventions of the club. So I accepted. Later, when I became fluent in Japanese and understood the club culture, I understood that my keikogi and hakama were always folded by the same student, who became a sort of deshi. So I would throw him around after practice and give him tips on the finer aspects of waza and ukemi. And he would fold my keikogi and hakama, even in the Yoshinkan style, which I had learned from Minoru Kanetsuka in London. For I used to fold his hakama after practice.

Best,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
01-23-2010, 07:06 AM
Interesting how an aspect of such a system has found its way into 'Western' dojo, yet doesn't appear to exist in public dojo here in Japan.

Hello again, Michael,

I have added this post in view of your statement above.

I am also curious and wonder if any other Japan residents can add information. In the Hiroshima Shibu Dojo, no one, but no one, ever folded anyone else's hakama. Even the 7th dan Shibu-cho folded his own.

However, when the university students participated in Shibu training sessions, I was always approached by the student who folded my keikogi and hakama at the university. Since I trained at the university, the sempai-kohai relationship had already been established.

There is a vigorous student aikido culture in Japan which is entirely distinct and separate from that of the 'city' dojos--and I suspect that this 'separate' culture is part of a long tradition. It is similar to the aikido culture of the Japanese armed forces and the Japanese political system, both remaining from the time when O Sensei taught both generals, admirals and politicians. Even Hideki Tojo practised aikido.

PAG

Brett Charvat
01-23-2010, 07:51 AM
I never saw this done at either of the two Aikikai-affiliated dojo I practiced with in Kumamoto, but I will note that the practice does regularly occur in my koryu iai school. However, it is only our head instructor who has his kit folded by a senior student. Everyone else, regardless of rank or seniority, folds their own.

Takahama
01-23-2010, 08:09 PM
Michael,

Does Osaka Aikikai Hombu provide teachers for any university clubs?

Good morning!

Of the top of my head, I believe that Hombu teachers are sent to Kansai Daigaku which is only about a 20 minute bicycle ride from Hombu dojo. I think there is also a teacher sent to Ritsumeikan in Kyoto. They attend yearly gasshuku in Nara and embukai in Suita. There are probably links with other University clubs in the area but I'd need to ask to find out.

Furthermore, if memory serves me I think that almost all of the current younger full-time teachers - certainly in the years that I have trained there - have been 'harvested' from KanDai.

Regards,

Michael

Chris Li
01-23-2010, 10:33 PM
I never saw this done at either of the two Aikikai-affiliated dojo I practiced with in Kumamoto, but I will note that the practice does regularly occur in my koryu iai school. However, it is only our head instructor who has his kit folded by a senior student. Everyone else, regardless of rank or seniority, folds their own.

In 12-13 years training in Japan I folded an instructor's hakama exactly once, but that was kind of a special occasion. My wife (who's Japanese) was kind of horrified by the whole concept...

OTOH, it was standard practice to fold the instructor's hakama in ASU under Saotome when I was there. Some places in Hawaii follow that practice but not (usually) where I train.

Best,

Chris

Eric Webber
01-24-2010, 12:51 PM
Christine - my opinion is that if it is something that has some meaning for you, offer to fold your teacher's hakama. The teacher will either accept or decline, may even give some insight as to how the practice came to be in your dojo.

gdandscompserv
01-24-2010, 01:00 PM
I am sure your sensei would rather you do this;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQesNj3W0bM
:D

Tinyboy344
01-25-2010, 10:54 PM
I am sure your sensei would rather you do this;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQesNj3W0bM
:D

LMAO!!!

Risu
01-26-2010, 10:23 PM
I've been folding my sensei's hakama since a few months after I began training. I think I started by Sensei and a couple of other people saying that it would be good for me to know how, and I asked a sempai to show me how to fold it, and then I became the primary folder of the hakama.
I think it's an honor to fold the hakama. It shows respect and appreciation toward Sensei or sempai.

-Risu

patf
01-27-2010, 12:18 AM
I've been folding my sensei's hakama since a few months after I began training. I think I started by Sensei and a couple of other people saying that it would be good for me to know how, and I asked a sempai to show me how to fold it, and then I became the primary folder of the hakama.
I think it's an honor to fold the hakama. It shows respect and appreciation toward Sensei or sempai.

-Risu

I get the feeling that a lot more female students fold their Sensei's hakama than male students, at least in my limited observation. I wonder is there a different philosophy from a female/male perspective.

Personally I look at a Hakama as a tool or part of ones equipment and I've always been taught to look after your own "stuff" so to speak.

lbb
01-27-2010, 10:50 AM
I get the feeling that a lot more female students fold their Sensei's hakama than male students, at least in my limited observation. I wonder is there a different philosophy from a female/male perspective.

Do you also see a discrepancy in male and female students doing chores around the dojo?

patf
01-27-2010, 11:18 AM
Do you also see a discrepancy in male and female students doing chores around the dojo?

No, everyone pitches in for those.

Dieter Haffner
01-27-2010, 11:37 AM
I think it's an honor to fold the hakama. It shows respect and appreciation toward Sensei or sempai.It shows even more respect if you buy them a beer after practise. :D

BritishAikido@ntlworld.
01-27-2010, 04:49 PM
It shows even more respect if you buy them a beer after practise. :D

I was invited to a seminar by my old friend Pierre Chasange Sensei jus a few years ago, a young lady asked if she could fold my hakama, I readily accepted, I have never seen a hakama folded so beautifully.................... I never wanted to unfold it again:)
It was a young lady from Norwich, I don't know her name :-( but I will always remember her. I appreciated her respect for an old teacher. Now, wether you approve or not, matters little or nothing to me, but I really did appreciate the respect of this young lady.
If she reads this and recognises herself ??? please show me how to do it myself :-):)

Lonin
02-05-2010, 06:47 AM
Respect is fine,when the offer is given, don't let it get out of hand though where the sensei expects their luggage carried. It is time to leave the dojo should this feudalistic practice becomes social norm.

Gorgeous George
03-19-2010, 11:02 PM
Respect is fine,when the offer is given, don't let it get out of hand though where the sensei expects their luggage carried. It is time to leave the dojo should this feudalistic practice becomes social norm.

That's a very good point you raise - and one i've been thinking about for a few weeks now: given the source of a lot of/all aikido etiquette, should it all be adopted? Or to what extent should it be adopted?

I mean, as you say: it's from a feudal/hierarchical time - one that is, nowadays, in my part of the world, looked down upon as being wrong/unjust.

lbb
03-20-2010, 08:09 PM
That's a very good point you raise - and one i've been thinking about for a few weeks now: given the source of a lot of/all aikido etiquette, should it all be adopted? Or to what extent should it be adopted?

I mean, as you say: it's from a feudal/hierarchical time - one that is, nowadays, in my part of the world, looked down upon as being wrong/unjust.

I'm not so sure that your use of the term "feudal" is accurate, given that aikido did not originate in a feudal period of Japanese history. Perhaps you were just using colorful language?

As for "hierarchical", contemporary Japanese society is more aware of hierarchy than contemporary American society -- but that's not the sole characteristic of the teacher-student relationship, and I think it's a mistake to try and explain all differences in terms of "hierarchical" thinking.

Lonin
03-20-2010, 08:34 PM
Guess we still have to use our grey matter while training. The extent, IMHO, is if the particular action promotes dojo harmony and furthers develops my humility or yielding.
Eg: We are encourage not to question or talk back during practice. It detracts from the major principle being studied for that session. But then we know that there is the 'after class' time set aside in our dojo. I then concur that this is good etiquette/practice.

Lonin
03-20-2010, 08:54 PM
Ms Mary M's answer illustrates my point....of the sixty/seventy words that conveys George's thoughts, It is two that is "not accurate"/ "a mistake" that might not have 'gone well' with Mary.
I have hence perceived George's "lesson" differently from Mary.......deep ya?
Imagine a dojo mate saying " but what if he does this?" or " what if I whack you here" half the time during practice.

lbb
03-21-2010, 07:42 PM
Ms Mary M's answer illustrates my point....of the sixty/seventy words that conveys George's thoughts, It is two that is "not accurate"/ "a mistake" that might not have 'gone well' with Mary.

Unless you're Charles Dickens and being paid by the word, it's rare that all words in a communication carry equal weight.

Lonin
03-21-2010, 10:52 PM
hahaha! you are right on target there........

aikishihan
03-22-2010, 01:03 AM
In Japanese, the word "ageru" means to give.

A “gift” may be “something that is bestowed voluntarily and without (thought or need of) compensation”. It may also be “an act, right, or a power of giving”, an act of generosity wholly and unselfishly enacted by the giver.

The act of unconditional giving is totally independent of any response of reciprocity or of any show of gratitude that may or may not be offered by the recipient of the gift.

Whenever we do a favor, or present something of value, we may have any number of attitudes or agendas to choose from. The act of giving without any such agenda or purpose, may well be the highest form of respect and regard of one person for another. Such a gift is priceless.

The seemingly simple gift of folding the hakama of another person, affords such choices to the giver, irrespective of who the recipient of the gift may be. In that sense, it is totally irrelevant if it is the hakama of a sensei, a senior or a complete stranger, for it is fully in the power of the giver to decide.

The spirit of Ueshiba Aiki was wondrously demonstrated by the Founder, when he visited Hawaii in 1961, for the occasion of dedicating a new dojo facility. After the ceremonies were completed, with the presence of a Shinto priest, the Founder then began to pour sake for each and everyone in attendance. His was a gesture of generosity, but also a lesson in how an accomplished man “walks his talk”. He was smiling and congratulating everyone in attendance, thanking them for making the occasion a successful one.

Voluntarily folding a hakama for someone you like and respect isn’t such a big deal, now is it?

Gorgeous George
03-22-2010, 10:37 AM
I'm not so sure that your use of the term "feudal" is accurate, given that aikido did not originate in a feudal period of Japanese history. Perhaps you were just using colorful language?

As for "hierarchical", contemporary Japanese society is more aware of hierarchy than contemporary American society -- but that's not the sole characteristic of the teacher-student relationship, and I think it's a mistake to try and explain all differences in terms of "hierarchical" thinking.

The answer to your question is in the post you are questioning; I said:

'the source of a lot of/all aikido etiquette [...] as you say: it's from a feudal/hierarchical time'

And the post i was replying to is the one which used the term feudal, hence my use of it.

Aikido was not created in feudal Japan, but surely it originated as far back as that (i.e., it has its roots in the past, this being one of the reasons why it was not adapted like Judo and Kendo for competition)...?

I also sought to stress the ambiguity of my knowledge, rather than lay claim to it being detailed knowledge.

I hope that clears up the misunderstanding.

All the best.

Gorgeous George
03-22-2010, 10:43 AM
Voluntarily folding a hakama for someone you like and respect isn’t such a big deal, now is it?

Its always been the norm in my albeit brief aikido training that the sensei's hakama is folded by a student...

The way i see it, the sensei (in most cases anyway) is not teaching you for money - he's sharing this knowledge he has spent decades accumulating; i am very thankful and very appreciative for that, and so i have no problem whatsoever with showing some respect to the man.

Dazzler
03-22-2010, 11:26 AM
I was invited to a seminar by my old friend Pierre Chasange Sensei jus a few years ago, a young lady asked if she could fold my hakama, I readily accepted, I have never seen a hakama folded so beautifully.................... I never wanted to unfold it again:)
It was a young lady from Norwich, I don't know her name :-( but I will always remember her. I appreciated her respect for an old teacher. Now, wether you approve or not, matters little or nothing to me, but I really did appreciate the respect of this young lady.
If she reads this and recognises herself ??? please show me how to do it myself :-):)

Hi

This was at Bradfield College maybe 6 years ago?

I think this may have been the last visit of Pierre to UK as he suffered some ill health since. A great shame for us.

If I recall correctly yourself and Mr Eastman took a session.

Anyway - I'm almost certain that it will have been Kath Riddell who folded your hakama - a sandan with NAF.

I assure you that she in turn will be delighted that you remember this and even more so that you mention it here.

Sadly I cannot show you how she folded the hakama, she has done mine on many occasions but I continue with the basic version that I've always used.

Regards

D

lbb
03-22-2010, 12:56 PM
Aikido was not created in feudal Japan, but surely it originated as far back as that (i.e., it has its roots in the past, this being one of the reasons why it was not adapted like Judo and Kendo for competition)...?

Weeeeeell..this is one of those "what the meaning of 'is' is" questions; specifically, it depends what we mean when we say "originated". Did O-Sensei have a background in other martial arts before he developed aikido? Sure. Did some of those martial arts have a lineage that dated back to the feudal era, which ended in 1868? Sure. Does that mean that aikido originated in the feudal era? Mmmm...I'm not getting into that fight. In the context of why people do or don't fold sensei's hakama, and what it all means, I think it's a bit of a distraction, though. There's been 150 years of intervening history, and aikido isn't some weird little anachronistic bubble world, so I think the truth is a little closer to current times and places.

Aikiman001
04-13-2010, 10:39 PM
One of my friends always says that he can tell the quality of one's aikido by the way he folds the hakama.

Wow then he would probably think my Aikido is crap because I dont fold mine either. I iron my own works shirts though would that count?

BTW in the circle of Aikido I train in Ive never seen anyone fold my sensei's hakama nor anyone else for that matter. I guess there are other ways to show our appreciation.

Michael Hackett
04-13-2010, 11:24 PM
I suppose that ironing a work shirt has many of the same qualities that my friend, Rafael, talked about. In our conversations he's mentioned that taking one's time to carefully align the pleats, smooth and clean the fabric, and to fold the hakama smoothly requires attention to detail, focus and precision. He's the same guy who always inspects his weapons for cracks and splinters before every practice too. His waza and ukemi are much the same, precise and focused.

Aikiman001
04-13-2010, 11:34 PM
I suppose that ironing a work shirt has many of the same qualities that my friend, Rafael, talked about. In our conversations he's mentioned that taking one's time to carefully align the pleats, smooth and clean the fabric, and to fold the hakama smoothly requires attention to detail, focus and precision. He's the same guy who always inspects his weapons for cracks and splinters before every practice too. His waza and ukemi are much the same, precise and focused.

Everybody's different I guess. Normally when I train I try to be focused and precise regardless if I fold my hakama or not. Its kinda of like checking your car tyres before one drives, I dont do that either although Im sure its good practice too but it doesnt mean I lack focus when I drive. Thats just to type of person I am, perhaps a little unprepared that is all ;)

danj
04-13-2010, 11:45 PM
When I first started doing some teaching I was embarrassed by the idea that someone would fold my hakama and I used to refuse.Then when some senior instructors visited the dojo and no-one offered to fold their hakama I was mortified.

It was then that I realised that when we pick and chose many of the bits of tradition it has consequences. As a slow learner I have learnt this lesson a few more times since - sometimes the easy way sometime not d!oh

dan

raul rodrigo
04-13-2010, 11:45 PM
Michael, it takes all kinds. The two best aikidoka in my dojo don't fold their hakamas half as well as I do, but they far outshine me on the mat. They haven't invested as much attention on their hakama pleats, but it's hard to argue with their results. I on the other hand like to fold my hakama precisely, but that's more a result of having a compulsive personality than any intrinsic aikido value.

Michael Hackett
04-14-2010, 01:18 AM
Raul, I don't personally know of any correlation between folding the hakama and performing on the mat. I've seen both extremes - one of our yudansha is a superb practitioner and he wads his hakama up and stuffs it in his gym bag and yet another who does both with a great deal of skill. Personally, I enjoy folding the hakama after class to cool down and reflect on what we did that evening. My Aikido ain't that great and doesn't match my folding either. Just a nice, quiet and reflective few moments after training. That probably relates more to my years in the Marine Corps than some supposed tradition, or maybe OCD or something.

Walter Martindale
04-14-2010, 05:46 AM
Only times I've seen a hakama folded by anyone other than the owner have been when it was a shihan after leading class at a seminar.

raul rodrigo
04-14-2010, 07:43 AM
Personally, I enjoy folding the hakama after class to cool down and reflect on what we did that evening. My Aikido ain't that great and doesn't match my folding either. Just a nice, quiet and reflective few moments after training. That probably relates more to my years in the Marine Corps than some supposed tradition, or maybe OCD or something.

I like to pay close attention to hakama folding after class myself for the same reasons: it's a way of settling down and gathering everything in after training. It works for me, in any event.

I was asked once by a teacher to fold a Japanese shihan's hakama after a seminar but I declined—largely because I was afraid my folding wouldn't come up to Japanese standards, whatever those might be. Again, I have this compulsion about getting things right.

DH
05-29-2010, 07:09 AM
I will offer you an example of a teachers response to deferential treatment by a student. This from one the highest ranked Japanese Martial arts teachers today; Menkyo in in two different Japanese koryu, ranked in Judo and Aikido, trained in ICMA, etc. A world class teacher and contemporary of Don Draeger. I say this to offer the depth and breadth of his experiences.

He noticed during a weekend seminar that a new fellow (very young) was doing all sorts for things for him over and over. Without making a fuss or embarrassing the young man he said "Ah, I see what you are doing there. Don't act like that. It's very bad. For you.......and for me."
I thought the last bit was priceless.

You can decide if an Aikido teacher, or any teacher is deserving of being treated with deference, and more importantly if you are in fact harming them for doing so.
Cheers
Dan

niall
05-29-2010, 11:14 AM
I sometimes disagree with Dan but about this he is dead right. I remember one time at a training camp we were sitting washing on the little stools in the Japanese bathroom after keiko and because I had taught the class suddenly without warning someone started soaping my back! Whoa!

Janet Rosen
05-29-2010, 06:12 PM
The two examples above are to me different from a specific within-a-dojo tradition of juniors folding seniors' hakama.

RED
05-29-2010, 06:58 PM
LOL Christine's post got zombified! She left Aikido to focus on finishing up her school work a while back. I think its funny how these posts reappear... even long after the OP no longer needs the advice.

Adam Huss
05-29-2010, 07:00 PM
I was told 'doing things' for your teacher should be at a level where you anticipate what he or she need before, or just as, they need then...then get it done so they don't have to worry about it and can concentrate on matters related to teaching. I guess folding hakama could fit into that category.

Heck, I've folded dohai hakama for the simple fact that he was in a rush to get to work after class and I wasn't, so I thought I'd help him out.

Usually our teacher will drop his hakama on the mat if he wants it folded (he hangs it up maybe 25% of the time) then he goes off to fill the mop bucket with water while everyone else folds their hakama or start nitten soji for the night. When he's done with the mop bucket he'll head into his office and do administrative work, do Q&A with students (parents if its a kids class), process supply orders, review people's tests/essays, stuff like that. We try to help him get everything he needs done as he works from 0700-1630, then teaches martial arts classes pretty much from 1700-2130 M-Thurs.

Michael Varin
05-30-2010, 12:54 AM
Regarding folding your teacher's hakama and otherwise going to extremes to please your teacher:

You can decide if an Aikido teacher, or any teacher is deserving of being treated with deference, and more importantly if you are in fact harming them for doing so.

This is exceedingly wise advice. Students and teachers both would do well to ponder it.

lbb
05-31-2010, 07:15 AM
Regarding folding your teacher's hakama and otherwise going to extremes to please your teacher:

Emphasis mine. Folding a hakama is "extreme", in your view? I dunno, someone's being "extreme" here, but I don't think it's the person folding the hakama.

Demetrio Cereijo
05-31-2010, 03:03 PM
Does anyone knows how/when this hakama folding "tradition" started? Is it an usual practise in koryu bujutsu?

RED
05-31-2010, 03:21 PM
Emphasis mine. Folding a hakama is "extreme", in your view? I dunno, someone's being "extreme" here, but I don't think it's the person folding the hakama.

Yeah, I really don't consider folding a hakama as extreme. I mean when we are out to eat with a high ranking teacher we often try to pick up the bill.
I mean Aikido teachers, especially at the higher levels, devote their entire lives to teaching their students. You'd think the average student could show some concession to a person that devoted their lives to serving their students.

Chris Li
05-31-2010, 03:49 PM
Yeah, I really don't consider folding a hakama as extreme. I mean when we are out to eat with a high ranking teacher we often try to pick up the bill.
I mean Aikido teachers, especially at the higher levels, devote their entire lives to teaching their students. You'd think the average student could show some concession to a person that devoted their lives to serving their students.

It all depends on how it's done. I think that the level of obsequiousness often seen in the west far exceeds what you'd see in Japan outside of certain unusual situations (such as a university club).

Best,

Chris

lbb
06-01-2010, 07:32 AM
Does anyone knows how/when this hakama folding "tradition" started? Is it an usual practise in koryu bujutsu?

At a guess, it probably started somewhere after the point where hakama were no longer regular daily clothing, and it became customary to take hakama off after training. IOW, it may be usual in koryu bujutsu today (or may not, I have no idea), but you can be pretty sure it wasn't a couple hundred years ago.

DH
06-01-2010, 09:12 AM
Demetrio Cereijo wrote:
Does anyone knows how/when this hakama folding "tradition" started? Is it an usual practise in koryu bujutsu?
At a guess, it probably started somewhere after the point where hakama were no longer regular daily clothing, and it became customary to take hakama off after training.
No not hardly. I think it's a pretty smart bet that it was invented by overwrought young people (university clubs?). Hopefully modern teachers that allow people to treat -themselves- and others that way will fade.

IOW, it may be usual in koryu bujutsu today (or may not, I have no idea), but you can be pretty sure it wasn't a couple hundred years ago
The point is that it is highly UNUSUAL in koryu (I disclude Iai which may have its own practices). I can only imagine seeing some young kid grab and try to fold the hakama of some people I know. The best and highest ranked people I know still consider themselves students.....of budo.

My apologies in advance for straining the point, but personally I don't approve of much of the add-ons and role playing I see in some modern budo. It's probably not healthy to be replicating (or more accurately "inventing") traditions that never existed in the first place and questioning how certain practices will create a healthy and positive environment. And when I say "healthy and positive"I also mean a competative and hard row-to-hoe, rough and tumble existence, sort of like a "brothers in arms" mindset. I am not one for coddling young people any more than making them subservient, but requiring or worse still "accepting" any type of fawning behavior is bad for budo; both for teacher and student. Hopefully, more people will question this type of behavior and instead enjoy budo for its ability to bring people together-as equals.

I deal with tradesman all day long. I cannot imagine a carpenter learning from a master carpenter and cleaning up after him-they'd laugh their butts off. Instead the guy teaches (by example) how to clean up after yourself, take care of your tools, how to navigate and be "one of the crew."
I once knife fought a ranger (full bird colonel) till two in the morning and he woke me up and made me breakfast the next day after he did a five mile run. This is still one of the most humbling experiences of my life. The previous nights escapades notwithstanding, I didn't see myself capable of carrying his shoes. As I found out several times over the years from others who knew him- the man was known for making fit soldiers- by example.

So it is with us. We have a new kid who started at 17. The first thing we did was burn it into him not to lose a sense of himself as he navigated his way through. We never talked down or treated him differently as we taught him how to dress, take care of his kit, and be good to go. I think the more "normal" and healthy your training relationships are, the better. I feel that as a leader, the best example I can give is to serve and make sure I do not get in the way of someone's progress-even if they can't see it happening, and not to place myself (or allow myself to be placed in) a superior role.

As one famous Koryu teacher likes to say "Budo is not about death, it's about living."
Cheers
Dan

Fred Little
06-01-2010, 10:22 AM
At a guess, it probably started somewhere after the point where hakama were no longer regular daily clothing, and it became customary to take hakama off after training. IOW, it may be usual in koryu bujutsu today (or may not, I have no idea), but you can be pretty sure it wasn't a couple hundred years ago.

FWIW, the custom is one that I have seen only in aikido dojo, generally aikido dojo affiliated with a shihan who once taught in a Japanese university club. It's something I've never seen in any koryu group with which I've been involved, and which I have never observed in the course of a number of public demonstrations of koryu, either onstage or backstage.

Best,

FL

DH
06-01-2010, 10:23 AM
Everyone has their own vews of Budo.
I wanted to clarify that I was speaking of my own personal opinions, views, and experiences only. I hope that sharing them can give others who were mistakenly replicating a "modern" tradition (recently invented by young people) while searching and hoping for the more traditional approach, some food for thought. One which they may also find to be healthier in the long run.
Dan

Ellis Amdur
06-01-2010, 10:38 AM
I saw a compendium of the various ways one can braid the strips of cloth for the hakama, some symmetric and some not. And I asked my teacher (koryu) what was the best way to fold a hakama. He said, "Men don't fold hakama." I said, "???" He replied, "You want to know the proper way to fold a hakama? You go home, drop it in front of your wife and say, 'fold this.'"

I was once having a conversation with Ueshiba Moriteru after class at the Aikikai, and he asked me how old I was. I replied that I was twenty-four as was he. We compared birthdays, and found that I was several months older. I had just taken off my hakama and I said, "What? I'm older than you and you have me standing here like this?" I threw the hakama in his chest and said, "Fold this." He stood there holding it with his mouth agape, me glaring at him. He didn't know what to do. I couldn't hold it together after about 30 seconds and started laughing.

Best
Ellis Amdur

Janet Rosen
06-01-2010, 11:08 AM
Oh Ellis, that is priceless...thank you for my first big full laugh of the morning!

Pat Togher
06-01-2010, 11:12 AM
No not hardly. I think it's a pretty smart bet that it was invented by overwrought young people (university clubs?). Hopefully modern teachers that allow people to treat -themselves- and others that way will fade.

<snip>

My apologies in advance for straining the point, but personally I don't approve of much of the add-ons and role playing I see in some modern budo. It's probably not healthy to be replicating (or more accurately "inventing") traditions that never existed in the first place and questioning how certain practices will create a healthy and positive environment.

<Snip>

I deal with tradesman all day long. I cannot imagine a carpenter learning from a master carpenter and cleaning up after him-they'd laugh their butts off. Instead the guy teaches (by example) how to clean up after yourself, take care of your tools, how to navigate and be "one of the crew."

Dan

Mr Hardin,
This is somewhat off topic, but have you by chance read this?
http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Woodworking-Tools-Tradition-Spirit/dp/0941936465/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275408551&sr=8-3

If not, check it out. Some great stuff about japanese style carpentry and tools, and a truely sad and messed up story of a japanse Shoji apprentice. Relavent ot the discussion of excessive obedience to one's seniors.

Pat

RED
06-01-2010, 11:16 AM
It all depends on how it's done. I think that the level of obsequiousness often seen in the west far exceeds what you'd see in Japan outside of certain unusual situations (such as a university club).

Best,

Chris

I'm not sure. I've never studied the habits of the Japanese in Japan. The Japanese instructors here seems to be accustom to this type of treatment. Some couldn't care less if you folded their hakama... others, might raise hell if you don't. :( You can probably learn the different between the two fast.. but learning it most likely isn't fun.. so play it safe and fold every piece of clothing you see.

Rob Watson
06-01-2010, 11:19 AM
I couldn't hold it together after about 30 seconds and started laughing.

Hopefully, after all these years of hard training you are better able to 'hold it together' - at least until after they break before starting to laugh.

As a total aside and thread highjack - do you recall a fellow named Jay Dunkleman? I met him last week and his history sounds like he may have been a contemporary of yours from Bond St, NY Aikikai and Tokyo hombu in the mid-late 70's.

Ellis Amdur
06-01-2010, 11:26 AM
Robert - sent PM
Ellis Amdur

Pat Togher
06-01-2010, 11:57 AM
I'm not sure. I've never studied the habits of the Japanese in Japan.
<Snip>


A good point. Many (perhaps most?) of us have never been to Japan and have no firsthand knowledge of what appropriate social etiquitte is. I also wonder how different the etiquitte was in the prewar period vs postwar, let alone now ...

I had some similar thoughts while reading to the discussion of Sokaku Takeda's upbringing that Amdur Sensei and Goldsbury Sensei had awhile back.

Pat

ninjaqutie
06-01-2010, 01:43 PM
The reason students fold our sensei's hakama on rare occassion is because:

1.) He usually hangs his and he needs it folded for travel
2.) His knees aren't that good, so its easier for us young spritely students to fold up his hakama for him

Most of the hakama wearers in my dojo just hang theirs. I haven't seen anyone fold it unless they were traveling. Maybe this phenomonon started over something like this and just got twisted into what it is today? Maybe a kind student decided they would do their busy sensei a favor and thus the ritual was born. I do know that Chiba Sensei has had his hakama folded for him by other people before.

On another note, I know that Sunset Cliffs Aikido students (uchideshi) fold their sensei's hakama after every class and also get her a cup of hot water to drink.... (based from reading uchideshi's blog)

lbb
06-01-2010, 08:18 PM
FWIW, the custom is one that I have seen only in aikido dojo, generally aikido dojo affiliated with a shihan who once taught in a Japanese university club. It's something I've never seen in any koryu group with which I've been involved, and which I have never observed in the course of a number of public demonstrations of koryu, either onstage or backstage.

Right. Do you and Dan know what the word "may" means, by the way?

To paraphrase my earlier post, for those whose agenda impairs reading comprehension: wherever the practice came from, it could "not hardly" *snort* have existed in the time when you didn't take off your hakama when you ended practice. Clear now?

Sheesh almighty, you people.

Ellis Amdur
06-01-2010, 09:16 PM
Apprentices among craftsmen in Japan, even today are involved in a pretty rigid society, which involves cleaning up, taking care and serving. Sushi apprentices, for example, spend over a year merely preparing rice. European apprentices, at one time too, were veritable slaves. I cannot remember who it was, but one of the great American writers on Japan described a young sushi apprentice who refused to get the tattoos his masters had (this was a craftsman affectation, not just a yakuza thing) and they repetitively blackened his eyes for rejecting the "bond." (Tattoos separated you from society - forever - in a guild - he wasn't sure he wanted to do it.). He gave in, and the writer recalled seeing the two men tenderly washing the kid, his tats still raw, in the public bath.
In sumo stables, (sorry this one is crude, so close your eyes, delicate ones), there are some wrestlers too fat to wipe themselves after . . .so the most junior apprentice waits behind him - literally - while he does his business and cleans up afterwards. (I can imagine these kids praying - "Oh god, forget the grand championship. I don't care anymore. Just sign up someone else to the stable so I'm not junior anymore!"
Feudal was pretty bad - hakama folding would have been the least of it.
Anyway - Mary's specifically right. Once upon a time, taking off your hakama would mean taking off your pants in public - it wasn't a "practice uniform" (oh yeah, hence the wife thing I mentioned).

OTOH - I was at a koryu demo - Meiji shrine - and the elderly Araki-ryu teachers had just creakily taken off their hakama to change. My teacher nodded to the Japanese students to fold their hakama and they gave the deer in a headlight thing - they didn't know how. He was getting pretty ticked off, and moved forward to do it himself. (One should never "put" one's teacher in that position). I slid in front of him, and asked the old guys if I could fold the hakamas. They watched me like a hawk - and when I presented them back, done up right, one turned to the other - "He had the kata right, but hey, this gaijin knows how to behave too." I didn't feel degraded in the least - men who lived that long deserved a little bit extra respect.
On the other hand, if I'd ever made a move to fold my own Araki-ryu teacher's hakama, (or my 60 - eventually 80 year old - Buko-ryu teacher), they would have told me (one with a glare and the other with an expression of being put in an awkward place) to leave them alone and let them do it themselves.
All of which leads to one of the things I eventually loved most about Japan - that taught me the most - was the "case-by-case" nature of things. Sometimes it was right, sometimes it was so wrong - whatever it was. And bit by bit, it became natural and I developed a sensitivity to nuance.
Hence Takeda Sokaku having his bag carriers (Ueshiba being one) chasing after him as he scurried through the crowds in a train station, and Ueshiba later replicating this Daito-ryu training - and all the other trainings in sensitivity that the deshi had to do (the bath at the right temperature, etc.) - you learn something by this that cannot be learned any other way. Maybe you (the reader) do not care about it - maybe it is not worth it to you. Truly, however, such training is an absolute part of Japanese martial arts as they were - and maybe, to some degree still are. Because self-protection definitely meant knowing how to act within an incredibly labyrinthine social network, any mistake of which could lead to conflict. And this skill definitely transferred over to my career in threat assessment and crisis intervention.
(I developed a really powerful nikkyo once upon a time, and during an aikido dojo party, one of the older guys, really drunk, kept trying to grope my crotch. I kept telling him to stop, but he said he just had to see if I was as big there as the rest of me. (Ahem). After the third attempt, I put a nikkyo on him, and carefully, very carefully, applied increasing pressure until he yelped and begged me to stop. EVERYONE in the dojo was ticked off at me - he was drunk, they said, and meant no harm. I'm not here writing to say that the Japanese rule was to let somone squeeze you like a guernsey, but whatever I did was not "self-defense" in the context I lived in. In short, part of aiki seems to have been knowing how, when/where to apply it - if you had it.
So in conclusion, it is absolutely right to fold your teacher's hakama and so incredibly wrong to fold your teacher's hakama . . .
best
Ellis Amdur

Pat Togher
06-02-2010, 11:50 AM
Thank you Amdur Sensei. You post is greatly appreciated.

Pat

Josh Reyer
06-06-2010, 05:54 AM
FWIW.

Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, koryu kenjutsu.

Yagyu Nobuharu-sensei, 21st soke of YSR. By the time he was in 70s, 80s, he had bad knees. Junior students folded his hakama for him.

Yagyu Koichi-sensei, 22nd soke of YSR. In his late 50s, still pretty spry. Folds his own hakama, and won't even let folks carry his bags.

Just a thought; it's probably not a koryu/gendai thing as much as it is a "creaky old guy/spry younger guy" thing.