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sean mcdonnell
04-29-2003, 08:58 PM
Is it just me or do anyone else's dojos not have a belt system?( By belt system I mean colored belts that indicate your level of experience) Everyone I've told this to online has been like, "That's weird, I wonder how that works." Well I'm not exactly sure either but It seems like your either a white belt or a black belt. Also some of the senior students wear hakamas by choice. I've also read on Aikidofaq.com that there is no belt system in Aikido. I assume then that it is not traditional to have a belt system but different dojos have picked up on the idea and used it. Consider my Sensei was an apprentice of Kisshomaru Ueshiba( son of the founder) I would suspect that he would be following the original traditions. I would be interested to hear if anyone else trains at a dojo with no belt system. I also realize that this topic probably came up in the past, but I just found this site a month ago so give me a break.

Thanks alot,
Sean McDonnell

akiy
04-30-2003, 12:07 AM
Hi Sean,

As is the answer with most questions, the answer to this would be, "It depends."

My current dojo has people with dan rankings wearing a black belt and those who have yet to reach shodan (1st degree black belt) wearing white belts. We allow pretty much anyone to wear a hakama, although people usually wait until after their first test (5th kyu).

However, I've also trained at places where they wear colored belts in the adult system. Most of these places wear a white belt at 6th and 5th kyu, a blue belt at 4th and 3rd kyu, and a brown belt at 2nd and 1st kyu. I've also been to dojo where they had even more colors reminiscent of my days in karate (yellow, orange, purple, blue, green, red, brown)...

Some dojo reserve hakama at shodan, others somewhere below that, and others allowing people to wear hakama from the beginning. Other aikido dojo (eg Yoshinkan) hardly ever wear a hakama -- even the teachers -- outside of a large, public demonstration.

To top it all off, I've also heard of organizations wherein people wear different colored hakama according to their rank (including a white hakama near the beginning of their training).

So, in my experience at least, it all really depends on the organization and the dojo on what type of "belt" system a dojo uses...

Hope that helps,

-- Jun

JJF
04-30-2003, 03:01 AM
We use colored belts for the kids.

Grown ups:

All kyugrades: white belt

All dangrades: black belt

Hakama is worn from 3. kyu

ian
04-30-2003, 06:11 AM
Hi Sean,

As far as I am aware the coloured belt system developed to encourage children in what was then becoming a 'sport'. This also helped its export to the US. I think coloured belts are useful for children, especially in aikido where it takes alot of patience to reach some degree of proficiency.

The whole idea of a grade system is a modern invention. Traditionally you would be taught martial arts individually or part of a select few. No grade would be awarded, you would just complete the training and when your teacher felt you were good enough to instruct you might end up with an instructors certificate.

Obviously everything has changed now and martial arts on the whole are taught in classes where anyone can join. Especially in the more sports orientated martial arts and martial arts directed towards childern for health education the grading system assists with competition (so similar level students can compete) and encourages people.

I think grades are useful in aikido because it helps people formalise what they know, and people can work towards gradings and feel confidence in certain techniques once grades have been achieved. However I think in many cases the full knowledge and experience of an instructor is rarely passed over to students now since there are several students at different stages of development, may of whom won't stay with the instructor to the point of being able to teach themselves.

Ian

ian
04-30-2003, 06:14 AM
P.S. we don't have a belt system. Hakama wearing at any level is through recommendation; usually when they have an understanding of the principles of aikido and would be conidered a suitable role model for other students.

Karen Wolek
04-30-2003, 06:48 AM
I think it depends on the individual dojo, affiliation, and/or style. We only have white belts (5th thru 1st kyu) and black belts (dan ranks) at my dojo. Hakama are worn by dan grades.

opherdonchin
04-30-2003, 08:13 AM
I've seen:

White for kyu ranks
Black and hakama for dan ranks

White until first test
Blue for 5th and 6th kyu
Purple for 3rd and 4th kyu
Brown and hakama for 2nd and 1st kyu
Black and hakama for dan ranks

White until first test
White and hakama to 4th kyu
Brown and hakama to 1st kyu
Black and hakama for dan ranks

Daniel Mills
04-30-2003, 08:21 AM
At the dojo I train at, the system is as follows;

White - "8th Kyu" or ungraded.

Yellow - 7th Kyu

Orange - 6th Kyu

Green - 5th Kyu

Blue - 4th Kyu

Purple - 3rd Kyu (introduced to break up the 12 months training to 2nd Kyu, as a 6 month check to make sure all was on track, etc. as far as I can gather..)

Brown - 2nd Kyu

Black Tag - 1st Kyu (+ Hakama)

Black - 1st Dan.

And onwards.

As an Aikidoka of less than three weeks, I'm fond of the fact I can judge who to ask which questions, and who to believe when it comes down to techniques ;)

:)

MikeE
04-30-2003, 08:32 AM
Our system is:

mukyu: White

rokkyu: yellow

gokyu: blue

yonkyu: purple

sankyu: purple

nikyu & ikkyu: brown (plus hakama)

Works very well.

When I started I was in a white/black system with hakama at shodan. I really like the colored system better. I find colored belts at seminars act like a "handle with care" sticker for more experienced aikidoka...ensuring safe and fun training for all.

Just my personal opinion.

Eric Garcia
04-30-2003, 09:45 AM
With The United States Aikido Federation, 5th kyu is the begining level.

At our dojo, we have a colored belt system for those that are not yet yudansha(sp). When we attend seminars that are given by other USAF dojos we wear white belts, unless we have reached the level of Shodan.

JimAde
04-30-2003, 09:59 AM
I like colored belts specifically for seminars (and visiting other schools). While a colored belt doesn't guarantee anything, it at least gives you SOME idea of your partner's level before you start practicing.

I suppose the rebuttal to this would be that you should use connection and awareness to assess your partner, but I'm all for cheating when I can ;)

opherdonchin
04-30-2003, 10:06 AM
I like the white until black system best, although I've trained under it the least. I feel like it really reinforces the idea that rank doesn't matter and the idea that we are all students. I think that putting on a hakama at 5th kyu or 6th kyu like we do in ASU dojos is just plain silly.

Alphete
04-30-2003, 10:36 AM
In our Dojo here @ Buenos Aires we use the colored belt system to help newbies and between ourselves to know at wich level are each of the students. As Mike Eleffson said, it serves as a Handle with care label (for lower ranks) or You can start getting rough (for higher ranks).

The colors we use, differ a little bit in the number than the ones I read you use in the US.

We use

Begginers - White

5th. Kyu - Yellow

4th. Kyu - Orange

3rd. Kyu - Green

2th. Kyu - Blue

1st. Kyu - Brown

Hakamas are only worn by Shodans and higher ranked students.

Dave Miller
04-30-2003, 10:50 AM
Sean,

The use of colored belts is pretty much an American invention to allow for some visual encouragement of progress. I have seen as many as 10 different colored belts being used. Of course, the other side of this is that they get to charge the student money every time they test for a new belt-rank. (another American invention)

I spent a summer training in a Shotokan Karate dojo in Sapporo and they had just two belts, white and black. That is the traditional system in most Japanese martial arts. I don't know if "traditional" judo uses colored belts or not (it is, afterall, a sport).

In my aikido dojo, we use:

white: go-kyu

green: yon-kyu

brown: san-kyu and ni-kyu

brown with black stripe: i-kyu

black: shodan and above

The bottom line is the color of belt is not always a good indicator of how good a martial artist really is. I've seen black belts that were of shaky compitence and lower belts that were quite outstanding.

acot
04-30-2003, 11:15 AM
Here in Taiwan we use the same as they do in Bueno Aires...

Begginers - White

5th. Kyu - Yellow

4th. Kyu - Orange

3rd. Kyu - Green

2th. Kyu - Blue

1st. Kyu - Brown

Hakamas are only worn by Shodans and higher ranked students.

Also we don't touch the Bokken until Shodan either, and the Jo until Sandan. the ROC Aikikai organzation it seems to be very politcal (as they all are), and the training format by rank has become some what different from what is found else where.

Ryan

:ai: :ki:

GregH
04-30-2003, 11:38 AM
Hello all,

I'm seeing in my handbook

7th kyu white w/ stripe

6th kyu yellow

5th kyu yellow w/stripe

4th kyu blue

3rd kyu blue w/stripe

2nd kyu brown

1st kyu brown w/stripe

Greg

zachbiesanz
04-30-2003, 11:53 AM
Ungraded - white

5th and 4th kyu - green

3rd, 2nd, 1st kyu - brown w/ hakama

shodan - black

We're a university club so we tend to get lots of turnover, and I think the colors are helpful for the new students, but those of us who have been around a while know that it's not a big deal.

zachbiesanz
04-30-2003, 11:54 AM
P.S. We don't have tests, and subsequently no testing fees. booya!

jxa127
04-30-2003, 12:05 PM
Hello all,

I'm seeing in my handbook

7th kyu white w/ stripe

6th kyu yellow

5th kyu yellow w/stripe

4th kyu blue

3rd kyu blue w/stripe

2nd kyu brown

1st kyu brown w/stripe

Greg
Just to expand on Greg's point, we're an Aikido Association of America dojo, and the belt ranks are standardized across the association.

Generally, we don't put too much emphasis on belt ranks, but it is an easy way to tell who the senior students are. I view the tests as a good method for checking one's progress and readiness for responsibility -- as long as one doesn't put too much stock on tests and belts.

Regards,

-Drew

akiy
04-30-2003, 12:22 PM
I think that putting on a hakama at 5th kyu or 6th kyu like we do in ASU dojos is just plain silly.
Why do you think it's silly?
The use of colored belts is pretty much an American invention to allow for some visual encouragement of progress.
Actually, as the rec.martial-arts FAQ states, "The belt system, as a formalized method of indicating rank, was popularized by Professor Jigoro Kano, founder of Kodokan Judo, around the beginning of [the 20th century]. There are varying opinions as to whether the practice predated Kano's use of it, and where it may have come from, but it certainly wasn't common (the more traditional practice in Japanese martial arts was, and is, the granting scrolls indicating various levels of abilities. The practice was adopted by Karate, formerly a fairly obscure Okinawan folk art, as that art as brought into the mainstream of Japanese martial arts."

The FAQ continues a few sentences down: "Some of these schemes are elaborately hierarchical; some schools use no belt ranking system at all. White belts almost always indicate beginners, black belts indicate those who have reaches some level of ability. There are various colors used for rankings both below black belt, and for high ranking black belts, and various explanations as to what they mean. The color schome -- and the implications for school etiquette -- vary from system to system and perhaps from school to school."

And to hopefully head off the inevitable "black belts came from a white belt gone dirty" urban legend, I'll continue to quote from the FAQ: "An often heard story holds that the colours are explained as follows: a trainee's belts, which, traditionally, were never washed, became progressively dirties with time (starting out white, becoming yellow with sweat, green with grass stains, and so on), finally changing to black over the years. This explanation, alas, is almost certainly fanciful."

-- Jun

William Boyd
04-30-2003, 12:47 PM
At the dojo I attend kids wear colored belts. The grown ups at kyu ranks wear white belts & dan ranks wear black. At 3rd kyu the hakama can be worn. :)

Doug Mathieu
04-30-2003, 01:28 PM
Hi

In Canada I have seen a variety of systems too both for coloring belts and wearing Hakama.

I do think however more Dojos here go straight from white to black and somewhere at 3rd kyu and up Hakama start being worn.

I have trained in Judo with colored belts and in the last 12 years in Aikido no colored belts until black.

I was happy under both systems. However, if Aikido didn't have a ranking system itself I probably would have been less satisfied. I'm one of those people who need positive feedback at times that I'm progressing.

I have also seen at times students (not to many) who have a reverse snobbery about not coloring belts as in they are above going that route and have a superior attitude to training.

I'm not sure about wearing Hakama at any level unless the organization you train within all do it. I have heard more than once from a kyu rank student who got hurt when a senior person assumed they could go with a technique harder than they could. Granted the senior student should have avoided it but the fact is it happens.

This could be an arguement for an organization at least to systemize this kind of detail rather than have individual Dojo's decide wht they want to do.

All the best

Dave Miller
04-30-2003, 01:38 PM
Actually, as the rec.martial-arts FAQ states, "The belt system, as a formalized method of indicating rank, was popularized by Professor Jigoro Kano, founder of Kodokan Judo, around the beginning of [the 20th century]. There are varying opinions as to whether the practice predated Kano's use of it, and where it may have come from, but it certainly wasn't common (the more traditional practice in Japanese martial arts was, and is, the granting scrolls indicating various levels of abilities. The practice was adopted by Karate, formerly a fairly obscure Okinawan folk art, as that art as brought into the mainstream of Japanese martial arts."...

And to hopefully head off the inevitable "black belts came from a white belt gone dirty" urban legend, I'll continue to quote from the FAQ: "An often heard story holds that the colours are explained as follows: a trainee's belts, which, traditionally, were never washed, became progressively dirties with time (starting out white, becoming yellow with sweat, green with grass stains, and so on), finally changing to black over the years. This explanation, alas, is almost certainly fanciful."

-- JunNice find, Jun. It makes sense that it started with Kana and the sport of Judo. I gladly (and humbly) stand corrected. :)

As for the urban legand, I had heard that before too. Nice to see it dispelled.

Domo Arigato Gozaimashita

Joe Jutsu
04-30-2003, 01:38 PM
At my dojo we have colored belts as incentives for the kids' class, but for adult classes the system goes: White 5th-3rd kyus, brown belt with hakama 2nd-ikkyu, black belt with hakama at dan grades.

I've traveled to a few other Ki Society dojos and have seen colored belt systems there for adults, so yeah, I guess it's kind of dojo specific. Personally, I like wearing a white belt until 2nd kyu, it's one less thing that this college student has to pay for, and while walking through our rec facility on campus where my club meets I almost feel "incognito" with my white belt on, because I am a beginner but a beginner with 2+ years of experience. It's my understanding that in most other MA's I would no longer be a white belt.

Interesting question though, I've enjoyed reading about all the different systems out there. :)

Dave Miller
04-30-2003, 01:41 PM
Is it a generally agreed upon practice that regardless of your rank that you always wear a white belt when visiting another dojo?

Bronson
04-30-2003, 02:51 PM
Ok, so it's obvious that every organization, dojo, or instructor does it differently. This gives me the perfect opening to vent on one of my small pet peeves. If you are in a system that uses colored belts and go to another dojo and they ask what rank you've achieved, PLEASE do not say something like "I'm a blue belt". Tell them you're a rokkyu or 6th kyu (or whatever it happens to be).

I hear this a lot. People come in and ask about the dojo and say "I studied aikido in college and I made it to yellow belt..." Ok, so what kyu rank is that? "Huh?" Well, what style of aikido did you do, maybe we can figure it out from that? "Huh? I did aikido."

As for the white belts at other schools, I always take mine and try to ask the instructor what they prefer I wear. In one instance I didn't get a chance to see the instructor (whom I knew) before class so I put on the white belt with no hakama. He politetly told me I was being silly and should have worn my normal kit ;)

Bronson

Dave Miller
04-30-2003, 04:12 PM
Bronson,

Great point about knowing your rank (as opposed to belt color) and your style.

Josh Mason
04-30-2003, 05:40 PM
i really don't know what the rules are for other aikido organizations, but my dojo is an independent dojo and we have colored belt rankings as follows:

White

Yellow

Blue

Green

Brown

Black

we have over 200 students with our club, and everyone goes to different dojos throughout the state. I think the colored rank system is good because it lets the numerous instructors that we have in our club know exactly where you are in your training if you were to visit another Ronin Bushido dojo. I like Mr. Ellefson's statement about the colored ranking system being about safety. That was great.

Even though the Hakama is a traditional thing for everyone to wear, i think that they should only be worn by people who are Shodan and higher. To me, the Hakama has authority written all over it, and i would feel unworthy and incompetent if i wore a Hakama.

Daniel Mills
04-30-2003, 05:56 PM
Coming back to this, I've just got back from the dojo (where, I might add, I discovered I'd gained the confidence to hurl myself towards the ground in a forward-roll-on-right-side-motion... and succeed.. *gasp!* ) , where for most of the evening I trained with a fellow I'd not seen before, but was sporting a white belt.

After introductory chatter as we worked through random techniques (After over half the session focusing entirely on Ki, and performing simple, yet grin inducing Ki tests on each other..), that he was in fact a returning 5th Kyu (Green in our association/dojo), but had been away for quite some time, so wanted to reintroduce himself to Aikido, and so forth.

It was one of the most rewarding sessions I'd had, and it's thanks to him, that I took my first proper ukemi, and ended up working on my rolls in the dojo for 30/40 minutes after the session had ended.

My stomach muscles hate me, but I feel good. I think there should be more experienced ranks hiding around dojos as ungraded ;)

:)

Jeff R.
04-30-2003, 06:15 PM
Is it a generally agreed upon practice that regardless of your rank that you always wear a white belt when visiting another dojo?
I believe it may depend upon affiliation or just plain common courtesy. Typically, if you're a visiting a different discipline (Kung-Fu, etc.) and taking a lesson, then I have always seen wearing a white belt to be appropriate. If you are visiting an affiliate dojo, or a dojo of another discipline to put on a seminar or demonstration, then wearning your normal rank is appropriate.

I haven't tested in years; don't really plan to, so in "my" dojo, I wear my plain shodan, and in all other places, I wear the white belt to be on the safe side. The color simply has no bearing on performance, but it definitely helps hold up the hakama.

Dave Miller
04-30-2003, 06:47 PM
I believe it may depend upon affiliation or just plain common courtesy. Typically, if you're a visiting a different discipline (Kung-Fu, etc.) and taking a lesson, then I have always seen wearing a white belt to be appropriate. If you are visiting an affiliate dojo, or a dojo of another discipline to put on a seminar or demonstration, then wearning your normal rank is appropriate.The distinction you make between within your discipline/style and outside your discipline is a good one. When I trained in Japan, although I had earned Ikkyu in another style of Karate but still wore a white belt. The biggest lesson I learned is that they appreciated the honor of telling me that I was better than my belt suggested and I appreciated them saying so. Had I wore my "rightful" belt, they might have been placed in the uncomfortable position of thinking I wasn't as good as my belt suggested.

;)

rpnp
04-30-2003, 07:32 PM
Hello all,

At my dojo we use the color system...

6th kyu: white

5th kyu: white

4th kyu: yellow

3rd kyu: yellow

2nd kyu: brown

1st kyu: brown

Hakamas can be worn by any one 4th kyu and higher. I dont wear a hakama, but just about every one else in my dojo wears one.

Nacho_mx
04-30-2003, 08:55 PM
In our school all kyu ranks (5th to 1st, Aikikai standard) wear the white obi, the brown belt is acceptable for 1st kyu students, but itīs not used often. Yudansha can have their choice of black or white obi and wear the hakama (blue or black), however women can wear the hakama at anytime. Visiting students from any style or affiliation may wear their colored belts, but only yudansha may wear hakama.

opherdonchin
04-30-2003, 11:33 PM
I think that putting on a hakama at 5th kyu or 6th kyu like we do in ASU dojos is just plain silly.Why do you think it's silly?Well, I tend to think hakama are pretty silly to start with. They are expensive, cumbersome, never really taught me much about aikido, and take time to put on and fold up. They seem particularly silly for a 6th or 5th kyu because they are a distraction, because they require an unnecessary monetary commitment at a rank where many students still quit, and because it obviates the one potential use a hakama has as an obvious rank symbol. Rank symbols, I think, are most usefulfor beginners. Advanced students don't look at the rank, they look at the movements. Instead, in the ASU, students still mark their rank very clearly with white and brown and black but then hide it under a hakama so the only people who really should be paying attention to it -- beginners -- have a harder time seeing it.

The oft told story about O'Sensei reprimanding some beginner for training 'in their underwear' strikes me as being a holdover of Japanese hyper-traditionalism that doesn't particularly appeal to me. If we wanted to take it seriously, we shouldn't let pre-test beginners train 'in their underwear' either, but everyone can see that would be silly.

End of rant. It felt good to get that out of my system, I have to say.
Is it a generally agreed upon practice that regardless of your rank that you always wear a white belt when visiting another dojo?I always wear a white belt to a new dojo. I prefer to be told to wear my rank. Very closely affiliated dojos can sometimes be an execption, but even there I usually prefer to go in white. I feel that it say to me, and to the sensei, that I come to learn and that I've left my claim to 'knowing something' behind. I don't always live up to that claim, but I do try to and I find that the reminder helps me.

I'm really amazed at all the different coloring systems. It's kind of fun.

bob_stra
05-01-2003, 01:31 AM
You people have it "made in the shade"!

Over here - blue gi top, black pants, hakama.

About a 1000 different belts, including red, green, purple, white belt with brown stripe through the centre etc. Infact, I'm not even sure those!

What worse - same dojo, 3 arts (Aikido, JJJ, silat)= 3 different belt systems. So...someone doing both JJJ and aikido might wear a belt from one art to the other without being that grade. I have a friend with the aforementioned brown belt / white stripe combo. I was worried he'd trounce the crap out of me. Turns out that is the second belt given out in JJJ.

Basically a casual observer ends up not knowing what grade a person is based on belt.

(plus the fact that the belt is hidden by the hakama)You get to be quite good at guessing by obseving body movement tho. Or, to use my rule of thumb - "everyone is a higher grade than me. Even the guy in the track suit a tee shirt. Watch yourself."

On the downside, the whole purpose of belts is kind of diluted. Not much reason to go through gradings etc.

Joshua Livingston
10-27-2005, 09:27 AM
Aikikai USAF East Coast style (under Yamada Sensei's side):

Off the street = White Belt
5th and 4th Kyu = Blue Belt
3rd - 1st Kyu = Brown Belt
1st Kyu = Hakama (the downside of gaining the rank ;) )
Shodan-Judan = Black Belt and Hakama (Or in casual practice white belt and no Hakama because you forgot your Black belt at home and are having a bad day and don't want to fool around with Hakama, and no one out ranking you is around to point it out :p )

Steve Mullen
10-27-2005, 10:06 AM
At our dojo we all wear white belt until we reach shodan. Hakama may be worn at 1st kyu for men, and (until recently) 2nd kyu for ladies. This may seem sexist at first but it is more a statement of the fact that there are few women in our organistation, less even who train to the standard set to achieve 2nd kyu. Another reason for this is that most of the higher grades used as uki for the grading are big guys who really commit to the attack for that level of grading, it's a recognition of the sheer difference in physique of the female taking 2nd kyu and the big hairy guy acting as uki.

I enjoy the fact that i'm a 3rd (soon to be 2nd, fingers crossed) kyu who wears a white belt. In our local classes we all obviously know each others grade, and due to the fact that our organisation has many courses a year you get to know everyone elses grade too. this means that people who enter the class as a beginner don't feel intimidated by seeing several high grades sitting there grinning at them demonically (which we try to keep to a minimum, honestly ;) )

It also allows a lower grade to be pushed that little bit further. when i was 5th kyu i was regularly used as uki for the sensei (3rd and 5th dan) at both my local class and on major courses (6th dan and shihan when they visit) and none of them held back much. This was due to the fact that i train with the higher grades as much as i can. however, when i visited a dojo which had a coloured belt system in place i found that the sensei tended to split the class up more, which meant i wasn't pushed as much

In a desperate attempt to get back to some sort of point i'll summarise by saying that as long as you take care when training with any partner you don't need coloured belts to know how to handle uki, and 'handle with care' belts often mean that an uki who is more able than most of their grade isn't pushed as much as they would like

Avery Jenkins
10-27-2005, 11:49 AM
And to hopefully head off the inevitable "black belts came from a white belt gone dirty" urban legend, I'll continue to quote from the FAQ: "An often heard story holds that the colours are explained as follows: a trainee's belts, which, traditionally, were never washed, became progressively dirties with time (starting out white, becoming yellow with sweat, green with grass stains, and so on), finally changing to black over the years. This explanation, alas, is almost certainly fanciful."

-- Jun
I'm into my second decade as a mudansha, and I can say that this is not entirely an urban legend. I have one belt that has lasted me throughout the years. It does get washed regularly, but as the outer covering has frayed and worn away, the inside, which is black, has become increasingly visible. It really is kind of cool, and I feel it does represent the time I have put into the art, as I gradually creep toward shodan.

However, I might feel a bit different about the whole thing if the stuffing was, say, hot pink...

Avery

Amir Krause
10-27-2005, 12:14 PM
Is it a generally agreed upon practice that regardless of your rank that you always wear a white belt when visiting another dojo?

No, it depends on the specific circumstances. When going to practice in a seminar, visiting an affiliated Dojo, or having a pre-arranged visit to at dojo (as an invited guest), I would wear my normal practice belt.
But, once I join another group as a student (in a non affiliated dojo), I start from scratch, including all the related meanings. Obviously this would mean wearing a white belt.

Amir

Ron Tisdale
10-27-2005, 12:30 PM
It varies, and often depends on the people and dojo involved. Most of the aikikai aikido dojo I visit respond to any questions by asking me to wear my belt and hakama.

When I go to train in Daito ryu, I wear a white belt, no hakama. No one ever looks at me funny for doing it, but most of them know I am ranked in aikido. So they don't mind throwing me hard :)

If people come to a yoshinkan dojo, and are not yudansha, but typically wear hakama in their own practice, I advise them to just wear their normal belt and dogi, no hakama. We typically don't wear the hakama as much, and it might seem a little strange. At the Inoue Dojo-cho seminar recently, Inoue Sensei was the only person in the room I remember with a hakama on. That included the 7th dan instructor who's dojo it was. Basically when in Rome...

Best,
Ron

Darren
10-27-2005, 12:51 PM
I agree with the bloke who said hakama at 5th and 6th kyu is rubbish . I feel that anyone wearing one should be able to teach and it is an honour to wear one. In yoshinkan aikido as taught by the Hombu dojo in Japan I believe that it is only given to 3rd dan and above. I think that if everybody wears one what is the point of them anyway. I've just watched a Chida sensei dvd which was in Canada with Robert Mustard sensei and the only person on the mat with a hakama was Chida shihan himself , not Robert Mustard sensei who's aikido is brilliant to see as well, although I've only seen him on dvd .5th and 6th kyu dressing like a shihan please. :mad:

Ron Tisdale
10-27-2005, 01:20 PM
Hi Darren,

I think we need some context here. As you say, the tradition in the yoshinkan is a bit different. But at one point in aikido the hakama was considered proper dress *period*. To not have it was basically training in your underwear. Modern times have a different view...after the war when it was difficult and expensive to get a hakama, the standards changed. Some groups like to go back to those halcyon times when everyone wore them.

There is nothing really wrong with that...it's just different from what we do. Understanding the differences and where they came from is what's important.

Best,
Ron

bkedelen
10-27-2005, 03:04 PM
Putting on your hakama is part of the ritual that we use to enter the magic circle. It is an important part of the rei of Japanese budo (it begins and ends with rei, after all). If the hakama is insignificant, then why is the shomen significant? The dojo? Why not drop the dress-up act and meet in the parking log in jeans and tee-shirts? There are many arts which do this and flourish. Nevertheless these things are part of the character of Aikido. Gaining admittance into the magic circle lends a unique experience to our training and provides a fertile medium for multifaceted growth. This is a secret that the oft-mocked (guilty) Society for Creative Anachronism folks have long known.

Trish Greene
10-27-2005, 03:10 PM
Hi Ron and Darren,

Where I train, my Sensei has said that it was proper for females to wear hakamas no matter what their ranking is but the males still have to "earn" theirs. From what I have read and gathered in different places, there is much mixed opinions about this!

What are your thoughts on allowing women to wear hakamas regardless of their ranking?

akiy
10-27-2005, 03:17 PM
Wow. A somewhat old thread re-surfaces...

Here are two polls which touch on the hakama subject:

"Do you think everyone, regardless of gender and rank, should wear a hakama in aikido?"
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=21

"What do you think of wearing a hakama during aikido training?"
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=165

-- Jun

MaryKaye
10-27-2005, 03:57 PM
A couple of times while travelling I've trained at a dojo that does "casual summers"--in the summer, everyone wears white belt and gi, no hakama.

I remember doing a whole morning of jiyu-waza with six or seven of them, and being told at the end, "That was well done, especially since you're four ranks lower than the next lowest person here." I'd suspected as much by about five minutes in.... If they had all been in black belts and hakama, would I still have been there? Maybe. I'd have been intimidated right up front instead of five minutes in, when it was too late to back out.... It was a good, if scary, experience.

We have white belts and no hakama till shodan, black belt and hakama thereafter, except that if you are teaching you wear the hakama regardless. This works well as it's a clear visual marker for the teacher. We've found this particularly important in kids' classes; a teacher in gi and white belt does not have as easy a time controlling the class as the same teacher in hakama.

The one place we use colors is for kids, and I find that really helpful for a number of reasons. There is a natural tendency to think big kid equals experienced, small kid equals inexperienced. But it isn't true, and the belts are a strong visual reminder for everyone concerned. And they are just more motivated by belt colors than by number rankings. (The blue-belt kid is currently annoyed that both 6th kyu and 5th kyu are blue, so he has a long way to go to purple.)

When I was training at an unfamiliar dojo with a ton of young students in open classes, I think those colored belts kept me from making a lot of both social and aikido errors, and possibly getting pounded into the mat by smallish brown-belts.... Somehow it is easier to look at an unfamiliar
adult and assess their ability level than to realize in your gut that the eight-year-old holding out his hand is fully capable of taking you apart.

Mary Kaye

Ron Tisdale
10-27-2005, 04:08 PM
Hi Trish,

I don't really *have* any thoughts of my own, dontcha know.... :)

Just kidding. Personally, if I trained in a dojo that trained that way, it wouldn't bother me a bit. It's up to the instructor and the tradition they follow, which is why I *try* not to make judgements about these things. The way I was taught is this. Learn about the reasons behind the traditions, and understand *why* things are done a certain way in a certain tradition. Then, from a position of understanding, if you wish to make a change, understand the reason you make the change, and go ahead. But only if you understand what you're coming from...and where you're going to.

I guess I feel that anything else is disrespectful.

Best,
Ron

Joshua Livingston
10-27-2005, 05:03 PM
I agree with the bloke who said hakama at 5th and 6th kyu is rubbish . I feel that anyone wearing one should be able to teach and it is an honour to wear one. In yoshinkan aikido as taught by the Hombu dojo in Japan I believe that it is only given to 3rd dan and above. I think that if everybody wears one what is the point of them anyway. I've just watched a Chida sensei dvd which was in Canada with Robert Mustard sensei and the only person on the mat with a hakama was Chida shihan himself , not Robert Mustard sensei who's aikido is brilliant to see as well, although I've only seen him on dvd .5th and 6th kyu dressing like a shihan please. :mad:

Though I agree that 6th and 5th Kyu should not "have" to wear Hakama, to me this is more of an issue that most 6th and 5th Kyu have enough to worry about already let alone having the difficulty of walking and tripping over a Hakama, as well as has been said the monetary investment for those who may not stick around long (like those discouraged at tripping over themselves constantly).

However, as has been said, when Shioda Sensei was practicing with the founder, everyone wore Hakama as standard. Just the same if you take Kendo, Kenjutsu, or Iaido, everyone wears Hakama. Of course if you are practicing in a Yoshinkan Dojo then you should follow the standards of the organization, but all of us don't practice Yoshinkan and have our own Hombu Dojo in Japan that we go by. As far as I know the Aikikai standard is that Yudansha are expected to wear Hakama, but before that it is basically up to the individual organization or Dojo. Also 3rd Dan are not considered to be Shihan by Aikikai standards, but this doesn't mean that we should look at another style and scoff at such a title at such a low rank (in our eyes, where we have to be 7th-8th Dan), as all titles are relative to the style or art. An organization can call all their Yudansha Soke or O-Sensei for all it matters, as long as it is standard across the board and everyone realizes the fact, (Though no one might take the organization seriously anymore). That is assuming that you indeed meant that Yoshinkan 3rd Dan are considered to be Shihan, which I haven't heard before.

I personally believe that everyone wearing Hakama at Kyu level is a bad idea as it is hard for beginners to know what level of a student they are working with and thus doesn't have much to work with when an annoying 5th Kyu keeps over correcting them. As far as the new student is concerned, they could be 1st Kyu or Yudansha and thus should know what they are talking about, when in reality they are simply someone one with blue-belt-itis. Also it is a bit disappointing for Shodan who earn their shiny new black belt and don't get to show it off because the Hakama is covering it up. :yuck: ;)

I also believe that it is a rather interesting practice to cover the feet of the ones who are supposed to be teaching...

How many have seen their teachers have to hike up their Hakama just to let everyone know what's going on?

Camille Lore
10-27-2005, 06:34 PM
Interesting discussion... When I practiced aikikai in Portugal as a kid, everyone had different colored belts. Ranks below brown wore a white hakama. AFter brown, a black one.
Now, in the dojo I practice in, we have 4 belts- white, blue, green, brown and black. Anyone can wear a black hakama, our sensei said that he thinks it's hard for a black belt to all of a sudden adjust to wearing a hakama. He doesn't require people to get themfor awhile though,said. I got one because I feel kind of naked without it!
When I went to the yoshinkan demo though, I wore my blue belt and no hakama. I asked beforehand what to wear, and Ron said hakamas were reserved for sandan and up, and to wear my white or blue belt, whichever I felt comfortable with. I mentioned it somehow to my sensei and he told me to wear my blue, so I did what he said.... I wouldn't have minded wearing my white tho.
However I do like being able to tell when I meet an uke about where they are in their experience....

Ron Tisdale
10-28-2005, 10:05 AM
Hi Camille!

Hope you had a good time at the seminar. Wearing the blue belt was fine, as you probably noticed there were a few people with colored belts (other than black). I like your Sensei's idea of having people get used to the hakama before black. It really can be quite an adjustment!

Best,
Ron

Camille Lore
10-28-2005, 11:59 AM
I had a great time! Awesome to be taught by someone who is teaching in Japan...
Yes, it can certainly be an adjustment! lol and fun to watch someone adjusting ! :D

alcantur
10-28-2005, 09:09 PM
in the dojo where i started in aikido we used only 3 colors belts:

white for kyu students
brown for sensei's assistants that still haven't achieved dan grades
black for yudanhsa

but in the dojo i'm studying now we have the following colours

white 6th kyu
yellow 5th kyu
orange 4th kyu
blue 3rd kyu
green 2nd kyu
brown 1st kyu
black yudansha

i think color belts are useful to promote the feeling of progress in the learning, it is very useful for kids, and for some if not many grown ups

cheers

Rodrigo

mathewjgano
10-28-2005, 10:34 PM
At Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo (say thet 10 times fast) I don't see actual "black" belts. After the first test one wears hakama. When one becomes a shodan, the belt is still white, but it appears to be a bit wider. Still, you can't really see it unless you're in the changing room. Rank is a thing more felt than seen there. I can't really speak on any other style with any real understanding. Currently I'm training in Shodokan style and I see white, blue, and black belts; no hakama. I know they do have the kyu/dan ranking system to, but as to being more specific, I can't say.
Take care,
Matt

mrjam2jab
10-28-2005, 10:36 PM
In my dojo it is White, Orange (6th & 5th), Blue (4th & 3rd) Brown (2nd & 1st), Black. The color scheme is really only important to the particular style you study. . We had two 3rd Dan move from PA out to Washington State. There was not a afiliate (Kokikai) dojo there so they went to another "brand". They were not permitted to wear their black belts...were told they had to wear white.

bogglefreak20
10-29-2005, 05:56 AM
The dojo I train at (Ki Aikido btw) doesn't use a belt-code. I have actually yet to see someone regardless of rank wearing a black belt on the mat. Sensei included.

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 10:04 AM
Traditionally there was only white and black..and then all the colors of dirt in between. The color belt ranking system was originally created by Jigaro Kano, the founder of Judo. He developed belt colors in order to assess skill levels in Judo competitions.
As far as I know, most traditional "Ueshiba" Aikido Dojos wear white until they're black, maybe I'm wrong.

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 10:07 AM
In fact, Didn't Ueshiba always wear a white belt?
I'm sure somebody knows the answer to that.

DonMagee
12-14-2006, 01:23 PM
I believe that my aikido dojo was white, blue, green, green, brown, brown, black with hakama at brown.

Personally, I prefer to wear my white belt. If I got to another school of a different style, I will wear my white belt. The exception to this is if I went to another judo or bjj school. I would wear my judo rank at any judo school regardless of association, and I would wear my bjj as well for the same reason. Basically these ranks are proven though competition with multiple associations. My rank should be respected and I should be able to preform as expected in these arts.

natasha cebek
12-14-2006, 01:35 PM
I wasn't asking about the adopted belt colors, I just wanted to know if Ueshiba only wore a white belt?
Just curious, that's all

joncaleb
04-29-2008, 03:46 PM
I'm new to Aikido as well, but have minimal training in other forms of martial arts. In the Marines MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program - an MMA type compilation), I am a Brown Belt (we have tan, grey, green, brown, 1st-6th black). I also study with a Gracie BJJ Brown belt (15 years of BJJ and only a brown!!) and Gracie BJJ Purple belt.

Being a part of this, and learning about Aikido's belt system, is an eye-opener in a way. There is a certain amount of 'belt chasing' within the Marine Corps. This has it's advantages and disadvantages. You see alot of the time a member reaches a belt level and is happy with it and stops trying to further themselves. They go "I'm a green belt" but yet they haven't practiced in 8 months...?

With Aikido, this introduces a bit of humility and allows you to focus on the art of it - not the requirements for that next 'level-up'. Everyone is a white belt, until you prove otherwise. However, we are a goal oriented civilization, so achievement is paramount.

joncaleb
04-29-2008, 04:09 PM
MCMAP Belt system:

480

Jamie_Macc
04-29-2008, 04:56 PM
Hi sean,

in my dojo a coloured belt system is used for juniors only (Keep them interested at younger age.) Some ofthe senior students also get to wear a hakama if givenpermission by sensei.

Jamie

GLWeeks
04-30-2008, 12:40 PM
White Belt for all Kyu ranks and Black Belt for Dan ranks... Hakama can be worn after Shodan...

I love this system... I have often thought I would continue to wear my white belt even after I gain my Shodan ranking... I like to hang onto that "Beginner's mind" mentality...

Rupert Atkinson
04-30-2008, 03:34 PM
I went through the coloured belt systems in Tomiki Aikido, Judo, Kyushindo, and Jujutsu. I thought it was normal but even then was always irked by the fact that people chased the grade rather than the skill. The only art the colour made sense in was Judo - the higher colour could usually dump the lower colour on the floor. That was normal, but it was so obviously not so in other arts.

When I discovered Aikiaki and their white/black-only system I found it to be really refreshing. People were really trying to improve their technique and everyone was more or less equal (except for the rather big divide between white and black). Also, people tended not to grade so often - more when they felt they were ready rather than being pushed along by a money-oriented system (at least, where I was). I have also noticed that if someone gets to black belt but fails to keep up their skill, they tend to quit. If not, others will politely ignore their lack of skill (impossible in Judo, of course).

Now, I have given up on grading altogether - a personal choice, which has also saved me more than a few $! Instead, I like-to-think just chase after the skill and have little interest in what others think (of themselves or me). I have met a few like-minded people - usually in Aikikai (rarely in other arts).
------
PS In Judo I injured my back and couldn't wear by black belt under my hakama as rear falls agravated it. My back still plays up from time to time so I never wear my belt under my hakama. I have gotten used to it and - well, recommend it. Give it a go - it is ten times more comfortable. Chuck that BB out! Go for it ... consider it a lesson...

PPS My kid does TKD - I HATE paying for his gradings and the stupid belts - but he loves it so ... what can you do huh?

Shany
04-30-2008, 04:40 PM
In my dojo branch:

6 (7and up for kids) until 1 is White
At shodan test you get Black and wear it onwards.

Hakama can be worn from Kyu 4.

dalen7
05-02-2008, 03:16 PM
No Kyu - (Typically no uniform, but if uniform they have a white belt)

6th kyu - white
5th kyu - yellow
4th kyu - orange
3rd kyu - green
2nd kyu - blue/hakama
1st kyu - brown/hakama

1st Dan - black/hakama

---
Ideally it would give you an idea of where people are at and what they know. (would be great for seminars, but then you realize how subjective the system is, and that you can 'beat up' a yellow belt at 'no kyu'... )

Sure they are at different levels within each rank...and you would potentially find some that are really a grade above the rest within their given rank.

Again, I like it as a guide post so you can have an idea where someone is at when you train with them at a seminar, or what not. - not that it matters really, but anyway. ;)

Peace

dAlen

Elaine Adams
05-07-2008, 02:48 PM
I have posted on this subject before, due to moving from one dojo with coloured belts in the UK to one in Italy where the white belt until Yudansha grade is the form.

I was not allowed to wear my proudly attained orange belt in my new dojo and was regarded as a beginner which hurt my pride hugely. What a great lesson! My aikido before was partially motivated by a desire to pass to the next colour belt, now I just try to be a better aikidoka. I can still see plusses and minusses in both systems, however. For example, I still think the coloured belt system is at least a good safety measure in international courses where you don't know everyone.