View Full Version : Are some ways of teaching to western?

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Ki No Nagare
03-31-2005, 12:44 PM
Hello everyone,

I have been thinking about how Aikido is being teached around the world....some say you can't wear a hakama if you don't have a 3th kyu grade or higher. Some say only woman may wear them if they have 5th or even 6th kyu.
A lot of schools have coloured belts, and this was made up by western civilisation. Why did people invent these rules?

Traditionally there were no kyu gradings, only because arts like Judo became competitive to become well known around the world they started to give grades.

Ueshiba demanded that everyone would wear a hakama, but because of an economical crisis he'd allow new students to have more time before purchasing a hakama. So it wasn't that only the 'better' aikidoka's could wear one, it was just that most of the new students couldn't afford one.

Why can't everybody wear a hakama?
Why do some dojo's make a difference in gender with wearing a hakama? Isn't everybody equal?
Why do we need recognition for what we have accomplished, shouldn't it be a personal journey? Or is it something else?

Someone...or everyone.....enlighten me!!!

03-31-2005, 08:26 PM
In Gozo Shioda's book, "Aikido Shugyo" he says the Hakama was used to cover the knees/legs to hide their movments, so as to not be figured out. Hows this answer your question? Does'nt! Just cool, I thought.

Ian Upstone
04-01-2005, 01:52 AM
Hi Stijn,

Hmm, the title isn't exactly accurate - your questions have nothing to do with 'teaching' per se, more along the lines of 'people think they're better than me because they wear different clothing'.


If you do a search for 'wearing hakama' and read some other threads, you may get some answers or indeed come to some conclusion about the wearing of hakama. There seems to be as many varieties of 'who wears what' in as many dojos as there are out there - and other than those who are insecure about it, it makes no difference, in my opinion.

For some it's a historical/traditional thing, for others, a practical one. For others, hey, perhaps they just feel like it!

I train on a regular basis (half my time in each) in two different dojos. In one place I wear hakama, and in the other I don't. And it's merely just to go with what is done and expected of my rank in each place. And apart from the extra time taken to tie the thing on and fold it up after wards, it doesn't make any difference to the training, or how people treat me.

As far as visibly displaying rank with a coloured belt or the wearing of hakama - I think it works fine if that's the norm. I also don't think there's anything wrong with being proud of your achievements, as long as it's not just a status symbol, or encourages conceited attitudes.

I trained once in a dojo where there is no rank at all - The head instructor doesn't even issue dan grades, and he's more than qualified to. And his system seems to work there. Maybe that's just Kiwi's though!

Also, and just to throw a spanner in your generalizations - I've trained in a dojo in Japan where the kyu grades wear coloured belts, so it's hardly a western invention there. And again, the system works.

To conclude, just follow what is expected where you train. Like aikido techniques, I don't think one way is necessarily 'better' than another, just different. Also, when folk cry 'rank is unimportant' - to me it seems that it really must be important to them or else they wouldn't mention it! ;)

04-01-2005, 06:15 AM
It's my understanding that Kano created the colored belt systemn with Judo and it's common in other Japanese arts to use a kyu/dan ranking system. So like a previous poster said, I don't think it's an entirely Western creation. Also I don't think the women wearing hakama at an earlier level is a Western creation either. One of the ladies in the dojo is from Japan and the women in her Japanese dojo begin wearing hakama at 2nd kyu, but the men wait till shodan. And in some Western schools everyone does wear hakama after their first kyu test. In the association that I'm a member of I think the recommedation is that you start wearing hakama at shodan, but what is actually done is that it's up to the sensei in the individual dojo, so you get some variations.