View Full Version : Hakama as a training tool?

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11-14-2005, 02:22 AM
Hi everyone, I was wondering about the wearing of a hakama when one is not ranked highly enough to have earned its use. Since I practice for a few hours in the morning before lectures, stretching, zazen, practicing tai sabaki and kamae for the most part. I was wondering where peoples opinion stood with the wearing of a hakama to reinforce the spiritual nature of these activities outside the dojo, as a way to focus my mind on the path I wish to follow, and whether or not it would be merely egotistical, and "playing pretend".

Also, I think that being able to analyse my movements out of the dojo, and compare them directly to sensei's in terms of balance and precision - based upon how his hakama moves and spins - could be a very helpful training aid, but it does seem a bit egotistical to wish to wear one.

I'd appreciate everyone's thoughts :)

Yann Golanski
11-14-2005, 03:45 AM
Hakama can be worn by whoever whenever they want. Some dojo chose not wear one at all, some for certain ranks and some for all ranks. It's not even a style fashion. Too much myths and rubbish about wearing a hakama. It's just old style trousers. They have nothing spiritual about them. Next, we'll be hearing that a proper lenght is so it draggs on the matt when one stands up...

Actually, on that last one. Some trousers in Tokugawa period were about 9 feet long. That way, there was no way anyone wearing them could draw a sword and do any dammage. That's why Lord Asano did not manage to kill Lord Kira with the devastating consequences that followed.

11-14-2005, 04:25 AM
Yann - its all myth.

The Tokugawa's were a fun bunch of guys with an affinity for slap stick.

Seriously though - even the Shogun wore the silly pants - does not sound like a security function to me. "Oh no its an assasin I must run away" Shuffle shuffle splat. Said assasin collapes in a fit of mirth and is promptly dispatched by some non-style concious functionary.

Dirk Hanss
11-14-2005, 04:27 AM
Yann is right, there is nothing spiritual in wearing hakama and no way to earn wearing one. It is just convention. Inspired by Saotoe Sensei and ASU standard we wear the (black) hakama beginning with 6th kyu. In the beginning it is very strange to dress and to move right and I still have problems getting my feet out of it.

But as I am wearing it now for more than 2 years, I would not like to miss it. The moves feel much better - at least it is easier to feel mistakes ;) and it makes me feel much more samurai-like (arrogant, and such things, you know).

No seroisly, if I would change to another dojo I would ask to get permission at least to wear a white one. In the beginning it looked just like a sack, now it is something that shows the nobility of aikido. I do not need it, I just like it (as all addict say :D).

Kind regards Dirk

11-14-2005, 04:56 AM
Thanks very much everyone :), maybe "spiritual" wasn't the best choice of words, but I definately see where you're coming from Dirk, it really does bring out the majesty of aikido movement, and that was what I was trying to get at, and the enhanced focus that wearing one could yield, as we try to emulate what sensei has shown us in class.

As for the historical significance, I was under the impression that it was designed to protect the wearer's legs for horsemanship (suibajutsu?), because prickly bushes too, were a much feared enemy :p. Thanks very much for replying everyone, I don't think I'd feel so egocentrical wanting to buy one for practicing outside the dojo with now :)


Nick Simpson
11-14-2005, 05:02 AM
Just over-trousers innit?

Also, though, I have seen leather/hide hakama worn by yabusame (horse-archery) practitioners, so they are kind of like chaps too.

Anyway, much better than seeing a man in just a kimono :P

11-14-2005, 05:34 AM
Yep. Hakama are just pants ... well, not 'pants', as such, more like trousers. Sort of.

Lan Powers
11-14-2005, 10:10 AM
"Wooooorld Wiiiiiide Paaaaants" as the announcer on David Letterman says....:)
I always wondered if Mr. Letterman might be a aikidoka.

11-14-2005, 01:30 PM
Hmm, I always thought it was a training tool, too -- isn't the hard thingy in back supposed to remind you to keep good posture?

11-15-2005, 01:14 AM
And if you get one of those heavy cotton ones, it helps you develop what one of our instructors calls "Godzilla walk" - heavy, grounded posture and movement. Same for heavy gis, actually.

I've only worn a hakama for iaido so far, though.

Nick Simpson
11-15-2005, 06:12 AM
My koshita isnt too hard, wouldnt keep me in posture. Im not sure whether its a nice flexible aiki one though.

Tim Gerrard
12-14-2005, 03:35 PM
My koshita isnt too hard.

There are Pills for that you know. :p

But seriously, although they are just trousers, you're more aware of your movement when you where them, at least that's what I've found.

And plus they look really cool!

12-14-2005, 04:46 PM
There are Pills for that you know. :p


Joe Bowen
12-14-2005, 07:06 PM
Ahh! the myth and mystic of the Hakama! It's all bunk. They are just a pair of "Trousers" as has been said before in this post.

Many folks new to Aikido buy into the hype that the hakama:
-Makes you more aware of your center
-Helps you maintain a straighter posture
-Hides your feet so your enemies can't see where you are stepping

Hell, even I thought that when I first started wearing the hakama. But, the real skill is doing Aikido all the time, anywhere, wearing anything or maybe even nothing at all.

The only training value I've gotten out of my Tozando 100% cotton hakama is the mindful patience I've developed from trying to fold the damn thing when it's all sweaty after class! :D

Don't think too much about your Aikido practice. Wearing a hakama will not help you analyze your Sensei's movements because he is wearing one and you're not. It is good that you practice by yourself for several hours outside the dojo, but putting on the hakama won't significantly enhance that practice. I'd say don't worry about the hakama until you have to worry about the hakama.


12-14-2005, 07:45 PM
Stupid hakama. Always get in the way of a good Dojo Brawl (TM) errr... I meant jiyu waza / randori. Mine sits neatly folded at the bottomest shelf of my apparel cabinet.


chris w
12-15-2005, 08:16 AM
i switched from a usaf dojo to an asu dojo about a year and a half ago and i dislike wearing the hakama. we are allowed to take it off during informal open mat practice and when i do, i always think "ahhhhh now i can be comfortable!" the hakama to me, just feels like i have a blanket tied around my waist. :yuck:

12-15-2005, 08:19 AM
I used to think hakama were really cool. And they're fantastic to look at and the swooshiness of the fabric is great.

Then I ended up sat in A&E with it, trying not to look like some great nerd who injured themselves in Role Play Gaming.

12-18-2005, 11:26 PM
I avoid wearing one whenever possible. I enjoy when people run over to me because they think I'm a complete newb due to the lack of hak. It's like, "SURPRISE! Stealth aiki!"