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-   -   Hakama or no hakama. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1922)

nmarques 05-21-2002 12:49 PM

Hakama or no hakama.
 
Hi,

Once more I have a question that was raised on my research over Aikido. It is concerned to the use of the Hakama, and the most important thing I readed was:

" Currently, most Aikido dojo do not follow O Sensei's strict policy about wearing the hakama. Its meaning has degenerated from a symbol of traditional virtue to that of a status symbol for yudansha. I have traveled to many dojo in many nations. In many of the places where only the yudansha wear hakama, the yudansha have lost their humility. They think of the hakama as a prize for display, as the visible symbol of their superiority. This type of attitude makes the ceremony of bowing to O Sensei, with which we begin and end each class, a mockery of his memory and his art."
In: http://www.aikidofaq.com/misc/hakama.html

Reading this from a student from the O Sensei named Shigenobu Okumura Sensei, and comparing to this,

"So, in my opinion, there are two approaches to hakama wearing that feel right:

1. Everybody wears a hakama from the first time they buy a "uniform" and we live with the drawbacks from day one and get the advantages too.

2. Hakama are worn by yudansha, always and exclusively. So beginners don't have to deal with the cost or the problems and are less hidden. Yudansha have reached the level where elegance and dignity should be important aspects of their practice so they are expected to show that.

I've been in many dojo with many different philosophies on this matter - and in my experience, these are the two that work best."
in: http://www.aikiweb.com/misc/jones1.html

this is a personal opinion, wich I respect as much as I respect the first one, but what I cant understand is that if the Hakama is a symbol of Humility and commitment, why distinguish beginners from advanced when according the the elder O Sensei everyone without a Hakama shouldnt be allowed to step the mat, regarding this last opinion with this sentence,

"So beginners don't have to deal with the cost or the problems and are less hidden. Yudansha have reached the level where elegance and dignity should be important aspects of their practice so they are expected to show that."

it shows only that the Hakama is used as trophy and as an object of arrogance only concerning the looks, so my final question is, a beginner by not wearing a hakama has no dignity ? Do the "looks" become more important than the man ? If everyone is so much influenced by the O Sensei, whay adulterate the one simple tradition ? Hakama is meant for the Elite ?

Thanks

PS: None of this is personal, but it just made me think a while, and since I am trying to choose a dojo, should I take in consideration the fact that I should choose one more close to the O Sensei or something more "modern" if you can call it that.

Arianah 05-21-2002 01:33 PM

There are certainly more qualified people on this board than me to talk about this, but I'll take a stab at it. ;)

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...&threadid=1445
You'll probably find the above thread very interesting and informative.

Quote:

Originally posted by nmarques
. . . but what I cant understand is that if the Hakama is a symbol of Humility and commitment, why distinguish beginners from advanced when according the the elder O Sensei everyone without a Hakama shouldnt be allowed to step the mat . . . it shows only that the Hakama is used as trophy and as an object of arrogance only concerning the looks, so my final question is, a beginner by not wearing a hakama has no dignity ? Do the "looks" become more important than the man ? If everyone is so much influenced by the O Sensei, whay adulterate the one simple tradition ? Hakama is meant for the Elite ?
In my organization, hakama are reserved for yudansha, but I don't think of the hakama as a sign of elitism or as an "object of arrogance", but rather, a sign of hard work, same as the belt on your hips (if your style/organization uses different belts, that is). And they ARE a sign of commitment. Have you ever seen how expensive hakama are? (Jeeze! What am I going to college for? I should get into the hakama business! :p) There are still some styles/organizations that have you wear a hakama from day one, and others that don't use hakama at all. One is not better than the other for it, they are just different.

Quote:

PS: None of this is personal, but it just made me think a while, and since I am trying to choose a dojo, should I take in consideration the fact that I should choose one more close to the O Sensei or something more "modern" if you can call it that.
Don't fall into the trap that says that anything that's traditional must be better. I personally love tradition, but there are much more important factors to consider when choosing a dojo other than who's wearing a skirt (people and the skill thereof come immediately to mind).

Sarah (who is a long way from wearing a hakama, but tossed in her two cents anyway :D)

Greg Jennings 05-21-2002 01:47 PM

At our dojo, it's not an issue.

BTW, The Founder was at Hombu dojo after WWII ended when the yudansha-only policy for hakama was in effect.

Best Regards,

nmarques 05-21-2002 02:58 PM

Expensive ?
 
About the hakama being expensive, I dont consider myself a rich person, and I am not rich, but looking at some prices I saw online wich go from 50$US to 170$US, there seems to be a wide range, and doesnt look expensive at all. Well I payed a bit more for a complete set of equipment when I practiced Kickboxing, a single pair of good gloves can cost much more than that.

What I asked and gave source, was two set of opposing ideas or just even perspectives, I dont know everything and I will never reach that point, but I just wanted a clear idea about it, you people who are "playing in this league" for much more time than I am, know much more and all I wanted was just a clear straight opinion about those two articles. I took my conclusions, I would like to be corrected in what I am wrong.

Once more thanks for your time and understanding.

Arianah 05-21-2002 03:51 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by nmarques
About the hakama being expensive, I dont consider myself a rich person, and I am not rich, but looking at some prices I saw online wich go from 50$US to 170$US, there seems to be a wide range, and doesnt look expensive at all.
Since I don't wear one, I've not exactly shopped around for them, but the ones I've seen have been $80+, which in addition to buying a gi ($50+), weapons (quality bokken and jo $50+), and training costs, for a beginner who isn't sure if s/he is going to stick with it (many have said most leave after the first month), it can really add up. That's why buying the hakama when you are fully committed to aikido is a good idea, in my opinion. I consider them expensive, but it may be because I am a student, with very little income. <shrug>

Sarah

Greg Jennings 05-21-2002 04:07 PM

Re: Hakama or no hakama.
 
Quote:

Originally posted by nmarques
PS: None of this is personal, but it just made me think a while, and since I am trying to choose a dojo, should I take in consideration the fact that I should choose one more close to the O Sensei or something more "modern" if you can call it that.
OK, I guess I understand now.

You're asking about the hakama policy as a criteria for preferring to join one dojo over another.

Frankly, it shouldn't enter into the picture. It isn't even noise, much less being significant on a signal to noise ratio.

What matters is a dojo/instructor/senior students that fit your personal situation.

Here is the process that I usually hear recommended to those searching for a dojo:

Go visit all of them that are within a practical commute. Train with them if you can, observe if you can't. Observe the instructor(s) and the senior students and how they interact with the more junior students. Be polite, but ask questions.

After you have made the rounds, reflect on your notes, eliminate any obvious rejects, and visit them again.

Repeat till you find a dojo that you can make a long-term commitment to.

If you have questions, please feel free contact me on this list or to e-mail me privately.

Best Regards,

guest1234 05-21-2002 05:10 PM

Well, first the quote is from Mitsugi Saotome Sensei, "The Principles Of Aikido" (the Aikidofaq had the name of the person being quoted after the quote, not before). Wearing a hakama early or late, both have roots in tradition (as much tradition as you can have from a martial art developed just a few decades ago---this is NOT an ancient martial art with centuries of tradition behind it). Both have pros and cons. The wear of one after your first test (not sooner) is a good starting point for the 'early' crowd, as by that time you know basically how to fall, which I think is one of the big things adding to attrition. But I don't think you should choose a dojo based on what anyone is wearing... not when there are more important factors, like the number of cute available members of the opposite sex:rolleyes:

PeterR 05-21-2002 07:10 PM

No one wears a hakama in our dojo - its not considered safe, it hides posture, and it restricts body movement. I wear one when I visit dojos that do use and I feel like a pig farmer in a tuxedo (restricted from what I do best-and yes I did work on a pig farm and I have worn a tuxedo).

I can not see joining or not joining a dojo based on the timing for wearing a fashion accessory.

batemanb 05-21-2002 11:05 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by PeterR
No one wears a hakama in our dojo - its not considered safe, it hides posture, and it restricts body movement.
That`s a couple of interesting points.

Not considered safe, I`ll give you that, I have seen someone get his foot caught in his hakama as he was thrown causing him to crash and burn hard, resulted in dislocated collar bone, although that is the only major injury from a hakama that I have seen in 10 years.

Hides posture, more the position or angle of the legs and feet, I think. I`m not even convinced that that is a problem. I know others more experienced than I have said the same, but I don`t subscribe to "feet must be at this angle" or "this far apart". I think that the feet should be in a position natural to the individual, whether the posture is good or not can still be determined wearing a hakama.

Restricts movement, personally, I found that it aids movement, helps make movement more rounded and flowing (am I an aikibunny?). In my dojo back in the UK, we adorned hakama when our Sensei told us to, this varied from person to person. I have been wearing one for about 7 years, since 4th kyu, when I came to Japan last year and joined the Aikikai I had to begin again. Removing the hakama was very strange, at first I felt like a plank of wood without it. It took a number of months before I felt comfortable doing keiko in my underwear. :D I still don`t think that I move as freely as I did wearing one, but maybe it`s all in my head:freaky:

Edward 05-21-2002 11:49 PM

I have never worn a hakama myself, but I have had at least 10 accidents when my foot or toe got stuck in nage's hakama while being thrown. At every time, I avoided very serious injury by a hair's width.

I have seen fresh yudansha frequently stumbling into their hakama and falling ridiculously, for at least the first few months. It is not unusual to see 3 dan and 4 dan teachers stumble in their hakama from time to time. I think accidents are inevitable unless you wear your hakama at knee level or slightly lower;)

As for hiding the feet, yes it does, and this is the purpose of wearing it. In our dojo, there is great emphazis on correct posture and footwork, so I guess the hakama will get in the way towards achieving good and quick progress.

By the way, I've seen at one dojo beginners wearing hakama, and there was not so much grace and elegance ....

At our dojo, after 1 kyu, you have to pass a shodan ho test, which basically is a probation period for black belt during which you wear a black belt but no hakama. If you pass this period successfully, usually after 1 year, you have to pass another exam for shodan after which you will be allowed to wear hakama.

PeterR 05-21-2002 11:55 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Edward
I have never worn a hakama myself, but I have had at least 10 accidents when my foot or toe got stuck in nage's hakama while being thrown. At every time, I avoided very serious injury by a hair's width.
For us the main safety problem is with the randori method. So Edward how did the meeting go?

batemanb 05-22-2002 12:01 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by PeterR

For us the main safety problem is with the randori method.

I very nearly added a bit about that. The one and only time that I have had the pleasure of visiting a Shodokan dojo, was in Tokyo about 6 years back. I was introduced to my friends neighbour as a fellow "aikido player" (nearly used that aikidoka word), turned out he was a 7th Dan in Shodokan. When I went to watch, I can see how a hakama could cause problems in the knife weiding randori:eek:

PeterR 05-22-2002 12:07 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by batemanb
I very nearly added a bit about that. The one and only time that I have had the pleasure of visiting a Shodokan dojo, was in Tokyo about 6 years back. I was introduced to my friends neighbour as a fellow "aikido player" (nearly used that aikidoka word), turned out he was a 7th Dan in Shodokan. When I went to watch, I can see how a hakama could cause problems in the knife weiding randori:eek:
Great story - can you give us the name of your neighbour?

batemanb 05-22-2002 12:29 AM

Fraid not, haven`t met him since. I will try and find out though, may take a day or three. He was in his seventies at the time, very nice chap, invited me to his house for tea and spoke at length about training.

When I went to the dojo, I was introduced to a another rather large chappie (think English but my memory is faint) who informed me that he was the all Japan Shodokan randori champion (I am using words learned after the fact - Shodokan and randori), he may have called it something differnt, but was telling me that he was the first non Japanese person to win the one on one competition.

The other thing that struck me, and sticks hard in my memory, was how many times that everyone got stuck with the knife, regardless of whether they were a mudansha or yudansha. I think that was a lesson worth learning early on.

batemanb 05-22-2002 12:36 AM

Peter,

Just done the math a remembered that this was back in the summer of 1995. Just mailed off an enquiry, I`ll let you know if I get an answer.

Marty 05-22-2002 01:51 AM

Ok well this is my personal feeling on this subject. I think that you should go to the dojo(s) and see if the hakama does bring ego. If it does then why study there? However by the same token if you go to a dojo and they don't wear hakama and the people wearing black belts have great ego about that then why study there? I think this question is founded in what Aikido seeks to do. For me Aikido is the search for humility and harmony and as you progress in rank you should be more humble. In some way I see the hakama as a test for them. It does set them apart and it is tempting to then say I am better because of this pair of baggie pants that I ware I am different now. But the truth is there is no difference and untimely I think this test is important. The dojo were I study it signifies that you are an instructor or some one who teaches (an assistant instructor). I think the big thing really lies in rank in general. I don't think that ego should accompany rank regardless. I know two very high ranking in two different arts and they are the most truly humble people I have ever met. I hope this helps with your question. To me it is just a pair of pants that look really cool flying through the air. The atmosphere were you want to train is more important find people who want what you do from the art and that is the most important thing.

Marty

P.S. Sarah I love the quote it is so Aiki. Funny how you can find Aiki everywhere. I added it to my quote list thanks.


"Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter when the promise of a brave new world unfolded beneath the clear blue sky?"
--Pink Floyd

PeterR 05-22-2002 01:57 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by batemanb
Fraid not, haven`t met him since. I will try and find out though, may take a day or three. He was in his seventies at the time, very nice chap, invited me to his house for tea and spoke at length about training.

When I went to the dojo, I was introduced to a another rather large chappie (think English but my memory is faint) who informed me that he was the all Japan Shodokan randori champion (I am using words learned after the fact - Shodokan and randori), he may have called it something differnt, but was telling me that he was the first non Japanese person to win the one on one competition.

Love to know both names but no sweat if it is difficult. I am going to send an e-mail to the person who I thought was the first non-Japanese All Japan Champion but I may be wrong on that.
Quote:

The other thing that struck me, and sticks hard in my memory, was how many times that everyone got stuck with the knife, regardless of whether they were a mudansha or yudansha. I think that was a lesson worth learning early on.
Isn't it though - faced with a real knife I would be way more careful but the idea is to provide impetus for strong commited attacks. Still with Shodokan experience I can with confidence role my eyes when certain people talk about knife take aways. It's not easy.

Edward 05-22-2002 02:00 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by PeterR

For us the main safety problem is with the randori method. So Edward how did the meeting go?

Great! We had a nice Japanese lunch near Bob's office, and I will have my first Tomiki Aikido practice this Saturday. I didn't get your message on time (about: still looking) but I will tell him next time.

PeterR 05-22-2002 02:31 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Edward


Great! We had a nice Japanese lunch near Bob's office, and I will have my first Tomiki Aikido practice this Saturday. I didn't get your message on time (about: still looking) but I will tell him next time.

I fondly remember your first posts to the forums - welcome to the dark side. ;)

Edward 05-22-2002 02:48 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by PeterR


I fondly remember your first posts to the forums - welcome to the dark side. ;)

I am looking forward to learning some of your lethal techniques, and especially trying the infamous rubber knife randori. That must be fun! (If I manage to get out in one piece, that is) ;)

Cheers,
Edward

Jorx 05-22-2002 03:33 AM

Originally posted by Peter R
Quote:

No one wears a hakama in our dojo - its not considered safe, it hides posture, and it restricts body movement
I just HAVE to throw my opinion in here because I cannot agree with Peter's at all...

At first: I think hakama should be worn by anyone who wants to but preferrably from the senior student rank on...

Yup - it may be dangerous - all this stumbling and stuff BUT as I have experienced it - to avoid all this you have to have perfect movement in techniques AND in ukemi. Hakama teaches you and you will be better afterwards even in real situations and regular clothing.

Yup - it hides posture - so what? If teacher is teaching he can always lift it a bit or ask the student in question to lift it a bit.

Yup - it restricts body movement but these movements which it restricts are not needed in your Aikido. The backplate for example holds your back straight if tied correctly. All these knots and stuff they help you feel your center and if worn correctly it also works as a sort of bandage. Etc etc...

Just my 1,3 cents worth...

Jorgen
Estonian Aikikai
Riveta Sportsclub

P.S. Quality hakamas are VERY expencive in Estonia...
P.P.S. I would never wear a hakama in a foreign dojo for the first time when I go there.

andrew 05-22-2002 03:46 AM

Re: Hakama or no hakama.
 
Quote:

Originally posted by nmarques


" Currently, most Aikido dojo do not follow O Sensei's strict policy about wearing the hakama. "
In: http://www.aikidofaq.com/misc/hakama.html


I gather that the strict policy stopped in the postwar period in Japan because there simply happened to be a cloth shortage. People were turning up to classes in expensive silk hakama that had belonged to their Grandfathers and destroying the knees.

Where the hakama has become a status symbol, the root of the problem actually lies somewhere beyond the hakama. If it wasn't the hakama, it'd be a black belt in that situation, or simply being able to say "I'm yudansha."

andrew

Arianah 05-22-2002 06:27 AM

Quote:

[i]Originally posted by Marty[i]
P.S. Sarah I love the quote it is so Aiki. Funny how you can find Aiki everywhere. I added it to my quote list thanks.
Thanks. I stole it from my sensei (he puts it at the end of his announcement emails). Shh! Don't tell. ;)

Sarah

SeiserL 05-22-2002 08:00 AM

Wow, sorry for your poor experience with people in hakamas. My hunch would people those people had that problem (arrogance, ego, etc.) long before they put on the hakama. As far as I can tell, those attitudes do not come with the material, thread, or pattern cut. So avoiding the hakama is not going to avoid the problem.

In Tenshinkai we wear the hakama with pride. Brown belts wear a blue hakama. Women can wear blue hakamas earlier for modesty resons if they want. Sorta old school.

IMHO, look closer at the people and the instruction, rather than the clothing.

Until again,

Lynn
Nidan Tenshinkai Aikido
Lucaylucay Kali JKD

Jim ashby 05-22-2002 08:01 AM

The Hakama in the Yama Arashi Uk is restricted to the Yudansha. I don't feel it is an elitist thing, it doesn't set the Dan grades apart, other than they have a chance to wear less when it's hot, and it gives the Mudansha a target when they are given the chance to pick their training partner. Everyone on the mat is told "grab the highest grade you can", the skirted ones are a good place to start. Also, when Sensei is showing nuances of foot position, he hooks the hem in his belt, not really elegant but effective in instruction.
Have fun.


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