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SeanToner 01-08-2004 11:50 PM

Hakama for non-yudansha
 
Sorry if this topic has been covered before.

I was wondering how people felt about non-yudansha being able to wear the hakama in practice. I read Saotome Sensei's book, the Principles of Aikido where he mentions that O-sensei required everyone, even brand new beginners to wear the hakama if they wished to train. O-sensei's stand on this was that the hakama represented the seven virtues of bushido.

I will (hopefully) be training soon with a sensei who studied under Saotome Sensei and encourages those of 6th kyu and above to wear the hakama. I find this rather refreshing, as unfortunately, I've met some yudansha who feel that wearing the hakama is a rank of status. I feel that this goes against the grain of the spirit of aikido...not just because O-sensei said so, but because to me, it smacks of being too concerned with status and being recognized externally for one's skill or effort. And some even think it's an aikido tradition, even though they may know that Iaido, Kendo and Kyudo beginners all can wear the hakama.

How many people here are in classes that don't allow non-yudansha to wear the hakama? If so, do you feel that it's the Sensei's right to not allow non-yudansha to wear the hakama?

Hanna B 01-09-2004 01:11 AM

Re: Hakama for non-yudansha
 
Quote:

Sean Toner (SeanToner) wrote:
How many people here are in classes that don't allow non-yudansha to wear the hakama? If so, do you feel that it's the Sensei's right to not allow non-yudansha to wear the hakama?

Hakama or no hakama, it is really not important. As with all unimportant things, it is better to follow the general pattern instead of making a big fuss.

shihonage 01-09-2004 01:26 AM

Re: Re: Hakama for non-yudansha
 
Quote:

Hanna Björk (Hanna B) wrote:
Hakama or no hakama, it is really not important. As with all unimportant things, it is better to follow the general pattern instead of making a big fuss.

This is very well put and I think it should be put on top of the screen every time one is about to post a thread.

It may just serve as a bit of a sobering-up call and make people come to their senses before they post another thread about whether hakama is trapezoid in shape and if it is, what are the base angles...

ian 01-09-2004 01:52 AM

As I understand it the reason why hakama use for lower grades stopped was the expense of cotton during the second world war. Higher grades appealed to O'Sensei on their behalf and got a dispensation for them.

Following this vein I only allow people to wear Hakama when they've trained enough that it is worth them spending the money on one.

Also, I've noticed absolute beginners look up to people wearing a hakama, therefore I would also like hakama wearers to have enough understanding that they could justify this extra respect; Grades are irrelevant.

Ian

Creature_of_the_id 01-09-2004 02:58 AM

I understand what you are saying.

but i personally find it helpful when people have a visible rank (coloured belt) as it gives me a general idea of where their ukemi is at.

SeanToner 01-09-2004 05:59 AM

Hanna Bjork, I agree. Which is why I feel that non-yudansha should be allowed to wear hakama if they feel it is important to them. In other words, it should be up to the individual to chose if they want to wear one or not. The fuss will only be created if yudansha feel upset by this or somehow violated. Afterall, a non-yudansha wearing a hakama isn't really going against the flow or being disrespectful to O-sensei's original wishes.

O-sensei himself said that Aikido begins and ends with formality, so I think that wearing the hakama does help one connect himself with the 7 virtues. Moreover from a practical stand point, from what I understand, the obi and kutshita(sp?) help the wearer feel his hara better. And if one uses the argument that it is simply tradition that yudansha only can wear hakama, then why not just have all classes forego wearing dogi at all? Afterall, it would be cheaper to just wear sweat pants and a tee shirt, not to mention wearing shoes which is more practical.

What concerns me is yudansha who feel it is a privelege or right for only them to be able to wear the hakama. It is their choice of course, and ultimately, I feel that one should respect the wishes of one's instructors. It is rather the principle of the matter, and not the right or privelege that concerns me. The principle being that as with many other formalities, traditions can help us relate to the past and encourage us to follow certain behavioral patterns.

justinm 01-09-2004 07:17 AM

Interesting points, Sean. The principle, to me, is that it is up to the dojo Sensei. It's his dojo so he gets to choose. If that means t-shirt, hakama or running shorts so be it.

As an aside, in Yoshinkan aikido, hakama are rarely worn and I have often trained under a 6th dan who did not wear one. Although we are a yoshinkan club and wear hakama at shodan, and sometimes at kyu grades.

Ron Tisdale 01-09-2004 08:48 AM

I'm in the same position as Sean (yoshinkan) and I also feel there are issues with safety and with training.

Ukemi is difficult enough to learn properly without a hakama. I don't personally see the point in beginners risking their bodies just to wear something that has only symbolic meaning. I've even heard some address the hakama as part of 'role playing'...while I don't go that far myself, I just can't see the value of risking injury to newbies. Too many broken toes, and worse from trying to push ukemi skills in a pleated set of baggy pants.

The training issue is that at least in the yoshinkan, instructors want to see your whole posture, hips, legs, foot positions, everything. I think that is part of the reason they don't use hakama til third dan. In the rougher styles of aikido (yoseikan, shodokan in particular), the hakama also impeads 'mixing it up'.

These are style specific things though...when in Rome...

Ron

Lyle Bogin 01-09-2004 09:04 AM

Hakama are expensive. It was nice not to have to commit to purchasing one for a while. But when the time comes, when ever that is, a uniform is a uniform.

akiy 01-09-2004 09:24 AM

Polls on Hakama
 
Hi everyone,

I've taken a few polls on the topic of wearing a hakama over the years:

Do you normally wear a hakama during aikido practice?

http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=13

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

How much safer do you think aikido training would be without people wearing the hakama?

http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=176

-- Jun

itdoka 01-09-2004 09:58 AM

I know the post is off topic, but Jun in all your posts it says I do not do aikido. Who are these folks and why are the visiting a forum dedicated to aikido? Just very curious ;)

akiy 01-09-2004 10:36 AM

Hi Rich,

Heh. Maybe I'll do a poll on why people aren't practicing in aikido some time...

Any way, back on topic, I think that people who would "covet" a hakama as a status symbol would only put such thoughts into some other thing (having a frayed collar, needing to patch their dogi/hakama knees, etc) if everyone were allowed to wear a hakama at their dojo.

I've trained with teachers who wear hakama all time time, as well as those who don't. As Ron says above, "When in Rome." Then again, I did go for months without wearing a hakama last year...

-- Jun

Michael Hackett 01-09-2004 11:25 AM

Is it "poe tay toe" or "poe taw toe"? Please forgive my ignorance, but I've heard the word hakama pronounced in two ways, sometimes by the same person. Is it pronounced "ha kaw ma" or "hack a ma"? God knows I can butcher english badly enough, so I imagine my japanese is even worse.

akiy 01-09-2004 11:56 AM

Quote:

Michael Hackett wrote:
Is it pronounced "ha kaw ma" or "hack a ma"?

Check out:

http://www.aikiweb.com/language/audio.html

-- Jun

aoerstroem 01-09-2004 04:40 PM

In our dojo we start to wear the Hakama from sankyu and up.

As a 7th kyu I dont get to wear one, and although I would really like to, I can see why I shouldn't. My instructors can evaluate my posture and footwork more easily and it is a great incentive for me to train and be able to wear that some day.

Regarding the question of importannce of the hakama, I strongly believe that it is an important part of the aikido training. For me it symbolises the 7 virtues, and reminds me that I am studying a civilised and noble art.

Just my two cents.

Rich Stephens 01-09-2004 05:19 PM

At my dojo in Japan only the yudansha and sensei wore Hakama. However, when teaching the children's classes, if a kyu level adult was acting as an assistant teacher that day, Sensei would have them put on hakama. (but kids classes are different: they gave them colored belts too, to motivate them).

One of the most embarassing days for me was when as a 5-kyu I somehow showed up with my gi, but no belt. Our Sensei was out and the class was being handled by one of the higher ranking students (3 or 4 dan?) and his solution was "no problem, here, just use this belt," and handed me an extra black belt that belonged to our Sensei! I protested but he insisted that it was no big deal and was certainly preferable to me sitting out the class. So I put it on, much to the amusement of the other kyus in attendance. Things only got more embarassing when Sensei arrived later and joked that I must have learned a lot in the first half of that day's class to make it to shodan already, ha!

-Rich

SeanToner 01-09-2004 10:10 PM

I'm a student, so I basically don't have lots of money to spend on a hakama (which seem to be very expensive...at least for the 100% cotton ones), so I probably won't be getting a hakama for awhile. But I would like to wear it simply to connect myself to tradition and the virtues they represent.

My biggest worry is that the hakama is seen as a status symbol. If a sensei feels there are training or safety issues, then I would definitely respect his or her position and experience on that point. But if his attitude is that wearing a hakama is a privilege, then I would have an issue with that. I have and would train under senseis like that, but deep down, I would feel somehow put down. To me, if hakama are seen as status symbols or badges of rank/experience, then it is merely another form of competition, and a fueling of the ego...which Aikido should lessen.

Getting on a related tangent, to me tradition is important. I would probably scratch my head if I saw an instructor teaching a class full of students in sweat pants and t-shirts. Not that I find that wrong, because in some ways it is more realistic, but I'd wonder why. I think that following tradition is valuable. For one, it shows a respect for the culture from which the art came. Secondly, it helps us remember what aikido truly is...budo. The path of a true warrior. If you think about it, why do we bow to the shomen when we first enter the dojo? Why do we say in Japanese, "Onegai shimasu" to request instruction and "doomo arigatoo gozaimashita" to say thank you after a lesson when we could easily say it in the language of what ever country we practice in? Why do we sit in seiza or maybe zazen and follow a breathing pattern (at least we do in kodokai) to the rhythm of two clapping wood boards? Not all traditions may be correct by our modern standards, but at least it shows our respect. I would at least wonder why someone would not want to pay their respect by not following certain harmless traditions. So it is also with wearing a hakama.

SeanToner 01-09-2004 11:21 PM

Michael Hackett, don't know if this will help you or not...

In Japanese, all the vowels are pronounced thusly:

A as in aww (rhymes with law)

I as in ee (rhymes with key)

U as in ooh (rhymes with you)

E as in ay (rhymes with day)

O as in oh (rhymes with toe)

So the full list is:
Code:

  k      s      t      n  h        m  y  r  w

a  ka/ga  sa/za  ta/da  na  ha/ba/pa  ma  ya  ra  wa  n

i  ki/gi  shi/ji  chi    ni  hi/bi/pi  mi      ri

u  ku/gu  su/zu  tsu    nu  hu/bu/pu  mu  yu  ru

e  ke/ge  se/ze  te/de  ne  he/be/pe  me      re

o  ko/go  so/zo  to/do  no  ho/bo/po  mo  yo  ro  wo

The nice thing is that the sounds are pretty much universal as there are few exceptions (though my experience with Japanese is limited to one year in college, so I could be wrong here). The other quick guide line is that everytime you see a vowel, that's one syllable. So for example, keikogi it is pronounced kay-e-ko-gee (gee rhymes with see). The kay-e part kind of runs together very fast though.

If you see the letter 'n' (or 'm' sometimes) , then technically it is it's own syllable, but really it gets included in the syllable of the vowel just before it. For example, senpai is pronounced sen-pah-ee (but the last two syllables are spoken so fast, it sounds like one syllable...this is generally though not always true whenever you see two vowels together, so really it sounds more like sen-pie). Another example is sandan (sahn-dahn). There's a catch though, and unfortunately you need to see the kana or kanji to really know how to pronounce it, since there is an 'n' sound all by itself, and also the phonetic sounds, na (nah), ni (knee), nu (new), ne (nay), no. The rule of thumb here is that if you see a vowel, followed by 'n' which is then followed by a consonant, then the 'n' sound gets attached to the vowel preceding it.

Another key to help in pronouncing Japanese words are understanding how Ya, Yu, and Yo work. If you see a word with a consonant followed by a 'y', for example in Nikyo, then it is composed of the phonetic sounds, Ni-Ki-Yo, but instead of being 3 syllables, it's actually only two. The Ki and Yo get merged into one syllable kyo. The same holds true with ya and yo if the letter preceding the 'y' is another consonant. Related to this, if you see, 'sha', 'shu', or 'sho', it is really the sounds: shi+ ya or chi+ya (sha/cha), shi+yo (sho) and shi+yu (shu) so for example, yudansha is pronounced you-dahn-sha.

The last trick are double consonants as in Ikkyo. It's hard to explain this one, but it's a guttural stop, where you sort of start saying the consonant, and abruptly stop it, then say it again. So it goes something like, eek-kyo. At the end of the first syllable with the double consonant, your tongue should be at the roof of your mouth. The other hard to explain part is that this is technically 3 syllables, but when I hear Japanese say it, it sounds like 2 syllables to me. As another example, bokken would be pronounced, bowk(rhymes with oak)-ken, but again, even though technically this word is 4 syllables long (bo-k-ke-n) if you hear it spoken, it is really only sort of 2.

Two last examples. If the vowels i or u comes inbetween the consonants, k, s, h, t, or p, then the vowel is silent. For example in bokuto, it's pronounced, bow-k-toe (the k is like when you are about say could, but leave off the 'ould' part). Notice it's still 3 syllables, it's not pronounced like bowk-toe. The final example is that most of the time (but not always) if you see 'o' and 'u' together, it's pronounced as one long oo (rhymes with row) sound. For example, sometimes arigato is romanized as arigatou. This is because arigato is actually a-ri-ga-to-o (it is 5 syllables long, so the o sound at the end is extended one extra beat).

Hanna B 01-10-2004 01:19 AM

Quote:

Sean Toner (SeanToner) wrote:
Hanna Bjork, I agree. Which is why I feel that non-yudansha should be allowed to wear hakama if they feel it is important to them.

To me, it does not look like you agree with me. Rather, you take the opposite stand - the issue of wearing a hakama is very important to you.
Quote:

Sean Toner (SeanToner) wrote:
O-sensei himself said that Aikido begins and ends with formality, so I think that wearing the hakama does help one connect himself with the 7 virtues.

Made a search or two here on Aikiweb. You'll find that many people dismisses this 'seven virtues' stuff as a fairly recent invention.
Quote:

Sean Toner (SeanToner) wrote:
My biggest worry is that the hakama is seen as a status symbol. If a sensei feels there are training or safety issues, then I would definitely respect his or her position and experience on that point. But if his attitude is that wearing a hakama is a privilege, then I would have an issue with that.

Welcome to reality...
Quote:

Sean Toner (SeanToner) wrote:
To me, if hakama are seen as status symbols or badges of rank/experience, then it is merely another form of competition, and a fueling of the ego...which Aikido should lessen.

I have seen plenty of egos fed by aikido, with or without hakama... Maybe your real problem is arrogance in yudansha around you, rather than the hakama in itself.

I should add: when I preach adapting to conformity, I am preaching something I have yet to learn myself. I do think it is useful, though.

SeanToner 01-10-2004 09:51 AM

Hanna-

I agree with you in the sense that it should not matter. Where we disagree is that you feel the issue is (or should be) trivial and irrelevant for everyone, and I feel that it is trivial (though never irrelevant) for some. What matters to me is that we should all respect one another's choice, though the final word goes to the sensei because in the end, he will teach you valuable lessons that go beyond just connecting to symbolic virtues. Some feel that the hakama is unimportant for non-yudansha...then so be it. If the sensei feels this way, it is his rules, but then he has shown he has gone contrary to what the hakama is supposed to represent. Again, that is fine as it is his belief. But in the end, I would prefer a sensei who respects these traditions, for it would make me feel as if he is more open minded. It's not about the sensei disrespecting me because he doesn't feel the same way I do, but rather on the reasoning why he feels a student should not also be connected to tradition (which technically is going against the wishes of O-sensei).

As for where I got the notion that the hakama represents the seven virtues of budo, this comes from Mitsugi Saotome sensei's book, The Principles of Aikido which was written in 1989. In the book, Saotome Sensei says that it was O-sensei himself that attributed the 7 virtues to the hakama because there are 7 pleats in a traditional hakama. In a way though, O-sensei could be considered modern, so the people who said it is a modern attribution to the hakama are not incorrect. In the book furthermore, O-sensei required all students even if they were brand new to wear the hakama precisely because it represented the ideals of budo. As a side note, I found this very intriguing when I first learned of it, since I had never heard of it nor had the 3 yudansha at my dojo.

About reality. Ghandi said, "we must be the change we wish to see in the world". Is not the whole purpose of aikido a selfless one about trying to get the entire world to act in harmony? I believe that if we see aikido as a means to our own personal peace and salvation, then we lose the greater picture. In a way, it is the difference between Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism. In other words, we should not settle for what constitutes what goes on as reality if it is against a harmonious nature. This is the true war that we face I think.

Unfortunately egos are egos as you pointed out. I'm still trying to figure out how to get rid of mine.

AsimHanif 01-10-2004 06:51 PM

My take is that symbols are a very important part of our non-verbal communication systems. Wearing dogi is part of our attempt to say to each other that we are not bringing our outside baggage on the mat. The wearing of hakama communicates to me as a member of the Ki Society that the wearer should be proficient at a certain level. It definitely brings expectations which I feel is fine since we live in such a goal oriented world. We all want to attain certain things. The problem is as I see it, when we feel a certain entitlement just because we are wearing a dark piece of cloth.

Lan Powers 01-10-2004 09:04 PM

Our Sensei was previously trained , in the earlier years of his aikido career in a Ki-Society group, and later in a "splinter" of that scool of thought. As Asim pointed out Ki-Soc. attaches a certain expectation of skill to the hakama. Sensei allows any student who wishes to wear one to do so, after gaining rank of some level. As he explained to me, not everyone who wishes to train will want to, or should be expected to, or will stay in training for long enoufgh to warrant the expense of one.

He is gracious and indulgent about us who are still "on fire" with the enthusiasm of new students. (You know us... we chatter excitedly on and on about aikido and bubble with enthusiasm till you just want to scream!) :)

I really like the feeling of wearing mine. I like the quiet stillness in folding (just so) and in the camraderie of those final few minutes of mat time.

I often learn as much or more of what needs work, how to improve, etc. from those few minutes at the end of class.

Everyone has a life outside. They are ready to get home, have supper, etc. So class is through.....off we all go.
I would often wish for just a bit more time to go back to the technique that wasn't "just right" and repeat it a few times to hopefully improve.

While we are removing, folding etc. of the flappy pleated pants in question, the "key" point that needs to be conveyed to me (or some one else) will "click" for sensei and up he jumps, hakama half on, straps flapping to step through the point in question.
I for one would not trade those times for anything.
Just one point.........
Lan

Nick P. 01-11-2004 08:27 AM

Re: Hakama for non-yudansha
 
Quote:

Sean Toner (SeanToner) wrote:
How many people here are in classes that don't allow non-yudansha to wear the hakama? If so, do you feel that it's the Sensei's right to not allow non-yudansha to wear the hakama?

In our dojo, only yudansha are allowed to wear the hakama...though it has never happened that a non-yudansha has ever arrived wearing one.

As with all aspects of what is or is not allowed in the dojo while training, Sensei has the right (and the obligation, I think) to do as he/she wishes. If of course I find some aspects too chaffing, then I can of course leave train elsewhere, or wait to become Sensei myself.

I briefly (4 months) trained in a dojo where non-yudansha were expected to wear a hakama from sankyu on up. When I was told to wear a brown belt and get a hakama by the Sensei, I did (note: do yourself a favor and never buy a cheap hakama!). I was flattered, but mostly because I had up until then associated Shodan and above with the hakama. Of course, my skill level jumped to Shodan the moment I received the box containing the hakama....

indomaresa 01-11-2004 06:57 PM

Quote:

Lan Powers wrote:
While we are removing, folding etc. of the flappy pleated pants in question, the "key" point that needs to be conveyed to me (or some one else) will "click" for sensei and up he jumps, hakama half on, straps flapping to step through the point in question.

I for one would not trade those times for anything.

Just one point.........

Lan

hahahaaa

i know what you mean

SeiserL 01-12-2004 08:06 AM

We allow dark blue hakamas at brown belt. Women can wear hakamas earlier for modesty reasons.

IMHO, what color your belt or when you wear the hakama is not as important, though it is useful, as the training. Wear what you are told to wear within your school and train well.


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