Michael Stuempel wrote:
Thanks for the reply. I'm really surprised about what you say about Thambu Sensei not respecting the hakama. His family has a long history within Aikido and I would be surprised if he hadn't picked up at least a little respect along the way.
Have you talked to him and asked him? Whenever I see him in a hakama it is always one of the better cared for ones at a demonstration.
I mentioned earlier that followers of the Yoshinkan style don't wear hakama very much. I am told that this is because it interferes with our teaching style. Yoshinkan is very precise in movements and angles, and wearing a hakama hides those movements.
So, as a teacher, its hard to tell if a student is moving correctly if they are wearing a hakama. As a student, it is hard to see exactly how you are supposed to move if the teacher is wearing a hakama.
If you keep this in mind, I think you'll see why I believe that whether or not students and teachers are wearing a hakama in the dojo while training has no bearing on their spiritual beliefs with respect to the hakama.
The primary purpose of Thambu Sensei's dojo is probably to teach Yoshinkan Aikido and if they wore hakama they would not be able to achieve that goal as well as they are now.
I have never discussed the spiritual aspects of the hakama with Thambu Sensei, but I urge you not to dismiss him without finding out what he actually thinks. He may not hold it in as high esteem as you, but he may understand more than you think.
I strongly respect your standing up for Thambu Sensei here, and I thank you. This is precisely the manner of action which I am attempting to promote.
However once again I've been misquoted and misunderstood... I didn't say he does not respect the hakama. I'm fully aware of his place in this society and would be extremely suprised if that were the case - as you say, I'm sure he's picked something up along the way. I did say that he doesn't respect it the way that I do. And, based on matters brought up earlier (by others, not myself), that he doesn't respect it the way OSensei did, or he would insist upon having people wear it too (Perhaps with some exceptions such as extreme poverty such as that which was induced post WWII)
This is why I said later (in fact I said it earler on too) that I understood that certainly the hakama could be an impediment to the physical training, and that it did seem sensible that the more formal wear was worn in the more formal occasions (IE public displays etc.) I can certainly see the sense in this - although I wonder if the physical should be considered more important than the spiritual. Surely the hakama was just as restrictive to directing a student's movement in the early 1900's, but OSensei saw fit to endure this for reasons which he held important....
Now, I am strongly tempted to at the very least visit Thambu Sensei's dojo, because, to be direct, to make the call that it lacks spirituality without actually having seen it for myself is somewhat 'shooting off at the mouth'. But as said before, without even visiting, I can see from photographs that he obviously does not feel the same way about this issue as I.
Please do not misunderstand me. Like I said I did not mean any disrespect to anyone, Thambu Sensei included. Saying that he does not respect it the same way I do should not suggest that he does not respect it at all...
But I agree that I should take the time to discuss this with him. For all I know, he is prevented from following OSensei by something else, and feels the same as I do, or maybe, quite possibly given Thambu Sensei's place of seniority in Aikido, he is aware of more detail regarding OSensei's stand than is publicly known.... I would certainly respect him taking the time out to discuss the matter with me, and I will take your suggestion and discuss it with him, provided that he is able to do so. I would imagine that he is a very busy man, and I hope that he will be able to find the time.
Thanks for the suggestion