Re: Does the hakama help your training?
As someone that's grappled for a number of years (competitively and just playing with friends at Judo, Bjj, MMA schools, etc.), I was pretty sure that I was going to hate (in an aikido context) the hakama when I finally got around to joining the yudansha. I'd worn it years ago when doing traditional weapons and liked how it made it very clear where my dantien/hara/one point operated from, but was pretty sure my gi/singlet operating systems were going to reject the addition of the skirt.
In the last few years, I've also gotten very interested (obsessed, even) in training Internal Strength, in an aikido context as well as in the broader how-to's and different environment applications contexts.
Surprisingly to me (it really shouldn't have been in retrospect), training with the hakama on is a pretty nice cheat from an Internal Strength perspective. As in how it's tied, where the obi lies - it removes all doubt where the dantien components of the front and back are - it also helps pull together the connective tissue underneath the skin (assuming you've done any work to connect them to the middle) so that you have an inherited whole-body connect going if you're looking for it and can capitalize.
So, if I look at aikido training (solo tanren, partner practice) as a means of training ki/kokyu, then that cheat can immediately assist in getting the systems online and engaged in their respective network array (tech talk, I know, but my vocation and avocation run together in my head). Which then means, I shouldn't have to worry about the dantien/connective tissues *as much* in that milieau. However, I need to recognize the cheat, then address it when I do IS work in a non-aikido environment, so that I don't get too dependent on the cheat . .
Anyhow, it's lunchtime and my hungry brain starts a ramblin and and . .