Getting back to Paula's question though.
Does the benefit gained from wearing this "piece of cloth" in training outweigh any possible disadvantages of wearing it?
I agree that carelessness is a major factor (probably the most significant) in causing injuries on the mat. But besides the links to the past tradition and history, does the wearing of the hakama really add to one's dojo practice? Is the Aikido of someone wearing a hakama noticeably different to someone who is not wearing one?
Just an honest to goodness question, not trying to challenge the establishment or anything here