Mike Collins wrote:
I don't think a hakama makes your Aikido better.....
I disagree with this
, the hakama definately helps improve your kaiten movement. Being 6' 2", without a hakama I look like a beanpole and feel like a plank of wood when moving about just in dogi. As soon as I put a hakama on, it all starts to flow, my movement is much smoother.
When I joined my dojo, at that time we were told by our Sensei when to put a hakama on. In those days we didn't grade very regularly (not that we're much better now
) I'd been doing Aiki about 2 years and was 5th kyu when he suggested I get one. Times have changed, we now have different sensei at the club and we belong to a different organization, now hakama is still by decree of our senior instructor, but the association reserves it for 1st kyu (maybe 2nd kyu), and a couple of our legacy students who have been wearing them for years but haven't graded up.
When I moved to Japan, I joined the Aikikai, dropped my grades and went back in without a hakama. Every time I walked onto the mat in my dogi I still felt like a plank of wood. When I graded to shodan, my Sensei in Japan gave me a kuro obi embroidered with the kanji "$B0RIwF2!9(B" (ifuu dou dou - which translates to majestic and dignified), the hakama is most definately a contributary factor in attaining this.