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Old 04-21-2005, 06:58 AM   #1
Jacko Leenders
Dojo: Makato
Location: Hilversum
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Hakema color.

Do the colors a hakema can have have any special meaning?

In the time of Morihei Uesiba a hakema was only a pair of trousers, and came in a wide range of colors and paterns, both embroidery and print.
Nowadays you only see different hues of blue and black.

Some of the statements I have found so far:

Generaly accepted in Kendo: black, blue, brown, white.
Generaly accepted in Aikido: black, blue, white, undied (broken white).

Red seems te be tied to Aikibudo.

White seems to be a rather intresting color, depending on who you ask, the color white seems to have the following meaning:
It has a religious meaning.
Women are supposed to wear white.
You may wear white after you are deseased.
Some say that a white hakema alone has no meaning, but when completely dressed in white it is worn by the deseased.
And others say that it has nothing to do with the color of the clothing but the way the clothing is worn, right over left instead of left over right.

My sensei only accepts either black or blue on his tatami.

I am rather curious if there are any guidelines, or is this something we westerners thought up?

J
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Old 04-21-2005, 08:25 AM   #2
AikiSean!
 
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Re: Hakema color.

I *think* the light brown hakama are reserved for heads of the style, kancho I think its called?

As for being dead, funny story. the senior student of my dojo was telling me at his first seminar when he was white belt, just beginning, he had his gi right over left. The teacher of the seminar walks up with a smile on his on his face and says "You are dead." and walks away. Thought that was pretty comical.

Last edited by AikiSean! : 04-21-2005 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 04-21-2005, 08:47 AM   #3
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: Hakema color.

First Iado class I went to was an introduction seminar. One of the students managed to hit sensei's sowrd with his bokken. Sensei said "In olden days, you'd be dead..." and student looks confused.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-21-2005, 03:09 PM   #4
Kent Enfield
 
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Re: Hakema color.

There are no specifications for hakama color (or the color for anything else either) in kendo, at least not generally. Individual dojo or federations may have their own, but in general, there are none. Theoretically, you could wear any colors you want.

That said, almost everyone wears all indigo. Almost everyone else wears either all white or indigo and white, and a very few people wear anything else, with the occasional black hakama or off-white probably being the majority in this miniscule minority. Not that I'm particularly well traveled when it comes to kendo, but I've only ever met one person who wore anything besides indigo or white. She was a Hawaiian girl who wore a white keikogi and burgundy hakama. While definitely different, there was nothing wrong with it.

The reason that the vast majority wear all indigo is simple: bogu is indigo, and even if yours is not, that of most everyone else is. So if you wear white or another light color, you get to do laundry a whole lot. Of course there is also the fact that the culture of origin for kendo is (now) hugely conformist. Do you want to be known for your skill or your equipment? Those that wear white usually come from a dojo where people wear white. And to top it all off, since most people wear indigo and most of the rest wear white, getting something else (with the exception of black hakama because of aikido and iaido) is difficult.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 04-22-2005, 01:40 AM   #5
Sonja2012
 
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Re: Hakema color.

In our organisation, people wear black (or dark blue) hakama from shodan on. Before that, people may choose to wear white hakama from 5th kyu on. About 20% of the mudansha wear white hakama I guess, and so do I. It is a pain in the backside in a way, because it does get dirty quickly. I´d never wear it outside my organisation though, as I was told that many organisations regard white hakama as only to be worn by O-Sensei. I wish we were more open in ref to hakama colours, I´d love a burgundy one (and my husband, who is of Scottish heritage, would like to have a tartan one ).

I was told once that in Japan white has a similar meaning as black does in western society, but not sure if that is correct.
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Old 02-02-2008, 10:02 PM   #6
roadster
 
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Re: Hakema color.

I just watched Budo: The art of killing (1979) on Showtime tonight.

I was surprised at the amount of white hakama I saw in the film. Not only for Kendo but Aikido as well. I also saw the usual black and navy blue as well as some different shades of lighter blue as well.

I have never actually seen someone wear a white hakama in real life. I have heard it is popular in Russia. I have also head that it makes quite a stink when someone shows up at a seminar wearing one. Something about O-Sensei is the only one who should have ever been allowed to wear a white hakama in Aikido.

All non-sense to me. Wear what ever color you're allowed to wear at your dojo. As for me, when I have the honor of earning my hakama (which means as stated before, that I am just starting to get this whole Aikido thing) I am just going to stick to black and blue.
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Old 02-03-2008, 07:00 AM   #7
KamiKaze_Evolution
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Re: Hakema color.

Quote:
Sean Constable wrote: View Post
I *think* the light brown hakama are reserved for heads of the style, kancho I think its called?

As for being dead, funny story. the senior student of my dojo was telling me at his first seminar when he was white belt, just beginning, he had his gi right over left. The teacher of the seminar walks up with a smile on his on his face and says "You are dead." and walks away. Thought that was pretty comical.
Actually dark grey hakama does exist, evenly i saw a Yoshinkan instructor wear such color of hakama.

KamiKaze
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Old 02-03-2008, 08:10 AM   #8
charyuop
Dojo: Ponca Aikikai
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Re: Hakema color.

I have seen some demos taken in my country (Italy) and in a couple of them I saw someone wearing a pinkish/fuchsia color.
I found once online a site for a company that makes Hakama personalized: you send them the fabric with the color/pattern you want and they make the hakama for you.
I personally would stick to the classic black/blue one.
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Old 02-03-2008, 08:37 AM   #9
crbateman
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Re: Hakema color.

Colors vary with organization and dojo. Dark blue and black are most common. When O'Sensei was teaching, many younger students would "borrow" their fathers' ornate ceremonial hakama, which often bore closer resemblance to kitchen curtains than training garb...
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Old 02-03-2008, 11:29 AM   #10
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Hakema color.

When I was training in Japan, there was a young aikido teacher, 5th dan, with his own dojo - who had an artistic temperment. He had a beautiful lawn-green hakama, which he wore in his own dojo. One day he wore it to the Aikikai Honbu, to Osawa sensei's class. Upon his entering the dojo, Osawa sensei walked over and in a loud voice, said the Japanese equivalent of "Whassa matta' wit you. You crazy? Go home and don't come back unless you know how to get dressed!."
Pre-war, people in aikido wore white, blue or black hakama. Post-war, due to a fabric shortage (per Osawa sensei to me), they mandated no hakama 'til shodan for men, to help people save money. Women, of course, always needed to wear hakama, so their legs wouldn't show. (Osawa sensei made a personal appeal to me to speak with all the foreign women aikido practitioners to stop sitting cross-legged in the dojo, because it would leave the impression that they were loose women.). Post-war, only Osensei wore white.
Korindo has a grey & white horizontal striped hakama until 3rd dan, and rust color from 4th. Yoshinkai, I believe, starts wearing hakama after 4th dan. (All of this was true, at least, when I lived in Japan in the 1980's). There was a famous incident when Jan Hermansson, known affectionately and fearfully as the "Swedish Meatball" visited the Yoshinkai and proudly wore his hakama, even though he was a mere third dan. There was an attempt to make him pay for this, but it backfired - (think of the cartoons after Popeye eats his spinach and enters the barfight). Jan was also a professional wrestler, and when I'd work out with him, he'd throw me and do a flying pancake, 280+ pounds landing on my chest, and when I'd struggle to get him off, he'd encourage me, saying, "Chust bench press me 'oop! Chust bench press me 'oop.!"
Ahh, I digress. Thread drift.
Anyway, remember girls, never sit cross-legged (from Osawa sensei thru me to you - thirty years too late).
Best

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Old 02-03-2008, 11:59 AM   #11
Kevin Morrison
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Re: Hakema color.

I think Kashima-Shin Ryu have a set colour hakama and keikogi combination for the different grades. The highest rank is all white.
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Old 02-03-2008, 01:14 PM   #12
G DiPierro
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Re: Hakema color.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Pre-war, people in aikido wore white, blue or black hakama. Post-war, due to a fabric shortage (per Osawa sensei to me), they mandated no hakama 'til shodan for men, to help people save money.
Even pre-war, I think the trend was towards dark colors. There is an interview in Aikido Masters that suggests that people with white hakama would often just dye them black because they got so dirty. Of course, back then I imagine the natural tatami was quite dusty, and they wouldn't have had access to modern washing machines.

I'm not of fan of the white-top-with-a-dark-hakama look that is common in aikido. I like the hakama to match the top -- for me that means either all-white or all-blue -- as is typical in most other traditional Japanese arts. As was pointed out earlier, all-white is not as common in kendo due to indigo bogu, but it's often seen in arts like iaido and jodo.

For both practical and aesthetic reasons, my preference is unbleached white, as it's inexpensive, the knees do not get shiny nor does the color not fade like on indigo fabrics, it's very easy to machine-wash, and it doesn't show dirt as much as bleached white. The same things are more or less true for conventionally-dyed blue and black hakama (although they have been bleached first so the fabric is weakened), but I don't think they look as nearly as nice as indigo blue. In any case, in most styles of aikido one could not wear a blue or black top with a matching hakama any more than a white hakama with a white top.

Quote:
Kevin Morrison wrote: View Post
I think Kashima-Shin Ryu have a set colour hakama and keikogi combination for the different grades. The highest rank is all white.
I'm pretty sure this was a modern adaptation by the ryuha to keep pace with other martial arts that use belts/uniform colors/patches/etc to indicate rank (although their system seems to be one of their own styling). I don't think you would ever see something like this in any art prior to Kano's use of black and white belts in judo.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 02-03-2008 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:11 PM   #13
Niadh
Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido, MA
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Re: Hakema color.

I can't find the quote in my books right now, but i believe that O'Sensei's desire for students to "be dressed" and wear hakamas was more important to him then the color. I recall reading that often students would wear dress hakamas as that is all they had available. Again i can't find the reference right now.

Here is the policy for our dojo. All can differ:
For students who advance to Dan rank, wearing of the hakama is optional. However, all instructors must wear a hakama when teaching. Hakamas may be any color or pattern.

Sonja, you can wear maroon (some do) and your husband could wear his tartan if you come here to visit sometime.
I wanted a tartan one also, but man, wool is warm.
Check the pictures in the gallery, I believe we have one posted of multi color hakamas

Non Satis Scire
Niadh Feathers
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Old 02-04-2008, 07:37 AM   #14
Aikilove
Dojo: Lunds Aikidoklubb
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Re: Hakema color.

White is also used by ordained Shinto priests. M. Hikitsuchi sensei for example, often used white hakama and top.

/J

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 02-04-2008, 07:40 AM   #15
Aikilove
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Talking Re: Hakema color.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
There was a famous incident when Jan Hermansson, known affectionately and fearfully as the "Swedish Meatball" visited the Yoshinkai and proudly wore his hakama, even though he was a mere third dan. There was an attempt to make him pay for this, but it backfired - (think of the cartoons after Popeye eats his spinach and enters the barfight). Jan was also a professional wrestler, and when I'd work out with him, he'd throw me and do a flying pancake, 280+ pounds landing on my chest, and when I'd struggle to get him off, he'd encourage me, saying, "Chust bench press me 'oop! Chust bench press me 'oop.!"
LMAO!!! Sounds Like "Janne" allright (now 7 dan aikikai shihan). His biography is pure gold.
/J

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 02-04-2008, 12:10 PM   #16
Ethan Weisgard
Dojo: Copenhagen Aiki Shuren Dojo
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Re: Hakema color.

Saito Sensei once told me that in the old days the students in Iwama wore white hakama because they were the cheapest to buy. The dying process was what made the colored hakama more expensive. Later on I think the idea was that it was only O-Sensei who wore the white hakama. I remember when Saito Sensei came to Stockholm back in 1985 ( he did seminars in Gothenburg and Stockholm) there was one Swedish guy who showed up in a white hakama. Sensei thought that it was a little bit strange... (Jakob-any idea who this could have been?)
In Iwama it was either black or blue for the hakama. I have also only seen Nidai and Sandai Doshu in the grey striped hakama (very nice looking). Saito Sensei sometimes wore a blue (indigo) hakama with narrow legs (stovepipe hakama?) when we trained weapons outdoors.

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard
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Old 02-04-2008, 12:55 PM   #17
Aikilove
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Re: Hakema color.

Remember the story... not the guy...

/J

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 02-05-2008, 05:07 PM   #18
Shany
 
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Re: Hakema color.

never really know what's the big deal with the color.. it's just a color!! hakama means nothing but just pants it's not like aikido gonna change because you wear a red hakama ...

about wearing hakama in osensei's days, i think he wanted his students to wear them so they won't train in underwear clothings and make sure they put a peace of wear on top of it - for decency.

Last edited by Shany : 02-05-2008 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:57 PM   #19
Carl Thompson
 
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Re: Hakema color.

Quote:
Shany Golan wrote: View Post
never really know what's the big deal with the color.. it's just a color!! hakama means nothing but just pants it's not like aikido gonna change because you wear a red hakama ...
Hello Shany,

I can see how it might seem like just a pair of pants, but in Japanese culture, the hakama is actually quite full of symbolism and meaning. It is also part of traditional formal wear and there are many kinds. The umanori (horse-riding) variant used in aikido is just one. The other main kind which is used at formal events is called the andon (lantern) hakama (and it would be unsuitable for aikido: It doesn't have separated legs for a start).

I agree that physically, a red hakama would make little difference, but it would at least have a psychological effect. Ever wonder why the Sith have red light sabres in Star Wars? Red carries a lot of semiotic baggage. It happens to be the colour of oxygenated haemoglobin for a start and is a regular warning sign in nature. The rods and cones on the retina of the human eye are particularly attracted to it. In most cultures, red signifies danger, passion, sex and so on. I imagine that is why a Jedi wouldn't want a red light sabre whereas a Sith would.

A sensei once told me the hakama is not for oneself. It is for other people to see, so you should take care of it. Colours are full of meaning and you'll notice the tendency for blacks, dark blues and greys also extends to Western suits and many other kinds of professional attire. That's not to say that not following the convention is unprofessional since it depends on the context. The point is that you say a lot with colour. I wouldn't turn up at a friend's wedding wearing a pink suit just because I think I have the right to be an individual. I am no less an individual for choosing to blend. I would wear whatever I judged appropriate, which could indeed be a pink suit. In an aikido dojo, especially as a guest, I would also consider carefully whether to blend or whether to make some kind of statement of individuality.

Peace out

Carl
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Old 02-06-2008, 01:51 AM   #20
jacksharp73
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Question Re: Hakema color.

i have a hakama related question.why is it that some of the dojo i have visited dangle the hakama like a carrot to be seen as a gift as great or greater than your shodan where they will then don your hips with theglory that is "THE HAKAMA"? just askin is all,cause O Sensei said without it you are training in your underwear.
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Old 02-06-2008, 10:32 AM   #21
ChS_23
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Re: Hakema color.

Quote:
Jack Sharp wrote: View Post
why is it that some of the dojo i have visited dangle the hakama like a carrot
...ähm... ego?

Some people consider reaching Shodan is a big goal...
(To give a picture: "Reaching" Shodan could be seen as getting your toes on the first stage of the stairs... how long and stable can you stand in this position? :-)

Some people consider that they need a black Hakama to emphasise that they have a black belt...
(...and with this idea they would not allow a Kyu to wear such a Hakama...)

An 8. Dan IMAF told me about an interview with O Sensei:
Q: In France are some organisations where Ik-kyu and Nik-kyu or just San-kyu are wearing hakama... what do you think about it?
A: It's OK... if they need it for their ego...

(That is so much in opposite to the well known story of Saotome and the Hakama... Can anybody confirm the existence of this interview?)

About the colors:
In Shinto-Shrines you can find white (for the priest), red and cyan.

In the Aikido sense of Hakama you have to keep in mind that the blue Hakama was cheap because indigo was (like blue jeans) not as expensive as dyeing it black.
The white Hakama was cheaper because you didn't have to pay for the dyeing at all (just for the "material")...
But dyeing it with a dark color could be the most cheapest way if you used some old pillow (e.g.) to sew your Hakama (and had to cover the old pattern on it... :-)

Viele Grüße
Christian Schnarr
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Old 02-07-2008, 03:03 PM   #22
Rev.K. Barrish
 
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Re: Hakema color.

Re: Hakama color in Shinto Shrines

Sashibakama (Hakama for shrine use) is cut differently (no koshita, wider himo, fewer pleats, deeper vents) than those used for Budo Training.

White is most basic and most formal color at the shrine…..people who are not Priests who are studying or helping at the shrine wear white color sashibakama and hakuii (kimono like garment) and jyuban (undergarment)

Entry level Kannushi (Shinto Priests) also wear white, as do all Priests of all ranks at certain types of Ceremonies.

Gon-negi (assistant senior priests) license + some years of work experience wear Mizu-iro Sashibakama (light blue green color)

Negi (Senior Priests) wear Murasaki Iro (purple color)

More senior priests, also negi wear purple with emblems

Tokkyu, highest rank Shinto Priest (very rare) wear white with emblems

Midori iro (green) is worn by people who are close to the shrine, graduates of some training but not shrine professionals.

Nezumi iro (grey color) is reserved for wear while conducting the Shinsosai (Shinto Funeral [Shozoku {ritual clothing} worn at funeral never returns to shrine grounds]).

At Tsubaki Kannagara Shrine people tend to wear white Hakama during Aikido Keiko as our training takes place in the haiden (public hall of shrine building).

Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu
Rev. Barrish
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