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Old 04-30-2003, 01:51 PM   #26
Bronson
 
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Ok, so it's obvious that every organization, dojo, or instructor does it differently. This gives me the perfect opening to vent on one of my small pet peeves. If you are in a system that uses colored belts and go to another dojo and they ask what rank you've achieved, PLEASE do not say something like "I'm a blue belt". Tell them you're a rokkyu or 6th kyu (or whatever it happens to be).

I hear this a lot. People come in and ask about the dojo and say "I studied aikido in college and I made it to yellow belt..." Ok, so what kyu rank is that? "Huh?" Well, what style of aikido did you do, maybe we can figure it out from that? "Huh? I did aikido."

As for the white belts at other schools, I always take mine and try to ask the instructor what they prefer I wear. In one instance I didn't get a chance to see the instructor (whom I knew) before class so I put on the white belt with no hakama. He politetly told me I was being silly and should have worn my normal kit

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 04-30-2003, 03:12 PM   #27
Dave Miller
 
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Bronson,

Great point about knowing your rank (as opposed to belt color) and your style.

DAVE

If you're working too hard, you're doing it wrong.
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Old 04-30-2003, 04:40 PM   #28
Josh Mason
Dojo: Ronin Bushido Aikido Club, Winchester Ky
Location: Paris, KY
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i really don't know what the rules are for other aikido organizations, but my dojo is an independent dojo and we have colored belt rankings as follows:

White

Yellow

Blue

Green

Brown

Black

we have over 200 students with our club, and everyone goes to different dojos throughout the state. I think the colored rank system is good because it lets the numerous instructors that we have in our club know exactly where you are in your training if you were to visit another Ronin Bushido dojo. I like Mr. Ellefson's statement about the colored ranking system being about safety. That was great.

Even though the Hakama is a traditional thing for everyone to wear, i think that they should only be worn by people who are Shodan and higher. To me, the Hakama has authority written all over it, and i would feel unworthy and incompetent if i wore a Hakama.

Those who are skilled at combat do not become angered or afraid. Thus, the wise win before the fight, while the ignorant fight to win.
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Old 04-30-2003, 04:56 PM   #29
Daniel Mills
 
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Coming back to this, I've just got back from the dojo (where, I might add, I discovered I'd gained the confidence to hurl myself towards the ground in a forward-roll-on-right-side-motion... and succeed.. *gasp!* ) , where for most of the evening I trained with a fellow I'd not seen before, but was sporting a white belt.

After introductory chatter as we worked through random techniques (After over half the session focusing entirely on Ki, and performing simple, yet grin inducing Ki tests on each other..), that he was in fact a returning 5th Kyu (Green in our association/dojo), but had been away for quite some time, so wanted to reintroduce himself to Aikido, and so forth.

It was one of the most rewarding sessions I'd had, and it's thanks to him, that I took my first proper ukemi, and ended up working on my rolls in the dojo for 30/40 minutes after the session had ended.

My stomach muscles hate me, but I feel good. I think there should be more experienced ranks hiding around dojos as ungraded

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Old 04-30-2003, 05:15 PM   #30
Jeff R.
Dojo: River Valley
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Re: White belt when visiting:

Quote:
Dave Miller wrote:
Is it a generally agreed upon practice that regardless of your rank that you always wear a white belt when visiting another dojo?
I believe it may depend upon affiliation or just plain common courtesy. Typically, if you're a visiting a different discipline (Kung-Fu, etc.) and taking a lesson, then I have always seen wearing a white belt to be appropriate. If you are visiting an affiliate dojo, or a dojo of another discipline to put on a seminar or demonstration, then wearning your normal rank is appropriate.

I haven't tested in years; don't really plan to, so in "my" dojo, I wear my plain shodan, and in all other places, I wear the white belt to be on the safe side. The color simply has no bearing on performance, but it definitely helps hold up the hakama.
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Old 04-30-2003, 05:47 PM   #31
Dave Miller
 
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Re: Re: White belt when visiting:

Quote:
Jeff Rychwa (Jeff R.) wrote:
I believe it may depend upon affiliation or just plain common courtesy. Typically, if you're a visiting a different discipline (Kung-Fu, etc.) and taking a lesson, then I have always seen wearing a white belt to be appropriate. If you are visiting an affiliate dojo, or a dojo of another discipline to put on a seminar or demonstration, then wearning your normal rank is appropriate.
The distinction you make between within your discipline/style and outside your discipline is a good one. When I trained in Japan, although I had earned Ikkyu in another style of Karate but still wore a white belt. The biggest lesson I learned is that they appreciated the honor of telling me that I was better than my belt suggested and I appreciated them saying so. Had I wore my "rightful" belt, they might have been placed in the uncomfortable position of thinking I wasn't as good as my belt suggested.


DAVE

If you're working too hard, you're doing it wrong.
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Old 04-30-2003, 06:32 PM   #32
rpnp
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Hello all,

At my dojo we use the color system...

6th kyu: white

5th kyu: white

4th kyu: yellow

3rd kyu: yellow

2nd kyu: brown

1st kyu: brown

Hakamas can be worn by any one 4th kyu and higher. I dont wear a hakama, but just about every one else in my dojo wears one.

Robert Parker

"All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts."

- James Allen
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Old 04-30-2003, 07:55 PM   #33
Nacho_mx
Dojo: Federación Mexicana de Aikido
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In our school all kyu ranks (5th to 1st, Aikikai standard) wear the white obi, the brown belt is acceptable for 1st kyu students, but it´s not used often. Yudansha can have their choice of black or white obi and wear the hakama (blue or black), however women can wear the hakama at anytime. Visiting students from any style or affiliation may wear their colored belts, but only yudansha may wear hakama.

Last edited by Nacho_mx : 04-30-2003 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 04-30-2003, 10:33 PM   #34
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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Quote:
Jun wrote:
Quote:
Opher wrote:
I think that putting on a hakama at 5th kyu or 6th kyu like we do in ASU dojos is just plain silly.
Why do you think it's silly?
Well, I tend to think hakama are pretty silly to start with. They are expensive, cumbersome, never really taught me much about aikido, and take time to put on and fold up. They seem particularly silly for a 6th or 5th kyu because they are a distraction, because they require an unnecessary monetary commitment at a rank where many students still quit, and because it obviates the one potential use a hakama has as an obvious rank symbol. Rank symbols, I think, are most usefulfor beginners. Advanced students don't look at the rank, they look at the movements. Instead, in the ASU, students still mark their rank very clearly with white and brown and black but then hide it under a hakama so the only people who really should be paying attention to it -- beginners -- have a harder time seeing it.

The oft told story about O'Sensei reprimanding some beginner for training 'in their underwear' strikes me as being a holdover of Japanese hyper-traditionalism that doesn't particularly appeal to me. If we wanted to take it seriously, we shouldn't let pre-test beginners train 'in their underwear' either, but everyone can see that would be silly.

End of rant. It felt good to get that out of my system, I have to say.
Quote:
Dave wrote:
Is it a generally agreed upon practice that regardless of your rank that you always wear a white belt when visiting another dojo?
I always wear a white belt to a new dojo. I prefer to be told to wear my rank. Very closely affiliated dojos can sometimes be an execption, but even there I usually prefer to go in white. I feel that it say to me, and to the sensei, that I come to learn and that I've left my claim to 'knowing something' behind. I don't always live up to that claim, but I do try to and I find that the reminder helps me.

I'm really amazed at all the different coloring systems. It's kind of fun.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 05-01-2003, 12:31 AM   #35
bob_stra
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You people have it "made in the shade"!

Over here - blue gi top, black pants, hakama.

About a 1000 different belts, including red, green, purple, white belt with brown stripe through the centre etc. Infact, I'm not even sure those!

What worse - same dojo, 3 arts (Aikido, JJJ, silat)= 3 different belt systems. So...someone doing both JJJ and aikido might wear a belt from one art to the other without being that grade. I have a friend with the aforementioned brown belt / white stripe combo. I was worried he'd trounce the crap out of me. Turns out that is the second belt given out in JJJ.

Basically a casual observer ends up not knowing what grade a person is based on belt.

(plus the fact that the belt is hidden by the hakama)You get to be quite good at guessing by obseving body movement tho. Or, to use my rule of thumb - "everyone is a higher grade than me. Even the guy in the track suit a tee shirt. Watch yourself."

On the downside, the whole purpose of belts is kind of diluted. Not much reason to go through gradings etc.
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Old 10-27-2005, 08:27 AM   #36
Joshua Livingston
 
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Re: Belt System Question.

Aikikai USAF East Coast style (under Yamada Sensei's side):

Off the street = White Belt
5th and 4th Kyu = Blue Belt
3rd - 1st Kyu = Brown Belt
1st Kyu = Hakama (the downside of gaining the rank )
Shodan-Judan = Black Belt and Hakama (Or in casual practice white belt and no Hakama because you forgot your Black belt at home and are having a bad day and don't want to fool around with Hakama, and no one out ranking you is around to point it out )

Joshua Livingston
Aikido of Ashland (USAF)
Gold Coast Jujutsu
Capoeira Zambia Congo Group
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Old 10-27-2005, 09:06 AM   #37
Steve Mullen
Dojo: White Rose (Sunderland)
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Re: Belt System Question.

At our dojo we all wear white belt until we reach shodan. Hakama may be worn at 1st kyu for men, and (until recently) 2nd kyu for ladies. This may seem sexist at first but it is more a statement of the fact that there are few women in our organistation, less even who train to the standard set to achieve 2nd kyu. Another reason for this is that most of the higher grades used as uki for the grading are big guys who really commit to the attack for that level of grading, it's a recognition of the sheer difference in physique of the female taking 2nd kyu and the big hairy guy acting as uki.

I enjoy the fact that i'm a 3rd (soon to be 2nd, fingers crossed) kyu who wears a white belt. In our local classes we all obviously know each others grade, and due to the fact that our organisation has many courses a year you get to know everyone elses grade too. this means that people who enter the class as a beginner don't feel intimidated by seeing several high grades sitting there grinning at them demonically (which we try to keep to a minimum, honestly )

It also allows a lower grade to be pushed that little bit further. when i was 5th kyu i was regularly used as uki for the sensei (3rd and 5th dan) at both my local class and on major courses (6th dan and shihan when they visit) and none of them held back much. This was due to the fact that i train with the higher grades as much as i can. however, when i visited a dojo which had a coloured belt system in place i found that the sensei tended to split the class up more, which meant i wasn't pushed as much

In a desperate attempt to get back to some sort of point i'll summarise by saying that as long as you take care when training with any partner you don't need coloured belts to know how to handle uki, and 'handle with care' belts often mean that an uki who is more able than most of their grade isn't pushed as much as they would like

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 10-27-2005, 10:49 AM   #38
Avery Jenkins
 
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Re: Colored belts:

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
And to hopefully head off the inevitable "black belts came from a white belt gone dirty" urban legend, I'll continue to quote from the FAQ: "An often heard story holds that the colours are explained as follows: a trainee's belts, which, traditionally, were never washed, became progressively dirties with time (starting out white, becoming yellow with sweat, green with grass stains, and so on), finally changing to black over the years. This explanation, alas, is almost certainly fanciful."

-- Jun
I'm into my second decade as a mudansha, and I can say that this is not entirely an urban legend. I have one belt that has lasted me throughout the years. It does get washed regularly, but as the outer covering has frayed and worn away, the inside, which is black, has become increasingly visible. It really is kind of cool, and I feel it does represent the time I have put into the art, as I gradually creep toward shodan.

However, I might feel a bit different about the whole thing if the stuffing was, say, hot pink...

Avery
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Old 10-27-2005, 11:14 AM   #39
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
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Re: White belt when visiting:

Quote:
Dave Miller wrote:
Is it a generally agreed upon practice that regardless of your rank that you always wear a white belt when visiting another dojo?
No, it depends on the specific circumstances. When going to practice in a seminar, visiting an affiliated Dojo, or having a pre-arranged visit to at dojo (as an invited guest), I would wear my normal practice belt.
But, once I join another group as a student (in a non affiliated dojo), I start from scratch, including all the related meanings. Obviously this would mean wearing a white belt.

Amir
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Old 10-27-2005, 11:30 AM   #40
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Belt System Question.

It varies, and often depends on the people and dojo involved. Most of the aikikai aikido dojo I visit respond to any questions by asking me to wear my belt and hakama.

When I go to train in Daito ryu, I wear a white belt, no hakama. No one ever looks at me funny for doing it, but most of them know I am ranked in aikido. So they don't mind throwing me hard

If people come to a yoshinkan dojo, and are not yudansha, but typically wear hakama in their own practice, I advise them to just wear their normal belt and dogi, no hakama. We typically don't wear the hakama as much, and it might seem a little strange. At the Inoue Dojo-cho seminar recently, Inoue Sensei was the only person in the room I remember with a hakama on. That included the 7th dan instructor who's dojo it was. Basically when in Rome...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 10-27-2005, 11:51 AM   #41
Darren
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Re: Belt System Question.

I agree with the bloke who said hakama at 5th and 6th kyu is rubbish . I feel that anyone wearing one should be able to teach and it is an honour to wear one. In yoshinkan aikido as taught by the Hombu dojo in Japan I believe that it is only given to 3rd dan and above. I think that if everybody wears one what is the point of them anyway. I've just watched a Chida sensei dvd which was in Canada with Robert Mustard sensei and the only person on the mat with a hakama was Chida shihan himself , not Robert Mustard sensei who's aikido is brilliant to see as well, although I've only seen him on dvd .5th and 6th kyu dressing like a shihan please.
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Old 10-27-2005, 12:20 PM   #42
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Belt System Question.

Hi Darren,

I think we need some context here. As you say, the tradition in the yoshinkan is a bit different. But at one point in aikido the hakama was considered proper dress *period*. To not have it was basically training in your underwear. Modern times have a different view...after the war when it was difficult and expensive to get a hakama, the standards changed. Some groups like to go back to those halcyon times when everyone wore them.

There is nothing really wrong with that...it's just different from what we do. Understanding the differences and where they came from is what's important.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 10-27-2005, 02:04 PM   #43
bkedelen
 
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Re: Belt System Question.

Putting on your hakama is part of the ritual that we use to enter the magic circle. It is an important part of the rei of Japanese budo (it begins and ends with rei, after all). If the hakama is insignificant, then why is the shomen significant? The dojo? Why not drop the dress-up act and meet in the parking log in jeans and tee-shirts? There are many arts which do this and flourish. Nevertheless these things are part of the character of Aikido. Gaining admittance into the magic circle lends a unique experience to our training and provides a fertile medium for multifaceted growth. This is a secret that the oft-mocked (guilty) Society for Creative Anachronism folks have long known.
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Old 10-27-2005, 02:10 PM   #44
Trish Greene
Dojo: Aikido-Kajukenbo Self Defense Center
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Re: Belt System Question.

Hi Ron and Darren,

Where I train, my Sensei has said that it was proper for females to wear hakamas no matter what their ranking is but the males still have to "earn" theirs. From what I have read and gathered in different places, there is much mixed opinions about this!

What are your thoughts on allowing women to wear hakamas regardless of their ranking?
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Old 10-27-2005, 02:17 PM   #45
akiy
 
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Re: Belt System Question.

Wow. A somewhat old thread re-surfaces...

Here are two polls which touch on the hakama subject:

"Do you think everyone, regardless of gender and rank, should wear a hakama in aikido?"
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=21

"What do you think of wearing a hakama during aikido training?"
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=165

-- Jun

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Old 10-27-2005, 02:57 PM   #46
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
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Re: Belt System Question.

A couple of times while travelling I've trained at a dojo that does "casual summers"--in the summer, everyone wears white belt and gi, no hakama.

I remember doing a whole morning of jiyu-waza with six or seven of them, and being told at the end, "That was well done, especially since you're four ranks lower than the next lowest person here." I'd suspected as much by about five minutes in.... If they had all been in black belts and hakama, would I still have been there? Maybe. I'd have been intimidated right up front instead of five minutes in, when it was too late to back out.... It was a good, if scary, experience.

We have white belts and no hakama till shodan, black belt and hakama thereafter, except that if you are teaching you wear the hakama regardless. This works well as it's a clear visual marker for the teacher. We've found this particularly important in kids' classes; a teacher in gi and white belt does not have as easy a time controlling the class as the same teacher in hakama.

The one place we use colors is for kids, and I find that really helpful for a number of reasons. There is a natural tendency to think big kid equals experienced, small kid equals inexperienced. But it isn't true, and the belts are a strong visual reminder for everyone concerned. And they are just more motivated by belt colors than by number rankings. (The blue-belt kid is currently annoyed that both 6th kyu and 5th kyu are blue, so he has a long way to go to purple.)

When I was training at an unfamiliar dojo with a ton of young students in open classes, I think those colored belts kept me from making a lot of both social and aikido errors, and possibly getting pounded into the mat by smallish brown-belts.... Somehow it is easier to look at an unfamiliar
adult and assess their ability level than to realize in your gut that the eight-year-old holding out his hand is fully capable of taking you apart.

Mary Kaye
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Old 10-27-2005, 03:08 PM   #47
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Belt System Question.

Hi Trish,

I don't really *have* any thoughts of my own, dontcha know....

Just kidding. Personally, if I trained in a dojo that trained that way, it wouldn't bother me a bit. It's up to the instructor and the tradition they follow, which is why I *try* not to make judgements about these things. The way I was taught is this. Learn about the reasons behind the traditions, and understand *why* things are done a certain way in a certain tradition. Then, from a position of understanding, if you wish to make a change, understand the reason you make the change, and go ahead. But only if you understand what you're coming from...and where you're going to.

I guess I feel that anything else is disrespectful.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 10-27-2005, 04:03 PM   #48
Joshua Livingston
 
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Re: Belt System Question.

Quote:
Darren Kennedy wrote:
I agree with the bloke who said hakama at 5th and 6th kyu is rubbish . I feel that anyone wearing one should be able to teach and it is an honour to wear one. In yoshinkan aikido as taught by the Hombu dojo in Japan I believe that it is only given to 3rd dan and above. I think that if everybody wears one what is the point of them anyway. I've just watched a Chida sensei dvd which was in Canada with Robert Mustard sensei and the only person on the mat with a hakama was Chida shihan himself , not Robert Mustard sensei who's aikido is brilliant to see as well, although I've only seen him on dvd .5th and 6th kyu dressing like a shihan please.
Though I agree that 6th and 5th Kyu should not "have" to wear Hakama, to me this is more of an issue that most 6th and 5th Kyu have enough to worry about already let alone having the difficulty of walking and tripping over a Hakama, as well as has been said the monetary investment for those who may not stick around long (like those discouraged at tripping over themselves constantly).

However, as has been said, when Shioda Sensei was practicing with the founder, everyone wore Hakama as standard. Just the same if you take Kendo, Kenjutsu, or Iaido, everyone wears Hakama. Of course if you are practicing in a Yoshinkan Dojo then you should follow the standards of the organization, but all of us don't practice Yoshinkan and have our own Hombu Dojo in Japan that we go by. As far as I know the Aikikai standard is that Yudansha are expected to wear Hakama, but before that it is basically up to the individual organization or Dojo. Also 3rd Dan are not considered to be Shihan by Aikikai standards, but this doesn't mean that we should look at another style and scoff at such a title at such a low rank (in our eyes, where we have to be 7th-8th Dan), as all titles are relative to the style or art. An organization can call all their Yudansha Soke or O-Sensei for all it matters, as long as it is standard across the board and everyone realizes the fact, (Though no one might take the organization seriously anymore). That is assuming that you indeed meant that Yoshinkan 3rd Dan are considered to be Shihan, which I haven't heard before.

I personally believe that everyone wearing Hakama at Kyu level is a bad idea as it is hard for beginners to know what level of a student they are working with and thus doesn't have much to work with when an annoying 5th Kyu keeps over correcting them. As far as the new student is concerned, they could be 1st Kyu or Yudansha and thus should know what they are talking about, when in reality they are simply someone one with blue-belt-itis. Also it is a bit disappointing for Shodan who earn their shiny new black belt and don't get to show it off because the Hakama is covering it up.

I also believe that it is a rather interesting practice to cover the feet of the ones who are supposed to be teaching...

How many have seen their teachers have to hike up their Hakama just to let everyone know what's going on?

Joshua Livingston
Aikido of Ashland (USAF)
Gold Coast Jujutsu
Capoeira Zambia Congo Group
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Old 10-27-2005, 05:34 PM   #49
Camille Lore
Dojo: Lehigh Fukasakai
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Re: Belt System Question.

Interesting discussion... When I practiced aikikai in Portugal as a kid, everyone had different colored belts. Ranks below brown wore a white hakama. AFter brown, a black one.
Now, in the dojo I practice in, we have 4 belts- white, blue, green, brown and black. Anyone can wear a black hakama, our sensei said that he thinks it's hard for a black belt to all of a sudden adjust to wearing a hakama. He doesn't require people to get themfor awhile though,said. I got one because I feel kind of naked without it!
When I went to the yoshinkan demo though, I wore my blue belt and no hakama. I asked beforehand what to wear, and Ron said hakamas were reserved for sandan and up, and to wear my white or blue belt, whichever I felt comfortable with. I mentioned it somehow to my sensei and he told me to wear my blue, so I did what he said.... I wouldn't have minded wearing my white tho.
However I do like being able to tell when I meet an uke about where they are in their experience....
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Old 10-28-2005, 09:05 AM   #50
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Re: Belt System Question.

Hi Camille!

Hope you had a good time at the seminar. Wearing the blue belt was fine, as you probably noticed there were a few people with colored belts (other than black). I like your Sensei's idea of having people get used to the hakama before black. It really can be quite an adjustment!

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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