Where I train, women may begin wearing the hakama after their 5th kyu test, but all have to wear it after passing their shodan test. I chose to wear the hakama after passing my 5th kyu test (I'm 3rd kyu now). I enjoy wearing it for many of the reasons others have mentioned it here. I find wearing it gets me into the aikido mindset more so than just wearing a plain gi.
After wearing it for almost 3 1/2 years, I have not found it very constricting in my movement or my ability to do aikido. It is a little tight once you put it on, but it loosens up as soon as you start practicing. The amount of time it's tight is for about 5 minutes, nothing more. That's not enough to stop wearing it. The same goes for the inconvenience of tripping on it about once or twice a month.
I also want to add, after watching some of our dan ranks doing jiyuwaza and randori as they get ready for their next dan test, I didn't see them restricted at all or the intensity decrease because they were wearing a hakama. The intensity they were training at seemed more dangerous to me than the fact that they were wearing a hakama.
Last edited by giriasis : 10-13-2003 at 10:35 AM.