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Old 07-24-2000, 02:55 PM   #1
Shouri (Steve)
Dojo: Silverstrand Dojo
Location: Lincoln, NE
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Ai symbol

Hello all,

I have a question that I find rather serious. It is about the wearing of the hakama. Who should be allowed to wear the hakama?

It seems that in modern Aikido training the hakama represents yudansha. Those without hakama are automatically considered mudansha. It is a matter of honor to wear a hakama, a sign that you have reached "black-belt" status. But is that (egoistic-)concept itself counter-productive?

However, traditionally, the hakama was worn by ALL Akidoka. In fact, it was required wear by O Sensei. There is a super article on this on AIKIFAQ at http://www.aikidofaq.com/misc/hakama.html that is worth reading (and possibly before responding to this). The hakama represents the spirit and formallity of Aikido.

In light of this, should not all Aikidoka at least be allowed to wear the hakama regardless of grade, if not be required to wear the hakama?

Aikido is such a beautiful, graceful and loving art. It seems that the hakama only add to this, given that the hakama is formal-wear and not a badge of honor. Or should we retain the aspect that the hakama should only be worn after reaching Shodan?

I would love to get your opinions. Especially the opinions of any sensei here.

And kudos to Jun for Aikiweb. Awesome site, thank you.

Aikyou,

-Shouri
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Old 07-24-2000, 03:26 PM   #2
DJM
Dojo: Two Rivers Dojo, York
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Steve,
Great post.. I was especially interested in the info on hakama in the FAQ, as I'd never heard of their general usage under O Sensei..
After reading the FAQ I'd probably agree that hakama should open to be worn by everyone. With one proviso - they make it very difficult to see what your feet are doing, which is important for us beginners - so I'd be inclined to suggest that 6th kyu don't wear them, purely from a learning point of view..

My 2p worth

Peace,
David

Sunset Shimmering,
On Water, Placid and Calm,
A Fish Touches Sky
--
David Marshall
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Old 07-24-2000, 04:05 PM   #3
akiy
 
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A hakama is just a piece of cloth. There's nothing special about it except for that which people place onto it.

At our dojo, we're allowed to wear a hakama whenever you want to regardless of rank or gender. In fact, all of the schools I've regulardly trained at have had this policy as well. I think I was 6th or 5th kyu when I started wearing my hakama...

There are other schools I've been to which have stricter rules that follow their own tradition and I'm OK with that. To each their own, I think...

-- Jun

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Old 07-24-2000, 06:05 PM   #4
Mike Collins
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I don't think a hakama makes your Aikido better, I don't think a hakama makes your Aikido worse. In my case my Aikido doesn't make my hakama look better either. Hakama is like colored belt- some schools see fit to wear them, some do not. It is probably best to not give the matter too much weight, and when in Rome do as the Romans.
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Old 07-24-2000, 07:25 PM   #5
JO
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I agree with Jun and Mikey but I have one question. What if I were to visit a dojo where everyone wears a hakama but did not own a hakama. Would this cause any problems?
I don't own one and wouldn't really know how to put one on. I'm also not likely to buy one soon as I am only 5th kyu and only yudansha wear hakama where I train (which puts off the purchase for several years at best unless I decide to start iaido).
It would be hard to do as the romans do without the needed gear.
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Old 07-24-2000, 08:04 PM   #6
guest1234
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I can't imagine a dojo that would expect a visitor to go out and buy a hakama to train with them, or even a colored belt. I'm sure they'd welcome you in whatever you normally wear at your home dojo. At least that is how it has been at every dojo to which I've belonged or visited, and being in the military, I've had the opportunity to visit a lot of places. At my last dojo I wore a hakama, as did everyone above 6th kyu. While visiting the dojos in my new town after this move, i did not wear it, trying to fit in with the Romans. It was good for my ego that at one large dojo, the instructor came up to me as class was nearly over to correct a few things, saying "not bad for your first night of Aikido, but try doing this..."
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Old 07-24-2000, 10:16 PM   #7
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I'd say that 90+% of the people in our second evening class (the "open" class) wear hakama. That said, visitors are basically welcome to wear whatever they normally wear at their home dojo.

Mikey, a hakama does make doing suwariwaza a lot easier, though...

-- Jun

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Old 07-25-2000, 12:34 AM   #8
adriangan
 
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In our dojo, only those with yudansha grades are allowed to wear hakama. I guess it gives the wearer a sense of achievement, something that separates them from the rest.

Everytime we have visitors from other dojos who practice and we see them wearing their hakamas you'd hear whispers of "yudansha" circulating around. It kinda gives you an idea how much we look up and admire these guys for their skill and dedication to the art.



- Adrian

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Old 07-25-2000, 02:49 AM   #9
JJF
 
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Not why or when but what color ?

I'm a newbee in this forum, so please forgive me if I should write something that could be considered out of line.

I would like to turn this discussion into a new direction. I have read quite a few opinions concerning when a Aikidoka should put on a hakama, and I have read the part of the above mentioned FAQ concerning O-senseis opinion on hakamas, but I have not been able to find anything that can explain why a hakama should be either black or dark-blue. I used to study Kendo and Seitei Iaido, and I know that it is common for Kendoka to wear darkblue hakama and for Iaidoka to wear black hakama. In the Aikido dojo I practice in, I see both sorts, but none with any kind of patterns or other colors.

Once I went to at Kendo seminar and the teacher was wearing a white hakama and gi. I asked him when that would be considered correct and then he just smiled at me and said that white would be proper, if you were so good that you could avoid being hit by the opponent and thereby getting your outfit ruined by the dark marks left by a shinai.

Could anyone please explain to me, if the current tradition for black hakama's is just a de facto standard or if it has got any specific reason.

By the way: in 'my' dojo it is common that you wear a hakama from 3. kyu . Supposedly to be equivalent to a brown belt in karate or judo. I guess the reason for this is that for a long period of time our sensei didn't do graduations but just awarded each aikidoka with permission to wear either a hakama or a black belt whenever he felt they had reached the necessary level.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

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Old 07-25-2000, 04:34 AM   #10
andrew
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Here in Ireland, most people start wearing a hakama between second kyu and shodan. If a hakama is an ego trip for somebody, they have an ego, and giving hakama to everybody won't stop that. However, here the hakama serves the very useful purpose of letting beginners know who they can learn most from, and even for visiting instructors to see who they can best demonstrate with.
Also, in clubs where the hakama isn't worn by beginners, it begins to carry with it certain responsibilities. The wearer is sending out the message that he can take good ukemi, and you can take this into account in your training with them.
However I'd have to agree with mikey when he said:
"It is probably best to not give the matter too much weight, and when in Rome do as the Romans."
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Old 07-26-2000, 10:54 AM   #11
Guest5678
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Wink Hakama Time!

In our dojo, it's sort of a defacto standard that after your first test you should invest in a hakama. I don't know how this came about, I guess if you stuck with the training long enough to test, chances are you'll probably hang in there....

One thing to think about is that the hakama is actually a training tool as well. How many of you ate it big time the first time doing randori in your new hakama? I did several times. What it taught me was to keep my feet closer to the ground when I moved. This may not sound like much of a lesson, but think about how much more unstable you become as your feet get further away from the ground. The other purpose it serves (whether intentional or not) is to hide your footwork. It's harder for Uke to guess/anticipate which direction you're going when they can't see your feet.

Training you to move with the feet lower to the ground is what I consider the most important function though. For that reason alone, I personally think Aikidoka should start wearing a hakama as soon as possible. Rank is rank, and has little to do with the outfit you have on........

two pennies in the pot.

Regards,

Dan Pokorny - Mongo
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Old 07-26-2000, 11:51 AM   #12
BC
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In the dojo where I train, females of all ranks (due to "modesty") and only male yudansha wear hakama. Yes, they do look cool, but as a male mudansha, I'm actually kind of grateful that I don't have to wear one, so I can avoid tripping on it (I do that enough without a hakama), and I feel sorry for the beginning women for that reason (plus, hakamas aren't cheap). We're having yudansha tests next week, so I imagine that afterward we'll be seeing some interesting moves from some of the newer yudansha as they adjust to their new attire on the mat!
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Old 07-26-2000, 12:00 PM   #13
bsnyder
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Smile The Shihan Makes the Policies...

I believe that your Shihan should and already have made the call on this issue; and I know they are very firm on this.

When I first started practicing Aikido, a little more than twenty years ago, I had to wear a hakama all the time. That was what the teacher said, so that's what I did. I reached Sandan within that style; Shin Shin Toitsu, and after my sensei moved back to Japan, I searched, after about six years of being alone and found a USAF dojo in Atlanta, GA that I could associate myself with.

I was never really big into policies. I just wanted to practice. I was accepted into the USAF as a student and to show my allegence to the Shihan of that organization, I took off my hakama and black belt. If the Shihan thought that my rank should transfer over then that would be cool. If not, then that would be cool as well. One hitch, I ran my own dojo in Chattanooga, TN. Yamada Sensei's advice? Wear the hakama over the white belt while teaching. That's a USAF standard. I said, "Yes Sensei." and everything was cool. When I would go to seminars, I would take the hakama off. I'll be honest though; Without the hakama, my tai sabaki stunk. The hakama really lets us feel our center.

I went to my first big USAF seminar in Nov. of 1991. The instructors were Yamada, Kanai, & Iwagaki Senseis. That's the first time I had ever seen them and I was blown away. I also took my Shodan test to be recognized by the USAF. I failed. Later, well after I had passed my Shodan exam, I asked Yamada Sensei at a seminar just why he failed me. I said, "I failed you because I wanted you to get better."

No matter now, I still have my allegence with Yamada and Kanai Senseis as well as a few of the USAF Shidoin; but I do go to seminars where other Shihan are teaching-Saotome and Ikeda Senseis to name two. I know that the ASU has policies regarding the hakama that differ from the USAF. That's ok with me. Yamada and Kanai Senseis govern what I do; but if I go to another Shihan's seminar I abide by their rules. I guess if the USAF said that from now on all males will wear black hakama and females will wear blue, then I guess I'll be getting a black hakama.

Cheers

Butch
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Old 07-26-2000, 12:51 PM   #14
Erik
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Quote:
BC wrote:In the dojo where I train, females of all ranks (due to "modesty") and only male yudansha wear hakama. Yes, they do look cool, but as a male mudansha, I'm actually kind of grateful that I don't have to wear one, so I can avoid tripping on it (I do that enough without a hakama), and I feel sorry for the beginning women for that reason (plus, hakamas aren't cheap). We're having yudansha tests next week, so I imagine that afterward we'll be seeing some interesting moves from some of the newer yudansha as they adjust to their new attire on the mat!
It isn't like you have to learn to walk all over again. They really aren't that bad.

A general question but does anyone out there have a valid reason for why women can wear hakama and men can't until shodan? The only valid reason I can find is that someone said so. I've heard the modesty argument many times and it doesn't wash in this century.


[Edited by Erik on July 26, 2000 at 02:26pm]
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Old 07-26-2000, 01:25 PM   #15
Bob
Dojo: Dryden Aikikai
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Hakama

Well, this is my first attempt at posting so if I go wrong I hope someone will set me straight.

Coming to aikido from a judo and karate background where we wore no hakama, it has always interested me. It generates so much energy on so many peoples' part, discussing this, arguing about that, fretting about this and that, that I sometimes wonder if the hakama problem isn't put upon us just to help us tackle our ego problems.

In the Canadian Aikido Federation (Aikikai) women generally wear hakama from 3rd kyu and men from shodan, although individual dojo instructors can make changes. I was allowed to wear one at 3rd kyu (I guess I should say here that I am male!) because I was assisting a yudansha in teaching the kids' class. And it was no big deal, in fact I tired of folding it and tripping over it, etc within a week. Now I don't think about it much. The interesting thing is that five of my students just earned shodan and they say that the heaviness of the knot at their center is making a big difference to their aikido! So is there something in the fact that at 3rd kyu I found it no big deal but at shodan my students find it immensely helpful? Not a very broad study, I'll admit but it just might be that it makes a serious reinforcement just when it is needed - at shodan.

Bob
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Old 07-26-2000, 01:28 PM   #16
bsnyder
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Ai symbol You're thinking is too NonJapanese...

Quote:
Erik wrote:
Quote:
BC wrote:In the dojo where I train, females of all ranks (due to "modesty") and only male yudansha wear hakama. Yes, they do look cool, but as a male mudansha, I'm actually kind of grateful that I don't have to wear one, so I can avoid tripping on it (I do that enough without a hakama), and I feel sorry for the beginning women for that reason (plus, hakamas aren't cheap). We're having yudansha tests next week, so I imagine that afterward we'll be seeing some interesting moves from some of the newer yudansha as they adjust to their new attire on the mat!
It isn't like you have to learn to walk all over again. They really aren't that bad.

A general question but does anyone out there have a valid reason for why women can wear hakama and men can't until yudansha? The only valid reason I can find is that someone said so. I've heard the modesty argument many times and it doesn't wash in this century.
Aikido is O'Sensei's budo. It lives on through his uchi-deshi. So IMHO, it's really the Shihan's Aikido. It's not yours or mine. Now I realize that we practice and develop our individual ways and means of movement; but we do this by mimiking the Shihan that we study under. The way of Aikido is a Japanese way not a western or Euraisian way. I think that in the facets of the art itself, we need to look at what Aikido is: a Japanese martial art with Japanese etiquitte. I see non Japanese dojos who try to be "maverick" move away from these policies. Everything from not bowing to waring street clothes on the "mat". If this is your bag, fine. I have known some of these people and a few are very nice; but it seems that if we are to embody the true essence of "real" aikido practce, we need to just do what our Shihan say and live as well as practice by their exapmle; regardless of what that is.

Butch
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Old 08-17-2000, 07:27 AM   #17
liam
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Women in Hakamas and menstruation

[quote]Erik wrote:
Quote:
BC wrote:In the dojo where I train, females of all ranks (due to "modesty") and only male yudansha wear hakama. <-Snip->
A general question but does anyone out there have a valid reason for why women can wear hakama and men can't until shodan? The only valid reason I can find is that someone said so. I've heard the modesty argument many times and it doesn't wash in this century.

[Edited by Erik on July 26, 2000 at 02:26pm]
I'd appreciate a straight answer to this too. I am quite ignorant about how one might have dealt with menstruation in a white gi without modern sanitary products. I'd imagine that this could have provided some embarrassment to women at the time. With a hakama, if a period came early it would have offered some degree of concealment.

Am I correct or is this not a consideration? Perhaps there were tampons at the time (I guess I'm talking the postwar period, when kyu grades were regularly beginning to neglect hakama) that could do the job effectively.

Are there any women who could please let me know if this reason might have contributed to the women-in-hakama rule? It sounds more practical than just "modesty" and I guess it would have helped make aikido more accessible for more of the time.
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Old 08-18-2000, 06:28 AM   #18
andrew
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Originally, everybody in Aikido wore a hakama, but there was a cloth shortage in Japan after the war...
And keikogi are underwear, people. As I read someone say anyhow, the whole "modesty" thing assumes sentiments unappropriate to Aikido on the mat and it's a wee bit insulting to aikidoka.
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Old 08-18-2000, 10:07 AM   #19
BC
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This question actually came up during a discussion session at our summer camp a couple of weeks ago. The senior instructors from our organization were in agreement that the reason Hombu changed from having everyone wearing hakama to just yudansha was, as Andrew stated, due to a cloth shortage and economic downturn in Japan immediately after WWII. Therefore, in order to ease the financial burden on aikido students, only yudansha were required to wear the hakama.

Andrew, I'm not clear on your statement about inappropriate sentiments and insults to aikidoka. Was it relating to the previous post?

Anyway, I was recently reading a review on women's dogi jackets by Susan Perry in ATM #64 (Vol. 13, No. 4, July /August '99). In that review she references a book, "Kimono" by Liza Dalby, which states that both the keikio gi and the hakama started out as womens' clothing, and eventually evolved in to being the attire worn for martial arts training. Just thought I'd throw that out.
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Old 08-19-2000, 06:23 AM   #20
liam
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'offend'?

I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone, and apologise to those who find women's issues unpalatable.

Neither Andrew nor BC managed to answer my question, though -- which centres around the women-specific hakama rule.

I've just come across a passage in C.M. Shifflett's Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training (1999) that says:
Quote:
Americans might recall that in the US through the 1940's and 1950's, women in pants were considered improper or downright immoral. In some areas this is still true. However, to many Aikidoists the "hakama for modesty" rule seems a tad odd when ladies change after class into shorts and tank tops.
If C.M. Shifflett is female, the book doesn't say so but I believe her first name is Carol, then at least I've read one explanation from someone who is female and it makes more sense than others I've read or heard of.

The point of this line of discussion is for me to confirm that this peculiar women-in-hakama rule was to keep women on the mats for more extensive lengths of time than what might have otherwise have been possible.

In other words - it's not to mark women out for special treatment, or to patronise them with a uniform that's normally reserved for higher ranking students, but to give them equal access to mat-time.

It's the optimist in me trying to interpret the rule positively, in contrast to the interpretations I've heard in western countries associating it with stories of Japanese male chauvinism.

As far as the reasons for dropping the hakama requirements from kyu-grades, I remember reading in Pranin's Pre War Aikido Masters that this was especially practised in the USA because hakama were difficult to get hold of and therefore an unnecessarily expensive item for beginners.

Thanks for your comment, BC, I'd never heard about the gi and hakama originating from women's clothing. I wonder what the men wore for martial arts training - perhaps armour.

Liam
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Old 08-19-2000, 08:48 AM   #21
andrew
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"Andrew, I'm not clear on your statement about inappropriate sentiments and insults to aikidoka."

Pardon me. I read it in an article on aikidofaq.com
My understanding of what I read was that the "modesty" aspect tended to imply that male aikidoka might be unduly distracted by the sight of a lady in her underwear, unlike presumably the ladies viewing menfolk thus attired. I gather the insult was assuming men would behave like Animal when Spohia Loren was on the muppet show, albeit in a far less entertaining manner to the general public.
That other point somebody else made about hakama in the states and their expense is the same reason as Japan really, isn't it?
A friend of mine reckons that, for all they look good on men, they look REALLY good on women, but I believe that too might come under the heading of "inappropriate" as a reason.
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Old 08-19-2000, 03:03 PM   #22
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all right, i can't stand it any longer...no, i do not think the hakama for women at lower ranks rule had anything to do with allowing them to train during a time of the month that they might get blood on their gi, for two reasons: 1) i believe any kind/color of hakama was used during the early days of Aikido, not just dark blue/black...2) while dark blue/black will hide a stain, if it is wet and it hits the mat, a mark will be left---i'm sure then, as now, ladies who thought they might get blood on the mat got off of it, or stayed off of it as needed. it undoubtedly was, as i think it was Andrew who pointed out, an out-dated and insulting (primarily to male Aikidoka) rule that implied men would be distracted by females in 'underwear'...much the same as two things i was taught when i joined the AF (too) many years ago: women could not sit in the front row of an auditorium in uniform, since the uniforms had skirts and so needed at least one "modesty row" (AF terms, not mine) of seat backs between me and the lecturer, and that female uniforms were DESIGNED to be unattractive, so as not to distract the men in uniform from their job.
and in my opinion, they look much better on men than women.
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Old 08-19-2000, 08:09 PM   #23
liam
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Quote:
ca wrote:
all right, i can't stand it any longer...
Pleased to see that whatever's been holding you back didn't get the better of you
Quote:
much the same as two things i was taught when i joined the AF (too) many years ago
Wow! Thank you very much for relating these two things. Isn't it great that things have moved forwards since then. (They have moved forwards in the AF, right? )
Our female aikidoists requested our hakama rule be only skill-based some time ago, but I saw the old rule in force when I was visiting Japan recently so it made me wonder about whether the old practice still had a place in modern dojos.
And Colleen, I'm led to believe there is a big difference between flow-that-marks-gi-hakama-and-floor and flow-that-marks-gi, but I'm happy to accept that the rule wasn't made for practical concerns to help keep women on the mats.
Thanks again.

liam
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Old 08-20-2000, 06:46 PM   #24
Nick
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Quote:
andrew wrote:
And keikogi are underwear, people
Really? Wow, I guess I know my sempai better than I thought .

Adding some meaningless dribble to a serious conversation,

-Nick
The Muddled Mudansha

---
Nick Porter
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Old 08-21-2000, 09:44 AM   #25
Aikisho-1
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Hello-


I think that the hakama is a good learning tool.For some reason it does help you to find your center easier.Plus it gives you a sense of belonging to aikido, traditionally.I used to be affiliated with ASU,and they never discouraged anyone from wearing hakama.With the exception of seminars.I totally agree with this,because I remember attending a seminar with Wendy Whited Sensei (5th Dan).I was called on as an uke when I was 5th Kyu.I was one of those people who could take ukemi pretty well so she assumed I was a higher rank.I wasn't and I should have listened to my sensei,and removed the hakama during seminars.She clobbered me,and I learned my lesson.

But in general training I think it's helpful.Although to a beginner,a hakama clad individual... can appear intimidating.Plus there are those with egos.

I think it's important for the yudansha to remember that they too were once beginners,and try to remember all the mixed feelings they had in training.And try to help all beginners,because they are the future of Aikido.
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Hakama FAQ DaveO Humor 24 11-02-2004 05:22 PM
What level do you start wearing Hakama? villrg0a General 32 08-05-2003 03:58 PM
Poll: What do you think of wearing a hakama during aikido training? AikiWeb System AikiWeb System 36 05-14-2003 12:46 PM
Hakama or no hakama. nmarques General 40 06-13-2002 06:57 PM


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