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Old 05-29-2010, 06:09 AM   #51
DH
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

I will offer you an example of a teachers response to deferential treatment by a student. This from one the highest ranked Japanese Martial arts teachers today; Menkyo in in two different Japanese koryu, ranked in Judo and Aikido, trained in ICMA, etc. A world class teacher and contemporary of Don Draeger. I say this to offer the depth and breadth of his experiences.

He noticed during a weekend seminar that a new fellow (very young) was doing all sorts for things for him over and over. Without making a fuss or embarrassing the young man he said "Ah, I see what you are doing there. Don't act like that. It's very bad. For you.......and for me."
I thought the last bit was priceless.

You can decide if an Aikido teacher, or any teacher is deserving of being treated with deference, and more importantly if you are in fact harming them for doing so.
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 05-29-2010 at 06:17 AM.
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:14 AM   #52
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

I sometimes disagree with Dan but about this he is dead right. I remember one time at a training camp we were sitting washing on the little stools in the Japanese bathroom after keiko and because I had taught the class suddenly without warning someone started soaping my back! Whoa!

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Old 05-29-2010, 05:12 PM   #53
Janet Rosen
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

The two examples above are to me different from a specific within-a-dojo tradition of juniors folding seniors' hakama.

Janet Rosen
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Old 05-29-2010, 05:58 PM   #54
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

LOL Christine's post got zombified! She left Aikido to focus on finishing up her school work a while back. I think its funny how these posts reappear... even long after the OP no longer needs the advice.

MM
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Old 05-29-2010, 06:00 PM   #55
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

I was told 'doing things' for your teacher should be at a level where you anticipate what he or she need before, or just as, they need then...then get it done so they don't have to worry about it and can concentrate on matters related to teaching. I guess folding hakama could fit into that category.

Heck, I've folded dohai hakama for the simple fact that he was in a rush to get to work after class and I wasn't, so I thought I'd help him out.

Usually our teacher will drop his hakama on the mat if he wants it folded (he hangs it up maybe 25% of the time) then he goes off to fill the mop bucket with water while everyone else folds their hakama or start nitten soji for the night. When he's done with the mop bucket he'll head into his office and do administrative work, do Q&A with students (parents if its a kids class), process supply orders, review people's tests/essays, stuff like that. We try to help him get everything he needs done as he works from 0700-1630, then teaches martial arts classes pretty much from 1700-2130 M-Thurs.

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Old 05-29-2010, 11:54 PM   #56
Michael Varin
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Regarding folding your teacher's hakama and otherwise going to extremes to please your teacher:

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote:
You can decide if an Aikido teacher, or any teacher is deserving of being treated with deference, and more importantly if you are in fact harming them for doing so.
This is exceedingly wise advice. Students and teachers both would do well to ponder it.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 05-31-2010, 06:15 AM   #57
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
Regarding folding your teacher's hakama and otherwise going to extremes to please your teacher:
Emphasis mine. Folding a hakama is "extreme", in your view? I dunno, someone's being "extreme" here, but I don't think it's the person folding the hakama.
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Old 05-31-2010, 02:03 PM   #58
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Does anyone knows how/when this hakama folding "tradition" started? Is it an usual practise in koryu bujutsu?

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Old 05-31-2010, 02:21 PM   #59
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Emphasis mine. Folding a hakama is "extreme", in your view? I dunno, someone's being "extreme" here, but I don't think it's the person folding the hakama.
Yeah, I really don't consider folding a hakama as extreme. I mean when we are out to eat with a high ranking teacher we often try to pick up the bill.
I mean Aikido teachers, especially at the higher levels, devote their entire lives to teaching their students. You'd think the average student could show some concession to a person that devoted their lives to serving their students.

MM
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Old 05-31-2010, 02:49 PM   #60
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
Yeah, I really don't consider folding a hakama as extreme. I mean when we are out to eat with a high ranking teacher we often try to pick up the bill.
I mean Aikido teachers, especially at the higher levels, devote their entire lives to teaching their students. You'd think the average student could show some concession to a person that devoted their lives to serving their students.
It all depends on how it's done. I think that the level of obsequiousness often seen in the west far exceeds what you'd see in Japan outside of certain unusual situations (such as a university club).

Best,

Chris

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Old 06-01-2010, 06:32 AM   #61
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Does anyone knows how/when this hakama folding "tradition" started? Is it an usual practise in koryu bujutsu?
At a guess, it probably started somewhere after the point where hakama were no longer regular daily clothing, and it became customary to take hakama off after training. IOW, it may be usual in koryu bujutsu today (or may not, I have no idea), but you can be pretty sure it wasn't a couple hundred years ago.
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Old 06-01-2010, 08:12 AM   #62
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote:
Does anyone knows how/when this hakama folding "tradition" started? Is it an usual practise in koryu bujutsu?
At a guess, it probably started somewhere after the point where hakama were no longer regular daily clothing, and it became customary to take hakama off after training.
No not hardly. I think it's a pretty smart bet that it was invented by overwrought young people (university clubs?). Hopefully modern teachers that allow people to treat -themselves- and others that way will fade.

Quote:
IOW, it may be usual in koryu bujutsu today (or may not, I have no idea), but you can be pretty sure it wasn't a couple hundred years ago
The point is that it is highly UNUSUAL in koryu (I disclude Iai which may have its own practices). I can only imagine seeing some young kid grab and try to fold the hakama of some people I know. The best and highest ranked people I know still consider themselves students.....of budo.

My apologies in advance for straining the point, but personally I don't approve of much of the add-ons and role playing I see in some modern budo. It's probably not healthy to be replicating (or more accurately "inventing") traditions that never existed in the first place and questioning how certain practices will create a healthy and positive environment. And when I say "healthy and positive"I also mean a competative and hard row-to-hoe, rough and tumble existence, sort of like a "brothers in arms" mindset. I am not one for coddling young people any more than making them subservient, but requiring or worse still "accepting" any type of fawning behavior is bad for budo; both for teacher and student. Hopefully, more people will question this type of behavior and instead enjoy budo for its ability to bring people together-as equals.

I deal with tradesman all day long. I cannot imagine a carpenter learning from a master carpenter and cleaning up after him-they'd laugh their butts off. Instead the guy teaches (by example) how to clean up after yourself, take care of your tools, how to navigate and be "one of the crew."
I once knife fought a ranger (full bird colonel) till two in the morning and he woke me up and made me breakfast the next day after he did a five mile run. This is still one of the most humbling experiences of my life. The previous nights escapades notwithstanding, I didn't see myself capable of carrying his shoes. As I found out several times over the years from others who knew him- the man was known for making fit soldiers- by example.

So it is with us. We have a new kid who started at 17. The first thing we did was burn it into him not to lose a sense of himself as he navigated his way through. We never talked down or treated him differently as we taught him how to dress, take care of his kit, and be good to go. I think the more "normal" and healthy your training relationships are, the better. I feel that as a leader, the best example I can give is to serve and make sure I do not get in the way of someone's progress-even if they can't see it happening, and not to place myself (or allow myself to be placed in) a superior role.

As one famous Koryu teacher likes to say "Budo is not about death, it's about living."
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 06-01-2010 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 06-01-2010, 09:22 AM   #63
Fred Little
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
At a guess, it probably started somewhere after the point where hakama were no longer regular daily clothing, and it became customary to take hakama off after training. IOW, it may be usual in koryu bujutsu today (or may not, I have no idea), but you can be pretty sure it wasn't a couple hundred years ago.
FWIW, the custom is one that I have seen only in aikido dojo, generally aikido dojo affiliated with a shihan who once taught in a Japanese university club. It's something I've never seen in any koryu group with which I've been involved, and which I have never observed in the course of a number of public demonstrations of koryu, either onstage or backstage.

Best,

FL

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Old 06-01-2010, 09:23 AM   #64
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Everyone has their own vews of Budo.
I wanted to clarify that I was speaking of my own personal opinions, views, and experiences only. I hope that sharing them can give others who were mistakenly replicating a "modern" tradition (recently invented by young people) while searching and hoping for the more traditional approach, some food for thought. One which they may also find to be healthier in the long run.
Dan

Last edited by DH : 06-01-2010 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 06-01-2010, 09:38 AM   #65
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

I saw a compendium of the various ways one can braid the strips of cloth for the hakama, some symmetric and some not. And I asked my teacher (koryu) what was the best way to fold a hakama. He said, "Men don't fold hakama." I said, "???" He replied, "You want to know the proper way to fold a hakama? You go home, drop it in front of your wife and say, 'fold this.'"

I was once having a conversation with Ueshiba Moriteru after class at the Aikikai, and he asked me how old I was. I replied that I was twenty-four as was he. We compared birthdays, and found that I was several months older. I had just taken off my hakama and I said, "What? I'm older than you and you have me standing here like this?" I threw the hakama in his chest and said, "Fold this." He stood there holding it with his mouth agape, me glaring at him. He didn't know what to do. I couldn't hold it together after about 30 seconds and started laughing.

Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 06-01-2010, 10:08 AM   #66
Janet Rosen
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Oh Ellis, that is priceless...thank you for my first big full laugh of the morning!

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:12 AM   #67
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
No not hardly. I think it's a pretty smart bet that it was invented by overwrought young people (university clubs?). Hopefully modern teachers that allow people to treat -themselves- and others that way will fade.

<snip>

My apologies in advance for straining the point, but personally I don't approve of much of the add-ons and role playing I see in some modern budo. It's probably not healthy to be replicating (or more accurately "inventing") traditions that never existed in the first place and questioning how certain practices will create a healthy and positive environment.

<Snip>

I deal with tradesman all day long. I cannot imagine a carpenter learning from a master carpenter and cleaning up after him-they'd laugh their butts off. Instead the guy teaches (by example) how to clean up after yourself, take care of your tools, how to navigate and be "one of the crew."

Dan
Mr Hardin,
This is somewhat off topic, but have you by chance read this?
http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Woodw...5408551&sr=8-3

If not, check it out. Some great stuff about japanese style carpentry and tools, and a truely sad and messed up story of a japanse Shoji apprentice. Relavent ot the discussion of excessive obedience to one's seniors.

Pat
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:16 AM   #68
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
It all depends on how it's done. I think that the level of obsequiousness often seen in the west far exceeds what you'd see in Japan outside of certain unusual situations (such as a university club).

Best,

Chris
I'm not sure. I've never studied the habits of the Japanese in Japan. The Japanese instructors here seems to be accustom to this type of treatment. Some couldn't care less if you folded their hakama... others, might raise hell if you don't. You can probably learn the different between the two fast.. but learning it most likely isn't fun.. so play it safe and fold every piece of clothing you see.

MM
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:19 AM   #69
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
I couldn't hold it together after about 30 seconds and started laughing.
Hopefully, after all these years of hard training you are better able to 'hold it together' - at least until after they break before starting to laugh.

As a total aside and thread highjack - do you recall a fellow named Jay Dunkleman? I met him last week and his history sounds like he may have been a contemporary of yours from Bond St, NY Aikikai and Tokyo hombu in the mid-late 70's.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

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Old 06-01-2010, 10:26 AM   #70
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"HIjack"

Robert - sent PM
Ellis Amdur

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Old 06-01-2010, 10:57 AM   #71
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I'm not sure. I've never studied the habits of the Japanese in Japan.
<Snip>
A good point. Many (perhaps most?) of us have never been to Japan and have no firsthand knowledge of what appropriate social etiquitte is. I also wonder how different the etiquitte was in the prewar period vs postwar, let alone now ...

I had some similar thoughts while reading to the discussion of Sokaku Takeda's upbringing that Amdur Sensei and Goldsbury Sensei had awhile back.

Pat
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:43 PM   #72
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

The reason students fold our sensei's hakama on rare occassion is because:

1.) He usually hangs his and he needs it folded for travel
2.) His knees aren't that good, so its easier for us young spritely students to fold up his hakama for him

Most of the hakama wearers in my dojo just hang theirs. I haven't seen anyone fold it unless they were traveling. Maybe this phenomonon started over something like this and just got twisted into what it is today? Maybe a kind student decided they would do their busy sensei a favor and thus the ritual was born. I do know that Chiba Sensei has had his hakama folded for him by other people before.

On another note, I know that Sunset Cliffs Aikido students (uchideshi) fold their sensei's hakama after every class and also get her a cup of hot water to drink.... (based from reading uchideshi's blog)

Last edited by ninjaqutie : 06-01-2010 at 12:48 PM.

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Old 06-01-2010, 07:18 PM   #73
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
FWIW, the custom is one that I have seen only in aikido dojo, generally aikido dojo affiliated with a shihan who once taught in a Japanese university club. It's something I've never seen in any koryu group with which I've been involved, and which I have never observed in the course of a number of public demonstrations of koryu, either onstage or backstage.
Right. Do you and Dan know what the word "may" means, by the way?

To paraphrase my earlier post, for those whose agenda impairs reading comprehension: wherever the practice came from, it could "not hardly" *snort* have existed in the time when you didn't take off your hakama when you ended practice. Clear now?

Sheesh almighty, you people.
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Old 06-01-2010, 08:16 PM   #74
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Apprentices among craftsmen in Japan, even today are involved in a pretty rigid society, which involves cleaning up, taking care and serving. Sushi apprentices, for example, spend over a year merely preparing rice. European apprentices, at one time too, were veritable slaves. I cannot remember who it was, but one of the great American writers on Japan described a young sushi apprentice who refused to get the tattoos his masters had (this was a craftsman affectation, not just a yakuza thing) and they repetitively blackened his eyes for rejecting the "bond." (Tattoos separated you from society - forever - in a guild - he wasn't sure he wanted to do it.). He gave in, and the writer recalled seeing the two men tenderly washing the kid, his tats still raw, in the public bath.
In sumo stables, (sorry this one is crude, so close your eyes, delicate ones), there are some wrestlers too fat to wipe themselves after . . .so the most junior apprentice waits behind him - literally - while he does his business and cleans up afterwards. (I can imagine these kids praying - "Oh god, forget the grand championship. I don't care anymore. Just sign up someone else to the stable so I'm not junior anymore!"
Feudal was pretty bad - hakama folding would have been the least of it.
Anyway - Mary's specifically right. Once upon a time, taking off your hakama would mean taking off your pants in public - it wasn't a "practice uniform" (oh yeah, hence the wife thing I mentioned).

OTOH - I was at a koryu demo - Meiji shrine - and the elderly Araki-ryu teachers had just creakily taken off their hakama to change. My teacher nodded to the Japanese students to fold their hakama and they gave the deer in a headlight thing - they didn't know how. He was getting pretty ticked off, and moved forward to do it himself. (One should never "put" one's teacher in that position). I slid in front of him, and asked the old guys if I could fold the hakamas. They watched me like a hawk - and when I presented them back, done up right, one turned to the other - "He had the kata right, but hey, this gaijin knows how to behave too." I didn't feel degraded in the least - men who lived that long deserved a little bit extra respect.
On the other hand, if I'd ever made a move to fold my own Araki-ryu teacher's hakama, (or my 60 - eventually 80 year old - Buko-ryu teacher), they would have told me (one with a glare and the other with an expression of being put in an awkward place) to leave them alone and let them do it themselves.
All of which leads to one of the things I eventually loved most about Japan - that taught me the most - was the "case-by-case" nature of things. Sometimes it was right, sometimes it was so wrong - whatever it was. And bit by bit, it became natural and I developed a sensitivity to nuance.
Hence Takeda Sokaku having his bag carriers (Ueshiba being one) chasing after him as he scurried through the crowds in a train station, and Ueshiba later replicating this Daito-ryu training - and all the other trainings in sensitivity that the deshi had to do (the bath at the right temperature, etc.) - you learn something by this that cannot be learned any other way. Maybe you (the reader) do not care about it - maybe it is not worth it to you. Truly, however, such training is an absolute part of Japanese martial arts as they were - and maybe, to some degree still are. Because self-protection definitely meant knowing how to act within an incredibly labyrinthine social network, any mistake of which could lead to conflict. And this skill definitely transferred over to my career in threat assessment and crisis intervention.
(I developed a really powerful nikkyo once upon a time, and during an aikido dojo party, one of the older guys, really drunk, kept trying to grope my crotch. I kept telling him to stop, but he said he just had to see if I was as big there as the rest of me. (Ahem). After the third attempt, I put a nikkyo on him, and carefully, very carefully, applied increasing pressure until he yelped and begged me to stop. EVERYONE in the dojo was ticked off at me - he was drunk, they said, and meant no harm. I'm not here writing to say that the Japanese rule was to let somone squeeze you like a guernsey, but whatever I did was not "self-defense" in the context I lived in. In short, part of aiki seems to have been knowing how, when/where to apply it - if you had it.
So in conclusion, it is absolutely right to fold your teacher's hakama and so incredibly wrong to fold your teacher's hakama . . .
best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 06-02-2010, 10:50 AM   #75
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Re: Should I Fold My Sensei's Hakama?

Thank you Amdur Sensei. You post is greatly appreciated.

Pat
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