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Old 02-16-2003, 05:54 AM   #1
Kung Fu Liane
Location: Jersey
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Confused Folding Hakama

Hi,

we had a guest teacher at the last training session, and he told me that i should be folding his hakama at the end of training. however, i am by no means the senior student in the class. if i were to learn how, and start folding my teacher's hakama at the end of class, would i be stepping on the toes of my seniors?

also, i keep being asked to take 'warm-ups' at the start of class if the teacher is late for some reason. again, am i stepping on toes?

thanx,

-Liane

Aikido: a martial art which allows you to defeat your enemy without hurting him, unless of course he doesn't know how to breakfall in which case he will shatter every bone in his body when he lands. Also known as Origami with people
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Old 02-16-2003, 08:28 AM   #2
Bogeyman
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If your sensei asks you to do these things then there must be a reason for it. If toes are being stepped on then I would say it is between your sensei and your seniors. As far as folding hakama I have a different opinion from some. I don't understand why we we can't fold our own hakama. I know that I am not that good or that much better than others thatI can't fold my own hakama. It is a chance to relax and meditate at the end of class. I do train with people from other dojos that disagree though.

E
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Old 02-16-2003, 11:45 AM   #3
Arianah
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Quote:
Eric Novak (Bogeyman) wrote:
I don't understand why we we can't fold our own hakama. I know that I am not that good or that much better than others thatI can't fold my own hakama. It is a chance to relax and meditate at the end of class.
I don't think it has to be a statement of superiority to have someone else fold your hakama. My instructor gave his hakama to one of my sempai to learn to fold it. He explained that it teaches patience, and ultimately helps to improve the mindset that you need for aikido, since you can't force a hakama to fold. You have to instead, as my instructor says, "let it fold itself." Since my sempai has gone back to college, I have taken up the task of folding Sensei's hakama. I also fold one of my sempai's hakama, since he has to shower before he makes the long trek home, so not having to take the time to fold it is very convenient for him. As for me, I enjoy folding them, and though I have only graded once, and am, obviously, not senior, my sempai don't seem to mind. They may be grateful for all I know, since I don't think a single one of them doesn't hate to wrestle with those skirts.

Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.
-Albert Einstein
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Old 02-16-2003, 02:08 PM   #4
Bud
Dojo: Aikido Philippines
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Re: Folding Hakama

Quote:
Liane Guillou (Kung Fu Liane) wrote:
Hi,

we had a guest teacher at the last training session, and he told me that i should be folding his hakama at the end of training. however, i am by no means the senior student in the class. if i were to learn how, and start folding my teacher's hakama at the end of class, would i be stepping on the toes of my seniors?

also, i keep being asked to take 'warm-ups' at the start of class if the teacher is late for some reason. again, am i stepping on toes?

thanx,

-Liane
First, I don't see why the guest instructor had to tell you outright to fold his hakama. I'm aware of the sempai-kohai relationship but to be told to do so sounds a little condescending. I have yet to hear of a visiting Japanese sensei actually ask that from me or from someone else but I see his being done by their own kohai (usually their uke in the seminar).

I for one would not tell someone else to fold my hakama nor would I presume that everyone knows about the sempai-kohai relationship and its practices. I would offer to fold a sensei's or sempai's hakama but to be told to do so by either of them is new to me.

As for warm-ups, I don't see why you'd be stepping on anyone's toes by doing them a favor and warming up the class. We have that happen in my dojo and the highest ranking student usually takes it upon himself or herself to start the class. It's no big deal.
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Old 02-16-2003, 03:49 PM   #5
Chris Li
 
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Re: Re: Folding Hakama

Quote:
Buddy Acenas (Bud) wrote:
First, I don't see why the guest instructor had to tell you outright to fold his hakama. I'm aware of the sempai-kohai relationship but to be told to do so sounds a little condescending. I have yet to hear of a visiting Japanese sensei actually ask that from me or from someone else but I see his being done by their own kohai (usually their uke in the seminar).
I train at three different dojo in Japan, and nobody folds anybody else's hakama, not even the instructor's hakama.

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-17-2003, 01:12 AM   #6
batemanb
 
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When I was in Japan, One of the sempai in the dojo that I trained in would always fold the dojo cho's hakama, whether he taught or not, someone would always fold Kaicho's hakama too. If one of the other club sensei taught, I don't recall anyone folding their hakama's though. This custom was followed in all of our 4 dojo's. There were one or two sempai that always volunteered to do this, if they were absent, it was noticed and one of the others would always step in.

We regularly had visit's from "erai sensei", such as a monthly class with Matsuda Sensei. Someone would always try to fold their hakama too (I have sen some refuse the offer occasionally). I have also trained regularly in a couple of other dojo's there, visiting "erai sensei" would always have someone offer to fold their hakama, wghether it was their own deshi travelling with them or a memeber of the club being visited.

I don't think that folding someone's hakama is a rule, although it did seem a formality for certain people. I have come to view this as part of Aikido shugyo, consequently, since I have returned to the UK, I have taken to folding my Sensei's hakama at the end of class too.

Interestingly, one of my "kohai" has noticed this, he came over and sat quietly watching me fold Sensei's hakama last week, after, he asked if he could fold mine. I must admit to feeling a little embarrassed by that, so I made a polite excuse and put him off until another time :-).

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 02-17-2003, 01:23 AM   #7
Ta Kung
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Folding your senseis/sempais hakama? Dear Lord, why? I never heard of this before. To me, it sounds very strange. What else do you do, help with his dishes, cut his nails or comb his hair? Really, this is absurd.

"Sensei! Sensei! May I please fold your hakama?"

"I belive it's Justins turn today..."

"Darn it! Then at least let me shampoo your hair."



/Patrik
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Old 02-17-2003, 03:43 AM   #8
JJF
 
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In kendo I was told that it was custom that the lowest graded person would offer to pack sensei's equipment - especially if it was a visiting sensei. We never did it though - and I allways wondered, why the person with the least chance to know what was expected, and how to do it, was supposed to take care of the task. In Aikido I have never met anyone that expressed that he or she expected someone else to fold his/her hakama. I can't help wondering what my sensei would say, if I offered to fold it for him though... "WHAT!! fold my hakama ? no way - get your greasy little hands of my things and go practice shikko...." or maybe not....

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 02-17-2003, 03:54 AM   #9
Edward
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Some of the guys who posted above have a long way to go in terms of learning humility.

I don't see anything downgrading in offering or in being asked to fold a hakama. You should consider it as a service given to you not vice versa.

I have noticed that teachers and visiting instructors would give their hakama to be folded by one of the students that they particularly appreciate, or to whom they have some affection or esteem.

One should feel proud and honored to be chosen to do such a task, or any other task by an instructor. Unfortunately in our Western culture, the first thought would be: "Hey, does he think I'm his servant or what?"

I wouldn't want to train at a dojo with such a spirit, or lack of spirit I should say.

Last edited by Edward : 02-17-2003 at 04:01 AM.
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Old 02-17-2003, 07:16 AM   #10
Ta Kung
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Hi Edward! I respect your thoughts. But frankly, I don't agree at all. I really don't see the reason WHY a student should fold the senseis hakama? It's obiously not that common. Sure, if they for some reason want to, go ahead. But having the sensei tell/ask you to do it? Nope. However, if it was the custom at the dojo I was training at, I'd do it.

I don't see any bigger honor in folding the senseis hakama, than I see when the wife tells me it's my turn to do the dishes again.

With respect,

Patrik
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Old 02-17-2003, 08:27 AM   #11
Edward
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Hello Patrik,

I see that you are from Sweden and you Scandinavians are known to be very egalitarian

Aikido is a Japanese martial art and cannot be separated from its context. I myself would feel less inclined to fold the hakama of a Western instructor than that of a Japanese. And a Western instructor would feel less inclined to give his hakama to be folded by a student than a Japanese instructor. However, the folding of the hakama has more meaning in it than doing a service to the instructor, because he's perfectly able to do it by himself in less than a minute. I think it is a symbolic gesture, and it would be difficult to understand if you did not spend a few years in Asia.

Now my (Japanese) instructor never asks his students to fold his hakama, but one of the students always volunteers. I myself have never volunteered (and would never do, due to my Western education), but I would happily do it if asked to.

Cheers,

Edward
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Old 02-17-2003, 08:56 AM   #12
MikeE
 
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I have never asked my students to fold my hakama, they ask me. I have never asked my students to clean the dojo, they saw me doing it a couple of times...and then they took the initiative and started cleaning up on their own. When we have a visiting sensei, I try to fold their hakama out of respect. Even when I am at a seminar somewhere else, someone usually asks to fold my hakama. And in turn I will ask to fold someone elses.



Anyways it's something I do. It's part of the training I received. I don't find it any bit out of the ordinary.

In our style we start wearing hakama at nikyu, so...once someone is yonkyu or sankyu it may behoove them to be able to fold one.

Patrik, are you afraid to let someone else touch your precious skirt

Mike Ellefson
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Old 02-17-2003, 09:15 AM   #13
happysod
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Hakoma wars - the sequal

Strange thread, especially as the original query wasn't "to fold or not to fold", but whether they'd upset someone else by doing this (?).

My twopenneth is if you don't mind folding someone's hakoma do it - although going off the "yeah I'd sweat so much it would be wringing" threads concerning hakomas in the past, I certainly wouldn't join in.

Personally, I prefer to deal with my own sweaty attire and wouldn't consider handing this over to anyone else either a service or an honour - good trick if I could manage it though (does it work with gis and zorris? have I been missing out on an untapped dojo resource?)
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Old 02-17-2003, 09:54 AM   #14
Choku Tsuki
 
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oh, now you tell me

If 'folding someone else's hakama' is akin to a holy sacrament or a ticket to some else's ego trip I'd want no part of it.
Quote:
we had a guest teacher at the last training session, and he told me that i should be folding his hakama at the end of training,
Worse if it is someone's delusory attempt at being more japanese than the Japanese. I'd refuse in this case unless my teacher, who is responsible for teaching me etiquette, informed me before class this is something I should volunteer to do.

--Chuck
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Old 02-17-2003, 09:55 AM   #15
John Boswell
 
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Quote:
Some of the guys who posted above have a long way to go in terms of learning humility.
Well, I know that I am humble! I remind people everyday what a wonderful and kind and humble person I am.

Just kidding! But you do make a good point. Humility is a dying trait these days.

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Old 02-20-2003, 05:50 AM   #16
JJF
 
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Hi Edward! I'm back from having the flu....
Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
I have noticed that teachers and visiting instructors would give their hakama to be folded by one of the students that they particularly appreciate, or to whom they have some affection or esteem.
I like that scenario much better than the one I painted where the student with the lowest grade should do the job. Much more of a gesture - a connection - than a chore. A question of words perhaps but important for the whole atmosphere and the interpersonal relations in the dojo.

I concider myself quite an egalitarian just like Patrik , but I still believe there is nothing wrong in expecting the students to make an effort for the dojo and be helpful to those who teach them, as long as it is done in harmony with the way the sensei thinks and the society in generel works around the dojo. It's quite okay to practice disciplin and humility as long as it dosen't become phony.

What I'm getting at is, that it shouldn't be necessary to tell people more than once, that the dojo needs to be cleaned now and then, that it is concidered bad form to arrive late (especially if you do not apologize once you get on the mat), that one shouldn't wear shoes on the mat, that food is to be kept OFF the mat, that talking is only appropriate in some situations etc. etc.

However these rules should never be rules just for the sake of rules, but acts of concidereation that one should have the disciplin to live up to in order to create the best possible learning situation for everybody.

Then again - I am not just an egalitarian - I'm also a bit of an idealist

Just my thoughts

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

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Old 02-20-2003, 06:21 AM   #17
Peter Goldsbury
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In my own dojo we have a rule: everyone is responsible for his/her own kit, so every yudansha folds up his/her own hakama. There are no exceptions, from the chief instructor downwards. Requests to fold hakama, except to learn how it is done, are firmly rebuffed.

Best regards,

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Old 02-20-2003, 06:38 AM   #18
Kung Fu Liane
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Confused

Thanx to everyone who posted. I guess different schools have different ways

Aikido: a martial art which allows you to defeat your enemy without hurting him, unless of course he doesn't know how to breakfall in which case he will shatter every bone in his body when he lands. Also known as Origami with people
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Old 02-20-2003, 09:34 AM   #19
Ta Kung
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Quote:
I concider myself quite an egalitarian just like Patrik
Well, at least I help with the dojo cleaning quite often. I don't clean as often at home, though...
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Old 02-20-2003, 09:46 AM   #20
SmilingNage
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It is an honor to be ask to fold a Sensei's hakama. It is a compliment given to you. It shows that the teacher has been paying attention to your practice and trusts you with the task of folding a hakama.

Dont make me, make you, grab my wrist.
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Old 02-20-2003, 12:29 PM   #21
Judd
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Although I have no idea how to yet, many of our higher ranked students offer to fold the night's instructor's hakama for them. I think it's just a respectful way to thank a teacher for their time and effort, and helps the senior students learn how to fold, so they can fold their own one day. I guess every school is different.
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Old 02-20-2003, 12:45 PM   #22
MattRice
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Everyone at our dojo folds their own. Never heard of folding someone elses. In fact they get folded, hung on a hanger, thrown into a bag in a pile or draped over a locker door. Not very formal on our end.
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Old 02-20-2003, 02:07 PM   #23
Col.Clink
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I must be one of the few

I have always folded the hakama of Sensei at the end of class. This was the job of the lowest grade attending on the night. In the beginning you did not ask why, but after a while I became curious and did ask.Listed in no particular order:

1. Respect for ones Sensei.

2. Gives Sensei time to go and get changed and not worry about folding the hakama, again respect for giving his time.

3. There is a certain way of folding the hakama, each fold you give means a certain thing. I cannot remember these meanings exactly, I'll have to look it up, but the tie at the end is something like "through the universe and over the mountain"

4. Teaches you patience and in my case I'm a perfectionist, so it taught me alot about patience!

5. It doesn't have to be Sensei either, someone who has helped you out alot at class, a yudansha you look up to; a way of saying thanks now I'll do you a favour.

Personally, I think it is very respectful(and a little humbleness involved) to fold Senseis hakama and a great way to learn how is to practice on the yudansha.

You soon learn who takes care of their hakama and who doesn't. Some of the knots I've taken out of hakama's over the years!!!

I guess it's up to each individual though, seems to be alot of trust involved, I think.

Just my tuppence worth.

cheers

Rob

"Excess leads to the path of Wisdom"
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Old 02-20-2003, 02:14 PM   #24
rachmass
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we used to have a race to fold our sensei's hakama; it was an honor to do it.
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Old 02-20-2003, 03:17 PM   #25
kensparrow
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I'm relatively new to Aikido, but I'm surprised at the number of negative responses. I would consider it an honor to provide that service to some one who has given me so much. I wonder how many of the "fold your own" crowd think their Sensei should take his own ukemi too!
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