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Old 05-11-2003, 12:01 AM   #1
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AikiWeb Poll for the week of May 11, 2003:

What do you think of wearing a hakama during aikido training?
  • I don't do aikido
  • I don't wear a hakama
  • It's beneficial
  • No difference
  • It's detrimental
Here are the current results.
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Old 05-11-2003, 03:21 AM   #2
PeterR
 
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We don't.

It's not safe - it get's in the way.

A coupled with a heavy Judogi it makes our butts look big.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-11-2003, 08:02 AM   #3
Charles Hill
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This reminds me of a story I read in Black Belt Magazine 20 years ago;

A new person joined an Aikido dojo, excited about studying a true spiritual way through the martial arts. He saw all the whirling hakama and wanted to know it's significance.

A senior student explained, that through the hakama, she had learned precognition and extreme patience.

The newbie, hearing this, got real excited. In what does the power of the hakama lie? Is it in the folds? In a secret way to tie it?

The senior student explained, "The hakama is such a pain to take on and off, you learn how to tell if you're gonna have to go to the bathroom in the next few hours. And until you learn that, you learn to hold it until the end of class."
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Old 05-11-2003, 08:28 AM   #4
Bronson
 
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I believe the hakama is responsible for the samurai always having his sword with him. I think they needed to have the sword with them at all times not to defend themselves, but to cut themselves out of the stupid thing in case of a sudden attack of diarrhea. I sure wish I'd had a sword the other day

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 05-11-2003, 08:58 AM   #5
opherdonchin
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I'm going to copy in something I wrote on another thread. The context is that I had said I found the ASU habit of donning hakama at 6th kyu to be 'silly.' Jun asked me to explain what I meant, and what follows is what I wrote in response. Jun never commented on my little tirade, but I am curious what he thinks about it. In fact, I'm reposting because I'm generally curious what others have to say.

**************************

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.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 05-11-2003, 03:13 PM   #6
Patrick
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We dont wear hakamas in our dojo but I dont see the difference if you wear one or not.

Kendo is like star wars and everyone gets to be Darth Vader.
"Luke, I am your sensei"
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Old 05-11-2003, 03:39 PM   #7
akiy
 
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
Jun asked me to explain what I meant, and what follows is what I wrote in response. Jun never commented on my little tirade, but I am curious what he thinks about it.
I guess all I can say is that I've been going hakamaless (outside of "formal" events like seminars and kyu/dan testing) at my home dojo for about two months now...

-- Jun

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Old 05-12-2003, 05:17 AM   #8
ian
 
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I think the hakama looks great during aikido and actually has some use for beginners because in most clubs people who wear hakama have been coming for a while. However I voted it as a hinderence (since the question was phrased at a personal level). It doesn't relate to anything we wear during normal life, it gets in the way of rolling, it obscures peoples leg movement during instruction, its a pain in the arse during shikko/suwari-waza.

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 05-12-2003, 06:04 AM   #9
Tim Griffiths
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I like wearing a hakama - I like the tight feeling around the hips (I also wear a wide obi for the same reason), it helps me keep better posture.

I'm not sure about Peter's 'safety' comment - anyone had a (non-trivial) hakama-related injury?

It explains a lot about Japanese food too - you really don't want to eat heavily spiced stuff when you wear one.

Isn't that the *real* reason many dojo's don't wear one until shodan? "OK, you think you're pretty good, now try doing all that while wearing a skirt".

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 05-12-2003, 06:33 AM   #10
Bussho
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I would vote : It's beneficial

I feel the hakama helps in understanding Aikido; the flow and movement. Just like using a sword to pratice with, the hakama helps.

/Bussho
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Old 05-12-2003, 06:51 AM   #11
rachmass
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I vote for the beneficial use of the hakama. My experience is in dojos that only wear them at dan grades though, and I am a bit leary of wearing them earlier.

They can be dangerous, and I've certainly had mine stepped on, or caught my toes in it! I do worry about getting caught up in it (especially as I like to wear mine at a traditionally long length). My old teacher had someone kneel on his hakama (by mistake) when he was being thrown in a high fall, and he came down hard on his shoulder and separated it. It has never completely recovered after 12 years, and gives him lots of problems still.
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Old 05-12-2003, 06:52 AM   #12
rachmass
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oh, I forgot to say why I like them; it is the feeling of centeredness that it helps me have. It also helps remind me of keeping my weight low.
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Old 05-12-2003, 07:18 AM   #13
Ghost Fox
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Quote:
Tim Griffiths wrote:
I'm not sure about Peter's 'safety' comment - anyone had a (non-trivial) hakama-related injury?

Tim
Most Shodokan and Yoshinkan Aikidoka I know don't wear Hakamas to practice as they use lots of Judo type movements and throws in their training (Leg sweeps/reapings).

As for myself, I cheerish my hakama. Maybe because I link it with my Shodan promotion, something I worked very hard to earn.

Besides it gives me a sense of tradition, something that I think is important in this day and age.

Peace and Blessings

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Old 05-12-2003, 07:21 AM   #14
Michael Neal
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I get caught on mine and trip at least once every practice.
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Old 05-12-2003, 11:51 AM   #15
KaitlinCostello
 
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Okay, my humble little opinion on this:

Many people complain about getting caught or tripping in their hakama. I personally have never had such problems on the three separate occasions I have trained wearing a hakama. Even while working on some suwari waza techniques.

Length is everything. A longer hakama certainly does present a certain threat. The rule of thumb that I have been taught (granted I've been making, tailoring and dealing with Hakama's for a few years now) is that you should at the very least be able to kneel in a semi low position ( i.e. as you duck under your partners arm for certain techniques and ect,) with out the hem of the hakama getting in the way. I noticed in both the seminars I've been in that most people had their hakama's hems about ankle length or higher. As to suwari waza I just tucked the sides of the hakama into the vents. Funny looking yes... functional? Yes!

All in all its a personal preference.

For me I stick to tradition. However I do not care very much for the hakama being used as a "gift" for being promoted to a Dan rank. Ranking in its self a large gray area and should not be treated in such a manner, IMHO. I believe in fair treatment for everyone, and am lucky enough to be able to train with a group who does not judge my lack of rank, but on the spirit and energy I put into my training. I am respected and I have grown farther then anyone thought I could in this short amount of time. Hakama or not. Belt or not. I wish this kind of thinking is more wide spread.

Personally, kyu, dan whatever I think wearing the hakama should be a choice. If it becomes detrimental, don't wear it. Just Train. Isn't that what we come to the dojo to do, when everything is said and done?

Sorry if this sounded gripey. Just one of those things I've got a strong opinion on..

Best Regards,

The kyuless one

(but not so clueless anymore)

~~No smile is as beautiful as the one that struggles through tears.~~
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Old 05-12-2003, 01:33 PM   #16
rachmass
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Hi Kaitlin,

I dont view wearing a hakama as a "gift". With it goes responsibility, not arrogance and pride. My comment that I am leary of wearing a hakama as a kyu grade is due to issues such as ukemi (when the customs are the same from one dojo to another), tripping on the material, and ego. Anyway, if you want to discuss this with me off the BB, I would be happy to. My email address is: rachmass@provide.net

Best,

Rachel
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Old 05-12-2003, 02:55 PM   #17
jxa127
Dojo: Itten Dojo -- Mechanicsburg, PA
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Kaitlin,

Great tips on wearing a hakama!

Further on in your post you said:
Quote:
Kaitlin Costello (KaitlinCostello) wrote:
For me I stick to tradition. However I do not care very much for the hakama being used as a "gift" for being promoted to a Dan rank. Ranking in its self a large gray area and should not be treated in such a manner, IMHO. I believe in fair treatment for everyone, and am lucky enough to be able to train with a group who does not judge my lack of rank, but on the spirit and energy I put into my training. I am respected and I have grown farther then anyone thought I could in this short amount of time. Hakama or not. Belt or not. I wish this kind of thinking is more wide spread.

Personally, kyu, dan whatever I think wearing the hakama should be a choice. If it becomes detrimental, don't wear it. Just Train. Isn't that what we come to the dojo to do, when everything is said and done?
Could you elaborate a bit on what you mean by fair treatment? It sounds as though you're saying everyone ought to be treated in the same manner and that belt ranks and wearing a hakama at dan ranks can get in the way of that.

I've been a real newbie who was treated like I was more experienced, and a relatively experienced guy treated like a newbie. In the first case, I got injured. The second case was some of the dullest training I'd ever experienced. In neither case did I feel like I was treated fairly.

To me, badges of rank (belt and hakama) are a convenient way of indicating a man or woman's level of experience. When I'm at a seminar, I often seek out the people in hakamas 'cause I know I'll learn a lot from them. If we all had white belts, It'd be a luck of the draw proposition. OTOH, I don't only train with yudansha, and those ranked lower than me teach me a lot too.

Just some thoughts,

-Drew

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 05-12-2003, 04:30 PM   #18
Bogeyman
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I found that when I started wearing a hakama that I had to emphasize hip movement more than before to keep the hakama from wrapping around my ankles. Obviously this helped my technique. It also helped me from getting too wide or too narrow of a stance. It took me about ten years of wearing a hakama to get to traditional length but I seldom get caught in the long hakama. As long as I am in the dojo I feel somewhat naked without my hakama on but it doesn't affect anything if I am not wearing one.

E
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Old 05-12-2003, 06:54 PM   #19
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Quote:
Could you elaborate a bit on what you mean by fair treatment? It sounds as though you're saying everyone ought to be treated in the same manner and that belt ranks and wearing a hakama at dan ranks can get in the way of that.
This one's a hard one to put to words, but I'll try...

Perhaps "coexistence of the ranks" is a better term. In the group a came from, we varied in the ranks from the kyuless (me) to the shodans ( Sensei and one other). Over that gap, no one is treated like they are more important then the other because of rank, or lack therof. Save for one person, who I no longer partner with. Its not a pissing contest or a seniority thing. Its almost like rank doesn't exist.

Now I go to a different group and few seminars and I come to see a difference in the interaction between ranks. There is this giant gulf between Dans and Kyu's, the hakama'd and the non hakama'd. Thats what truly bugs me . Especially the colored belt scheme. You divide people up and split them into factions. A white belt, blank belt, orange belt.. mother-of-pearl belt and so forth.

Perhaps its shock or stubborness to change, but the gaps , imho would seem to be more hurtful then helpful.

When I went to my first seminar I got pegged with three different things. No kyu, 4th Kyu and even 2nd kyu (I pin that one on the koshi) all because of my gi and the belt ( which is beige, not white.

QUOTE] When I'm at a seminar, I often seek out the people in hakamas 'cause I know I'll learn a lot from them.[/quote]

I even tried to train with some of the hakama'd folks. One was 6 foot 7 and threw me about twenty feet, "because you looked like you could do the ukemi." a few others turned out to be kyu ranks, as some schools allow you to wear a hakama when you are financially able to.

And then you run into the white belts who are really black belts in disguise.

Boy did I gather some frequent flying miles with those people...

‘scuse my ranting. Lack of Aikido make me grumpy LOL

~~No smile is as beautiful as the one that struggles through tears.~~
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Old 05-12-2003, 09:19 PM   #20
jxa127
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Hi Kaitlin,

I agree that rank should not be equated with status. I should add that I've mostly worked with people from my own organization, so we all know approximately what the rank symbolizes.

However, I was at a seminar in January that drew people from many different styles. We simply talked about what we were comfortable with before working on a technique. This was encouraged by the instructor.

So I guess that at their best, symbols of rank can be a rough indicator of ability and people of different abilities get the chance to work together and learn from one another. The dark side is the egoism and divisivness you've noticed in some places.

As for the hakama, I'm comfortable with it being worn at shodan and above -- and I'm not there yet.

Regards,

-Drew

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 05-13-2003, 01:16 AM   #21
kironin
 
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Ki Symbol

I guess since I also train in Iaido, my view of the hakama is colored by the fact that you wear one in iaido from the beginning because it is a functional part of the art's uniform. Without it my saya would not be secure. It has no meaning in terms of rank or experience.

In aikido, I voted no difference, because I think the benefits and detriments of wearing one pretty much balance each other out. For example, it does help hold my belt, but I often have to tuck it up to let students see my footwork. Yanked my toes a few times.

In our style, one starts wearing a hakama around sankyu or nikyu. Seems about right because the student has probably been training for a few years and has commitment and so the investment is not too much to ask, but also safety-wise their ukemi skills and basic movement is starting to take shape. It gives them a little time to learn how to move in one safely and be comfortable with the idea of wearing it as part of their uniform before they become a yudansha.

They also have not had to wait so long to wear one so that they attach an excessive significance to wearing one. Usually, by the time of shodan they no longer think of it as more than part of the uniform -- and that's a good thing IMO.

Often, in informal practice, I do without it.

Craig
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Old 05-13-2003, 05:56 AM   #22
ian
 
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Quote:
Kaitlin Costello (KaitlinCostello) wrote:
A longer hakama certainly does present a certain threat. The rule of thumb that I have been taught (granted I've been making, tailoring and dealing with Hakama's for a few years now) is that you should at the very least be able to kneel in a semi low position ( i.e. as you duck under your partners arm for certain techniques and ect,)...

For me I stick to tradition.
If you stick to tradition, surely your hakama will touch the floor? (as it should in iaido). Although I also got my hakama altered to ankle level, I don't think they look suitable if you can see your gi bottoms through them (probably the equivalent of a g-string appearing above your hip hugging jeans).

I also agree about centredness and hip stability (also adds weight to lower part of your body and therfore lowers centre of gravity). However, I think we should try to develop this without the use of a hakama. There's the old joke of kung-fu experts having to remove their shoes before they defend themselves - maybe for us we need to put on our hakama?

Ian
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Old 05-13-2003, 06:00 AM   #23
Amelia Smith
 
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First, a note on safety: Have none of you ever caught your foot in the hem of someone's hakama while taking a breakfall? I mean, it's not the end of the world, but I and others I know have had some seriously pulled groin muscles. Maybe it's just our local ukemi style, but I doubt it.

I do not yet wear hakama and have found it to be a bit of a problem when visiting other (especially non USAF) dojos. The problem is really in difference of promotion speeds and rank signifiers. Where I train, it takes a looooong time to get to sho dan, and thereby to wearing hakama. When I visit other dojos, the immediate assumption, based on the state of my uniform, is that I've been training for maybe a year or two, when in fact it's getting close to 8 years. One of the reasons I'm looking forward to getting my sho dan is that I think it will make visiting other dojos less awkward in terms of rank and experience confusion (though I'm sure there's a flip side to this).

Besides, just about everyone looks better wearing hakama.

--Amelia
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Old 05-13-2003, 06:10 AM   #24
rachmass
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The comment about the hakama being a "gift" is still grating on me, and I want to dispell that idea. How can it be a gift? It takes years (in most styles) of diligent practice to reach shodan, which in itself is just a beginning.

That does not mean that people shouldn't be treated equally as human beings, but in aikido, as in other martial arts, there is a distinct heirarchy. There is nothing wrong with this, and it has a lot of merit. Senior students are expected to be good role models and to help the juniors. They should respect the juniors for their potential and the junior should respect the senior for their years of practice. Within the dojo, we all know each others experience; it is at seminars that things can get confusing when a beginner wears a hakama. It is false advertising and can result in harm to the beginner (not everyone trains carefully and with sensitivity to their partners).

Anyway, the comment about the gift just seems like sour grapes to me!
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Old 05-13-2003, 10:15 AM   #25
KaitlinCostello
 
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Quote:
If you stick to tradition, surely your hakama will touch the floor? (as it should in iaido). Although I also got my hakama altered to ankle level, I don't think they look suitable if you can see your gi bottoms through them (probably the equivalent of a g-string appearing above your hip hugging jeans).

I also agree about centredness and hip stability (also adds weight to lower part of your body and therfore lowers centre of gravity). However, I think we should try to develop this without the use of a hakama. There's the old joke of kung-fu experts having to remove their shoes before they defend themselves - maybe for us we need to put on our hakama?
Ian,

Floor legth, IMHO is a little bit too long. Granted I've never dealt with Iaido or the likes where such things differ. At ankle length I have to hike the hem of my hakama up quite a bit to even see my trouser legs. I keep the pant legs trimmed to about mid calf length, to eliminate the tripping hazard that they were before.

As to the kung fu anecdote.. well.

Maybe we just like to run around in skirts?

~~No smile is as beautiful as the one that struggles through tears.~~
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