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Old 01-24-2005, 01:06 PM   #26
rob_liberti
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Well, that's what I heard. I don''t profess to be an authority on the history of hakama color. You have to like the magic of aikiweb in that someone tells you something, and you can go online and check it out with many interested parties. From my personal observations, everyone I have ever seen from the gatherings of Suganuma sensei's dojos (like 100+ dojos) all wear black hakama. My teacher wears blue. I believe he does that because his teacher wore blue. I have no idea what O-sensei wore before white. Any picture I have seen with him wearing a dark colored hakama was in black and white so it could have been dark purple for all I know... It's probably going to turn out to be whatever color was on sale when the person first got their shodan or something.

Regardless, I'd rather focus on standing out due to excellence than doing so by wearing a pudle skirt or a white hakama (when everyone else around me wears blue or black).

Rob
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Old 01-24-2005, 02:37 PM   #27
John Boswell
 
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Personal Opinion:

I find the white hakama to be very formal looking. When you read that sword makers of old, in Japan, wear all white during the process of making a sword... you get the impression that they took their work very seriously and wanted nothing but their best to come out of them and into their art.

As far as martial artists wearing a white hakama, I could see someone doing so at formal occassions: testing specificlly; perhaps at demonstrations if they are good quality. If I were dojo cho and had a senior instructor or shihan attending, I would just follow tradition (blue or black) or perhaps ask the attending shihan what they would recommend.

HOWEVER... getting back to the "Offensive" notion of various colored hakama, I am a strong advocate of being Anti-Politically correct. The idea of political correctness offends me as people will find themselves triping over their own tongue to say one thing when they were thinking another. It is one thing to be outright offensive... just shouldn't do that. But it is another to do something, such as wearing a white, brown, stripped, etc. hakama and feel like you have to explain yourself to everybody! Just tell em to get over it and move on. Whom does it hurt and how?

If students wore hakama all shades of color, and their instructor told them "black only" or whatever, then those students are wrong for going against the wishes of the one person there to teach them. BUT, if the instructor does not care... if he/she is there to teach and could care less if they wear various colors or just sweat pants, then no one else has a right to look down on them. It is their custom and their way.

Being aikikai affiliated, I don't see myself ever wearing anything than a black hakama. I COULD wear a blue one, but out of respect to my instructor who does wear a blue hakama, I'll stay with the black. In the event I ever get to the Aiki Expo or some similar gathering, and see people there wearing white and gray and stripped hakama, I will think nothing ill against any of them because frankly... who the hell am I to judge?

"Judge not, lest ye be judged." Words to live by...

That's my 2 cents.

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Old 01-25-2005, 02:02 AM   #28
Michael Cardwell
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

I have never seen any hakama other then black and dark blue in aikido practice. I heard the same thing as what someone has already shared, O-sensei wore white hakama because he was way into Shintoism. White being the color of death in Japan, wearing white hakama (during aikido practice) would be kind of like saying you had transited death. That might explain the funny looks you would get if you did wear them. I have also heard wearing brown suggest a humble person and so forth.

Other martial arts don't seem to have any problem with different colored hakama though, I know in kendo some people, usually woman, wear all white uniforms. And I have seen pinstriped hakama at iaido demos.
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Old 01-25-2005, 07:15 AM   #29
Michael Young
 
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

When visiting a shrine in Japan, a good friend of mine saw a young woman wearing a red hakama and (half)-jokingly stated it was "cool" and that he wanted to get one. Our other friend, who lived in Japan for over 25 years and was showing us the sites, chuckled and told him that wearing a red hakama means you are a virgin (the same reason wedding dresses in Japan are red instead of white), and that she didn't think he would qualify for one .

-Mike
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Old 01-25-2005, 10:42 AM   #30
Ellis Amdur
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Back in the seventies, I knew a guy who ran a small aikido dojo. He was the son of someone who got rich by selling his farm land when the city washed up against it, and they retained a big house, a big yard and daddy built him a dojo. Nice guy, but a rich boy. Osawa-sensei of the Aikikai Honbu was his "mentor." Osawa-sensei, for those who never saw him, was very deep in Zen practice and he was known as impeturbable. Nothing seemed to phase him.

The young sensei had himself a lawn green hakama, which he used to wear at his own dojo. One day, he walked onto the mat at the Aikikai, during Osawa Sensei's class, wearing same. The impeturbable Osawa-sensei got a horrified expression and bellowed, "You idiot. Get off the mat. Get out of here. Go home! And don't come back until you figure out how to get dressed." Ever see a large Japanese man bowing, stumbling and running at the same time?

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Old 01-25-2005, 12:18 PM   #31
jonreading
 
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

My knowledge of the hakama is somewhat limited. I know that several martial arts allow white hakama. I know that the color white holds religious and ceremonial significance. I know that blue and black is traditionally the color of aikido hakama. I do not believe it's a written law to wear a particular color of hakama to aikido class, but rather a living tradition enforced by aikido instructors. I think that the white hakama aquired a stigma because O'Sensei wore one, and most aikido people do not realize the prevalence of white hakama in other arts.

That said, I am glad that you have chosen to leave the white hakama in the changing room for aikido.
I played multiple sports in school. But I never wore a baseball uniform to football practice, or a football uniform to play golf. I consider hakama part of a uniform to train a martial art.

My answer to this question is always "Why do you want to wear a white hakama?" They are more expensive, harder to care for, easier to soil, and non-traditional for aikido students. I would expect a great answer that would outweigh all of these disadvantages before I would believe there is not underlying motivation for a white hakama in aikido...
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:35 PM   #32
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

I read that after WWII that fabric was scarce. Hakama were whatever color fabric could be obtained. The point was to wear the hakama, all ranks and not to be practicing in what was considered undergarments.
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Old 01-25-2005, 03:02 PM   #33
Ellis Amdur
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Jon Reading -

Given the sequence of posts, I think you may be addressing this statement to me. "That said, I am glad that you have chosen to leave the white hakama in the changing room for aikido." Doesn't apply to me. I train in two koryu. White is required in Araki-ryu, and one of many acceptable color and combinations in Buko-ryu. If one of my students came to ARaki-ryu practice in blue or black anything, he wouldn't practice. I've never considered wearing white in aikido, so there was no choice made.

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Old 01-26-2005, 12:07 AM   #34
Robert Cheshire
 
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Thumbs down Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

In Yoseikan Budo we wear blue tops. We also wear both black hakama and white hakama.

In Traditional Yoseikan only instructors wore the blue gi top. Now all students do. I personally like allowing all students wear the blue top. We usually only wear hakama for demonstration purposes and it's normally worn by dan ranks.

I like the white hakama. One of my students actually made me a pair and gave it to me for Christmas a year ago.

Robert Cheshire
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Old 01-27-2005, 11:42 AM   #35
jonreading
 
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Ellis,

Ignore the sequence. I was actually addressing Dave's initial question - he is a multiple practictioner too. In Dave's case, he has also chosen to separate his attire for each art. My post just happened to follow you.

My point was that Aikido people sometimes forget there are other Japanese martial arts that incorporate hakama. But I appreciate students that respect their art by following the traditions of their school.

Sorry for the confusion.
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Old 01-27-2005, 12:14 PM   #36
Fred Little
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
The young sensei had himself a lawn green hakama, which he used to wear at his own dojo. One day, he walked onto the mat at the Aikikai, during Osawa Sensei's class, wearing same. The impeturbable Osawa-sensei got a horrified expression and bellowed, "You idiot. Get off the mat. Get out of here. Go home! And don't come back until you figure out how to get dressed." Ever see a large Japanese man bowing, stumbling and running at the same time?
Which is a classic version of the "you can do whatever you want in your own dojo, but when in Rome...."

In my previous dojo, we did use white hakama in two specific circumstances:

1. General usage in special sessions devoted to Shinto and Buddhist foundation practices relevant to aikido training. Not mandatory, but approved.

2. Approved for usage by beginning students who wanted to wear hakama. The reason for this was simple: I had several brand new students who wanted to wear hakama. I have no objection to beginners wearing hakama, but I don't want any beginners getting hurt at a seminar because someone saw a hakama and concluded that the wearer had intermediate to advanced ukemi skills. All of these students were told that the norm in aikido was blue or black, so they had a choice when going to seminar: wear no hakama, or wear the white and stand out so that someone would say "what the hell is that?" The answer to the question would keep them from getting thumped harder than they could bounce. I've got enough blue procion dye in the cabinets to change the color when the time is right.

The only time I've worn a white hakama on someone else's mat involved forgetting to check the gear bag on the way out the door. When I got to the dojo and discovered my mistake, I asked the chief instructor whether he would prefer a white hakama or no hakama. He said it didn't matter to him what color my hakama was. After class, he asked me why the hell I had a white hakama, which took me back to explanation number one and a discussion of what I'd been up to the day before.

On the other hand, I'm thinking about taking a white hakama and keikogi top and dying both in a blue-to-white fade, bottom to top and top to bottom respectively for no reason other than aesthetics and dim memories of a time when even blue hakama were verboten in some quarters.....

Best,

Fred Little
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Old 01-27-2005, 12:21 PM   #37
rob_liberti
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Oh that explains a lot. I met this young man who was wearing a white hakama at a seminar and I just assumed he was channeling O-sensei. We all did. They ended up asking him to teach class, and he seemed pretty surprised...

For those of you who are slapping your forehead - I'm just kidding. He was channeling O-sensei (and I'm pretty sure it was because of the white hakama).

Rob
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Old 01-27-2005, 12:40 PM   #38
Fred Little
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Talking Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Oh that explains a lot. I met this young man who was wearing a white hakama at a seminar and I just assumed he was channeling O-sensei. We all did. They ended up asking him to teach class, and he seemed pretty surprised...

For those of you who are slapping your forehead - I'm just kidding. He was channeling O-sensei (and I'm pretty sure it was because of the white hakama).

Rob
Hey Rob....how many times did he bounce? Or should I ask how many times your shomen bounced on his forehead?


FL
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Old 01-27-2005, 09:18 PM   #39
David Humm
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Hey all, many thanks for your comments.

Coming from a uniformed background (military and civilian) I think much of the 'hoo ha' stemming from the wearing of something different than the norm, may be seen as making some form of statement (rightly or wrongly)

Indeed I fully agree with the "when in Rome" philosophy and, as has already been said, the odd looks I've had from Aikido students when they've seen me (on rare occasions) wearing something quite different may be part of :

1) not normally seeing a mere mortal in white hakama
2) forgetting (or not appreciating) that other Budo wear white hakama.

For me personally, regardless of the colour, its nothing more than a 'uniform' to be worn when training. Dress codes within the Armed Forces are exactly the same, the right uniform for the job at hand, DPM for the field, Service Uniform for parades etc.

"Stand by ya beds !!" to coin an old English military cliché

Regards as always

Dave
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Old 01-28-2005, 01:57 AM   #40
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Note also, that at least one aikido organization I know of here in Germany requires white hakama for lower grades, they only get black pants at highler levels.

If you're running a dojo or sem and someone shows up in what 'you' might consider inappropriate attire, stop to think and maybe ask what the norm is in their home club or organization.

They may be dressed that way because it's all they have or all they know.

I, for instance, did not own a white keikogi for many years ... while I try to dress appropriately for the environment, if I'm travelling to the US (as I will in mid-Feb through March), I'm not going to pack 3 or 4 uniforms. I'll pack my 'standard' blue keikogi and blue hak. If I come visiting, and my Smurfiness offends the teacher(s), I have no problem leaving that dojo and going somewhere else.

Conversely, if someone visits my dojo or a seminar I'm hosting, I'm pretty flexible insofar as what they choose to wear as long as safety and hygeine are considered. No flourescent colors, though ... please ...

Now, that said about visitors, my regular students -- or your students in your dojo or org -- should find out what the dojo/org standards are, and as soon as they can afford it, conform.

In my club, I generally start folks out wearing a standard (cheap) judogi. It's durable, affordable and easily available. After a while, they add a wider obi (for sword work) and then hakama. The keikogi eventually replaces the judogi for weapons work, but we generally wear judogi or a keikogi with zubon, for taijutsu classes. Our 'standard' is blue/blue keikogi/hakama for weapons (or any formal classes and demos), white/unbleached judogi or blue keikogi and white zubon for taijutsu.

However, if a student cannot afford it and we aren't in a position to 'scholarship' the uniform items, I'm not going to put her out because she continues to wear, say, a karategi from her old dojo or somesuch.

Chuck

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Old 02-02-2005, 02:44 AM   #41
Ellis Amdur
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Just found this in an old interview on Aikido Journal with Takako Kunigoshi, who was a student in the early 1930's. Asked about hakama, she replied:

"Everyone wore them. When you joined you had to buy training uniform and that included a hakama. Most people used black but some had white. I had a black one.... or was it white? At first I bought a white one but it got so filthy that I took it home and dyed it black because the things were so hard to wash."

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Old 02-02-2005, 04:00 AM   #42
ian
 
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

I'm not sure whether some wear the white hakama in aikido in the same way that some senior instructors wear a white belt i.e. a type of returning to the source type of thing. I would find a white hakama interesting to see (never seen anyone wear it in a dojo I've been in). For people that know you, it probably doesn't matter what colour you wear, but for absolute beginners, they will look up more to people they see as different or specially dressed (go to a new dojo wearing tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt and see how you are treated!). Thus I believe there should be 'some' importance attatched to the dress code, for their sake. I suppose the irony of any 'returning to the source' type statement is that in some cases it's like saying 'my beginners mind is better than yours'. ha ha.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-02-2005, 04:45 AM   #43
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Ian,

I do sometimes train with a tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt! Tomiki-sensei was quiet font on just training with whatever cloths he was wearing at the time -- or so I am told. Sometimes, I think it does us good to train in something different than a dogi. I remember a few conversation on this board about doing ukemi with keys in ones pockets... *grins evilly*

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
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Old 02-02-2005, 09:24 AM   #44
Kyle Giovannoni
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

As far as I know, in Aikido only O-Sensei and his friend who was also a Shinto-buddhist priest wore white hakamas. The pants represented purity.

Also, everyone would wear hakamas, even begining ranks. But, after the war, many students did not have the money or resources to buy one. So the students would save their money and buy one further into their training.

Today we Aikidokans thrive on our traditions. If there are rules about a white hakama, I don't know. I have one which I use for Iado training. But we must understand that every other aikidokan percieves something different than what one would see. Some of the most minute things have the possibility of enraging a visiting akidokan.

We should remain open to the different ways everyone trains, albeit navy, black, or white hakama. It's all Aikido, no matter where one puts the tokanoma. ~ Kyle Giovannoni
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Old 02-02-2005, 10:10 AM   #45
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

Here are some pics from the Paris Doshu seminar last year, you can see Noro Sensei wearing his white hakama.

http://www.aikikai.it/aikinosu/aikid...parigi2004.htm

rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 02-02-2005, 12:40 PM   #46
rob_liberti
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

People often conform to group behavior so they will not be kicked out of the group and therefore will not miss out on any of the benefits of being in the group.

On somethings, you should be a leader, and on somethings you should be a follower. If you were a German officer in the 1940s and everyone around you is killing Jewish and/or Russian prisoners - you might want to consider that no matter what the social coersion level, if you can help or at least get away and not further contribute to the problem you should try. (Maybe that's a little easier said than done, but I'm sure there were SOME officers on the border of the country who could have easily disappeared.) On other things, like picking the colors of a uniform (not a multi-form mind you) in todays world (now that there is an expectation), it's probably better if you choose what everyone else uses.

Let the shinto priests do what they want. Just shake your head at the soke-dokeys dressed in white hakama doing their "special form" of aikido where they are 10th degree at age 25. Wear a green hello-kitty hakama in your own dojo if you want. And when you show up to visit somewhere, follow all of their customs if at all possible. Take your shoes off where you are expected, bow where and when expected, wear the color uniform (including hakama color) they expect, etc... If you know you are doing something just be be different, then you might just have a little too much time on your hands and I'd suggest donating some time to a local soup kitchen.

Rob

Last edited by rob_liberti : 02-02-2005 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 02-04-2005, 03:10 AM   #47
nage
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Cool Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

In the two and a half years I've been wearing a hakama I haven't washed it' not even once. I'd hate to think how a white hakama would look
As far as I know in the old days They wore what they had. White hakama looks cool I think but is very not-practical I think.
I've seen films of O-sensei with a doted silk hakama.

Jonathan
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Old 02-04-2005, 07:05 AM   #48
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

It would be an interesting poll to see who would actually wear a white hakama. I don't think I would but I am going to get a dark purple one.
Mir
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Old 02-04-2005, 07:37 AM   #49
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

I want a jet black hakama with a black dogi and a mask. Then when I practice sword kata they can call me Darth Vader!!!! AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! I am the all powerful Jedi!
</nutter>

Boy, I need a break!

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Old 02-04-2005, 09:30 AM   #50
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: White Hakama - Pretentious ??

I've drooled over the silk blend hakamas I've seen advertised, because I think they'd flow really nicely with movement (I'm a dancer and into that sort of thing), but I'd be afraid of standing out too much.

Jeanne
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