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When Do I Get My Hakama?

The hakama is a symbol of tradition in Aikido and in many schools permission to wear it is reserved only for the yudansha (black belts). The school has maintained this tradition and grants permission to wear the hakama to students who have demonstrated or accomplished any of the following:

  •  Attained black belt status
  •  The ability to take Ukemi at any level and earned their yellow stripes
  •  Have consistently proven to be serious students by contributing something  meaningful to  the school
  •  Have learned how to fold it properly and care for it

The hakama itself contains much symbolism and anyone who wears it should do so with great pride knowing that each of the seven pleats represent the seven virtues of Budo (martial way):

  •  Jin (benevolence)
  •  Gi (honor or justice)
  •  Rei (respect and etiquette)
  •  Chi (wisdom, intelligence)
  •  Shin (sincerity)
  •  Chu (loyalty)
  •  Koh (piety)

In this regard O'Sensei said: "Aikido is born out of the bushido spirit of Japan, and in our practice we must strive to polish the seven traditional virtues

"Today's techniques will be different tomorrow." Hence, there is no standard Aikido; each of the direct disciples focused on those aspects he most readily understood and with which he had the most affinity, and then went on to develop an individual style based on his own experiences. Morihei encouraged this: "Learn one technique, and create ten or twenty more. Aikido is limitless." Given the great differences, though, it is sometimes hard to believe that all of them sat at the feet of the same master. The best advice in judging the different interpretations of Aikido is this: "Do not look for the differences; look for what is the same."

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