May 22, 2008

Folding a Hakama.

080517, originally uploaded by Erica the Ninja.

Hakamas are kind of this weird, beautiful part of Aikido (and Japanese) culture. Usually, one cannot wear a hakama until Shodan (first degree black belt), but that depends on the dojo*. I really feel like wearing a hakama makes one's movement look and feel more fluid and brings a certain respect to one's training that is somehow not quite there when wearing only the white gi.

After practice (or keiko, as we sometimes call it), you show your respect by properly folding your hakama (and offering to fold the Sensei's hakama as well). The millions of pleats and folds make this task really difficult for novices or for people who's hakama has been worn so much that the pleats are not longer visible. My hakama is a million and one times more difficult than most because it was shoddily made...somewhere a seam wasn't sewn straight and I can NEVER get the damn thing to line up. Consequently, my pleats look like crap (which doesn't matter to me), and I have serious anger management issues whenever practice is done and I have to think about folding it again (which does matter). One day I will get a new one, but for now I see my hakama as my cross that I have to bear until my aikido gets much better (or I learn how to get over my hakama angst).

*My friend Vu pictured here really does have a black belt and very incredible Aikido, but his belt (which was a gift from someone) was lost and he cannot bring himself to get a new one yet. So, he is wearing a beginner's white belt for now, which has been stained blue from the dye in his hakama.

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