“Men in Skirts – Hakama Anecdotes,” by Nev Sagiba

About ten years ago a women’s centre invited me to do a one day seminar in “self-defence.” I explained that one day is simply not enough to even begin to get an idea about the potentials involved in violence but the lady who made the call said: “Come along anyway. Oh and by the way do you mind if the ladies are wearing veils.”

I didn’t mind at all and I found myself demonstrating very basic moves in an unknown suburb the other side of the state, to some shy Arab ladies, most wearing hijabs.

Progress was going well, when a tradesman knocked on the only large door of the complex and meekly requested if he could pass through the main entrance with heavy equipment.

“No worries,” was my reply but I could not help notice how fast he recovered his composure at my hakama.

He must have put two and seven together and as he was carrying trade equipped he smiled and said, “I’ve heard about dervishes.” “And added insincerely or embarrased, I’m not sure which, “Must be fun.”

Another incident. From time to time various religious desperates come knocking seeking for converts, or studying the physics of slammed doors. But I’m always pleasant because I figure they don’t need any more unpleasantness than they already invite by presumptuously appearing announced.

One day some knocked. Right in the middle of multiple attacks.

I must explain that my front door is the front door of the dojo as well. I opened the door and they began their spiel, bible in hand pamphlets a-la-ready. And stopped midway gaping aghast at what they found themselves witnessing.

I explained, “I’m in a meeting right now,” as they compulsively turned red, then purple as they craned their necks, eyes glued at the men in “skirts” beating each other up and throwing each other across the room, some bouncing off the walls making the building shake noisily. As we do in training.

They scurried off in a hurry and as I bid them, “Good-day,” I really could not help feel a deep compassion for these no doubt gentle souls and their misunderstanding.

I’m sure there must be lots more humorous stories out there.

Anyone care to share?

Nev Sagiba


  1. John Costello says:

    It was the first day of class at the University aikido club (of which I was the senior student). I was in the basketball court where we trained, putting on my hakama, when four or five extremely muscly young men show up, obviously looking for something; most likely looking for the class.

    “Are you looking for the aikido class?” say I.

    “Uh, yeah.”

    “This is it. I bet they didn’t tell you that you have to wear a skirt to do aikido.”

    (Sheepish looks.)

    They didn’t last very long in the class, unfortunately.

  2. Love it! Rarely wear gi and hakama for training in the park. Still get stares. I think the shabby and usually soiled street clothes raise enough perplexity in the onlookers.

  3. A few years ago our dojo was located in a school hall. Right across the street there stood a row of houses and some could see into hall when doors were open.

    I was going to class one night and met a friend whom I hadn’t seen for a while. I didn’t know he lived across from the dojo. As I was the first to arrive and to open up I chatted to him for a few minutes before getting my bag from the boot so he had no idea that I was one of the members. During the course of the conversation he said that they guys in the hall were crazy! They throw each other all over the place but he didn’t know what the art was called. Before I could tell him what it was and I was a part of it he added ” They are all mad but the guys in the skirts look the maddest of all. They throw people left right and center”. Funny when I pulled out my bag. Explained to him what Aikido was and told him to come in and have a look. He watched one class and after he said that he was right ”You guys with the skirts are mad”.

  4. I have been teaching an aikido class at the High School I work at. You can imagine what teenagers have to say about a grown man walking about in a black skirt!

    Many times I have witnessed the girls walk by suppressing giggles.

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