“Foot work, foot work, foot work….,” from

“Once someone told me that the reason why Samurai wore Hakama was to hide their foot movement. Then I thought to myself…if they want to hide it, it must be important or maybe a secret lies under there.”

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  1. Here we go again.
    Footwork IS vital, but long hakama were not worn in battle, or were hiked up for fighting.
    Hakama were designed for riding horses (chaps) and the only thing they intended to hide were private parts! Not footwork.
    And like riding a horses, footwork is nothing unless the hara is leading the whole body as a balanced unit, not disjointed.

  2. One of the reasons why Shodo thuggery do not wear hakama in randori kyogi (sport) shiai, is that they tend to get in the way, are easily tripped over, get torn and well, you get the drift….. Plus we like to show off our undergarments!!!
    The only time you see us wearing them is when we do a formal or set kata, demo or enbu….
    For example the Yoshinkan do not wear them either until reaching a given level?

  3. Tony, you’re on to something. in mainline aikido you don’t get a hakama ’til shodan. we kyu-level folks, in the day, were convinced it was to conceal the mistakes that newly minted shodans were still making… 😉 happy new year!

  4. If you want to improve posture, you should wear a hakama from day one. Hakama is beginners apparel to teach correct posture. The reason for this should be obvious and is the same reason new shodans, in “cult of the hakama” type schools, are always tripping over.

  5. I suppose they are comfortable in some respects, but to be honest I don’t quite see how they can improve posture, either you get it or you don’t… Only a good teacher can tell you where you posture is out and you will also know yourself when your waza becomes easier and more effective. Hakama never did that for me….
    Tomiki Shihan often demonstrated waza in everyday clothes!!…
    Depending on how vigorous your practice is and whether one perspires heavily, which one does when reaching high fitness levels, I personally found them a hindrance…..
    But there you go, everyone one to their own…
    Have a happy one….

  6. If you persisted through the discomfort of the “hindrance,” read “ego,” the hakama will teach you indeed. When you can wear a properly constructed hakama as if it does not matter either way, you have made a start. The best teacher however is not a mouth, but a horse. Most “mushal artistes” of today not only can’t sit on a moving horse, but fear them. The real budoka, east and west, knew horses from the ground up, cared for them and daily interacted with them. The whole of human history has taken the course it has because of millennia of equestrian skills, often deployed in battle.

    Horse work teaches you stuff that the soft/pansy dojo stuff simply can not. I recommend it. However a weekend is not worth the bother. A minimum of two years daily, art least five hours a day is required to get an inkling. That’s an apprenticeship most people can not afford in today’s world. Besides it is an authentic high risk lifestyle.

    And sadly that non availability is killing the standard of budo and relegating it to status of fantasy.

    Humbly, I’ve notice non-riders’ aikido, to be not much, at best. As distict from that of the very few equestrians who practice Aiki, it stands out.

    The posture I refer to is the same as swordsman and horse rider. Deep. Straight. Rooted. Floating. Immovable. On fire. It should not matter what you are wearing once you have learned to move correctly with posture. But it’s a thing beyond words and has to be done daily for some years to “get it.”

    One of the worst things to happen to Aikido, post-Ueshiba has been this hakama nonsense. O’Sensei required hakama from day one because he knew what he was doing. Why has it been reversed for the modern quasi-aikido cults? Who knows?

    After that it matters a hoot what you wear, although some quasi-“masters” I’ve met made the hilarious claim they “can’t do aikido in street clothes with shoes on.” I had better not comment.

    Common sense dictates that’s then the next phase of training.

  7. Does anyone read beyond the first sentence of an article anymore? Some even write volumes of comments on unrelated topics…

  8. Sorry I disagree, I have met aikidoka that have never worn a hakama or ridden a horse in their lives and I can testify to their ability and posture…..
    Posture can be attained in many physical disciplines other than aikido or equestrian activities…..
    What comes to mind is Sumo who do not where hakama in their practice, nor do gymnasts, nor do those in modern dance, but you may see something similar in Ballet.
    Cossacks warriors wore the baggy pants and boots and so did the Mongol warriors who also rode horses if I remember correctly, and yes its true they can do some pretty nifty fighting and dancing to….
    So I don’t quite really understand where you are coming from on that one Nev …..
    I can see the the chaps bit and the comfort/practicality in wearing them on a horse, the connection involved in mastering man/horse relationship/feeling, but as you say unless you are in an environment where that is necessary, I can’t really see the connection in where that would make one have better posture than another just by wearing a hakama….?
    It’s obvious you like riding horses, but as you say most of us can’t afford that luxury in our modern environments….
    In fact many people I have met that have this equestrian interest also tend to have this aloof attitude, like they are stuck up their own proverbials……?

  9. I agree with Tony…I like to practice in street cloths with shoes on as you would use Aikido in Real life…asked a student why he liked to practice in gi/hakama…made him feel like a Samurai…BULL!

  10. Tony,

    I’m not saying get pedantic about a hakama.

    It can be a training tool.

    If you are experiencing discomfort and trying to avoid it, that is indicative. You should be able to move freely regards of uniform.
    If you train like the sumotori you won’t need all of the above. But who does?

    Personally I give a hoot about hakama or other dress codes, but often in service you do not get a say as to the uniform you have to wear. And so you adapt. If a piece of cloth worries you, you will be distracted.

    Yes, most horsemen and woman do have a cavalier attitude. It goes with the territory. Horses do wake you up. Otherwise you die. It’s a high risk game. Hoses don’t listen to ant referee. They do what they do and you have to handle it if you want to live.

    O’ Sensei, the founder of modern Aikido, Morihei Uesghiba was an equestrian. He spent years in the saddle, particularly in Hokkaido development project. It quite obviously contributed his development.
    Our interaction, horses not only altered our evolution and abilkity to direct ki permanently, but also our consciousness. And then we stopped interacting and for the most part lost it all.
    There is such a vast array of mental and physical attributes involved it’s almost like dipping into another dimension. Which it is.
    I should write a book on the subject, but right now I won’t. Hopefully someone with more time on their hands than me will.
    The short version? Let me see.
    When you daily have to train large horses weighing can weigh from 380 to 550 kilograms (840 to 1200 lb), who are infinitely faster than Muhhamad Ali, Stronger than Reg Park, meaner and more accurate than Mas Oyama, can read your mind better than Morohei, and then some; and on top of that you can’t use strenth, force or cruelty; one begins to wake up to themselves. And you can’t stop just cos you think you are tired or some similar sissy excuse.
    (And stallions are even more alive, awake and dangerous.)
    The tactic is not to overpower rather than to evince respect.
    An offshoot fringe benefit is that people, no matter the colour of their belt not only look very small but pose no real threat, even when they are trying to.
    I’ve never tried training lions or tigers. Not sure what the side effects would be. and it’s probably a good thing, as then martial skill could start to get really dangerous.

    If you want to see the highest level of Aikido at work, if you can watch how Monty Roberts handles a wild horse. For what it’s worth, it’s good exercise mitori geiko attending such a session. Most people think they’ve seen nothing or not much!! You will either “get it” or not and that should tell you where you really are as a budoka likely to survive an encounter.

  11. I think I would much rather trust a horse more than I would a bull to be quite, quite honest Nev……
    I’m well aware the dangers a horse can present and can kill or maim a human with just one kick, even a mule is capable of that. Winchester UK is a small city set amongst lovely country side and I often encounter horses on my walks/jaunts out into the villages and hamlets we have here, horses are a plenty… So is the wild life such as deer, hunting birds, and so forth.
    I would have thought that goes with any animal to some extent, tamed or not…. if you fear an animal it will sense it straight away, not read your mind…. Just like I can sense if a person or animal fears me…. After all we are an animal ourselves, just some of us delude themselves into thinking we are above them and don’t need them that’s all…. Either you break the spirit of an animal or you can befriend it…. I prefer to befriend them, even the bunnies!!!!! (Just a rib….)
    I hate the thought of killing animals, but then again if I’m starving that could/would be a different scenario…..
    Even a domestic cat can do some nasty damage if treated badly!!! I have two myself and they are brilliant at keeping vermin out of the house….. They are very quick and affectionate too..
    As for trusting lions and tigers? Probably best not to go there….. ha ha!! More like bloody great leaps in the opposite direction and up the nearest tree if your’re quick enough!!!!
    I can see how riding a horse can improve ones leg strength and back posture, but most physical activity will do that as well. Even being an Installation electrician, which I did for 15 years, that develops strong body posture, arms, legs from the constant natural isometric exercise involved…..
    A bit like riding a horse…..

  12. Tony,

    You make a good point about bulls. Not intending this to become a “bull session” :) , seriously though, watch rhe bullfighter.
    Much as I despise the “sport” their irimi-tenkan is the best going.

  13. Coming to think of it, a hakama can not hide footwork. That’s bad myth to get led astray with!

  14. That a hakama can “hide footwork” is an erroneous assumption based on a false premise. Given the facts of real budo history alone, on that basis, no one would wear a hakama in a dojo because you would be trying to share winning techniques with your own clan whom you want to advantage to the max. Any dan graded individual who is seeking to hide instead of reveal key points to juniors is an insecure sham without ability.
    On the other hand, since the long ceremonial hakama (as worn in quasi-aikido of today) is indeed a hindrance in real battle, and it was never worn; what exactly would you be hiding other than your private parts?
    Oxymoronic statements based on nothing more than ignorant supposition do harm to budo, to the name of Aikido and to the possibility of some measure of growth of understanding in new students.
    Lets face, it FOOTWORK IS EVERYTHING INDEED! But only provided it is in context with the facts of proper movement, i.e. moving whole body correctly and balanced to deploy Aikido and not wankey collusional dances. That’s a given. No argument. No dispute.
    As for hakamas, let’s face another fact of more recent history. Sadly, the hakama become a badge of quasi-rank, and most often a supposed level of skill that does not in fact exist, for insecure people, posing as Budoka and hiding behind the circus dances of fakekikdo, to feel unwarrantedly superior. Fundamentalist aikido dogma. Gawd help us all!
    On this basis the hakama has devolved from a useful item,i.e. riding chaps, and a pretty skirt for ceremonial purposes, to a political mindfuck in modern times.
    At this rate it won’t be long before someone will think of adding the samurai surcoat/tabard that makers an emasculated man look like he has shoulders. Very intimidating. And empty. And never worn in battle but ceremony to make men without shoulders look sort of manly.
    Let’s hope “the aikido world” grows out of this puerile and bogus mind manipulation.
    A piece of cloth is just a piece of cloth.
    Ability comes from practice, noticing, thinking, questioning, exploring and not making excuses to miss even one training session.
    As for footwork, you’ll best discover it when you are dog tired and getting thrashed. One day suddenly the answers will unlock a revelation. Especially if you read the little key things old masters had to say and contemplated them carefully and incorporate into training.
    Taisho, may often sound immature but he makes good points. Would you rumble with him? I would. And we’d both learn something thereby. With or without a hakama. (of course the nice pleats may risk getting creased. Shucks.)
    Taisho, where are you? I curious to meet you and find out if your ability matches your salient verbiage :) Where? When? A friendly bout to prove whatever it can?
    I’m considerably unfit right now due to too long hours on computer work, a temporary slave to nerdsville. The only chance you’ll ever haver to put your money where your keyboard is, before I start pumping iron and running up hills again :) Then, I’m sorry buddy, but Aikido does work. I’m happy to show you how.

  15. I like it when the bull wins….

    Hakama goes well with handbaggo wa…..

    As for footwork, you’ll best discover it when you are dog tired and getting thrashed. One day suddenly the answers will unlock a revelation”
    “Ability comes from practice, noticing, thinking, questioning, exploring and not making excuses to miss even one training session”
    “As for hakamas, let’s face another fact of more recent history. Sadly, the hakama become a badge of quasi-rank, and most often a supposed level of skill that does not in fact exist, for insecure people, posing as Budoka and hiding behind the circus dances of fakekikdo, to feel unwarrantedly superior. Fundamentalist aikido dogma. Gawd help us all”
    “A piece of cloth is just a piece of cloth”

    Spot on there Nev…..

    Taisho I hope is on the right lines, How old are you boyo?

    He sounds like me at 1st Dan in 1980…..

    Haa ha!!

    Stay well Nev…. try out some isometric exercise daily, they work well during periods of missed training…..
    I power walk around 1 hour every other day, to keep up the stamina and there are plenty of hills around here for that…. puff puff!!

  16. You guy’s need to get a life…and in Budo since 1958…seen it all.

  17. Old bastard then…..

  18. By the sound of it, we are all old farts with a history of great stories to be told.
    Fellows, dust off your keyboards and let’s make this blog super interesting this year.
    Yes, you too Taisho. I have a feeling you have some great battle tales to tell. These’s a secret writer in every one of us. Can’t wait to share and learn.
    By there way, Tony, I know that you meant “bastard” as a term of endearment. But in some parts of the world it can be an insult.
    Care in choice of words often prevents unnecessary stoushes :)

  19. Of course…. Taisho’s got a skin like a rhino, as I and you…

  20. How about EJ Harrison…Trevor & AJ-em

  21. Should be…E.J.Harrison and Trevor P. Leggett.

  22. PS…like the bastard part…aka…ROF (rusty old fart).

  23. Not quite rusty yet Taisho, a bit creaky sometimes but not rusty…. yet…
    All my old mates refer to me as “you old bastard” how are you mate?…. love it, makes me feel at home….

  24. Taisho (ROF) says:

    Me too…

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