A hakama is the pleated skirt-like ankle length garment that is worn over the keikogi.
Traditionally hakama were worn by samurai to protect their legs whilst on horseback. Eventually the hakama became standard samurai attire.
It is customary in most Aikido schools to wear the hakama. However, policy on wearing the hakama varies greatly from school to school. Many schools will only allow the yudansha (black belts) to wear the hakama. Some will relax this rule for women, which is apparently for modesty reasons while others will say this is discriminatory.
Nowadays it would seem the hakama has become a symbol of supremacy for black belts. There is no place for such egotism in our school and so all students are expected to wear a black hakama once they have achieved their first grade. This allows the student sufficient time to obtain one.
In this way our school is following the wishes of O Sensei, Morehei Ueshiba (founder of Aikido), who insisted that all Aikido students should wear the hakama.
The pleates of the hakama, 5 on the front and 2 on the back symbolise the seven virtues of budo. There are several interpretations of these virtues but this is the version passed on to Mitsugi Saotome the renowned student of O Sensei.
Jin – benevolence
Gi – honor or justice
Rei – courtesy and etiquette
Chi – wisdom, intelligence
Shin – sincerity
Chu – loyalty
Koh – piety