Hakama in martial arts

HakamaHakama (袴) are a type of traditional Japanese clothing. They were originally worn only by men, but today they are worn by both sexes. Hakama are tied at the waist and fall approximately to the ankles. Hakama are worn over a kimono (hakamashita) / keikogi.

Hakama are worn by practitioners of a variety of martial arts, such as Aikidō, Jōdō, Iaidō and Kendō.

Hakama are secured by four straps (himo); two longer himo attached on either side of the front of the garment, and two shorter himo attached on either side of the rear. The rear of the garment has a rigid trapezoidal section, called a koshi-ita (腰板). Below that on the inside is a hakama-dome (袴止め) (a spoon-shaped component sometimes referred to as a hera), which is tucked into the obi or himo at the rear, and helps to keep the hakama in place.

Hakama have seven deep pleats, two on the back and five on the front. The pleats are said to represent the seven virtues of Bushidō, considered essential to the samurai way:

Although they appear balanced, the arrangement of the front pleats, (three to the right, two to the left) is asymmetrical, and as such is an example of asymmetry in Japanese aesthetics.

Like all types of traditional Japanese clothing, it is important to fold and store hakama correctly to prevent damage and prolong the life of the garment, especially those that are made of silk. With hakama this is particularly important, since hakama have so many pleats which can easily lose their creases; re-creasing the pleats may require specialist attention in extreme cases.

Hakama Folding

Hakama are often considered particularly challenging to learn to fold properly, in part because of their pleats and in part because their long ties must be correctly smoothed and gathered before being tied in specific patterns.

Source: wikipedia.org

Update 29/8/2013: Traditional Karate Center has published a poster illustrating the seven virtues of Bushidō, which can be downloaded here.