How to fold a Hakama

 

How to fold a Hakama

Hi, today we’re going to talk a little bit about Hakama folding in Aikido, and more particularly about Hakama folding here at Aikido of Charlotte. It’s very much a part of our culture. Hakama folding is something that you are encouraged to learn how to do early on in your training. It’s not a form of hazing, it’s not something that Sempai give to their Kohai to do because they’re hazing them, it’s something that we do as a sign of respect and gratitude. It is a meditative and contemplative process, and it’s something everybody should learn how to do, so let’s get started.  Okay, so class is over. We have approached a Sensei or a Sempai who wears a Hakama. We’ve made a deep bow, offered to fold, and we’ve been given a Hakama to fold. The first thing we do is lay it down flat with the pleat side up. You’ll notice that inside there’s a fold here. It doesn’t matter which way the fold goes, it just needs to go one way or the other. I find the best way to do that is to pin it under your chin.

You want to take a pinch here and lay your Hakama flat. Now, we’re going to start off by folding the back pleat first. Again, I’m making sure that my obi are out of the way. Flip it over on it’s back and lay it out flat. There’s a seem that runs along both sides of the pant, and you want to pinch and pull this seem, make it nice and tight. Then, even up the top.  Once we have everything nice and smooth and taut, we should have one overlapping seem going right down the back of the Hakama. Now, this is probably the toughest part of the fold, we’ve got to flip it over and maintain this seem right here. When you do this flip it’s very common for the seem to open up and you’ve got to start over again. It just takes a little bit of practice. What I like to do is pinch at the top, give it a slide, and roll it. Now, ideally, I’ve maintained that back seem. We’ll see when we turn it over. But, now I can concentrate on the front pleats.  Again, pull each pleat tight. In the same way that we tightened on the back here and here, you want to do that on the front as well. You’ll find that this is much, much easier to do if you work the inside pleats first, and then the outside. I don’t know if there’s a specific rule about it or not. I always go with the three pleats first.  Now, once we get here we’re going to make a fold in. A fold a little bit deeper on the bottom than on the top, because when we make our tri-folds later it tends to splay if you don’t. This actually overlaps just a little bit. Now, I’m going to fold into thirds and end my complete fold right up here at the base. It looks like I kept my pleat. One of the things to keep in mind is that when you give the Hakama back to the owner, you want to present a really crisp, clean final product. Sometimes that’s going to mean making little adjustments to your fold throughout the course of the fold.  In this particular case, I’ve got a little bit too much real estate on this side. That’s not a big deal, I can adjust. Because I want my seem to go right down the middle.

All right, so now that I’ve gotten my seem straightened out, it’s time to move onto the straps. For most of the Hakama that you’re going to encounter at Aikido of Charlotte, we’re going to do a two, three fold on the straps. By that I mean we’re going to do, fold it in half the first time, and then into thirds the second.  In half, and then thirds. This takes a little bit of time to get used to. Eventually you’ll just sort of figure it out as you do more. Now it’s time for our short straps. What I’m going to do is take my short strap and lay it directly over my long strap, starting with the left. Now I’m going to pinch right at the X, feed my short strap up. Making little adjustments along the way. Now I’m going to loop over and up again. Now, if I find that I’ve got an extra long piece of loop here, or of strap, I can loop it around a second time. That’s going to be great for presentation if I have a strap that’s too long. One drawback is I won’t be able to release the knot with a single pull later.  Then I do the same thing on the other side. Feed it straight up, make my little adjustments, and back up again. I know I’ve got a good fold going here because my short straps are basically even. Final step is I’m going to take, starting with the right, this short strap and feed it under and through. Ideally, it should end right here at the base. Then, left over right again.  I ended up with a nice knot. Now, it’s not always going to work that way. Sometimes you’re going to have a lot of real estate left over. Easy enough to fix. You can fold straps under and tuck. Now, when you present the Hakama to your Sensei or Sempai, present knot first and bow.  If we’ve done this tie with the single loop, when the Hakama is next used all they’ll have to do is grab here and pull and it will release the knot. If you’ve got two loops it won’t release.

If you’re placing the Hakama on the edge of the mat, or on the counter because the Sensei or the Sempai isn’t there, you simply turn it over face down so that the name appears.  That is how you fold a Hakama. The next opportunity that you have after class I encourage you to run to this side of a mat and seek out your Sempai, don’t wait to be asked. This is a new skill that anybody would be happy to teach you. It is a sign of excellent etiquette if you seek out someone and offer to fold their Hakama. Look forward to seeing you on the mat.

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