What are they?
Pants or skirt? They're sort of skirt-like pants. Hakama originate
from samurai days when they were worn to protect the legs of the
horse-riding samurai from underbrush etc. When samurai were forced
to start walking, samurai kept wearing their hakama to make them
There are seven
folds in a kendo hakama which represent the virtues of bushido,
the samurai code. They are:
kindness to your fellows
Gi: Honour and righteousness
Rei: Courtesy and Etiquette
Chi: Wisdom or intelligence
Shin: Trust and sincerity
The pleats at
the back have a legend associated with them: In Japanese mythology,
two powerful warrior gods helped the goddess of the sun to create
a unified Japan without the use of weapons. They used only their
The left pleat
represents Take-Mikazuchi-no-kami, whose shrine is Kashima-jingu,
and the right represents Futsunushi-no-kami, whose shrine is Katori-jingu.
The stiff center part represents
Amaterasu-Omikami, the sun goddess, and creator of Japan, who binds
the two and keeps them in balance. The back pleats represent this
legend and its lesson of Wa balance and harmony.
We strive to
find balance in almost every aspect of kendo, starting with basic
footwork and posture, then developing the harmony of ki-ken-tai
no ichi. If one aspect is out of balance, the whole suffers.
In kendo kata, we tray to achieve kurai-zume, or controlling
with superior bearing.
of the hakama symbolizes a kendoka's attention and adherence to
kendo traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation
since the time of the samurai. Kendo was born out of the bushido
spirit. Wearing hakama reminds us we must strive to excel in the
virtues they represent.
* Thank you
to Dave Seto of the Burlington Kendo Club for the legends.
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