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Aikido training, Oh what to wear?
When you begin training in a martial art you will notice everyone wearing white clothes that look like pajamas. This is call a gi or dogi if you are training in Aikido. This hub will inform you of the different pieces of your dogi and how to care for them. Have fun reading and continue your training.
The Aikido uniform consists of three or four pieces of clothing. You have a jacket, pants, belt, and depending on which style you are training in a hakama. The uniform or Dogi varies among individuals and schools. Everyone starts off with a white belt which will get a lot of use with continued training. The hakama is worn by all students in some aikido styles and only instructors in others. The hakama is usually black or a navy blue in color with seven pleats and four straps.
What kind of dogi to wear
The type of dogi that you wear is usually your choice. Most aikido students use a judo style gi. These are made from thicker material with reinforced knee patches. These knee patches are nice to have because of all of the kneeling techniques in aikido. You can choose from single wave and double weave judo gi’s. The double weave gi does get a little hot in the summer time but it is warm in the winter. The single weave I have used for the past five years and have not had any problems with it at all. Your last decision is buying a bleached or unbleached gi’s. If you want a nice bright dogi then the bleached version is what you want to have. Unbleached is just that, it is a little darker and looks more tanned than white.
Some dojos might already have a dogi for you when you sign up. If they do then you won’t have to make a decision what which kind you get. The dogi will be part of your first months training fees or a sign up special. You might be required to have a dogi to be able to train so this allows you to jump right in and start your path on aikido.
Your belt and ranking
Your belt or obi is going to be what you wear while training to keep your dogi jacket closed. As I said before everyone starts off as a white belt. Some schools have multi colored belt ranking systems while others might just have white and black or white, brown, black. With each test you will receive a new kyu rank which usually starts at eighth kyu and moves down to first kyu. After first kyu is shodan or first degree black belt and you work your way back up. You should not wash your belt because doing so will wash away your Ki that is stored in it from your hard work, sweat, and training. Don’t worry it does not become a new tool to knocking down uke while training. Ranking to me has been a way to know how long someone has been training. Do not get caught up in who has what rank. This causes egos and competition to start.
Do not become focused on only obtaining a black belt. Achieving a black belt will take five or six years in most schools. This also depends of course on how often you are able to train. When someone reaches a black belt rank they are thought of as a serious student and are ready to really begin training. A common phrase to hear is “this only shows what you don’t know”. Which is absolutely true and it is important to keep in mind. Just because you have a black belt does not mean you are a master who can beat up anyone you choose nor do you have the right to.
I get to wear a skirt?
The hakama looks like really big pleated pants or even a skirt. It has seven pleats, four straps, a back piece called a koshi-ita, and it goes down to about your ankles. The front straps are longer than the back and inside right under the koshi-ita is a piece of plastic that is tucked into the obi to help keep the hakama in place. There are two pleats in the back and five in the front, three on the right and two on the left. The seven pleats represent the seven virtues of bushido which according to O-Sensei are Benevolence, Honor, Courtesy, Wisdom, Sincerity, Loyalty, and Piety. Folding the hakama is difficult to learn and can vary by schools and instructors. The highest ranking student has the honor of folding sensei’s hakama at the end of class so make sure you learn how to fold it.
Remember that as long as you train with an open heart and strong spirit you are training in aikido no matter what you are wearing. Your white belt will loosen up as you train and get worn in. Years after you begin training your black belt will eventually turn white again. We are continually training and learning in aikido. Osu!