Choosing the best Aikido Hakama will help to improve your training results. Many people inquire as to what is the best way to go about choosing the Aikido Hakama.
Keep in mind that traditional Aikido Hakama was made for the Japanese body style not for the larger Westerners which can throw you off when you are shopping.
This brief guide will help to shed some light on the best way to choose one that will fit comfortably and according to traditions.
Choose Your Size and Model for Comfort
Choosing your size and a model for comfort is one of the most important steps in the process of choosing a Hakama that you will be happy with. Sizing is offered according to the traditional Kujira-shaku sizing for traditional Japanese clothing.
1 Kujira-shaku = 3.79 cm therefor A Hakama size 27 can be determined as follows: 27 x 3.79 cm = 102.3 cm
The Hakama is measured from the bottom up, instead of the waist down. The perfect fit is when the front fold is right above the outer ankle.
Often in Aikido the Hakama is a bit longer than you would find in the traditional styles of Hakama but ultimately whatever you are comfortable with is what you should consider the perfect fit for you.
The Hakama is typically offered in either synthetic fabrics or the 100% cotton fabrics. Again this is really a personal choice based on what you prefer.
There is no right or wrong here but you should know that synthetics typically hold up better to cleaning and do not shrink while 100% cotton options will most likely shrink with cleaning.
On the other side the synthetics do not “breathe” as well as the all-natural 100% cotton. If you choose to purchase the cotton models than just be aware that special care will have to be taken to prevent shrinkage when cleaning.
The Hakama is meant to be worn with a thin Judo type belt not the traditional thicker Obi belt, but you can find options that can be worn with the thicker belt.
Most Hakama have pretty standard front and back straps, if your waist is larger than 80 cm you may have to consider having one customized to fit.
If you have a friend that is similar in size, you may want to try on their Hakama for fitting purposes to get an idea of what size you will need. There are several variables that impact what size you will wear like:
- Width of the hips
- Width of the waist
- Length of the legs
- Height of the waist
Trying on a hakama for size before you place your order will help you to figure out what size you need with a good degree of confidence.
How Much Should You Spend?
The biggest question that has to be addressed is how much should you spend? The right answer is “it depends”. It really comes down to a few separate conditions as to how much you should spend:
- What is your level of expertise?
- How committed are you to the sport?
- How much can you afford?
- Is this for a “special place” where show really counts?
Just like comfort and sizing is important and personal, so is how much you want to spend. If you are looking for a field of training Hakama than the Nobakama style may be best.
It has 3 folds instead of 5 and wider legs for easier training, it is not as showy as a tournament option but it is also not as expensive.
How much do you want to spend? There are options at all price points, clearly if you are a beginner and not that committed to the sport yet than you do not want to spend a lot of money but if you are a competitor that knows this is a practice you want to stick with than you will want to invest more!
Comfort and style should be the driving force behind choosing the best Aikido Hakama for you!