The meaning of wearing the Hakama
The hakama is the wide traditional Japanese trousers. In Aikido it is usually associated to black belts. Some schools, like ours, allow students to wear it before achieving the 1st dan rank, for example at the preceding 1st kyu grade. Originally, it had nothing to do with ranks, it was simply part of the normal practicing attire, like in other disciplines such as Iaido, Kendo, etc. According to legend, the seven folds of the hakama represent principles ascribed to the Way of the Warrior, the Bushido. Although more likely of western origin, the legend of the 7 principles is worth mentioning and the principles should be honoured, lest our practice would be meaningless.
GI – Justice
Be scrupolously honest in your relationships with others. Believe in justice from within yourself, rather than from others. You should have no uncertainties about honesty and justice. There is only good or bad.
REI – Courtesy, Etiquette
You have no reasons to behave rudely. You needn’t prove your strength. You must be kind to enemies, too. Without this demonstration of courtesy a man is not much better than an animal. The real strength should be evident in danger only. You should be respected not only for your strength, but for the way you interact with others.
MEIYO – Honour
There is one only judge for honour: yourself. The decisions you take and the subsequent actions reflect what you really are. You can not hide from yourself.
YU – Courage
Raise yourself above the mass who fear action. Hiding like a turtle in its shell is not like living. You must be brave. What is risky is dangerous but it means to live fully, completely, and wonderfully. Courage is not blind, but brilliant and strong.
JIN – Humanity
Intense training makes you strong, fast, different from others. This is a power to be used for common wealth. You must be compassionate. Grab any chance of helping others; if the opportunity does not arise, do anything to find one.
MAKOTO – Honesty
When you express the intention to carry out an action, it is as already accomplished. Nothing will stop you to accomplish your intentions. You do not need to “give your word”, not to make a promise: speaking and doing are the same thing.
CHU – Loyalty
Doing something or express a thought equals to be its owner: you assume full responsibility for it and for all the consequences. You must be immensely loyal to those you care about and stay proudly faithful to those you are responsible of.