View Full Version : Wearing of Hoi

2nd October 2002, 07:53
Since I seem to be the master of courting controversy, I thought I'd raise this point for even more people to come and chew me out. ;)
In some, more traditional, branches of Shorinji Kempo, women are forbidden from wearing hoi, even though they are yudansha. This is because, traditionally, hoi was not regarded as women's clothing. Compare this with the more liberal branches, both in Japan and in the West, where sex doesn't matter; the only prerequisite being that the wearer is of black belt status. Similarly, the more traditional branches insist that during chinkon, women kneel rather than sit cross-legged, as the practice of "exposing the groin" is considered vulgar. So my question, and the poll, is: Where do you stand on these issue(s)? Should tradition be observed, or are equal rights for all, regardless of gender, more in line with the teachings of Shorinji Kempo?

2nd October 2002, 14:02
Gassho __||__

Hello Kimpatsu.

My wife Chieko has been training in Shorinji Kempo since high school in Japan. She has never mentioned anything like what you describe about women not being able to wear Hoi. She is now in Tokyo so I cannot ask her if she is familiar with that. I'll admit, from my experiences in Japan, I could see it happening. I know that Chieko would never train at such a branch though.

As for my vote for your poll I would say equal rights.

BTW where in Tokyo are you? I will be there from October 17th. We will be training at Honzan from the 28th of October. Maybe we can meet and:toast: and then:beer:

Take care.

Onno Kok
Alberta shibu

2nd October 2002, 17:21

My personal opinion is that women should be allowed to wear hoi just like the male kenshi. I've seen pictures in the S.K. newsletter of women wearing hoi in Japan. I never thought to question it but Kimpatsu did give a very good arguement. It seems that since it is already being allowed or at least accepted in large that it is okay.

Tripitaka of AA
2nd October 2002, 21:25
I had not heard of the Masculine history of the garment. Japanese clothing has traditionally been far more unisex than most Western dress, Hakama (the long trousers worn over the dogi by Aikido and Kendo practitioners), Yukata (the dressing gown that you find in Japanese hotel rooms, which is often misnamed "kimono" when being sold in the UK) and even the Dogi itself have all been worn by both sexes for many years (hundreds?!). I've met a female Buddhist Monk in Japan, who ran the local cemetery temple, and her clothing seemed by and large to be identical to a male Monk. Sounds like this particular restriction on women wearing male clothing is already fading out...

Yoriko, my wife, said that if someone had tried to force her to succumb to such a ruling then she'd have probably made an obscene gesture and taken her business elsewhere. But then, she is of a younger, stronger, more "independent woman" generation. I suspect that Dojo that do maintain this dress code are those run by an older generation (and even in Japan, Budo is still considered an area for the "old-fashioned" and "traditional").

On the other hand, I recall a charming female Kenshi from Japan who attended the Abbey Dojo. If I remember correctly, she used to stay in Seiza for Chinkon. I assumed that this was a choice that she made based on her own attitudes toward the vulgarity of the more common pose. I did wonder if the physical requirements of Chinkon would lack a certain bite from this comparatively comfortable position. In general, she seemed to be the exception rather than the rule - her whole persona seemed to have been lifted out of a novel from a bygone era (incredibly shy, never able to make eye contact, always apologetic).

My vote, and one for my wife, would be for a Shorinji Kempo that prepares people for the world that we live in, not the world of our grandparents.

Thomas Fontaine
2nd October 2002, 22:54
During the years I lived in Japan (1992-1997) we didn't often wear ho-i at regular practice sessions. I honestly can't recall how often I saw women wearing ho-i during other events (ken-taikai, demonstrations etc). As far as chinkon is concerned, all of the female members of our dojo sat in the standard half-lotus position. The only time that anyone sat in seiza or any other position was when they had some injury that made the regular position more uncomfortable. The point raised regarding more traditional practices certainly seems quite plausible, however.
Personally, it seems to me that this particular 'deviation' from more traditional practices is a positive step. Still, I must say that, in general, I favour a more traditional approach to training. I can only explain this apparent contradiction by suggesting that the merits of such modifications are perhaps best considered on a case-by-case basis.

Thomas Fontaine

7th October 2002, 11:26
Originally posted by Tripitaka of AA
My vote, and one for my wife, would be for a Shorinji Kempo that prepares people for the world that we live in, not the world of our grandparents.
Did you actually vote in the poll, though, David?

Tripitaka of AA
8th October 2002, 01:36
Errr, yes!

And now I've registered one for my Mrs too (she aways likes to follow a few steps behind me... j/k ;) )

Drat! The forum is set-up to allow me only one vote under this ID. Oh well, Yoriko will just have to go unheard, a silent majority :)

8th October 2002, 02:43
Originally posted by Tripitaka of AA
Yoriko will just have to go unheard, a silent majority :)
It does seem that the older-fashioned branch masters are coming around to women wearing hoi as well, now.

Steven Malanosk
8th October 2002, 03:29
Hi all,

I'm speaking as an observer from the outside looking in, as a non SK and KZ ka, albeit long time fairly familiar with both.

Obviously, much like the Catholic Church has always viewed women and priesthood ordainment, women in a style rooted in Buddhism, although obviously having come a long way, have a rough row to hoe, dealing with long lived station traditionally.

Not just religiously speaking either, and not just Buddhist or SK. Heck, not just of Oriental origin, but everywhere but on Venus the planet :rolleyes:.

I have a video tape of Yamaguchi Gogen Sensei's funeral, in which the sons are introduced as Shihan, but the daughter "a luminary in GoJu Kai," is introduced as Shidoin.

When I was a kid, at Chinatown dojo, "dojo in which my teacher first broke from Yamaguchi Sensei to start USA GoJu," we had one of our Sempais, now an all the way live master Susan Murdock, leave, to start her own Woman only dojo, not because of anything about my teacher, but because for a female to excel and grow personally back then, this was the only way. She went on to become truly accomplished, both as an educator and as one bad chick.

You've come a long way baby............except in places where the issue is the BURKA in lieu of the HOI. But that's about to change too.