View Full Version : Hakama Bow

Benjamin Peters
25th July 2001, 08:39
Dear members,

Does anyone have any pictures/information on how to tie a bow on the front of the Hakama ?

Ben Peters

Meik Skoss
25th July 2001, 13:34
There are several ways. The warrior's way of tying the hakama, also called shin musubi (true/correct knot) is a simple square knot with the ends of the himo (cords) tucked in, so they don't move and/or get in the way.

The commoner's method, called jumonji musubi (figure ten knot, so-called since it looks like "ten" in kanji) is to tie a square knot; then take one of the cords, fold it up and place it crossways (i.e., parallel with the directions of the cords as they go about the waist). Take the other cord and wrap it around the bundle you've just made of the other end, then fold it under the cords, if there's any left over, so that the end is pointing up (not down! I dunno why that's "wrong"), and voila! Lots of iaido people do it like that, but I have it on good authority (i.e., Yagyu Sensei) that warriors'd rather be caught without a hakama than to tie it like that.

You could also tie the cords in a butterfly knot (cho musubi), but it would make you look like a jinja maiko (shrine maiden). Or a heck of a dork.

Hope this helps.

25th July 2001, 13:44
Hi Mr. Peters.

I have read that different schools have different ways of tying it. I simply tie it as Mr. Skoss explained, a square knot with the ends tucked in. You may be interested in looking here, (http://www.idnetinc.com/kendo/files/equipments.htm) or for a peek at the diagram that seems to be on half the the kendo and aikido sites on the internet, check here. (http://www.loyola.edu/maru/hakama.html)

25th July 2001, 15:20
“Lots of iaido people do it like that, but I have it on good authority (i.e., Yagyu Sensei) that warriors'd rather be caught without a hakama than to tie it like that.”
Hadn’t ever heard this before and am curious about what you mean by “warrior”? It strikes me as unlikely that a samurai at court or in the castle would simply tie his hakama in an overhand knot. Given the elaborate nature of dress and custom, it seems that that would extend to knots. Perhaps warrior refers to something like “on the job” rather than to class? Care to elaborate?:confused:

Meik Skoss
26th July 2001, 03:37
By warrior, I mean bushi. Or samurai, ashigaru, okapikki, and any of the other names by which members of the warrior class, with a surname and the right (and obligation, come the Edo period) to bear arms. The four social classes, based on a Confucian model, were warriors (shi), farmers (no), artisans (ko) and merchants (sho).

During the Tokugawa shogunate, a number of sumptuary laws were passed, dictating the types of clothing and adornment folks in different classes were expected and/or allowed to use. The law also prescribed suitable occupations, amusements, and a number of other matters that we take as a matter of course.

That's why, to reiterate, it's necessary to understand more than a bit of Japanese traditional culture if one really wants to "get" what the classical martial arts are about. It's not easy, ever for a modern Japanese; think about how much more there is for us, as people from outside the culture, with widely different mores and a completely different ethos.

Nonetheless, D. Walker has raised an interesting point, w/ re: to different situations and different types of clothing. We don't wear a tux to work around the house, nor do we wear a teeshirt to the reception at a wedding.

Finally, I should add that I am making the assumption that Yagyu Sensei knows a lot more about this kind of stuff than most people do nowadays. Why? Well, he's the first person in the main line of his family to have held a job other than teaching swordsmanship in the last five hundred years. He's about eighty now, has been a student of kenjutsu, battojutsu and jujutsu since he was five or six, and is responsible for the transmission of two separate ryu: Yagyu Shinkage-ryu hyoho (kenjutsu and senryaku) and Yagyu Seigo-ryu battojutsu. He's devoted himself to study of these ryu since early in his life and, since he retired, does nothing else. Yes, his "truth" may not be the *only* truth, but I am betting that he's probably more clued in than most exponents of both classical and modern arts who do it as an avocation. Even if they make their livings teaching, they do not have the heritage or the background he does.

Hope this helps.

Jeff Hamacher
26th July 2001, 05:17
i have photocopies from a kitsuke (lit. "kimono attaching", more accurately "method of putting on kimono") textbook which show quite clearly how to tie the jumonji knot that Mr. Skoss discussed upthread. if you're interested, Ben, i can try to scan and e-mail them to you, but i can't promise the photos will come out that clearly. i'm also not certain i can get it done before i leave for canada next monday; can you wait until the end of august?

Originally posted by Meik Skoss
Nonetheless, D. Walker has raised an interesting point, w/ re: to different situations and different types of clothing.the same textbook explains that the jumonji knot is used most of the time, except for mourning clothing, when the simple square not is used and the ends of the himo tucked in, just as you do in kendo, or in my case jo. bear in mind that this is modern kimono habits we're talking about. relatively few japanese men wear (or even own) kimono. most japanese people are pretty bowled over when i tell them that i own two, and become even more incredulous when they hear that i can put them on myself (it ain't that hard). those men who do have and wear kimono regularly are normally connected with some traditional art, such as tea, theatre, dance, music, and of course some budo. it also goes without saying that this probably has little to do with kimono fashions of yesteryear, which is of greater interest to martial arts students.

26th July 2001, 15:06

I don't intend to contradict Meik Skoss or (heaven forbid) Yagyu Sensei here as they are obviously superior rerferences but I would like to pass on a humorous story concerning this topic. Takamura Sensei wore the shinshin musubi knot ( as we call it) "most " of the time. In fact in most of the pictures I have of him he is wearing his hakama in this fashion. I asked him about the more formal jumonji musubi once because In Yanagi ryu we usually wear our hakama in this fashion. His response was something like this.

You guys dress more formally in that dojo. Much of the aiki training there is related to old court ettiquette and such so that would make sense in that ryu. Angier Sensei's knowledge of clothing, hojo, the proper wear of yoroi and other ettiquette is quite impressive. Who knows, If I showed up there I might be like a basketball player in Nikes at a fancy wedding. Of course I would make fun of you Toby san, in all your very pretty clothing. But again isn't that what you would expect of an underdressed basketball player in Nikes. Even a talented underdressed basketball player?

(This was followed by a very big smile!)

Soon after this I shot a formal portrait of Takamura Sensei. Guess who showed him how to wear his haori & himo properly. :) He got a big kick out of me even knowing what a haori & himo was. He joked about this by saying I must have done something terrible in a past life to end up like this. I can't remember the Japanese phrase he jokingly used but he translated it something like "torturous knowledge without the eyes to go with it".

What a character !

Toby Threadgill

Earl Hartman
26th July 2001, 17:50
Regarding the proper method of tying the hakama cords, a kyudo teacher I know described the knot that Meik calls the "shin musubi" as the "musha musubi", or "warrior's knot". It differs from a simple square knot only in that the right-hand cord is wrapped around the cords attached to the front of the hakama, which have been wrapped around the waist and tied off in the back, one extra time before the knot is completed. This is for extra insurance that the knot does not loosen under the stress of vigorous movement. Hardly a consideration in modern kyudo, I agree, but important to a warrior who had to always be ready to fight and did not want his pants falling down.

Also, how difficult is it to wear a man's kimono, fer cryin' out loud? I know that young women in Japan often need to be taught how to properly wear a formal kimono nowadays, but a man? Anybody can learn in about 5 minutes, with maybe a little extra time needed for hakama. But a man's kimono by itself? C'mon.

Benjamin Peters
27th July 2001, 00:59
Jumunji knot ?


Earl Hartman
27th July 2001, 01:37
Nope, that's a cho-musubi, a butterfly knot. I don't know where those instructions came from, but nobody ties their hakama like that. A "jumonji" knot looks like the Japanese character for ten, which is a simple right angle cross that looks like a plus symbol "+". It is small and neat and should lie flat against the lower stomach.

Jeff Hamacher
27th July 2001, 05:03
Originally posted by Earl Hartman
It differs from a simple square knot only in that the right-hand cord is wrapped around the cords attached to the front of the hakama, which have been wrapped around the waist and tied off in the back, one extra time before the knot is completed.
this is the same for modern formal hakama whether you make it into a jumonji musubi or leave it as a musha musubi. interestingly enough, the kendo textbook that i used to learn how to tie this knot says the the left rear cord ought to be the one wrapped around the front cords, not the right, but i suppose it really doesn't make that much difference. regardless, i can't imagine simply tying the rear cords in a simple square knot 'cuz it would ride up no matter how little you move.

Also, how difficult is it to wear a man's kimono, fer cryin' out loud? I know that young women in Japan often need to be taught how to properly wear a formal kimono nowadays, but a man?
as i said above, it isn't that difficult at all. unlike women's kimono, men's are tailor-made. women have to carefully fold their kimono to fit their height every time they put one on. the collar of a man's kimono just fits simply around the neck like a dress shirt, whereas women have to push the collar back to show the nape of the neck. finally, the obi for men is as easy as slapping on a belt for iai, whereas the obi for women is a righteous pain in the rear end 'cuz it's much longer and wider. traditionally, one would tie the knot behind one's back but most men just tie it in front and then slip it around. i think this cheat doesn't work for women's obi. my tea teacher told me recently that his mother used to be able to get into her kimono in about 5 minutes, a feat which is probably duplicable these days only by kitsuke teachers or their more advanced students.

the real reason that japanese are suprised i can put one on is that they themselves don't have the experience. if they tried i'm sure they could manage without any difficulty, but it's the unfamiliarity that makes it seem so hard. truth be told, the putting on of the kimono ain't the hard part, it's putting it on in such a way that you can wear it around for hours at a stretch without it slipping around and looking like crap. it takes quite a bit of practice to get the kimono looking really nice, and i assure you i haven't perfected my technique. the big goal for me would be wearing kimono to perform tea, but i suspect that's a few years off yet!

27th July 2001, 06:25
The kimono thing may be similar to the inability of more than a few American men to tie their own necktie. As a photographer at weddings it amazes me how many guys run to their mommies to get theirs tied. Heck, sometimes I impress them and tie it for them, but I do it facing them - not like mom who gets to put her arms around her ignorant, but I guess lovable, son. And for those guys who get their wives to tie their tie and leave it tied, just slipping it over their head... please.
:nono: :shot:

David T Anderson
27th July 2001, 15:05

Dave Lowry
29th July 2001, 01:57
Mr. Skoss is correct, of course; the simple reef or square knot is typically used for cotton hakama. One reason is because it’s quick and efficient for getting the garment on and off. Equally pertinent reason is because it is appropriate to the circumstances.

There’s a story about Senso Soshitsu (1622-97), 4th iemoto of Urasenke tea, whose big-bucks patron was Maeda Tsunatoshi, from Kanazawa. Maeda showed up for a lesson and Senso upbraided him for “coming to tea wearing your clothes like you were going to fight." Maeda smart-mouths back that “don’t you always say tea and battle require the same mental approach?”
“The mind is the same but what we carry and how we dress are different”—Maeda replies and whacks Maeda right in the head with a water scoop and says—“Lucky for you.”
Noami (1397-1471), who was a doboshu for Ashikaga Yoshimasa, wrote Kundaikan Sochoki, a lengthy text on etiquette that was his take on Ogasawara and Ise ryu methods. He lamented the lack of distinction between formal and informal in, among other things, clothing. That’s what we’re discussing here, as Mr. Threadgill and others have observed. If you’re demonstrating your Kagyu ryu in front of the Consul General of Japan, wearing your best bib and tucker sendai hira hakama, knot it appropriately. If you’re training in the park in your cotton hakama with the knee patches, do the same is what I think Noami might have advised us. That’s why I think he’d have found it pretentious for aikidoka in daily training to wear ju-musubi. Equally misguided in their enthusiasms are those who focus on the minutiae of feudal Japanese en grande toilette as an integral part of their budo training. Most curious are those who obsess over these details, simultaneously claiming kinship in ryu that were supposed to be countrified and far removed culturally from urbane preoccupations of dress or etiquette.

Mr. Hartman, as to your comments about the relative simplicity of wearing a man’s kimono; you must be kidding. At least nine out of ten Japanese men wearing kimono today make some sartorial error even I can pick out. As for Westerners… I saw a typical example, a British fellow on a cable TV programme devoted to the martial arts just the other night, sporting silk kimono, the perfect picture of the epicene fop.
A couple of common errors he made: Allowing the underkimono to gape, which usually happens because the ties used to close it are fastened too far down on the belly. It’s supposed to just “peek” (nozoki eri).
Pulling his lapels down so tightly the back of the collar hugs his neck. This is the correct way to wear a Western suit; you don’t want that “prole gap” in back unless you’re selling used cars. But on a men’s kimono, you want a slight gap at the eri-ashi. (Not sagging down so far as a woman’s; that’s called nuki-emon and it’s designed to show off, among other things, a word readers might want to add to their vocabulary if they don’t know it: tabo. Tabo is the bundle of hair at the nape of a woman’s neck that’s accented by the collarline.)

To return to the subject at hand, it seems to me that if you want to wear formal Japanese clothes, do tea ceremony or learn kitsuke. (Bearing in mind the common adage about kimono today: Kaenai, kirarenai, tatamenai—can’t afford to buy, can’t wear correctly, can fold properly.) You want to do budo, tie the thing up and get out there to train.


30th July 2001, 23:11
Per this funny subject, I had to put in my two cents' worth, being a tea student and martial arts student. I've seen all kinds of ways of knotting up the tie strings of the hakama, from Otake sensei to modern kendo people to iai people. Doing iai in Kyoto, in the same club, people either tied it up in jumonji or they just knotted it and tied the loose ends in the back so it didn't flop. The main thing is not to get it in the way and to practice. . .Although Otake sensei just let it hang. A naginata group I was in tied the loose ends in the back. Iai students would do the jumonji knot, one teacher tied a bow tie, believe it or not.

Tea, definitely, is more formal and calls for the jumonji tie, but I think when it comes down to the dojo practice, it's whatever works, whatever fits in the dojo. One of my sensei showed me a special way of passing the cords through each other. He said that you would do it this way when you went out to real battle, so it wouldn't become undone even if the knot fell apart. This was one of those kuden of our schools, so he didn't show it to me after that one time. The whole reason for the knotting in a dojo, basically, is it going to hold your hakama up or not?


Daniel Lee
31st July 2001, 04:17
Since we're talking about kitsuke and hakama ties I wonder if I could ask those familiar with wafuku a related question?

I think of 'ko-budo' as a generalisation for a vast array of fighting systems from different periods, differing social strata, and differing purposes. Given this, I think it is fair to say clothing changed from period to period, and dependant on the individuals social class/profession. The type of clothing can restrict the kinds of techniques able to be performed, so I see this as being an important factor in appreciating traditional martial arts. Would you be able to recommend references for what people in different periods wore in which situations?


Daniel Lee

31st July 2001, 20:11
“Prole Gap?”
Mr. Lowry, have you been reading Fussell’s “Class?”

“You’ve got to know that, as Douglas Sutherland says in The English Gentleman, almost the most important criterion in a suit worth wearing at all is ‘that it should fit well round the shoulders.’”

Dave Lowry
1st August 2001, 12:15
Mr. Walker,
Strictly an off-the-peg sort of guy myself, but "the most important criterion in a suit worth wearing?"

The Albemarle Street bespoke tailor Cyril Langley summed it up well in describing the sartorial discretions of a client, T.S. Eliot.

"Remarkable man, Mr. Eliot, noted Langley. "Nothing ever quite in excess."


Benjamin Peters
1st August 2001, 22:12
Mr. D Lee,

Your post intrigues me, although I cannot provide you with any sought of valuable input.

Further to Mr. Lee's post, does anyone have any information they can share?

Ben Peters

2nd August 2001, 05:56

You picked a hard subject. Japanese dress customs is a very
specialised topic that most would know nothing or very little about, yet alone a martial artist. It does have relevence to a degree but it would also encompass Yoroi wouldn't it.

I have a lot of info on Yoroi ‚æ‚ë‚¢?yŠZ?z as I am sure you do as well. I will see have a look and check back on this site later.



Brett Sommerville

Earl Hartman
3rd August 2001, 01:26
Dear Mr. Lowry, Esq.:

I never said that everyone who wears a man's kimono, Japanese or not, knows how to wear it. What I said was that it shouldn't be that complicated. The things that you point out are not too difficult to remember.

Personally, I think that wearing a kimono properly requires a certain posture and way of moving that many Westerners find unfamiliar, thus their inability to look good wearing a kimono. I remember once seeing an American woman, apparently either on her way to or from a tea class, striding along the street with big, galumphing American steps. At each step, her kimono flapped open with a "thwack!" like a sail suddenly rendered taut by a stiff wind, exposing her underkimono and part of her calf. Truly a sight to behold.

She may have had her colllar and obi properly arranged. But she didn't know how to wear a kimono.

As for the Western obsession with the little details of Japanese traditional clothing, I agree. That seems more appropriate to tea or flower arranging than budo.